JUNK and other short stories
He selected a date, agreed it with his boss, and rang the free-phone number of
FreeRanger Travel to tell them when he wanted to go.
“No problem,” said the voice. “You’ll get the tickets in a few days, with all
the details about baggage allowances, check in times and so on, and you’ll be given
the time your taxi will call to pick you up to take you to Heathrow airport. Please try
to be ready, as traffic can cause delays and if you’re late for check in you could miss
This still seemed too good to be true, but at least he appeared to be dealing
with a well-organised company who knew what they were about. This was certainly
no call-centre in India. And so far, he hadn’t had to spend a brass farthing, or been
pestered into buying anything.
He tried to look them up on the Internet, but they didn’t seem to have a web
site, for some reason.
Anyway, all the paperwork duly arrived, with the tickets and everything as
promised. British Airways all the way, non-stop. It was a very long flight, but he
was now getting quite excited about the whole thing.
Gavin had arranged for Nick, his neighbour upstairs, to look after the fish for
him while he was away. Tropical fish, they were. Not many – there wasn’t room for
a big fish tank in his small flat – but they were, in a funny sort of way, good company
for him. He worked a lot from home, did Gavin, and the fish were always there for
him to watch. Colourful and lively. You got colour and movement in a garden, but
not a lot of it in a converted warehouse flat in Limehouse. The fish were a good
substitute and no real trouble at all. The glass needed cleaning from time to time, but
the water stayed clear so long as you didn’t give the fish too much food. That’s why
he’d given Nick the key. The fish would need a feed while he was away. And Nick
had offered to keep an eye on the place as well, so Gavin would have nothing to
Gavin had just put the final pinch of food into the tank when the doorbell rang.
It was the taxi, a bit early, but Gavin was all ready, so it didn’t matter. The driver
was a real cockney, as you might expect in this part of London – chatty and friendly.
It was a private car sort of taxi, too, not a black cab.
“Is this all the kit you’re takin’?” asked the Cabby, jerking his thumb towards
Gavin’s small suitcase and even smaller rucksack with his overnight things in it.
“That’s all,” replied Gavin, collecting his luggage. “Don’t need much for five
The cabby held the door open, while Gavin set the alarm.
“One…two…oh…eight,” he recited to himself.
“Got yer keys?” asked the cabby.
“In here.” Gavin dropped them into the front pocket of his rucksack.
“Orf we go then,” he said slamming the door shut and grabbing the suitcase.
“Goin’ anywhere nice, are yer?” he asked.
They chatted on, and Gavin learnt the man’s views on almost everything, from
Muslims to Meusli, but in particular about the Government.