Chapter Four

TIM

The bosses daughter happened to be on the same lunch break as me today so we had the whole 3/4s of an hour to get to know each other.  She’s a cool looking girl, with a great figure and is really approachable.  We got on like a house on fire and I happen to have heard via shop gossip that she’s just finished with her boyfriend, Rob, and well may be available.  She’s very fanciable and I hope I made a good impression.  What chance would I have, 20-year old agricultural student, with a glamorous, super-wealthy heiress who dated successful TV presenters?  I’d been imagining after the lunchtime session with Sophie Cannon that she fancied me as much as I fancied her.  That must be pie-in-the-sky she could pick and choose whoever she wants.

That thought brought me back to earth with a bang and I became maudlin and went into the recurring thought that dominated my mind at the moment – what was I going to do with my life?  I knew I had to finish what I’d started and try to get a good degree.  But what then?  Work was hard to get even if I knew what I wanted to do and it would be even harder in Wales if I decided to go back there.  Where would I live?  I really didn’t fancy living back at home much as I loved visiting and I couldn’t stay living with Chakka.  Anyway she would be leaving to get married in the not too distant future.

I decided to phone home and hope a chat to my family would cheer me up.  It rang for ages before my father, John, answered.

“Wendy out?” I asked.

“Yes.”

“Do you know how I knew?”

“My reluctance to answer the phone?”

“Yes, that’s correct.  Where is everybody else?”

“Oh they’ve gone to some meeting I think.  I wasn’t interested.  I forget what it was about.

Anyway what are you up to?  Are you revising hard?”

“No John, I’m working at a pet store to earn some money.  I told you last weekend.  I decided to take a break from my studies so after Easter I could do my revision with a clear head.”

“Do you think that’s a good idea?  You could do a lot of revision in two weeks.  Is that how long your holidays are?”

“Yes I’m taking exactly two weeks off and I hope to earn a grand which I really could do with.”

“Tim I’m sure we could help you if you’re short.”

“John you’ve done more than enough already thanks.”

“OK. Oh I’ll get your mother to call when she gets back.  Thanks for ringing.  Bye.”

That was typical of John, he hated the phone, hated the intrusion.  That was a long conversation by his standards.

A few minutes later the phone rang and it was John again.

“Sorry to disturb you but I you’d still be there.  Did you see the good news about wind energy costing half what it did 5 years ago?  It was in the paper yesterday but I thought you might have missed it.”

“Yes, John, it was on the 10 o’clock news last night too.  I do live on this planet.”

“I’ve been doing some research for Greenpeace about the predicted future costs of renewable energy and it makes quite good reading.  I just don’t understand the reluctance of Government to take all this overwhelming evidence on board. Anyway that’s all I wanted to say.  goodbye.”

I was keen on green issues and did believe we were seriously damaging the planet but I hoped I wasn’t as obsessed as my father.  He was an active member of Greenpeace and had been arrested protesting several times.  I think he was an active member of CND in his student days too.  I did go to my phone and checked out the story about renewable energy on the Guardian website even though I’d heard about it on the news.  Then, in spite of my efforts not to, I spent the rest of the evening looking at porn.  I didn’t do this very often.  Although I really didn’t like it or myself for looking at it on the occasions I did I couldn’t stop myself from going from site to site.  I found it aroused me and I was fascinated that people, particularly attractive young girls, would do such intimate and often disgusting things with strangers in front of cameras, knowing that sex-starved men would be masturbating over the images.  It was like a drug to me, once I’d started looking at it I couldn’t stop.  I’d say to myself – just one more session, then oh just one more.  If that particular video was unsatisfactory I’d stop it and search for one that was more interesting or more shocking.  And if I liked it I’d be tempted to try to find another that I liked when that one finished.  It was a bit like my surfing.  If I caught a good wave I would rush back in the hope of repeating the experience.  If it was a mediocre one I’d have to go back until I caught a decent one.  The cycle would repeat itself until the cold became too much and I’d pack in.  With the porno finally my self discipline won that night and I went to bed disgusted with myself.

I had a lie in next morning as I’d been told to take a day off.  Although Canon Pet Supplies open 7 days a week they don’t allow their employees to work more than 6 days.  It could be something to do with European regulations.  Really I would have preferred to work.  Firstly I needed the money and secondly I might have seen Sophie again at the pet store.  Instead I did some boring jobs in the morning.  Stripped my bed and took the sheets and my towels and the rest of my dirty washing to the laundrette.  Not my favourite job, sitting in a humid, noisy cramped room.  I had bought a paper and that diverted me a little, although I was bored to death with Farage and his detractors and all the stuff about Brexit.  Both news items seemed to have been occupying the journalists for months and yet nothing seemed to change.

After I’d remade my bed and put away my clean clothes I decided I’d like a walk so I made a sandwich and caught a bus to Nantwich.  I’d decided to walk along the canal towpath.  There was a nice pub a short distance from my starting point and I thought I’d treat myself to a pint there.  I enjoyed watching the narrow-boats go past.  It was easy to see which ones were privately owned and which were hire boats.  Privately owned ones were either lovingly decorated with brightly painted jugs and other items painted in traditional style or floating rusting junk yards with roofs piled with logs, bicycles and other stuff strewn on fore or aft decks, depending on the attitude of the owner.  Hire boats were generally smart and much plainer but the people on them were generally friendlier and looked as if they were enjoying themselves.  Very rarely were there any attractive girls of my age to look at though.  I also enjoyed just standing and watching boats navigating the locks.  Amazing how boats weighing several tons could climb up hills just by locking up.  I tried to imagine what it must have been like when the canals were commercial navigating routes with 72 foot boats laden with goods – everything from coal to pottery to lime juice – being pulled along by horse.

After the walk I caught another bus back and continued with my domestic chores – doing a bit of cleaning and some supermarket shopping.  I then read for a bit until Chakka got in from work.  I’d texted her earlier to ask if she’d like to eat with me.  I cooked one of my simple meals, tuna, sweetcorn and rice.  She bought a bottle of New Zealand wine.  Afterwards we went together to the Sun, a nearby pub, where there was live music on a Wednesday.  Part of our routine when we were an item was to go there every week.  The type of music varied but the standard was almost always high.  Although I couldn’t play an instrument I really enjoyed listening and what would be the point of gigs without listeners?  Chakka was more choosy about her music than me and unfortunately Gypsy Jazz, which was that nights music, was not something she enjoyed.  We stayed until the interval and then I reluctantly walked with her back home.  I could have stayed on my own.  I was pleased I hadn’t because we had a confrontation in the High Street.  Four shaven-headed, heavily tattooed men made some racist remarks as we walked past – “Dating a nigger fuck face?  Are nice white girls not good enough for you?”  Chakka grasped my hand tightly and fortunately they let us past without any violence.  That was the first time I’d encountered anything like that and I felt gutted for Chakka.  She said it didn’t happen very often but her friend Aisha, who wears a hijab, frequently gets racist jeers and her boyfriend has been attacked twice.  We were very pleased to get home and had a long cuddle to rid us of the tension.

I sat with her and we watched Big Brother together.  I wouldn’t normally ever watch it but I wanted to show Chakka solidarity so I desisted making any disparaging remarks although privately I felt the inhabitants of the house were an awful bunch of wannabes.

Next