Celtic Illumination, part 253, Can I have a P please Carol.
Graham had been telephoning me about twice a day, wanting to know when I was transferring to London. He had arranged digs for me in Weybridge, there was an office and desk waiting, what was keeping me? Like Mensa, Abbey Life had a monthly magazine. The first and probably only item people looked at was the list of the top ten salespeople in the company every month. I was number seven while Graham was ahead of me at number five. I learned that I couldn’t just transfer from Ipswich to London I would have to resign from the Ipswich office and then join London. I was coming up from Chris’s house boat one day and I noticed a little clump of houses, hidden away among some trees. I knew that they existed but what caught my eye was a for sale sign, I turned in to have a look.
There was a little clump of houses, about twelve, in a loose semi-circle. They were all quite similar, all three or four bedroomed houses, each with a garage but more importantly with a small stream running through the front gardens. It wasn’t Ireland, but it would allow us to live among the friends we had made until I could get back home. Like Chris I could work in London during the week and return at weekends, plus Irene would have a support network around her and the children could remain at their school with their friends. All in all it seemed like a good idea so I put an offer in on the house. I then went and resigned from the Ipswich office. I didn’t like doing it as I had to tell some fibs, but I was a salesman after all, it should have been second nature to me.
I was then able to call Graham and tell him that I was on my way. I had been involved in setting up many mortgages in the Ipswich area so to organise my own was no big deal. With everything in place I set off for London, although I had no aspirations like Dick Whittington I was determined to make some sort of name for myself. I found my digs, a small house owned by another salesman from Abbey Life, and settled in. He was much younger that me and had been a salesman all his life, unfortunately his whole persona said ‘spiv’ to me. He showed me around and I have to say the place was quite bland. I have never liked any of the suburbs of London as it just seems to be an endless sea of houses. Too many people and too much going on.
I was now a commuter and would catch the train into London. I enjoyed wandering about, changing my route day after day. I was still surprised to get propositioned at half past eight in the morning on my way to work by bleary eyed prostitutes, but it sort of livened up the day. Occasionally you would see small groups determined to keep their party, from the previous evening, going, while the bin men worked their way around taking away the non-human rubbish. I was given a desk in an office I shared with three others. One was Graham, Jim and Steven. I thought it was strange that I had been given a desk by a window until I learned that the hole in the window, next to my head, was in fact a bullet hole and I should keep an eye out for snipers.
It was all very nice and comfortable. Again for the first few days I was settling in and learning my surroundings. Lunch time would see a large group head over to a Chinese restaurant, in Soho, where we would tuck in to a feast of food for a nominal price. It was a nice jovial atmosphere. I even checked out my Mensa magazine and began to work my way through all the various meetings and groups that might interest me. The first event I attended was an ice breaker event as a precursor to some major international Mensa gathering. It was to be held in The George, public house, which is on the Strand directly opposite the Royal Courts of Justice. There were many reasons for me to attend, one was that I, probably like so many other people, had seen the Royal Courts of Justice on news bulletins probably every day of my life and thought it would be nice to go there and have a look for myself. Secondly I would be meeting new, hopefully like-minded people, and who knows what opportunities might arise from that. Thirdly there was to be a huge amount of booze available but perhaps most importantly I wanted to meet Carol Vorderman. And as she was a red blooded meat eating woman I knew she would want to meet me.
The function was heaving with people, not because there had been a huge turnout but there had been a healthy turnout and the pub’s function room wasn’t that big. It was a bit of a giggle I do remember that one fellow was trying to get me to represent him. He had invented a bicycle alarm that fitted inside the frame of a bike and he needed a sales type person to pitch his ideas to bicycle companies. I took his number but never contacted him again. I managed to get into company with Carol Vorderman and impressed her with my Irish wit and charm. I know she was taken with me, in fact one could say she was smitten, she had recently divorced her first husband, a navy guy who, on the plus side, was an international rugby player. To meet a rugby playing air force fellow like myself must have turned her head for, although she couldn’t have me, and I told her so, repeatedly, she’s now shacked up with an air force guy who used to fly with the red arrows. I’m sure she still dreams about me. She laughed so hard at one of my jokes she had to run off to the toilets claiming she was about to pee herself.
I did volunteer to join a special group when I was there. Mensa have what are known as SIG’s, Special interest Groups. This is where a group of like-minded people focus on one subject of interest to them. I had joined the group whose main function in life was to discover the best pint of real ale in the City of London. I can actually remember the first meeting of this group that I attended. We always met in pubs, where else, and would display a secret sign on the table so that others arriving would know where to sit. There was about eight of us around a table, all seriously clever feckers, researching beer. I’m not joking; these feckers were taking notes and measuring the specific gravity of the stuff. Someone pulled out a Psion organiser.
These were new on the market and were being referred to as the world’s first practical pocket computer. The person who owned it had recently bought it and wasn’t sure how to use it. In fact after an hour inspecting the device none of us had a clue how to work the thing, so accepting that it was above our pay grade went back to what we were good at, which was beer tasting. It was at one of these beer research events that I was asked if I would be interested in joining a special team that Mensa were putting together. It was sort of business consultancy, a small group of about six of us would hire ourselves out to companies that were having problems. We would come in, shake our cleverness all over the place and sort out their problem. I wondered if people clever enough to not know how to work a simple pocket computer would be any use to any company that found itself in trouble. At least they would be shovelling money in my direction which wouldn’t be a bad thing. I hoped I was up to the job as I wouldn’t want to let anyone down, but as I was learning about Civvie Street, no one really cared.