This is somewhat off-topic and it’s fair to say that travel in Eastern Europe isn’t involved (though it does get a little mention here and there). I have had my first novel published this year and while I have no intention of parking every single one of the 57 chapters on these pages, there’s no harm in providing a little sampler. Here, then, is chapter one.
It was just after three o’clock when Vince Kingmyle arrived back at his office. It had, he reflected, been a worthwhile lunch break at the golf club. He’d had a pleasant lunch; he’d booked the course for the party of tourists that were due in a couple of weeks; he’d also spent a worthwhile hour talking to that new member, Mike.
Mike seemed like a good fellow, thought Vince. The young man had certainly seemed impressed by the brief biography Vince had given him and had appeared eager to hear the story of Vince’s promising football career, so cruelly terminated by injury, and the subsequent success that had followed during his time in the Civil Service and now as a respected local businessman. He also had the impression that Mike would be keen to hear more about the many golf course Vince had played.
Vince frowned for a moment as he thought of George McDougall. He’d been in the middle of describing the majestic round he’d played at the Celtic Manor course when that old duffer had butted in.
“You’re sure one remarkable man, Vince,” George had said.
“What do you mean?” Vince had replied, somewhat tetchily.
“Well, golfer, time traveller,” George went on, a little self-satisfied smirk on his lips.
Vince had glared at the old fool as he waddled back to his seat with his glass of malt. He found George irritating, but had regained his composure and continued his story.
“Jealous as hell,” Vince thought, as he paused at the front door of the office. He took out his handkerchief and gave the sign a little polish. It read ‘Golf King’, the letters of the two words intersected by a large ‘V’. Satisfied with its appearance, he went in.
“Good lunch?” asked Krystyna Czerniatynska as he strode to his desk.
Vince, wholly oblivious to the sarcasm in Krystyna’s question, said, “Excellent, thank you. I’ve booked the course for the party from Yorkshire, so put that on the spreadsheet if you don’t mind.”
Krystyna said, “There are also two other bookings. One group from London and one from Northern Ireland. I have emailed the details to you.”
“Tremendous,” said Vince, rubbing his hands together. “We’re cooking the gas.”
Krystyna frowned quizzically, but merely pointed across the room. “And those as well,” she said.
Vince looked over at three cardboard boxes. “And they are?” he asked.
“The polo shirts,” Krystyna told him. “The ‘King of Swing’ shirts you wanted.”
“Fantastic,” Vince said, jumping from his leather swivel chair and pouncing on the boxes in the manner of an overweight cat attempting to catch a woodpigeon. “Yes, yes, yes.”
He tore open a box and dug around until he found a large size. “Style with a capital S,” he said. He walked across to the door and said “I will be the model. Excuse me, ladies.”
Krystyna glanced at her colleague, Anne, and shook her head. Moments later, Vince was back, wearing the shirt. He walked in front of the two women, performing a small pirouette as he did so. “Stylish, no?” he asked.
“Yeah, it’s okay,” Anne mumbled. Vince gave her a sharp look.
“Yes, good, very smart,” Krystyna said, hurriedly.
“We are literally on fire,” Vince said loudly.
Krystyna winced. It was a mental image that was disturbing.
“Perfect,” said Vince. “Everyone who books onto a Golf King tour gets one of these to keep. Is that not such a good promotion? It’s so brilliant, I don’t know why I never thought of it before. It’s advertising as well, you see? People will wear these when they get home, they’ll wear them at their golf clubs and people will see the ‘V’ logo and…” He tailed off. Krystyna was staring at him.
“What’s wrong?” asked Vince.
Krystyna scampered from behind her desk and grabbed a handful of shirts from the open box as Vince gawped at her in amazement. “Oh, my God,” she said.
“What?” Vince demanded.
Krystyna pointed to the lettering that crossed the distinctive ‘V’ on the shirt’s badge. The logo read ‘KING OF SWINE’.
Vince’s mouth opened, but nothing, other than one or two flecks of spittle, came out. He gaped like a stranded fish for several seconds before diving back into the box and pulling out more shirts. He pulled off the shirt he was wearing and surveyed the lettering. Anne let out a snigger at the sight of her boss’s less than athletic torso, but fortunately for her, Vince was too preoccupied to hear it.
Naked to the waist, he stormed across the room, flinging the shirt towards the window, where it caught on a plant and remained dangling. “Who,” he demanded, is responsible for this? Who put the order in?”
Anne and Krystyna exchanged glances and Vince, hands on hips and resembling a badly designed teapot, waited for an answer. Krystyna took the plunge. “You did,” she said.
Vince, giving a good impression of a man about to be struck down by apoplexy, glared at her and shouted “Me? Oh, I see. It’s my fault. I can’t spell the word ‘swing’, is that what you’re telling me?”
“No, I did not say that,” said Krystyna in measured tones. “The manufacturers, they must have got it wrong.” Vince continued to stare at her before realising his somewhat undignified state of undress and snatching his own shirt from his desk and putting it back on.
Anne, meanwhile, had put her jacket on and Vince looked at her. “Where are you going?” he asked.
“Home. I always go at half three.”
“Fine, good, go then.”
“Okay, see you tomorrow.”
Vince continued to stare at her as she left the office, before turning back to Krystyna. “Are you sure,” he asked in a calmer voice, “that it wasn’t her? Sometimes I think she’s not quite all there.”
Krystyna said, “No, sorry, it was definitely you. I remember it, you said that you would take care of it. But the manufacturers must be wrong. They must have made a mistake.”
Vince sat down and muttered, “Clowns. That’s what you get. Clowns, imbeciles. Can’t do anything right unless you do it yourself. When did we order them? I must have the email.”
“Four weeks, I think,” Krystyna told him.
Vince spun his chair around and unlocked a cupboard. He took out a red folder, which was full of email correspondence. Vince, to Krystyna’s secret fury, printed out every email that he received. He then placed the print into a clear plastic pocket and put them in a folder. The cupboard was packed with such folders.
He thumbed through the pages and suddenly exclaimed “Ah, got it. Right here. Here we are, email order to Inventive Designs Ltd.” He read down the page and suddenly snapped the folder shut before Krystyna, who had appeared beside him, could see the document.
“You found it…so it was the manufacturer?” she asked.
Vince, who had hurriedly rammed the folder back into the cupboard, said, “Yes, yes, of course, idiots, morons.” He slammed the cupboard shut and locked it again.
“Should I phone them?” Krystyna asked, tentatively.
“No, no, er, no, it’s best if I do it,” Vince said. “Why don’t you get going? It’s been a busy day and I’m not staying late tonight.”
“But I should work until five,” Krystyna replied.
Vince sat back and gave a grandiose sweep of an arm. “No, you get along. I’m going to ring these cretins and give them a piece of my mind. Anyway, you don’t want to hear me when I’m angry.”
“Fine,” Krystyna said. “I’ll go then. See you in the morning.”
“Tomorrow,” Vince said, “I’ll show you that new spreadsheet that I’ve designed.”
Krystyna gave him a slightly sickly smile and walked slowly to the front door. She closed it quietly behind her and leant back against the wall for a second. Then she started to giggle. She found that she couldn’t stop giggling and had to grasp hold of a drainpipe to support herself. Her eyes had become moist and she felt tears beginning to trickle over her cheeks. She wiped her eyes, took a deep breath of air and walked towards her bus stop.