It was literally just the one whiskey in the Bell, I stood with John P at the bar and we didn’t say a word to each other. Friends can do that.
“Are you ready?” We walked outside.
“Goose Fair weather John, something you’ll never understand. You’re serious about this book business aren’t you?”
But he was already walking towards the taxi rank. He turned:
“Speak tomorrow and don’t forget you’re picking the heap up.”
I wasn’t quite ready for Bingham Road and was soon ordering a pint in Jacey’s. Roxy Rob was stripped to the waist on the pin ball machine, not so much nudging as harassing. Birdcage Chris was playing pool with Tony Guise and Maggie was on next. I chalked my name up.
“Maggie can you remember Saul & Saul investigators, they had the offices, well you know where mine and John P’s office is, that was their’s.
"No but I vaguely remember Chris having something to do with them."
Maggie worked upstairs at ‘The Birdcage’ on Bridlesmith Gate, the women’s clothing section. She had me fascinated once with a story about Vivian MacKerrell the actor behind the 'Withnail' character who apparently frequented Jacey's whilst studying at the private 'Trent Colledge'.
Chris was the either the owner or the manager of the exclusive clothing shop', I wasn’t sure how far back he went, but he often talked about the time when Paul Smith worked there. Before he set up shop on Byard Lane and the rest was history.
“Chris you had a thing with ‘Saul & Saul” the investigators?”
“Oh god years ago, it was a fraud, we’d been duped by a suppler and..”
He paused as if an emotion had been triggered.
“We felt so embarrassed that we had trusted this person, we had to react. Saul, the oldest brother wouldn’t let go, he found the guy after about six months, it was settled out of court. We got around a third of what we’d lost back. I think ‘Saul & Saul’ got a third as well. They were very good, but you paid for it.
Why did you ask that?”
“We just get the odd person wandering in, ‘Saul And Saul investigators’ the name is still in the glass door pane, there’s still a brass plaque outside with the Company name on!”
“Different time, different age!” Said Chris. “Now put your 40p in..”
The next morning I was waiting in the ‘Car Phone Warehouse’ reception to pick up the heap. The heap was John P’s Dad’s old car, which was now John P’s. The heap was having a car phone down grade, an unusual technological regression considering car phones were still rare enough to leave gawping faces.
“Put the old ‘Mobira’ handset back in.”
The receptionist looked like Goldie Horn, she smiled at me. Maybe she’s the one?
“Reg number 'TH3 H3AP' your car’s ready, nothing to sign.”
She held up the keys - rather tantalising I thought.
“Thank you so very much, bye.” Was all I could flirt.
The old Mobira hand set looked so small now, not small, narrow compared with the rejected Motorola fat wide boy.
“Glad you’re back!” I said to the familiar phone. I was glad though!
I pressed number one but just got number one. Have to go old school mmm - 0115 292012
“Hello Teq Spec Solutions, can I help you?”
“Jane it’s Paulie put John P on for me.”
“He’s in Italy Paulie, big meeting with a manufacturer, had you forgotten?”
“That’s today, yes I had forgotten, no worries Jane, I’ll see you in a couple of hours.”
Petrol station, petrol station, need petrol, why didn’t he tell me he was going to Italy?
The familiar ring tone of ‘car phones reunited’ had thankfully not been messed with. I pressed green with the feeling of importance I always felt when pressing green to answer on a car phone and said hello. Then as if by magic.”
“Because I had to concentrate, this is a massive deal for me, and us, you have too much to do. Jane will give you a company credit card I’ve left for you. It’s for expenses, petrol, lunch. Not for watches, rent or trips to London. You know what to do. Find Mrs Derwent’s Book! Back in five days enjoy your coffee!”
He rang off.
YOU’VE CHANGED! I shouted into the old Carphone’s Reunited handset. The line was dead of course, he’d hung up on me, but I knew that my oldest bestest friend had heard me, and the shit was Laughing as he pictured me smiling which I now was.
"What Coffee?" I said to the phone.
Jane was trying to understand the workings of a new coffee machine when I got back to the office, after finally finding a parking space for the heap near the playhouse.
“Oh Paulie thank god, help me with this it makes coffee.”
Ok, so this is the coffee I’m meant to enjoy. After evaluating the coffee situation for a minute or two, I addressed my conclusions at Jane.
“Jane it’s a filter coffee maker, don’t you have filter coffee in Snienton? Look put the paper, this shape, in there, put .. say one spoon of coffee per cup, out of these packs.. 1 per cup per so… 2-3 -4 there in. Then you put water in the back, use the jug, that’s in then switch on. Done.
“Then what will happen?”
“Did John P leave me a credit card, or just shoot me now Jane!”
“Your credit card’s here Paulie, and their’s no need to be facetious. He left you a message as well, he said it’s an itinerary but it looks just like a list. I read it by accident it’s on your desk. I’ll put the kettle on.”
I went straight into John p’s office and wheeled his chair into my office & then shot reverse shot. Long story. Jane brought me a nice cup of tea and I opened the envelope with my credit card in. It had my name on. I had to sign it though, pen, there was one on John p’s desk. I signed my credit card, I had credit. Not to be used for things I like to do though, but them’s the breaks.
After another sip of Jane’s excellent tea, I picked up the white envelope in the room. My Itinerary, or as Jane had remarked, my list of things to do.
I took out the itinerary, screwed it up into a little ball then threw it where I threw the rest of my itineraries, and then thought twice. This missing book had really got under John's skin, I really wanted to find it, for him as well as Mrs Derwent! Could I find it in five days while he was away and would I need his itinerary?
"What are you doing?" Said Jane, she was stood in my office doorway with her coat on and a thermos flask sticking out of a pocket.
"Straightening out my itinerary Jane, what about you, you going home now? What's the flask for?"
"I'm taking some coffee home, can I help with your straightening?"
"Your taking a flask of coffee home 'from' work?"
"I don't like to see it go to waste. I've got those enquiries for the rare book John asked me to send out, I'll post them on the way home. They have the office number and the car phone number on, did you get the car phone changed? See you tomorrow."
"Oh Jane have you got Mrs Derwent's Granddaughter's phone number?"
I wasn't far behind Jane in leaving, and got back to the heap to find an admirer looking around it.
"Not for sale I'm afraid it goes back three generations in my friends family."
"The Chief Constable' had one when I started on the Force, I think he inherited his, you don't see many around now."
"Can I give you a lift? I'm going up Derby Road then along the Forest to Sherwood, thought I'd have a look at the fair."
"Thanks very much, you can drop me at 'the goose' I live in Basford."
"How long were you on the Force mate?... I'm going to go up Forest Road now I think.. Drop down Mansfield road to the goose."
"Twenty Five years, went like that!" He clicked his fingers.
"My Uncle Keith was a Policeman, in fact this road was on his beat, my Mum and Dad had a flat, we've just passed it when they first got married. Dad said he used to pop in for a cup a tea"
"What's you Uncles name?"
"Keith, Keith Hallam, he died recently."
"I knew Keith! Ah that's sad, good sportsman, he had a few brothers they were all sporty, one of them was in Germany on his National Service, boxer."
"Yes, Terry, that's my Dad!"
I pulled the heap into the petrol station at the bottom of Basford Road.
"I can't believe that, what's your name?" I held out my hand.
"Frank Thominson, it's a small world." He said, shaking my hand and putting the other on my shoulder.
I got Frank's number and semi arranged to meet up for a pint sometime soon.
"Frank Thominson.. ex policeman." I said to 'car phones reunited' as I pulled up outside my flat on Bingham Road.