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Harmonica. His father retrieved the box from the loft. It had an alpine scene on the front and inside was a long double sided metal harmonica.

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Harmonica His father retrieved the box from the loft. It had an alpine scene on the front and inside was a long double sided metal harmonica. The boy looked at an old black and white photograph, creased then flattened with little tears at the edges. It showed a man in a collar and tie with a waistcoat and he wore a cloth cap. He stared straight into the camera as he smiled and his hands displayed a harmonica in front of him on a velvet cushioned base. It was not the same harmonica and the boy felt a tinge of disappointment. "Your granda won that harmonica in a music competition" His father pointed at the photograph. "That's an engraved gold plate on the top, it says Wor Gor, short for Goddard. He took that harmonica everywhere and he used to take his teeth out to play the Highland March. When he died my uncles all wanted it, especially uncle Alf. I put that harmonica in his coffin to stop all their arguments". The boy wished he had heard him play. He wanted that harmonica. It was a cold winter afternoon. The bus crossed the river and stopped under the shadow of disused cranes by an isolated church. ...read more.


A clip clop came closer and out of the mist loomed a high wagon pulled by two horses. Two figures sat side by side at the front on a bench: a teenage boy and an older man with a cap and a thick moustache smoking a pipe. The wagon was loaded with full sacks in front and empty sacks folded flat at the back. He could smell wet black coal. Dust and small fragments bounced, dropped off the back of the cart and left a trail of black grit down the road. The man nodded to him and the wagon trundled past and disappeared, clip clops faded, absorbed in the fog. He turned onto Walker Road towards the County pub. He stepped across the road and found cobbles where he expected tarmac. Out of the murk yellow light reflected from the amber tiles and engraved plate windows of the County. He pushed open the door and entered. The bar was busy. The room was full of men in cloth caps, smoky with a closer smell of wet wool and sweat. Faces turned and looked at him, direct eye contact, then they turned away and the bar noise resumed: a clatter of dominoes on wooden tables and thud of steel into cork at the dartboard. ...read more.


He walked away down the street, looked ahead and could see streetlights. He realised the fog had lifted and he saw cars parked on tarmac at the kerb. He looked over his shoulder at the pub and then walked back. A shaven headed smoker stood outside and glanced at him without interest. He pushed open the door. The bar was almost empty. A single drinker in a tracksuit, unshaven with greasy hair sat with a pint of lager and watched Sky Sports on TV. The barman leaned on his elbow on the counter. He backed out dazed and patted his coat to check the harmonica in his top pocket. He went round the corner and in a minute or two his bus came. It was almost empty and he sat upstairs at the front. He pulled the mouth organ out of his pocket and examined it. There was no gold plate on either side. He tapped it and pondered then he put it to his lips and began to play. He breathed slowly, gently seeking the sound. Gradually his tongue found the notes and his cupped hands moved. He sat and swayed with the bus, sucked the air from his cheeks then filled them and blew. He took the chorus from the old man and he played the melody of the Highland March faster and faster and his spirit soared. ...read more.

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