23 February 2004

First draft: South Shields. Postscript to Brian

Over the next few days I heard through Dad the story of Brian. Apparently Brian had got off the evening Express bus at Milnthorpe and gone into the nearby Bulls Head Hotel to enquire the directions to Kidside mentioning Mr. Irving's name that the publican knew well. As an afterthought Brian had asked the publican if he could have a room for the night? "He didn't want to disturb the Irving’s with an unexpected arrival at this time of night". But there was a slight problem "could he put the bill on the account of Mr. Irving"? Brian said he had left one of his bags by mistake on the bus with unfortunately his wallet in it.

The publican very familiar with lost wallets and bad debts with some reluctance agreed. Next morning Brian enquired of a taxi service and was given Mr. Broomby's phone number who came and delivered Brian to Kidside.

The suspicious publican alerted Mr. Broomby and suggested he alert Dad. Mr. Broomby told Dad the publican's story of the "lost" wallet and the booked room account. Dad paid Mr. Broomby on the spot for Brian's taxi fare asking Mr. Broomby if he would kindly phone the publican on his return to say he would settle Brian's account tomorrow. We didn't have a phone in 1950... they were not too common in private homes. Dad did all this, without anger or a word of reprove to me.

I spent the rest of my holiday with feelings of acute embarrassment blaming myself for causing so much trouble. At last my holiday ended and I returned to South Shields to complete my final term.

Returning to South Shields I mentioned to Mrs. Greenwell of Brian's visit to our home. She almost dragged me into her kitchen and sat me down while I related the story. She then related to me the story from her end.

It appears Brian had arrived back from the crisp factory and true to his word produced a carton of packets of crisps 2days later. Mrs. Greenwell asked where the other cartons were. Brian said he was unable to get any more cartons and the crisp factory was going to refund her money.

Mrs. Greenwell then told me that Brian had been 2 weeks behind with his board money before I had gone on holiday and he kept blaming his problems on the pay clerks office, they had mislaid his records and consequently could not pay his wages. Mrs. Greenwell said she gave him one week to sort the problem out including the crisp money and then she would take stronger action.

True to her word she said that she first obtained the phone number of the crisp factory, called them and was put through to the foreman in charge and told him Brian’s’ problems with his missing pay. The foreman said to her didn't she know Brian had left the crisp factory and he had been paid up to date?

The foreman continued that this had occurred over 6 weeks ago; in point of fact he had been sacked for laziness. To add to this he said he had found Brian the laziest b..... he had ever come across spending most of his time sitting on his a... talking. As store man he was there to load cartons of crisps on to the lorries when they came in for delivery distribution. When one arrived Brian seemed to be always able to make himself scarce and the lorry driver to maintain his schedule ended up loading the lorry himself.

And as for the crisp order of half a dozen cartons the foreman said the order didn't exist and suggested he may have pocketed the money. Further more the store had a discrepancy of cartons and said he knew where to point the finger but no proof.

Later, if I remember rightly Mrs. Greenwell rang Brian's father who told her he had washed his hands of Brian, goodbye.

Mrs. Greenwell, confronting Brian with the evidence and said he readily admitted everything including pocketing the crisp money. She had no alternative to tell Brian to pack his bags and go and cut her losses and knowing full well she would not get a penny out of Brian only promises to "try and put things right".

What happened to Brian I'll never know. The trouble is that all who came in contact with him liked Brian including I and found him very pleasant company. Every so often I think of Brian and I wonder what became of him and I feel a pang of sorrow for him. Unless he mended his ways... I didn't think of this at the time... I had met my first confidence trickster. Is that what he became? I hope not.

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