Where Do I Fit In?

by Andrew Foote

Chapter 28

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.

On reaching home my first thought was to call Lucas and make sure they had a safe trip home. We weren't going to be together now for a couple of nights as it seemed only right that we should both spend some time with our respective families but that said, we could still be together during the day as they would be out at work.

He answered my call at the first ring.

"Hey Andy? I take it you're home then?"

"Yep, we're back. Did you get the same message as me about going back to school?"

"Yeah. Don't have to be there until next Monday. Paul dropped me a text and told me they had been told the same but we still have training on Thursday morning. It's going to seem strange not being together with everyone else."

"We'll soon get back into the swing of things plus we'll have Gary and Dan joining us."

"That's not going to happen anytime soon is it? You have to move house first."

"Ah well you see? Here's the good news. We move this Friday!"

"Oh super-cool! We could all come over and help or is that come over and get under everyone's feet maybe?"

"Nah, are you kidding? My folks would really appreciate it. They've got a removal firm doing all the graft but you know how it is? There's always jobs to be done so the more the merrier."

"I'll text the guys and we can get together on Thursday and talk logistics. Can I see you tomorrow?"

"You fucking better or you're geography."

"Don't you mean history?"

"Don't change the subject!! See you in the morning. You've got a key so just let yourself in. I love you y'know?"

"Funny fucker! I know it and I love you back ten-fold. See you in the morning."

I was seriously tempted to have a zizz but remembering what Lucas had said about trying to stay awake, I instead downloaded all the photos from my camera. It's strange how some of them seemed as if I'd taken them a lifetime ago yet some transported me back to Guam in a heartbeat. I then put them onto a memory stick so I could show Mum and Dad later once they'd had time to relax. (Dad doesn't enjoy early starts!) They looked awesome even on my laptop so they'd look even better on Dad's large desktop system.

I then unpacked my suitcase throwing all the dirty stuff into the hamper but stopped as I looked at the lightweight summer trackies. Now Guam did seem a lifetime way! I slung them out for cleaning and carried on until I unearthed my tee shirt that I'd bought a couple of days ago. I laid it on the bed and once I'd either put stuff out for washing or hung up what was clean, I got myself out of my smart uniform and changed into a pair of jeans plus my newly acquired tee. The thought that my parents wouldn't approve never even entered my head as they both had a decent sense of humour but then I remembered their token gifts and set about wrapping them in some gift paper I'd bought on the island, one for Dad, one for Mum, one for Jo and one for Simon who, okay wasn't really family but he would be eventually.

My thoughts then turned to some of the things that had gone on which at the time seemed trivial such as the conversation with Lorain while the others were jet skiing, the time when Lucas and I first peered over the edge of that high table and silly conversations over supper and I could feel my emotions getting the better of me. What was going on? I was thinking about happy, carefree moments so why was I getting so upset? Maybe it was a combination of tiredness and jetlag but whatever it was, I couldn't help myself and I dissolved into tears. I saturated my pillow before eventually settling down but I was in no fit state to face my parents and it was getting close to supper time. I had to do something so reaching for my phone, I went into my contact list and made my selection.

"Hello Andy? Is everything alright?"

"Yes but……..I can't stop crying even though I've no reason to be upset Lauren. What's happening to me? I'm scared!"

"Calm down Andy. Take a few deep breaths and relax. There's no reason to be concerned, in fact I've had a few calls this afternoon from your fellow travellers, all experiencing the same emotions.

What's happening is that you all met at Heathrow as complete strangers but then, over a period of less than three weeks, you bonded and by that I don't mean you made friends, you became what the SCGB intended you to become, a close knit community of young and up-coming sports people.

You see, sometimes just being good at what you do isn't enough, there has to be an element of spirit within a group who are all doing their utmost to be as good as they can possibly be. This is one of the reasons you were encouraged to have a go at each other's disciplines, understand what each of you has to go through so you have a better understanding of each other. What you're experiencing is not the fact that a nice holiday is over, it's a lot bigger than that. You are missing the bond that you made with your peers, nothing more, nothing less."

