Get Your Laugh­ing Tackle Around this

The Victoria Standard - - Calendar - GE­ORGE SMITH

We left off last is­sue with my find­ing the princely sum of £600 on a con­struc­tion site in the May­fair re­gion of Lon­don. That evening I walked home to my flat in north Lon­don with the money in my pocket, still spec­u­lat­ing as to its ori­gins. I walked along the busy streets, con­stantly check­ing to make sure that bun­dle of notes was still there. I walked past all the fa­mil­iar shops that I had gazed long­ingly into on most other evenings on my way home. I looked again at the felt fe­dora that I longed for and the silk shirts with the French cuffs that I could not af­ford and won­dered what it would be like to walk into these shops and splash out with my new found wealth.

I sat on the sofa in my flat and took the money from my pocket to count it one more time. I care­fully flat­tened out each note and placed them in piles of 50s and 20s, and then put them all to­gether in an en­ve­lope. I looked about and de­cided that be­hind the stereo speaker on the top shelf of the book­case would be a good place to put it. I rea­soned that any rob­ber en­ter­ing my flat would not even touch my cheap Good­mans speak­ers and would there­fore not see the en­ve­lope of money.

That evening, I made Hol­landaise Sauce and steamed some fresh as­para­gus for sup­per. I put on a Bob Dy­lan record I had just bought at the sec­ond-hand record shop on Is­ling­ton High Street. As Bob knock knocked on heaven’s door, I washed up and went to the pub.

It was a cou­ple of days be­fore Peter, my friend the diplo­matic po­lice­man, turned up at the con­struc­tion site again for his early morn­ing cup of tea. He had been on leave and had for­got­ten to en­quire of his col­leagues if any­one had claimed that they had lost a lot of money. He said he would re­mem­ber to find out and let me know to­mor­row. I fol­lowed him out­side and watched as he walked to the Em­bassy down the street. “Hello.” I turned to see the woman in evening dress whom I had of­ten seen across the street. She was al­ways well­dressed, though per­haps over-dressed for that time of day. She stopped and asked me about the build­ing and en­quired about what we were do­ing. I an­swered her ques­tions as best I could and of­fered to show her in­side. I some­how could not imag­ine her in a pro­tec­tive hard hat with her high­heeled shoes and her flow­ing dress. She de­clined my of­fer, say­ing she was in a hurry. As she left I re­al­ized that I hadn’t asked her any­thing about her­self and so de­cided to put that right the next time I saw her.

The next day Peter in­formed me that no one had come for­ward to claim the money. He said I should hold onto it for a lit­tle longer and if no one claimed it by the end of the week, I should just keep it. Peter fin­ished his tea, and once again I fol­lowed him into the street and watched the morn­ing sun cast its shad­ows be­tween the houses and the pi­geons scratch about for scraps.

“What are you so deep in thought about?”

She was back. I walked with her to­wards Berkley Square, not sure if she wanted me there or not. I watched her walk in her evening dress and high­heeled shoes with her red hand­bag. She was cer­tainly beau­ti­ful, and this was mak­ing me both self-con­scious and hope­lessly tongue-tied.

“I don’t know your name,” I fi­nally man­aged. “I’m Louisa,” she said. “What do you do?” I blurted, im­me­di­ately wish­ing I had said some­thing clever in­stead.

She just smiled and, look­ing me straight in the eyes, replied, “I en­ter­tain gen­tle­men.”

Per­haps it was the sun mov­ing higher above the rooftops, il­lu­mi­nat­ing and warm­ing the street around us; or maybe it was her pale blue eyes star­ing into mine. I sud­denly felt that this was a per­fect morn­ing.

She hailed a cab. “See you to­mor­row,” she said. I watched as she headed off into the park, and then I walked back to work.

To be con­tin­ued…

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