To reach the address on the back of the postcard, he took the omnibus then walked. It was a warm June day; the sweat was running beneath the oil on his face. He hitched the waist of the oversize trousers with his elbow. He dare not remove his blazer, for he would reveal his trousers in their infantile indignity. As he turned into the avenue of lime trees, he whistled to himself in wonder at the quiet grandeur. It took a long time to pass one property and move on to the next, for each large house stood detached in its own extensive grounds.

At 'Gables' a five-bar wooden gate spanned the gravel drive. Harry checked his tie, prepared himself for turning in a good performance and entered.

'Harry, my boy, you need this job!'

The house was grand and he had driven nothing finer than a Foden steam lorry and an Austin 7. The tradesmen's entrance was at the rear. He wiped his shoes on the back of Solly's trouser legs and pulled the bell. He waited at the doorstep and was seen initially by a young maid - Irish, he thought from her brogue. Next, a tall, large-bosomed, bespectacled woman inspected him silently. Finally, a Mr Hicks in a morning suit, grey tie and highly polished Oxfords invited him, with grave formality, to enter. Harry removed his cap. Hicks, towering over Harry, did not invite him to sit. Harry had learned in the ring how to deal with a taller man's reach - but this was a different game. Catching the mood, Harry mirrored the other's formal demeanour. The ploy did the trick. He would be responsible for cleaning the limousines and ensuring they were kept in good repair. Sir would keep a week in hand ('How am I going to tell Miriam?') and Harry would be on a month's probation. If Sir was satisfied, Harry would be fitted with a uniform.

He did not like the "Good day, Tanner." 'Tanner'! He was entering a new world.

In the avenue, Harry realised he did not know what his wages would be.

 

Next