"Yes I can see that but…….."

"Imagine you're all of you say, taking part in the European Games. Some events are very lonely places in which to perform but if all your team mates had an idea about your discipline and they all came along to support you, how good might you feel about that? They wouldn't just be faces wearing Team GB colours but people you knew personally, made friends with, went on nights out with, laughed with, cried with even. It's our experience that yes, wearing the Union Jack on your chest or in your case, on your trunks is a big motivator to do well, but to see your mates yelling you on is an even bigger reason to succeed. For some strange reason Andy, you're more likely to do well for your friends than you are simply for your country. Yes we were being a bit sneaky but there you have it. Did you exchange email addresses with everyone?"

"No not everyone."

"Will you let me do that? Keeping in contact is very important for all of you."

"Sure, why not. I think we all meant to but one minute the holiday has just begun and the next we're on the plane home."

"Understandable. I'll email you a list of all the kids you met in Guam, their sport and email addresses. Stay in contact with them even if it's just to say hello every once in a while. Believe you me, it goes a long way! Feeling happier?"

"Loads! Thank you Lauren? Thanks so much!"

"No problem Andy. Anytime you need to talk I'm here 24-7. Go and enjoy your evening."

Breakfast in our house was never what you might call a family event as my father had normally left for his office but today he hadn't.

"What have you got planned for today son? Anything pressing?"

"Nothing much. Lucas is coming round later but that's about it really. I take it you've jobs needing to be done!"

"Well sort of. There's been a change of plan with regards to the new house and instead of contracts being exchanged on Thursday they're being done at midday today. This means we can get the keys and start sorting stuff out. I've got a board meeting this afternoon so I was hoping you'd go and collect them for me. Could you do that?"

"Yes sure! Does this mean we move any sooner?"

"Nope. We'll still do that on Friday but it does mean we can get organised that bit earlier. Because the place has been unoccupied for a while, I'll have to get the electricity reconnected, get GLB to service the central heating boiler, get an oil delivery and so on and I was wondering, if you've got nothing else on and all assuming I can make the necessary arrangements, could you go round there and let people in?"

"I can do that. Tell you what else I or even we as in Lucas and I could do while we're waiting around? If we pulled together all the necessary kit, we could crack on and give the kitchen a bit of a spring clean. All the cupboards are mucky, the window cills are covered in dust and the floor is filthy. It would be better to do it whilst the place is empty don't you think?"

"Great idea. You're talking about your kitchen here are you?"

"No I was thinking about the big one but then if we have the time, no reason not to do mine as well."

"That's very considerate of you mate. Thank you! Take whatever you need from here and if you run out of anything, I'll leave twenty quid in the bureau. By the way. Love the tee shirt!"

Lucas arrived a little later and over a mug of coffee I told him the news.

"Oh cool! I was wondering what we'd do today? Maybe the others might like to join us, shall I give them a call?"

"Yeah, why not! They haven't actually seen the place yet."

"Okay then. I'm on it! I'll put it on speaker mode."

The call rang out a couple of times before Paul answered.

"Hey Lucas? What's happening?"

"I'm here at Andy's place and we were wondering what you were doing today."

"Nothing. We're bored shitless actually!"

"Okay then. Andy's been asked to collect the keys to their new place so we're going round there after lunch and give it a spring clean. Just wondered if you'd like to give us a hand is all."

"That's all."

"Yeah. That's what I said!"

"Only joking! Yep we're up for it. Do you want us to give Benny a shout?"

"Sure. Many hands and all that!"

"Okay. What sort of time and what's the address?"

Lucas looked at me to reply.

"Say somewhere about one? The address is 212 Cressingham, just down from Lucas' place."

"Oh hi Andy! Didn't realise you were listening! Okay, see you about one o'clock then."

Just as Lucas ended the call so the house phone rang. It was my Dad.

He'd managed to get people organised. The electric would be connected first, then the delivery of central heating oil followed by a complete service of the heating system. He also reminded me to take a crash course on how to drive the control unit just in case it was any different to our current one.

I looked at my watch. Eleven-thirty.

