Chapter Number 22
It was really nice to have the place back to myself again. Naturally I missed having Lance around anymore, but he had telephoned to say that he and his friend had moved into a bed-sit together and that he had managed to get a job as a driver’s mate. He went on to tell me how much he missed being here with me, and that he could not help thinking about the first night he had stayed and crept down to lie on my bed. He said he thought I was a really nice sexy guy, and revealed how he had secretly wished I might have taken advantage of the situation that night.
That’s typical, I thought: two lonely people fancying the pants of each other, and both afraid of offending each other - only to find out when it’s too late. Never mind, there is always my profile on the Gaydar site: Darrylfromsouth. Nothing much from that yet, but you never know. Perhaps the guy that owns and runs the AstaBGay site might put me on that - someone must come along one day!
The first job I had to tackle this week was the absence of a rear yard wall. There was no way I could leave it until the start of next season for when the film crew's catering van returned. I telephoned the film director about it and he told me to get a local builder in to put up a temporary fence and send him the bill. That was no problem and I soon had Dave, my builder friend who initially did all the work for me, to get cracking on it. By Wednesday a six-foot fence and a gate was up at a cost of £387.00. I have paid David the money and sent a copy of the invoice to the film director, so now I feel safe again.
The unfortunate part of having the film crew here has been the trouble that the lads had got into. Instead of being a local celebrity for five minutes, with everyone wanting to know me, now I find there are hastily arranged meetings between the neighbours being made to discuss how to stop it happening again next season. The police are less than amused too, and the neighbourhood watch chief has suggested that if and when it all starts again next season he should be informed so that a cordon can be arranged, with followers from his team of area coordinators shadowing my dubious residents wherever they go.
He has already produced a huge map of the area, and a spread sheet for what times and which area each of the coordinators will be covering. He is also going to contact the police to see if the lads can be tagged whilst in Southtrend, and has arranged a meeting with the local council to see if he can get extra lighting in the surrounding streets with cameras set up on each street corner. He does seem very dedicated, even going so far as to schedule his diminutive wife to do a sandwich and flask round to all those on duty at the time.
The chairperson of the group business associations, Belinda, has invited me to a local meeting to explain myself. Having previously given her the impression it was to be a DIY television series, I am not looking forward to that at all. Already I have noticed that I've been dropped from the next garden party list in aid of the sand dune tree planting fund. During the week I received letters from a number of local solicitors too, all of them seeking the address of the film company in order to pursue claims for damages for their clients, and a letter from the Home Office has requested me to give them a detailed account of the minders' activities over the past week.
The local paper has been running a story for the past few days castigating the authorities for bringing a mini crime wave into Southtrend-On-Sea, and I might add: they have not been very complimentary about either me or my place. I've noticed too that Celia and Sonja, from the old people’s home, have now started to put bicycle chains and locks around the wheelchairs whenever they wheel their residents outside to sit in the sun.
A visit from a council official Tuesday has worried me that there may be a planning issue. He wanted to know if I was envisaging a “change of use”, and has suggested that I might like to visit the planning department with plans of any building changes made. ”Did I have a surveyor?” he asked. And blow me if the Fire Officer didn't call shortly afterwards to check the building. He was not a happy bunny, telling me that whilst I had the latest L2 system he was not happy with the holes made in the walls for the girders and lighting cables, and insisting that I take no further guests in until this has been remedied and he has made a further visit. He wanted to know if I had done a new Fire Risk Assessment to reflect the changes that had been made.
John from the New Adventure Holiday Flats accompanied by the Chuckle Brothers have paid me a visit too. As some members of the new gay group have been questioning the possibility of me attracting gay bashers to Southtrend, they suggested I might like to stand down from the committee. Reluctantly, I felt obliged to agree. They went on to say that the chairman, Gregory, elected only a couple of weeks ago, had with all the excitement of the evening suffered a minor stroke and passed the chair on to Patrick, who was keeping himself busy now with producing the membership cards. He had bought a load of blank business cards and was, at that very moment, colouring them in by hand so that each member's name, written in copper plate script, would be appearing on a rainbow background. Should be really posh, I thought.
