Coales' Notes / God squad

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Thursday: I'd arranged to spend this evening with Gavin Poole (of the Sports Centre) discussing the festival, since he seems to be the only person in the city who is remotely positive about it. I went round to his house, and had a drink with him and his wife (a quiet person).

I said how gratifying it was to find him, a lifelong opponent of the arts, so willing to get involved. Poole smiled and said: 'Things change, don't they?' He asked me if I would like to know his philosophy. I bowed to the inevitable.

He went on, with feeling: 'You see, Gordon, it breaks my heart, what's happening today with the young lads. And I've come to the conclusion we've got to work together - the sports and the arts, together - to help keep the young lads out of trouble. And, in my book, relaxation is the key.' He went over to his sound system.

'Now. Have you heard this new Gregorian Chant? Because it is just so restful. And I'll be frank with you, I'm a bit of a convert - I'm playing it to everyone.' He put on the CD, and signalled silence. Mrs Poole said she would leave us to it.

The room filled with the sounds of old monks. He lay back on the sofa, open- mouthed, and let it play through to the end. Then he said: 'Just so restful. Of course, it's not what you first think of when you hear the word 'chant', is it? But I fervently believe, if we just can get the young lads doing this on the terraces, that's got to be the answer. Again?'

I said, why not? He switched it to continuous repeat. He told me: 'Relax.'

God, it's boring. After a further 90 minutes or so, he suddenly sat up: 'Right - now what about Hildegard of Bingen?' I said, Hildegard of Bingen? How did someone who ran a sports centre know about Hildegard of Bingen? I was only vaguely aware of her myself.

He replied: 'Oh, Gordon, this is the future. Now listen to this - you're going to have to admit, this is something else.' He put on his Hildegard of Bingen disc.

He fell into a kind of trance. He said he could just listen to it over and over again. And, he said, if we could just get the young lads listening, it would be a decisive factor in the battle against drugs. He began rotating his head and inhaling deeply. He said: 'Ah. I am a feather on the breath of God. Incredible.'

He then passed out.

I found Mrs Poole and thanked her for her hospitality. She apologised. She said she believed it was 'actually dangerous'. She was thinking of starting a support group for other spouses who found themselves in this situation. 'Well, I have to do something with my evenings now.' So not much progress there.