I sip my polystyrene cup of coffee pensively. Another dayâ€™s play going pear-shaped; we are not having a good season. The clouds have blown over again and all I can do is pray for rain. Politely, I clap the end of the over: another maiden for the opposition bowler.
Owen slides into the seat next to me. It is most unusual for him to arrive unannounced.
â€œHector wants to see you.â€ No hello, no how are you, no little hug.
I frown. â€œAny idea why?â€
He shrugs. â€œIâ€™m only the messenger.â€
â€œBugger. I wonder what Iâ€™ve written thatâ€™s offended him?â€
I abandon my coffee and follow Owen through the membersâ€™ bar and up to Hectorâ€™s private office. If we were a football club, Hector would be the owner. In English cricket things are more genteel; instead, he is our chairman and chief source of cash. I have met him only twice before.
As Owen punches in the combination to the private area, I ask him if heâ€™s OK. His head is down as he replies, â€œJust busy, thatâ€™s all.â€ Now I am sure Iâ€™m in for a major bollocking, maybe even being told never to darken the clubâ€™s doors again. Owen must know, and he is too kind to tell me. Perhaps Iâ€™ve even dragged him into the mire as well.
I have never been in Hectorâ€™s office before. It has a grandstand view of the pitch, and gives an over-riding impression of black. Black leather sofas, black desk, dark grey smoked glass table. The carpetâ€™s probably dark grey too, but I donâ€™t look at that â€“ I have decided to look Hector in the eye.
He extends his hand towards me. â€œWillow! Sorry to drag you away from the game â€“ although itâ€™s not exactly edifying cricket.â€
I shake his hand enthusiastically. â€œI donâ€™t know whatâ€™s happened to us this season.â€
He laughs hollowly. â€œYou do, youâ€™re just too polite to say!â€
Hector gestures to one of the sofas and I sit down. â€œCan I get you a drink or anything? Gin and tonic maybe?â€
â€œNo thanks. Iâ€™m driving.â€
Why is he making me feel about two inches tall? Iâ€™m sure itâ€™s deliberate.
He sits down in an armchair next to me and we chat about this and that. I feel myself relax a little; he wouldnâ€™t be this friendly if he was going to tear me off a strip, but my mind is working overtime, trying to work out what he does want. It canâ€™t be my scintillating company; I feel as though Iâ€™m acting like a rabbit caught in the headlights.
In the end, he comes to the point. â€œAre you very busy at the moment? Do you have the bandwidth to take on a major project?â€
Actually, I am very busy, but Iâ€™m still interested.
â€œIt depends what it is.â€
â€œAnd how much itâ€™s worth!â€
Itâ€™s my turn to laugh now. â€œIt wonâ€™t be worth much if itâ€™s to do with cricket.â€
â€œWell it is. I want you to write a kind of history of the club.â€
Iâ€™m puzzled. â€œHasnâ€™t that guy from the membersâ€™ committee already done it?â€
â€œOnly up until 2000. I want something more up to date; something thatâ€™s more off the field than on, and youâ€™re good at writing about that.â€
I get it now. The club history, starting from the moment Hector rode up in his Jag and became our knight in shining armour. Actually, despite the downsides, Iâ€™m up for it. I need a major project to consume my mind and stop it wandering. I lean forwards. â€œWhat exactly would it entail?â€
Congrats Willow 🙂 although i do not know whether the project is fiction or not, you write too close to reality for me to distinguish where the line blurs anyways. If it is not then you seem to have made a solid deal!!
Well thanks, guys. I am still wondering if Hector’s little project will turn out to be a poisoned chalice.
I do not think it will, one would not entrust someone they did not think were good to write the history of the place they manage.
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