"We ought to get going. Did you bring your bike?

"Yeah. I was going to jog it but looks like a good thing I didn't. C'mon, let's raise dust!"

We collected the keys then on our way back we dumped our bikes round the back of the house and loaded the wheelbarrow with the vacuum cleaner and cleaning equipment.

"You've not got many dusters Andy? Do you want me to go to the shops while you take this lot up to the new place?"

"Yes please. I'll get some cash, oh and while you're at it, get another spray can of polish could you?"

By the time I got to our new place, the electric guy was already waiting outside.

"Sorry to keep you waiting. All these changes of plan have sort of caught us on the hop rather!"

"No matter. I'll be in and out in about fifteen minutes."

A few minutes later Paul, Lor and Benny appeared on the scene so while the electrician was busy doing whatever electricians do, I gave them a guided tour, first of the main house then our flat and it was then I heard Lucas call out.

"Anybody home?"

"We're through in the flat. I'm giving the guys a tour round."

He walked in through the hall and joined us.

"Well what do you reckon then? Pretty neat huh?"

Lor had this sort of dazed look on her face.

"It's fabulous or rather it will be once you've decorated. We'd give our eye teeth for a place like this wouldn't we Paul?"

"Too right we would but then we're not complaining. We're given our space. Where do you want to start with the cleaning?"

"The kitchens are top priority so if you and Lor could make a start on ours, Lucas, Benny and I will tackle the main one. I bought a couple of buckets up from our old place and there's soap, mops, dusters and polish together with a vacuum cleaner for when the electric's connected. Talking of which, I better go and find out how he's getting on."

I found the electrician in the cupboard under the stairs.

"How's it looking then?"

"Yeah okay. I'm just doing a resistance check and then I'll go around all the sockets with a ring main tester and so long as everything checks out, the jobs a goodun. There is just one thing? There's a separate thirty-five amp feeder coming of a junction box. Where might that be going? Any ideas?"

"Umm……..there's the granny flat? Could it be going there?"

"Could be. Can you show me?"

I showed him through to the flat and he started looking in all the kitchen cupboards then he spotted something.

"You were quite right mate. Go to the top of the class! This part of the house is obviously an extension and what we've got here is an RCD box meaning all the electrics are fused separately from the main building. Bloody good idea because if say all the lights went out, you wouldn't have to go searching for the trip anywhere else but in here."

"I'll have to remember that cos this is where I'll be living!"

"Oh right! Okay let me show you how it works. There's this switch that turns everything off then you have a series of separate trip switches. This one is for your downstairs sockets, this for those upstairs, this one for your emersion heater and this one for your lights. Obviously up is on, down means it's tripped out."

"Hey thanks for that! I would've felt a bit of an idiot grovelling around next door looking for the problem!"

Just then Lucas came through.

"Got us a problem Andy. No water and I can't find the main stopcock."

"Our electrician friend came to our aid here.

"Look underneath the kitchen sink, it might be there as the cold water feed to all kitchen taps has to come directly off the main. If you can't see it then follow the pipe that feeds the cold tap and somewhere you should come across it."

We then heard a shout from Benny.

"Found it! What a bloody silly place to put it though!"

We went through into the main kitchen to find him in the pantry flat on his tummy.

"I can't believe anyone could be so stupid! You've got to be a bloody contortionist to get to it. Okay, water's on."

He pulled himself out and stood up. Our electrician looked surprised.

"Hello Benny? I thought you were away in warmer climes?"

"Oh hi Don! Yes we all of us were. Got back yesterday afternoon mores the pity!"

Don turned to me.

"Benny's father is a damn good plumber even though it's not what he does for a living so Benny here knows a thing or two as well. Right I better get finished so you can have hot water and use that vacuum cleaner."

Next came the delivery of heating oil closely followed by the service engineer. He was only with us for about ten minutes!

"Your boiler is brand new. Doesn't need servicing. I'll fire it up and bleed all the radiators, show you the controller and I'll be away."

"Does it heat all the domestic hot water or just the rads?"

"Does the lot mate, including the extension."

