by Andrew Foote
Throughout this story real organisations and real people are mentioned by name. Their place in the tale is in the author's imagination. No thoughts, words or deeds attributed to those people or organisations are real, nor have they ever happened. This is a story! It's fiction. The people and organisations, even when they interact with the characters, are presented in an entirely imagined and fictitious manner, and no discourtesy is intended to them by the author nor by the web site.
Jo called mid-morning sounding a bit sheepish.
"Hey brother, I've a confession to make. Last night after everything and everyone cooled down, then the wine and shit I forgot to tell you something of equal importance. It doesn't directly impact on things to any great extent although it is another source of revenue……..sort of but the knock-on effect will definitely enhance things. The Metro have agreed with the Council to extend the line to incorporate Hawthorn Hill so providing direct access from the city centre. Aside from giving easy access, it'll boost the chances of further takers for the remaining plots and remember, you lot are still sitting on the best part off seventeen acres of land, just under half you bought not taking into account the need for decent car parking spaces so if we say around fourteen to fifteen acres? That's still one hell of a lot of land to offload.
Our take on this is that we go easy on the Metro Company regarding land values. Even if we gave it away which we can't, the value to the development far outweighs any charge we might levy so my boss reckons that we do like a peppercorn rent agreement say something in the region of one pound per metre per year for the track then, depending on how big the station is, well we negotiate but erring on the side of very reasonable."
"That's something of a coincidence actually. The other night I was talking to Tony and just happened to mention that neither Lucas nor I had done anything about learning to drive so if we wanted to visit the site, okay we could bike it but that isn't very pleasant if it's kicking it down with rain but to be able to hop on a bus into town then take the Metro makes it far easier."
"It's a long way off Andy, you'll most likely have your driving test under your belt ever before all the infrastructures in place."
"Yes and I hope that's the case but I wasn't so much thinking about me but all the other people who don't have access to transport. The other thing is the park and ride.
The Rugby Club were in the process of organising something for their match days, do you know how far the negotiations have got?"
"No I don't. I'll try to find out or do you want to do it."
"Tell you what? I'm bumbling about here with not much to do so why not leave it with me? I've met the Chairman of the Rugby Club and he's a nice chap and besides I really ought to update him regarding the other developments like I promised."
"Good. Okay then but if you could keep me up to speed please. If we get any other enquiries it would look far more professional to be in possession of all the facts. Its family night tonight isn't it?"
"See you tonight then. Bye."
"So that's as far as we've got. Swimming complex with the nod we're likely to get the new gymnasium and indoor sports facility, negotiations are ongoing reference Swinton Sports Club, a pub and two restaurants, oh and the Metro link."
"Sounds all very encouraging Andrew. For our part we are planning to start on the redevelopment next month. We've been talking to the construction company and both they and we feel the need to make fast progress while there's the possibility of decent weather during the summer then depending on how far forward we are, we might even take the matches there by the middle of next season.
So far as the park and ride is concerned, City First are happy enough to run a service from various locations on match days but if you want them to extend it to cover something akin to a regular service then I wouldn't hold your breath. They'll probably wait to see whether or not it's worth their while, do a feasibility study and then make a decision. No harm in putting the idea forward I guess but don't expect them to make an instant choice, they just don't work that way."
"That I can understand and thanks for the tipoff!"
"You're more than welcome. Have you seen our proposed new layout?"
"No I haven't, not yet."
"Log on to our website and click on the link 'New era' and you'll see an artist's impression of how we envisage everything upon completion. I have to say, we're very proud of it. It's very futuristic but that's how the Council see your site with everything very modern, very state of the art and something that will showcase the City."
About an hour later there was a knock on the connecting door. My Mum was standing there letters in hand.
"Bloody hell Mum? You look dreadful! Are you alright?"
"No, definitely not! After you boys disappeared off to bed last night we……..err...…..carried on drinking"
"Come on through and I'll brew us some coffee. Honestly, you look like shit warmed up!"
"Thanks. That's pretty much how I feel. Anyway you have some post."
We sat over coffee and paracetamol, for my dear mother I hasten to add, the paracetamol that is, not the coffee, well yes okay, the coffee as well but you get my drift.
Mundane stuff like Lucas's and my joint bank statement, an electricity bill but then something slightly more interesting.
"Hey Mum? We've been invited to attend a meeting of the local authority planning committee."
"Lucas and I. I wonder what that's in aid of?"
"You won't know if you don't attend. Are you? Going to attend?"
"I will but Lucas is a problem what with school as it's scheduled for this Friday morning. I'll give him a bell at lunchtime and see what he's doing. If he's got private study periods he might be able to get away."
"Yeah Andy, Friday's cool. I've got Maths first period then nothing for the rest of the day. I was planning on coming home at lunchtime anyway so I'll get out of here by ten so if you meet me at school we can grab a bus into town. Any clues as to what they want?"
"They don't say but it must be something to do with Hawthorn Hill wouldn't you have thought?"
