The attack happened somewhere on the lonely stretch of sunbaked road between Whyalla and Port Augusta.
It was swift, brutal and totally unexpected.
I’d flipped on the radio as respite from an ipod selection in dire deed of a refresh.
Only another 500 km to go.
The auto-tune randomly lassoed an FM station with a country music bent, a dry announcer introducing a Glen Campbell classic as the next riveting offering. With a yawn my finger reached toward the scan button but I was that fraction too slow.
When a Songworm strikes it is quick and lethal.
One note in and I was a gonner as it burrowed through my ear, bored into my brain and made itself at home.
The tune was old and I had no recollection of ever hearing it before, yet by the second chorus I was singing along loudly in my best ole country twang, slapping the steering wheel and sucking loudly on the imaginary wheatstalk that dangled from the corner of my mouth.
‘Met the gal I love, at a place way down in Dixie…’
As the tune finished (accompanied by my best boot-scootin’ “Yeehah!”) I listened zealously for the title.
And that’s how the “Naploean’s Retreat Songworm” took up residence in my brain.
The Songworm was fun at first but as the weeks passed it began to drive me crazy.
It played on an endless loop that went all day and all night.
The tune started before my eyes had time to open each morning and regularly woke me from my dreams at 2am.
It showered with me, worked with me and played in the background of every conversation I had.
It niggled and nagged until I had watched every You-tube performance of it.
It harassed me to Google the lyrics and forced me to download the ukulele chords (in three different keys!)
It made me play until my fingers were sore.
After three weeks the neighbours approached and asked if I could:
- learn something new or;
- please keep my windows and doors closed after 9pm?
After 5 weeks I felt like a junkie who couldn’t go without a fix.
After 6 weeks I tried to listen only to music that wasn’t Napoleon’s Retreat. The Songworm remained.
After 7 weeks I asked for intervention techniques from my psychologist friends. They had lots of ideas. I tried them all.
The Songworm simply sniggered and kept on a-singin’.
“Soooo, I took her in my arms and toooold her of her many charms…..’
By the 8th week I was desperate. I meditated, visualized and even listened to heavy metal.
‘All the world waaaas bright, as I held her on that night…’
Then, after 8 weeks, 5 days and 12 ½ hours a miracle happened.
I woke up to the most amazing sound.
Cautiously I listened but all I heard was an echoing emptiness.
Not only that but all traces were gone. It was awesome.
“What was the name of that song,” I found myself musing later that day.
I couldn’t even remember.
The Songworm had packed its belongings and moved on.
So, if one day you find yourself humming a little refrain with a hoedown Dixie tune that just keeps on keeping on, there’s a fair chance you just found that sneaky little Napoleon’s Retreat Songworm.
Feel free to drop me a line and let me know where it ended up.
Just don’t send it back.