"Oh good. No need to run the immersion then. If everything checks out, can you leave it running please? It's damn cold in here!"

"No problem."

None too chatty I thought but then why should he be? One other thought crossed my mind so keeping out of the way of all the activity in the main kitchen, I walked through to where Paul and Lorain were dusting off some of the shelves in ours. Just as I'd remembered. All the cookers were gas and that had been cut off as well so out with my phone and hoping my father was out of his meeting, made the call to his office. Actually I caught him just before the meeting was due to begin.

"What's up son? Make it quick, the meeting's about to start."

"Okay. We have electricity, fuel oil and the boiler didn't need servicing cos it's brand new but we forgot about getting the gas reconnected."

"Shit, shit, fuck! So we did. Too late to expect them to turn out today but if I get my secretary to arrange it, how are you fixed for tomorrow Andy?"

"Cool. We're waiting on hot water so we won't get as far today as we'd anticipated so no worries. I can get up here straight from training so if we say about nine-ish?"

"Good man! Leave the heating on but turn the thermostat down to about fifteen degrees before you leave. That way the whole of the fabric of the house will warm up, okay?"

"Okay Dad. I leave you to your meeting. Bye."

"Bye son and thanks."

We didn't do as much as I'd hoped, due more because of all the interruptions however Lor and Paul did manage to finish our little kitchen but the main one was only half completed. I turned the thermostat down as per Dad's request and as we left the house I locked up behind us. I didn't feel I could ask for more help in the morning. We were going back into training and the guys had been fantastic working in the chill of an empty house today so I chose not to mention it but Benny beat me to it.

"Can you use more of the same tomorrow? I'm bored out of my brains and I never thought I'd say this but I'd rather be back at school than just loafing around the house with nothing to do?"

"Well if you're offering? We'll be up here but please don't think you're like obligated or anything?"

"No, I know I'm not obligated but I miss the camaraderie and the company. We're a team aren't we?"

Lor leaned forward and gave him a quick hug.

"With you on that matie-boy! We were both so depressed last night, Paul was all for calling Lauren."

I had to smile at her comment so I admitted my weakness.

"Actually I did call her. I couldn't stop crying but she told me it was a natural reaction and she'd had others in our group who felt the same way. Are you all going to come tomorrow then?"

"Deffo! We've got a spare kettle kicking around somewhere so if we bring that plus coffee, sugar and milk, can you find some mugs?"

"Sorted! See you at mine at six-thirty tomorrow morning then!!"

Following supper I busied myself with the washing up and just as I'd finished so my Mum came through.

"See that cardboard box on the side? In there is the start of equipping your kitchen. There's a whole load of cutlery and crockery, mugs, washing up liquid, cooking utensils and other odds and sods. If you like, on Saturday once you're back from training, we can go into town to somewhere like Dunnelm and organise things such as drawer inserts for the cutlery, plate racks, lamp shades and bits and pieces like that. Dad's already ordered a fridge-freezer and a microwave which should be delivered on Friday but we're left with the problem of a bed-settee. I think we're just going to have to bite the bullet and buy new as we don't have one and neither do Gregg and Julie. Is that something you'd like to do?"

"That would be great! Are there any sales still on?"

"No not as such but some of these outlets have like a perpetual sale so we should be able to pick up some bargains! Technically the country is still in recession and shops are desperate to turn over stock. We should do okay."

"When could we start redecorating?"

"Whenever you like really. Have you decided on colour schemes?"

"No. We thought it best to wait and see what furniture comes from the Carmichael's and base our choice around that rather than choosing something now only to find that it clashes with it."

"Are you excited?"

"God yes! Friday can't come quick enough for either of us!"

I tried hard to stifle a yawn.


"Knackered more like! I don't think I'm fully over the jetlag yet."

"Possibly not. Why don't you take yourself off to bed but before you do, can you give me your lists of everything you thought you'd need so I can go through it and see what we have already?"

"Yes sure. We merged the files so all I have to do is print it off. Give me like ten minutes Mum."

File printed and handed over I showered, fell into bed and slept for England only waking to the alarm at half five the next morning.

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