Excerpt from the book Different Planet

5 Days in the life of an English office – there’s lots of banter and insults flying around in this story. One person goes to the wrong place for the weekend, another has horrible personal habits, but the main protagonist realises how he can become a better person – he undergoes a transformation after losing a race and feels better for it.

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Continuing from the previous post…

“And the battery ran out so you can’t access the information,” said Tranfield sarcastically, “well what a waste of a phone. Right I will phone 999 and tell the police you are marooned here and make it their problem. What’s your name?”

 

“Bill.”

 

Tranfield phoned the police and informed them about Bill’s plight. Tranfield looked around at the village and saw a bus shelter. He told the police he’d leave Bill at the bus stop just so he wouldn’t get wet if it rained. After the call, Tranfield pushed Bill to the stop. Tranfield asked Bill to phone him at work when Bill got home so Tranfield would know Bill was OK. The old man thanked him and waited for the police to arrive.

 

Once he was back in the car, Tranfield continued about his electric toothbrush. “Yes, those toothbrushes are really useful; we’ve bought each of the kids one for their birthdays and they really enjoy using them. By the way, that wheelchair was supposed to be electric, but his motor failed.”

 

“So, what are you saying, if it had been coal-fired or oil burning then he wouldn’t have ground to a halt on the pedestrian crossing?” asked Wood.

 

“Precisely, although he’d probably forget to fill up his wheelchair with either coal or petrol, so he’d almost certainly come to a halt somewhere. He was very forgetful though he did remember his own name.”

 

“Right, but if he had a solar-powered wheelchair then he wouldn’t have to remember anything,” said Wood nodding at Tranfield as though trying to convince of his argument.

 

“Wait though – there would have to be some kind of motor to power the wheelchair and some other contraption to convert the solar power into electricity. I also wonder how many solar panels you’d need to power a wheelchair like that – his wheelchair would probably look like it was armour-plated and you’d have to make sure those panels were capable of absorbing an impact too.”

 

“You’ve obviously thought this through more than I have,” said Wood,”perhaps we should be making planes and wheelchairs.”

 

“Diversification – yes that’s always a good idea, perhaps we could send the wheelchairs to the people who are being bombed by our planes? Make money from both sides.”

 

“I think that’s a bit mean, Martin – surely the wheelchairs would be a humanitarian gesture on our company’s behalf?”

 

“I suppose we could do that, after all Jan, the wheelchairs are more likely to work for longer in the sunnier climates where are our planes are used. Have you noticed that, we sell planes to people in sunnier climates than ours? What’s the connection between civil war and increased sunshine do you think?”

 

“You’re a funny guy Martin Tranfield,” said Wood wryly.

 

“Talking of funny, isn’t that Nigel Todd over there.” A man of elegant stature with short, black hair and an outdoors complexion, was pressed against a large brick wall near the road side. “It looks like he’s trying to hold the wall up. Just pull up here, Jan, and I’ll give him some grief.”

 

“Oi, Todd, do you want some help holding that wall up?”

 

“Oh god,” replied Todd,”I thought you’d never ask, yes, Martin, it’s getting very heavy and I won’t be able to hold it up much longer. Please come and help me.”

 

“Don’t get sarcastic with me, Nigel, what are you doing out here holding a wall up at this time?”

 

“Well, Martin, I went for an early run, because I have a meeting at 1 o’clock, but I think I have twanged my hamstring, so I am just trying to stretch it.”

 

“You’re a fair way from the office, did you want a lift back?”

 

“But, what will happen to the wall, Martin, won’t it fall down?” replied Todd.

 

“I have a feeling it will stay where it is, you great fairy, come on little Nigel let’s take you back to the office.”

 

Nigel Todd stepped away from the wall and limped over to the car. Tranfield opened one of the back doors for Todd.

 

Todd looked in and noticed all the clutter in the back seat. He clambered in removing some of the toys and placing them on the floor.

 

“So, Jan, you brought these toys along to keep Martin amused in the car, did you?”

 

“That’s right Nigel, but it wasn’t nearly enough, he’s thrown most of them out of the window,” replied Wood.

 

“A fate you will share if you don’t start being nice to me, Todd,” said Tranfield.

 

“Why would I be nice to you, Martin, when you’re so nasty to me?”

 

“I asked Jan to stop the car you ungrateful wretch; I could have left you there, stuck under that wall and just driven past. If you’re not careful your hamstring will not be the only thing of yours that goes twang today.”

 

“He’s so charming, isn’t he,” said Todd, “have you just taken him to see some clients?”

 

“I did,” said Wood, “and he made so many friends in such a short time.”

 

“What clients were these?”

 

“Samlesberry Holdings,” replied Tranfield, “and they were happy I came to provide some much needed fun in their otherwise dull day.”

 

“Are they a circus troupe?”

 

“No, Nigel, they’re not – the only clown we’ve seen today is you trying to hold that wall up using your spindly arms and legs,” said Tranfield turning to look at Todd in the back seat, “you looked like a stick insect trying to move a pile of bricks.”

 

“I am a very lean athlete, Martin, I don’t have any unnecessary muscle.”

 

“Nigel, you’re an athlete who leans against walls and that’s all you are.”

 

“I can run quite quickly sometimes,” said Todd, “faster than you Mr Tranfield.”

 

“Right, you’re on, we’ll have a race, to the canteen and back.”

 

“That’s three hundred yards each way.”

 

“Is that too far for you?”

 

“No, I was thinking of a proper distance – at least a mile.”

 

“A mile? I’m not running that far,” said Tranfield showing his badge to the security officer at the main gate, “that’d be too much, how about to the canteen and back twice?”

 

“Twice? OK, you’re on and whoever wins buys the other one lunch.”

 

“The stakes are increasing Mr Todd; we need some seconds to make sure there’s no cheating.”

 

“What about Jan?”

 

“Yeah, I’ll do it,” said Wood, “my money’s on Nigel.”

 

“You’re supposed to be neutral, Jan, there’s not supposed to be any favouritism.” Tranfield looked aghast at Wood’s statement.

 

“My money is never neutral, Martin, it’s always working in my favour.”

 

“Yes, usually on horses that should have been retired years ago.”

 

“What about your mate, Roger Laurence, to be the other second?” suggested Todd.

 

“FB? That fat bastard, that picture of unhealthiness? You must be joking; he can barely get out of his seat and waddle to the toilet. How about Ted?”

 

“Ted – I suppose that would be OK; he’s a contractor isn’t he?”

 

“So?”

 

“He might want a bribe to take some time off from his work.”

 

Tranfield shook his head – “I’m sure Mr Rudd will fall into line. Here we are, back at base. So, Nigel are you sure you don’t need some help getting to the changing rooms?”

 

“I will be fine Martin – thank you for your concern; I am just a little stiff that’s all. Thank you, Jan for your company.”

 

“Now you know what I feel like all day when I sit next to Joan.”

 

“You get a stiff hamstring?”

 

“Nearly, Nigel, nearly, she’s a very attractive woman.”

 

“Is that why you call her the Old Dog, Martin?”

 

“I am just masking my true feelings for her when I say things like that.”

 

“I thought that must be the case; you mask your feelings very well,” said Todd before heading to the changing rooms in the gym building.

 

“He’s a nice lad,” said Wood lighting a cigarette,leaning against his car, and letting the sun caress his pale skin for a few seconds, “you could learn a lot from him.”