Cynthia, “all fur coat and no knickers” from next door, was horrified at what happened last week, but she did say that she had picked up a couple of new clients from the film company whilst talking to them over the back wall separating our yards. The creative director as well as the financial director could well turn out to be long-term visitors for her in the future. She and her husband invited me in for a drink and explained that, having got to know me over the past few months, they did not mind revealing to me they in fact ran a very discreet gentlemen’s guest house catering for their guests' more private needs.
After a couple of drinks she got around to showing me her collection of nurses, police and other outfits, along with a selection of whips and canes that would have made Julian and Tristan envious. Naturally this was all kept very secret. They had run it this way ever since giving up a rented flat in Knightsbridge, when fortunately they had been able to buy the place outright. Most of her clients, she explained, were regulars of many years from London that were happy to make the journey to Southtrend once a week. Explaining how, whilst she entertained her guests' needs, her husband would be in the wardrobe making video souvenirs for posterity, she added with a laugh that there was always a possibility they might later be needed for their retirement pension.
It turned out that what she and he husband were really bothered about was all the media and local interest caused by my film crew. Being only next door, this had made some of her guests very nervous at the chance of them being recognized. Amongst Cynthia’s many clients there was a bishop, at least one MP, a chief of police, plus a plethora of others of equally of high status. So, with this in mind, she suggested that if there was any way of me cancelling the next season's filming contract, she and her husband would be quite happy to help me financially for my loss of income. If I played my cards right, and was discreet, she said that they may be able to pass on any potential high-ranking gay clients to me which they were unable to accommodate themselves.
Could I get a cute but very civilized up-market assistant to do the business with the guests for me, whilst I did the bit in the wardrobe, I wondered? At the very least Cynthia and her husband were willing to pay me for just keeping my place low key, so it was definitely something to think about, I realised.
On Friday I contacted the film company again as I wanted to check that they had received my invoice for the fence. I explained this over the phone, only to be told that any bills would go along with all the rest of the claims to the official receiver. Following many repercussions and litigations resulting from last week's shoot, the film company had announced yesterday that they were going into voluntary liquidation.
“What about my contract for next season?” I tremulously asked. “How about all the work I was promised to put my premises back to the way it was before they ripped it apart?"
“Well,” the toffee-nosed tart at the other end said, “you will have to bear in mind that the contract is not worth anything now. You will need to get all that work done yourself at your own expense and then submit all those costs to the receiver along with any writs or other claims that your solicitor might want to forward for loss of contract. Of course, this may well take a few years of court proceedings because you will be on a long list of others in the same position, but do telephone me again if I can be of any further help, Darryl.”
What a slapper! Help! She must be kidding!
Fortunately I had already been paid for the rest of this season, and I do still have a lot of the company's lighting equipment and other stuff they left behind. That must be worth a few thousand quid, so they will definitely not be getting any of it back. I shall have to get David the builder to call around next week to give me a price for putting everything right - maybe I can sell him the girders and some of the other stuff to help defray the cost a bit - but in the meantime I will speak to Tristan and Julian to see if I can get a deal going with their friend who wanted to use my place to make a porn movie.
It seems the only person not too bothered by all that happened last week was Raymond, a few doors away with the private parking and planted terrace. He said that he had put an old television and hi-fi out on his front ready to take to the tip, but someone had taken them along with the ten garden gnomes bought for him by his friend, Robin, whilst he was around the back getting his old Rolls Royce out of the garage. He had assumed later on that it must have been one of my dubious guests, and about that he was quite pleased.
It was of little
comfort at the time when Raymond told me: “Don’t let it worry you, Darryl.
You know what these things are - it will all be forgotten about in a few
days time. Just keep your head down. Shit happens!” However after a few
gin and tonics downed whilst sitting out on his terrace, all seemed not so
bad after all.
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