My own domain

Once Peter and Gareth had left the office I sat at my new desk and looked around my new domain.

The stairs came up on the back wall and opposite was a wide set of windows looking down into the bustling little road off the High Street.

My desk was set up with my back to the side wall. There were shelves under the windows and at the far end was a metal cupboard on the top of which was a newspaper file.

I went down to introduce myself properly to the receptionist. To my shame I cannot remember her name.

I soon found out the office had only been opened that morning and the company had had it cleaned, decorated and furnished the previous week.

The receptionist was also responsible for taking in adverts.

She told me there was a kitchen and toilet at the back of the reception area.

With all of this new knowledge I went and made myself a coffee using one of the set of cups and saucers in the kitchen, and went back upstairs to phone my parents and break the news.

I was back in business as a reporter; I would have a signed contract/indenture for three years; I would get proper training; and for most of the week I would be my own boss.

My next move was to take s walk in the town centre; check any public notice boards for upcoming events; make myself known at the local council so that I would receive council minutes and agendas; call at the police station to introduce myself; and, first and foremost, go and see Bill at my old office because I was sure he had been responsible for Peter Leaney taking me on.

The last item on my list was the first one I actually undertook, and at the end of the Gardens I turned right to walk up to my old office. It was only just after 10am so Bill should have still been in the office.

Except he wasn’t.

There was nobody there. The offices were locked and there was a notice on the door saying the office was permanently closed and giving a phone number for any enquiries.

That was when I realised that Bill must have known about the closure for some time, as must my new employers have done in order to arrange the lease on a new office including getting power, water and telephone laid on.

I never did see Bill again but I did meet many people who had known him well over the years.

It turned out that at 11am each weekday he used to settle down at the bar of the High Street pub and remain there until afternoon closing time (except for the days when the court operated).

People would be in and out and he would get information about most of what was happening in the area.

He was apparently known for having pints of beer with whisky chasers. Not long before Delwyn and I went to work there he had apparently been advised by his doctor to cut down on his drinking.

The story was that he cut his pints of beer down to halves but still had a whisky chaser with every half.

Whether or not this was true doesn’t matter any more. It became part of Bill’s backstory and it only enhanced his reputation as a hard-drinking, hardbitten reporter.

He did attend the weekly court sessions and in the evenings attended council meetings.

He probably worked harder at the office bringing all the stories together than most modern journalists.

It was quite some years later, after Bill died, that Peter Leaney told me that, knowing the office was closing and that I would lose my job, my chief reporter had got in touch with him and recommended me.

There had been no mention of Delwyn and, again years later, I discovered he had gone to work for the water board and done quite well for himself.

If it hadn’t been for Bill who knows where I would have ended up.

Published by Robin

I'm a retired journalist who still has stories to tell. This seems to be a good place to tell them.

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