"Well yeah but why us? It isn't like we're planning on building anything? If it was anything to do with future plans, wouldn't Jo be the better one to attend, see knows all the details far better than us?"
"Just have to suck it and see I guess."
"I'm getting a boner just friggin' talking to you, sexual innuendos I don't need!"
"Oh right. So you don't want to get home and find me all naked and lubed up waiting for you then."
"My naked body all oiled ready for you to slip-slide all over me then roughly take me from behind and pound the shit out of me or maybe I tease your dick for hours on end until you can't take anymore and gush down my throat?"
"You're an animal! God damn it if I didn't have French next period I'd come home right now!!"
"Hmm! Now there's a thought."
" WHAT IS??"
"Frenching. Deep, passionate and meaningful kisses so good that you have a hands-free!!"
He's right. I am a bit of a slob!
I'd taken a change of clothes so Lucas could look something other than a schoolboy never paying any attention to how I looked. True, my jeans were clean on that morning and I had fought back the temptation to wear my Guam tee shirt substituting it for something rather more appropriate but I'm damned if I'm going to stalk around town wearing a collar and tie. Those day's finished the day I took Lucas out of school the afternoon I got my results. Fine. I might just give thought to wearing a suit when Jo gets hitched finally maybe even when Lucas and I……..?
We registered with the receptionist at the Town Hall before we were met by a lady who took us through and introduced us to the members of the planning committee.
The meeting was called to order.
"First I would like to thank Andrew Pope and Lucas Carmichael for agreeing to attend this meeting. I'm afraid I didn't make it clear as to the purpose of their attendance and for that I apologise but if you would care to open the folders in front of you, you will see an artist's impression of how we see the completed swimming and diving facility. Just to make you aware, planning permission has been granted and funds have been made available so all that's left is to tidy up a few loose ends and begin construction. We have been in talks with Gloucester Rugby Club and the most cost effective way to proceed is if we as a Council work together with the Rugby Club in order to minimise disruption in the immediate vicinity. In other words, we want to begin phase one at the beginning of next month."
To say that the building looked fantastic is an understatement. The interior was unbelievable as it included a kiddie pool, Olympic standard swimming pool, a Water Polo pool and of course, a diving pool but at this point my eyes narrowed and I heard Lucas agreeing with my thoughts.
"Standard size diving pool, two low-level spring boards, two five metre, a five metre and a ten metre table. Not good enough!"
"The reason we invited you to this meeting is for you to give us your take on the diving facilities. The SCGB have helped enormously with the swimming pools but declined to offer any help with the diving pool suggesting that you are much better placed to advise us. Do you have any thoughts?"
Lucas silently urged me on.
"Umm……..well actually we do have a few. It all looks very good, more than good, superb in fact but looking at the diving pool, it's pretty much a carbon copy of the current facility at Christchurch. May I ask how deep the diving pool is?
"Let me see now……..twenty-five feet."
"Mmmm. If you were thinking about hosting serious events here or even using it for what you might call advanced training, it would be far better to increase the depth to say thirty-five feet then you could install a fifteen metre table as this is one of the heights used in competitions such as the Commonwealth Games not to mention the Olympics."
"I think that might prove to be too expensive."
"I'm no construction expert but it seems a pity not to go that extra mile while you have the opportunity? Spoiling the ship if you like."
"Hmm. Is that the highest table?"
"In competition it is. There's a pool the other side of the world that has a twenty metre table but it's hardly ever used and certainly never for competitive events."
"Have you boys used it?"
"What was it like?"
"Exhilarating! Very exhilarating!"
"And how deep was that pool?"
I looked at Lucas who replied for me.
"The same. Thirty-five feet. The equation between the height you dive from and the depth needed to be safe from smashing into the bottom reduces experientially above a certain distance. Twenty-five feet is fine for a ten metre table but the depth has to increase to thirty-five for a fifteen metre. Diving from twenty metres, the increased speed on entering the water is negligible plus the body's own natural buoyancy prevents you from bottoming out."
"Very interesting. Thank you."
What remained of the meeting was interesting enough as they discussed the possibility of building the new Gym and indoor arena and plans were passed around the table. These weren't like the artist's impressions but working drawings and outline sketches but it was good to know that something had got as far as the planning committee but nothing was said about location.
Just before we left for the trek home, the committee chairlady told us she would personally keep us informed of any decision regarding the reworking or otherwise of the diving pool. We got the impression that she was in favour of our argument but how much influence she had? Only time would tell.
Instead of catching a bus, we elected to walk home.
"I fail to understand why on earth they don't go for broke and build the stupid thing with the future in mind? It makes perfect sense to dig that bit deeper and then if they'd run out of funds, they could install the table at a later date."
"I agree but remember what the Chairman of the Rugby Club told us, you know, about the odd way some Council's think. Spend a mint of cash on a terrific building then not equip it properly or in his example, didn't have the resources to staff it. Changing the subject? Where did you get all that information about dive heights versus depth?"
"That's easy. We worked it out! We, that is our class with the help of Mr Appleby."
