Easy As Flying In A Saucer.
by Bonzi (The baddest cat ever!)
part: 300 plus all Bonzi's toes.
"I am so sick of smoked salmon," said the complaining voice down the phone.
"Send it to me then, I love it."
"The bread is sticking to the phone."
"Pity, can't you digitise it and send it by email?"
"Nah, haven't got a 'puter in 'ere, 'ave I?"
"I honestly do not know what you do and don't have, Stella."
"Well that's why I'm phoning to keep you up to date."
"I called you, Stella."
"Yes, I did."
"Well bugger me with a crow bar," she said and of course I had just taken a gulp of tea. I spent the next few moments with tea up my nose and all over my desk, while I coughed and spluttered.
"Yes, there's no verb."
"In your last sentence, no verb."
"I'm being bored to death in a loony bin and she corrects my grammar, what is this, 'Casualty.'"
"Habit," I offered.
"Yeah, I know; I've seen the size of your feet."
"I've seen the size of your feet."
"So, they're only a size six, hardly huge are they?"
"Is that normal size six or a Hobbit size six?"
"What are you on about?"
"You said you were a Hobbit."
"A couple or three minutes ago."
"I did not!" I was good at indignation.
"You did, I wouldn't lie to you Cathy, you know too much."
"Is that another one?"
"See what I mean, Simon wouldn't have picked up on it at all."
"Have you spoken to him yet?"
"Nah, will do it later."
"If the smoked salmon doesn't get you first."
"Exactly. See ya soon, byeeeeeeeeeeeeeee."
Suddenly I was alone again.
"Damn, why didn't I give her a doggy bag?" I asked myself out loud. I wondered how long it would take to cycle to Sussex. At least I knew roughly where she was, having cycled round and about while at uni there.
I started the preparation for my lesson, 'Starting a Survey'. I had written so many protocols for all this that it was almost boring to give a lecture on it. However, I didn't claim to know them all so there was room for discussion, I hoped.
"How's it going?"
I looked up to find myself staring at Pippa. "What? Oh yeah, yeah it's fine Pippa, wot no tea?"
"I came down to ask you if you'll speak to a journo."
"What's he want to talk to me about?"
"The survey, oh and it's a woman."
"Shouldn't Tom be doing this?"
"Probably, he's in with the board of professors."
"Oh bugger, alright."
"Shall I send her down then?"
"No, make some tea and I'll come up."
"Absolutely,I want you to sit in on it."
"Cathy, I have typing to do."
"I have things to do, too. If I can give up half an hour, so can you!"
"Huh, how much strychnine do you want in your tea?"
"About half as much as you and the journo," I quipped back.
She stood and poked out her tongue at me. I shook my head.
I finished what I was writing and wandered up to the admin section. I caught sight of a tall woman wandering around looking at pictures on the wall. I wondered if it was the woman I was supposed to meet.
I was sort of tidy, wearing a long denim skirt and a red jumper, with some boots and a denim jacket.
"Hi Pippa, let's get on with it, have you made the tea?"
"Yes your majesty." She curtseyed to emphasise the sarcasm.
"I suppose we could use Tom's office."
"Fine, go and get settled and I'll bring in the tea and the journalist."
"Who is she?"
"Dunno, she gave me her card but it's on my desk."
"Some bloody secretary you are!" I shook my head in mock disgust.
"Ha! Don't think you can fill Tom's chair just 'cos your arse is the same size, missy!"
I sat with my mouth wide open, I was speechless.
"Cathy, this is Marlene Hickman." Pippa led in a tall woman who looked almost familiar.
I did a double take, her shoulders were quite broad and her skirt disguised how big her hips were. We shook hands and hers were bigger than mine, so were her feet. My 'gaydar' was buzzing, this wasn't a natural woman.
"Pleased to meet you," I said squeezing her hand gently.
"And I, you. You don't know how long it has taken to track you down."
"I beg your pardon." This didn't sound like someone who wanted to know about dormice and surveys."
"Someone told me about your interview in Bristol."
"Which one, I've done several."
"The one with your fiance."
"What's the purpose of this interview?"
"To talk to you."
"About what, and for which paper?"
"I thought The Guardian might be interested."
"I was under the impression you came here to talk to me about the forthcoming mammal survey and dormouse study."
"I loved the dormouse clip on Youtube, that suit was exquisite."
