Sunday, 3 April 2011

Civic Duty (final part)

The following is merely intended to be a fictitious, humorous story.

Most stories in this blog carry something of a ‘social message’.

No story is intended to be judgemental.

Some readers may find content offensive, but there is little that one wouldn’t find in a post-watershed sitcom.

Gertie returned with a tape measure and we told Barty to stand up.

I phoned the tailor. “Okay, we’re ready.”

He told me exactly what to do and I relayed the instructions to Gertie.

“Gertie, put the bottom of the tape an inch above the floor and then run it up to his groin. When you’ve done that, ask Barty which side he dresses. I’ll leave you to explain that bit.”

I waited with pen and paper to make sure no mistakes were made.

“Tell the tailor,” said Gertie, “that Barty dresses to the right.”

I looked; she’d only reached his knee.

“And his inside leg measurement is sixty two inches.”

That was the figure I’d told the tailor in the first place.

“Right, waist measurement now Gertie.”

“Forty eight inches,” she shouted above Barty’s giggling.

“Okay, now for the chest size. Tell Barty to put his arms in the air and measure just below the armpits”

“Those light fittings cost me thirty quid a piece!” I hollered.

“Sorry, eez,” said barty, glumly.

“Gertie, what’s his chest measurement?

“Wait a minute. The tape’s not long enough. Blinky give me a hand.”

Blinky came over.

“Blinky,“ Gertie told him, “put your finger there and I’ll start measuring the rest.”

She slid herself between Blinky, who, like Gertie, was standing on a table, and Barty’s chest.

Gertie stopped. Unable to turn her body, she looked over her shoulder at Blinky.

“Sorry, Gertie. I’ll buy you a new skirt,” offered a twitching Blinky. “It crept up on me.”

“Don’t worry, Blinky. The skirt will wash up fine; it always does.”

“Eighty seven inches!” she shouted from under Barty and Blinky.

I spoke to the tailor. ”It’s what I told you in the first place, mate: inside leg sixty two, waist forty eight and chest eighty seven. Is there a problem?”

“Well,” answered the tailor, “are you sure you haven’t got the waist and chest measurement the wrong way round? What I mean is, is the gentleman of a rotund build?”

“Are you asking me if Barty’s fat?”

“Not at all, sir. I mean, all things are relative, are they not? One would never suggest that any gentleman customer is fat.”

“Oh, shut up. Look, Barty hasn’t got an ounce of fat on him. He has the physique of a very tall gorilla that’s just had a full body waxing. He’s the country’s biggest vegetarian, you know.”

“Very good, sir. Your uniforms will be ready by the end of next week.”

“Bullshit, next week!” I shouted down the phone. “They’ll be ready no later than tomorrow and Barty the fatty, as you call him, will be collecting them.”

I slammed down the phone and poured another drink.

The Mayor of Bogton had been scheduled to perform the police station opening ceremony at six o’clock, which gave me a few minutes to go through the new phone system I’d had in stalled.

“Okily dokily, Gertie, let’s get started. If the red phone rings it’s police business, if the black phone rings it’s boozer business. Got that?”

“Think I’m following so far, but if it gets more difficult I might need to take notes.”

“This is neither the time nor the place for sarcasm, Gertie. We will be spearheading the area’s law enforcement. Doing the job properly and reducing response times could save lives.”

“Fuck off, eez. Just get on with it, will you?”

“Look, Gertie, I didn’t advertise this position because I considered you to be ideally suited to the vacancy.”

She looked at me. “What you mean is, I’m already in this shit hole seven days a week, so you might as well get me to take on yet another one of your dirty jobs for naff all.”

“If you don’t want to be a Civilian Police Assistant which, by the way is a category ‘C’ position offering an annual salary of thirty seven thousand pounds, then…”

“Red for the police, black for the pub,” she spoke aloud as she scribbled in a notebook, “what’s next, sir.”

“Well, that’s it really. If the red phone does eventually ring, just put them on hold for, say, ten minutes and then hand it to me. It’ll be just like the real thing.”

“What do you mean ‘eventually ring’? It’s Friday night tonight. From seven o’clock onwards, the town will be a disaster zone. That phone won’t stop ringing all bloody night!”

Barty started to look worried.

I got everyone a drink. The drinks were on the house; I needed to restore calm.

“Don’t worry,” I held up my hand, “see that little box of tricks next to the phone? Well, that gives callers a choice of options before they are actually connected to this phone.”

“Like when you ring up to complain about your gas bill and never actually get to speak to the right person?” asked Blinky.

“Or when you phone up the doctors for an appointment, but only end up listening to a pre-recorded cure for whatever illness you might have?” asked Gertie.

“Or,” said Barty, “like the time I got angry with a cashpoint machine, tore it from the wall and phoned the bank to say sorry?”

“Exactly!” I announced.

“I ended up talking to some bloke in Calcutta who asked me if I needed an overdraft thing,” continued Barty. “But I told him I had double glazing.”

We all looked at Barty.

“How many options are there to choose from, eez?” asked Gertie. 

“Twenty seven.”

“And which option puts the caller through to the red phone?”

“Twenty seven.”

Blinky and Gertie shook their heads.

“No good for me if I’m in trouble.” said Barty. “At school, I didn’t really get past the numbers that end in teen.”

“Don’t worry Barty; you are the police, remember?” I informed him.

“eez, show me the options.” Gertie requested.

I passed her the list.

She looked at it.

Gertie glanced up from the list and asked, “who came up with these options?”

“Well, I did, why?”

She started to read out some of them:

“Option fourteen: if someone has started to knock at your door while you’ve been making this call, push the number five button on your handset now; option twenty six, if you are unemployed and only making this call to pass some time, push the hash button on your handset now.”

She looked at me in disbelief.

“What?” I asked her. “Something wrong?”

She was about to say something, when the red phone rang.

Gertie nervously picked up the phone. “Bogton Nick, doh, Police Station, Police Station!”

She nodded her head a few times, said a few words, put the phone down and turned to us.

“That was the mayor’s office. He won’t be coming tonight. Or any night, for that matter”

“What!” I shouted. “Not coming? He’s the head of the town, he has a duty to open the new police station! Bloody typical!” I sat down and grabbed another drink.

“So much for civic duty. What reason did he give?” I asked.

“It was his secretary. She said nobody had told him until this afternoon that the new police station was located in the Dog and Donkey. She said he’d been here once before and someone called eez had broken his nose. Then he found out that someone called eez was going to be in charge of the new police station.”

“Shit!” I said. “I’ve even booked a couple of strippers for tonight at a hundred quid each. It’ll be too late to cancel now. Why didn’t she call before?”

“It was the red phone. She started the call over two hours ago.”

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