"But he's a useless teacher. Nice enough man but fucking hopeless at his job."
"Not so Andy. You remember him from when he tried to teach us when we were like thirteen or fourteen. We were little bastards back then, the poor guy didn't stand a chance! His biggest issue is maintaining discipline, he just can't do it but……..when he's got sixth form students who really wanna learn, I'm telling you, he's your man!"
"I stand corrected then and I'm sorry Mr Appleby."
"And so you should be! A great guy, a great teacher and one with a wicked sense of humour."
"Never a sense of humour?"
"Yeah, really! I'll see if I can remember one he told us. Oh right!"
"You've heard of Marvin Gaye?"
"A legend. What of him?"
"Mr Appleby knew him."
"He said that Marvin Gaye kept a cow in his vineyard."
"Yeah, he'd herd it through the grapevine! Hahahaha!!"
"Okay, that's funny!! All is forgiven John Appleby!"
The moment we walked in through the door Jo came round the corner and met us.
"Hey sis? You're home early?"
"I know! I've got more news so I took half a day's holiday!"
"And your M.D. didn't mind?"
"No. Actually it was him who suggested it."
"You're not in trouble I hope?"
"No! Quite the reverse as it happens. Got any chilled wine? I fancy getting pissed!"
"O…kay? That good then."
"Yes, that good! What's the time?"
"Just gone four."
"Can you cancel training for tonight? I'd like it if all involved like Lorain, Paul, Benny and you blokes could all be here……..sort of saves me from repeating myself."
"I'll call them while Lucas finds something suitably alcoholic for you."
"Cancel training and find something suitably alcoholic for all of us!! "
Training suitably cancelled. The only little problem was Millie as she had been expecting to be at Christchurch and was going round to Benny's place beforehand rather than going home but as she knew most of what we were doing, well it really didn't matter that much if she sat in. Benny had his work cut out though. Unlike him, she wasn't averse to taking a drink or three.
They ended up staying the night with him also three sheets to the wind!
Lucas found our stash of Champagne and although he had no idea if Jo's news warranted opening a bottle, three as it turned out, he went for it anyway.
Glasses were a problem……..we didn't have any Champagne flutes but as my Mum and Dad were away on one of their theatre buff episodes, we raided their drinks cabinet and stole theirs.
"Okay Jo. I'm opening the expensive stuff so you tell us what we're all doing here huh?"
"Okay. First to the bit that involves me. All will become clear eventually so please bear with me.
I'm with a firm of……..I don't know quite how to explain……..manage, help, advise, guide businesses through the tangles of operating in a global market. Business opportunities abroad and at home, helping them connect with foreign clients and customers, overcoming the trade difficulties that stem from all of these things.
Then you guys happen on the scene. Not really our thing but an opportunity for me to get first-hand experience working with a company small enough to be easy enough, no disrespect people but also big enough to challenge me. Okay so far?
To begin with, tinkering around with a few million quid, small beer in the greater scheme of things, was fine but now……..you are becoming a major player like an overnight success to the point that had you floated on the Stock Exchange, you would've been snapped up. You didn't and thank fuck for it!
With all of this in mind, my M.D. has offered to second me to Sporting Endeavours (Gloucester) Ltd full time so I can stay on top of developments free of all other commitments. He will continue to pay my salary, be there if I should need him for help or advice so continuing to work in the background but officially you are on your own.
The downside to this is that, if you accept, you will have to vote me onto the board of directors in a non-executive capacity, in other words unpaid but giving me access to bank accounts, books and so on but I do this already so it isn't like a big deal. It also gives me voting rights, something I don't have right now but I have no desire to interfere but I could be a steadying hand on the tiller.
Lucas decided he had a few.
"Got all of that Jo but you said before about us now becoming a major player? What exactly did you mean by that?"
"Okay Lucas. Yes I did and for very good reasons."
She turned to Benny.
"Cast your mind back to those earlier conversations Benny. You weren't at all sure about this venture and I can't say I blame you really as it must have seemed like one hell of a risk. Am I right?"
"Yes. I mean I come from a family that isn't used to big money, yeah we're comfortable enough but we were talking about huge sums. I was very nervous."
"Fair enough. I would've been as well, believe it! Now sit back and try to get your heads around this.
You all came up with sponsorship money, doubtless very well deserved but what to do with it? An embryonic, some might say an idiotic idea to buy land that the best in the business couldn't offload was, on paper, totally crazy but you pooled your money and went ahead anyway.
Some might say that you were lucky but that's rubbish cos you wouldn't have ever lost your investment. At worst you might've had to wait years to see any return on it but……..at the close of business last night and with you initial investment safe, you were in profit to the tune of thirteen point two million pounds and Lucas? That's what makes you a player!"
The entire room was stunned into silence then Benny reached for an empty glass and helped himself to a measure of Champagne.
"I'm a fifteen year old kid from a normal background who a month ago didn't have enough money in his pocket to buy his girlfriend a McDonald's and now I'm a millionaire?"
"Wrong Benny. You're a multi-millionaire."
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