"Look who are you?"
"Marlene Hickman, like it says on my card."
"I'm sorry, but I don't have time for this, I have a class to teach." I rose to leave.
"Charlie, sit down and talk to me, you always used to back in school."
"What? Who are you?"
"You knew me better as Gordon Wild."
I stopped and stared at her. I shook my head in disbelief. "I cannot believe there were two of us in one form."
"Nor me, I knew there was something about you, but I assumed you were gay and hadn't worked it out."
"Pippa, can you believe I went to school with this miscreant?"
Pippa sat smiling, "Yes I can, but only because you told me."
"You've done alright for yourself girl, you look a million dollars, have your hooks in a bloke and he's loaded, plus you have a nice little niche in the university."
"I've worked hard for all of it."
"Okay, I wasn't implying you hadn't, and with your looks, you could have been a model."
"Me? Too short."
"Okay, maybe not a Caroline Cossey type, actually you're prettier than her."
"What! She is gorgeous."
"So are you, girl. So, you been done?"
"Yeah, you?" I threw back at her.
"Yeah, last year in Thailand, cost an arm and a leg."
"So what do you want to know about dormice?" I asked.
"Nothing, I'd far rather talk to you and do a personal piece on you."
"Sorry, been there done that, got the stab-marks in my back."
"Do you not think I'd write a sensitive piece?"
"You haven't been very sensitive so far, have you?"
"What do you mean?"
"Well, the deception to get an interview, for a start."
"Not everyone wants to talk to a journalist."
"I know, I'm one of them."
"We need to use people like you to sell the cause to the public."
"Do you get a fee for writing it?"
"Yeah, I'm a professional."
"So am I."
"What, you want a fee for doing it?"
"No, but it's not much of a cause if you expect to profit from it, and don't offer me a fee, not that I want it, because I'm going. Nice to meet you Marlene, I hope you'll be happy in your new role."
As I walked to the door she moved to block me. "I need to interview you," she insisted.
"Make an appointment, I should be free in about 2012."
"Charlie, you're making a mistake."
"If you call me that once more Gordon, or publish anything against me, you'll find out just how big a mistake you're making."
"The pen is mightier..." she smiled at me.
"My lawyer's is a rather nice gold Waterman, if you take my meaning." I was in no mood to banter with her.
"I could make things awkward..."
"Pippa, please note implied threats, you're a witness to this. I have declined to give an interview, that's it. Please leave or I'll call security."
"You haven't heard the last of this!" she stormed out of Tom's office.
I sat down exhausted, I was shaking with shock and anger.
"Who is your lawyer?" asked Pippa.
"I don't have one, that was all bluff."
"I think you'd better get one."
"Yeah, you could have a point." I picked up the phone and left a message for Simon to call me back. He did an hour later.
"So who do you recommend?" I asked him.
"You could use the bank's firm, they'd be okay."
"Who are they?"
"Compton, Abbas and Winterbourne." He gave me their address and phone number. "I've checked with Dad, it's okay to use them."
"Talk to Des, he might have a contact on the paper."
"I thought you didn't approve of Des?"
"I don't, but why keep a dog and bark?"
"He's into the media, he knows his way around and has loads of contacts, so short cut things and use him, he's going to use you for his film."
"If you're sure?"
"Look, it sounds as if this woman you were in school with thought she could call in old favours by exploiting your previous acquaintance in school. If she'd gone about it the right way, I could see you granting the interview, but not the way she did it."
"That's exactly how I feel."
"Well tell that idle bastard in Bristol to get off his arse and stop her."
"If I tell him that, he's hardly going to help me, is he?"
"You want me to call him?"
"Not if you're going to talk to him like that."
"I'll be my usual, charming self."
"Okay then, but let me know what's happening. Oh by the by, Stella is grumbling about too much smoked salmon."
"That girl is always so ungrateful, deal with her and I'll speak to Des."
"You can do better than that Cathy, after all, you expect me to."
"Okay, thanks, Simon."
He rang off and I sat in Tom's chair with Pippa looking at me and asking what we do next. I shrugged my shoulders, I didn't really know, I'd got out of that defensive mode, everyone knows so why bother? But they don't necessarily and could upset one or two others: and to add insult to injury, she's intending to sell it to my favourite newspaper, what irony!.
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