Trafika Europe 1 - Northern Idyll
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205

“What isn’t bollocks?”

“I don’t know, I haven’t thought about that. The Trojan

War.”

I wasn’t going to argue with him as we were at the shooting

range, which lulls you, there’s no agitation there, shooters

are phlegmatic, not Robin Hoods, – yogis, more like. When

you’re at the firing position the rest of the world disappears

and there’s just you and the target, one on one – that’s all

that exists, and you are meditating, readying yourself, not

just to hit the bullseye – that’s not what matters for a real

shooter – what matters is to make the perfect shot – and

that’s much more than just accuracy. It’s like a prayer

addressed to what you’re aiming at.

“Perfection in intent, perfection in performance,” as coach

Vladimir put it. His nickname was The Hat and he was a

great guy. He was wasn’t too sure-footed with people, – like

a sailor who’s come down from his ship’s deck to dry land, –

a bit of a wonk, slight stutter, but reliable, decent, cool as a

boa constrictor and, very much to the point, effective. I was

surprised to learn that, on top of everything else, The Hat

found time to restore old cars: in his garden, instead of a

vegetable plot, he had a garage with half-dismantled

Pobedas and Volgas from the late 1950s, and when his first

grandchild was born, he had every skill that could possibly

be needed; the clothes hangers in his house were

handmade and carved (El gave him a power jigsaw for his