Monday, January 7, 2013

A Roundabout In Dewsbury In The Rain

I heard he was due to come into the building, but I had forgotten all about it. I was busy. I was trying write a radio commercial for a car dealership in Leeds. It wasn't going very well. The car was some sort of fast sports affair, a brand new shiny model, the dynamics and dimensions of which enthralled me not one iota. An overpriced toy for idiots. That was my initial idea for a strap-line. But I couldn't write that, of course. I had to summon up some enthusiasm. It was my job. I had to at least pretend to be interested for money. It was taking up very last drop of my effort. I read the brief, I looked at the brochure and I typed. None of it seemed to make any sense. Performance, power, APR payments. I could feel my brain slowly seizing.
   There was some minor excitement at the other side of the room. He'd arrived. I could see the open-plan office reflected in the big window beyond my computer screen. It was getting dark outside and had started raining; November tea-time in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire. His old stomping ground, someone had said. Where it had all started. The dance halls. Everyone had been very fussy at the thought of him coming in, and now here he was. He was really here. I could hear that voice. He was being led slowly around the desks, being introduced to the staff. They kept using his title. Nobody knew about him back then. People had always said things, but nobody knew for certain. Apart from the people who nobody had believed or even listened to. But this was eight years or so ago. It was easy to dismiss it all as idle gossip. Malicious knee-jerk jibing. He was definitely lecherous, though, I could see that much in the window. There was lot of elaborate bowing and kissing of young female fingers and cheeks. But nobody seemed to object. People were laughing. They were thrilled. I got on with my typing. Cars. Test drives. Tedium.
   Then I sensed somebody directly behind me. I swivelled my chair around and it was him. He looked exactly how you would expect, almost ridiculously so; the purple shell suit, the cigar, the silver hair tied back in a pony tail, the plethora of gold trinkets. He looked old, much older than I had imagined. Small and frail, a paper doll of a man. I stood up, said hello, pleased to meet you. He didn't reply, just lifted a scrawny gilded hand, pontiff style. It was nothing like shaking hands. He wasn't shaking hands, he was allowing me to touch him. I didn't know what to do, so I sort of tapped the back of his wrist, like a polite and tentative smite of a bell on the desk of a hotel reception. It was weird. We just looked at each other. I didn't know what to say to him. I didn't trust myself to speak and not do the comedy voice. I thought I was going to start laughing. Then he said something, I can't recall what exactly, something like "Are we winning, team?", or "Everything OK here then?". Something like that.
   "Not really," I said. I took  the car brochure from the desk and held it up to show him, this sleek and sexy red sports machine. "I'm trying to write this thing about this car. I can't do it though. I can't get excited about it. I'm not a fan of cars."
   He didn't look at the picture or me. He pointed past me, out of the window. "Look", he said. I turned round and looked. We were three stories up. t was raining heavily now, really coming down. The rain blurred the hills and buildings on horizon into blocks of dark green and grey, and I couldn't see anything below us except traffic slowly circling a roundabout. I "Look at that," he said. "Yorkshire. Marvellous."

Russ L

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