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Living with Johnny

by Nigel Gordon

Chapter 15

Ben and I sat there looking at the door as it slammed shut.

"You fucking bastard," Johnny shouted at Ben.

"Calm down," I told Johnny.

"Why should I?" he replied. "You've just shafted my best friend. Why the hell should I calm down? Just because those bastards used him in the past, you think he is not suitable for your lead. Well you're wrong; he is still a fine actor."

"He is, probably one of the best of his generation," Ben replied.

"Then why are you dropping him?" Johnny asked.

"We're not."

"But you said…."

"All I said was that we were making some changes," Ben pointed out. "There is no way we were going to drop Trevor."

Johnny looked at Ben, then sighed, "I'd better go and find him." He turned, opened the door and started to leave; then he turned back to us. "You better be fucking careful what you say to him when I bring him back. If you upset him, I'll… well, I don't know what I'll do, but I'll do something." With that, he left.

Ben and I sat for a bit in silence, neither of us knowing quite what to say. Then Anne came in carrying a laundry basket.

"What was all that shouting?" she asked. "I could hear it upstairs in the end guest room."

I explained what had happened.

"Men!" she exclaimed. "Don't suppose that it occurred to either of you to give the boy a hug first before you said anything?" We both confirmed that it had not. "Well, when Johnny gets back with him, be gentle.

"I've got a pile of laundry to do, so I'll keep out of your way. You can sort this out on your own." With that, she exited the kitchen via the door to the utility room. I heard the washing machine start, but Anne did not come back out. I guessed she must have used the other door to exit and had gone back upstairs by the long way.

It was another quarter of an hour before Johnny guided a clearly worried Trevor back into the kitchen. The lad was upset; he had been crying and was shaking slightly. Ben got up and went over to him, placing his hands on Trevor's shoulders.

"Look, Trev, we are not dropping you. The script was specifically written for you; there is no way we could drop you," Ben said.

"You're sure?" Trevor asked. Ben nodded. "But you said there were changes."

"Yes, Trev, there are." Ben gently guided Trevor away from the door. "We've lost some funding, which is making things a bit difficult. However, a chance has come up for us to cut costs."

"How?" Trevor asked.

"For a start, we are going to green-screen some of the scenes that we were going to shoot on location. That, of course, means we need more studio time. It is there that we have been lucky. Dole Entertainments have just pulled the plug on the third series of Cameron Blake. The second series was a flop, as you know." Trevor nodded.

Ben continued. "They had already booked studio time and have to pay for it whether or not they use it. Fortunately for us, it immediately precedes the block of studio time we have booked. It is not set in stone yet, but it looks like we can pick up a few weeks of studio time for about half what it would have normally cost us. As things stand now, we are looking at starting to shoot in August rather than October.

"That's the change I came to tell you about and to check if you were free to start shooting in August."

"I should be," Trevor replied.

"Good. I think you need to get yourself cleaned up a bit. Then, I think we need to talk about things."

"You'd better use my study," I stated.

"Thanks," Ben replied.

"Come on, Trev," Johnny said. "I'll help you get cleaned up. I need to, as well; then you can have a chat with Uncle Ben."

While the boys went to clean up, I asked Ben what was going on with the film.

"Well, we are a bit short on finance. Our original budget was one hundred and twenty million. With Saul Lichtenstein's contribution not being available, we now only have seventy-five million assured funding. At a push, Phil and I could cover the shortfall, but we can't do it in one go, and we can't do it at the drop of a hat. It'll take us months to free the funds.

"The problem is that, with Saul out of the market, there is a significant gap in the mid-market funding area. He was one of the leading financiers for those types of films. A lot of people are suddenly finding that they don't have the funding they were expecting and are now rummaging around to find some extra funding.

"There is only so much out there, and, at the moment, there are a lot more projects chasing money than there were a couple of weeks ago. We have got a choice: either delay everything until the financing market is better or we make do with what we have got.

"The whole film is built around Trevor. Look, he's eighteen and will be playing a sixteen-year-old. At the moment, he can get away with it. Give it another eighteen months to two years, and there is almost no way he could play the part. Either we have to go with it now or we kick the project into the long grass and wait for another teenage actor with Trevor's ability to come along. Trust me, they only come along about once in a generation. We could be waiting ten or fifteen years before we found the right person."

"He's that important to the film?" I asked.

"Yes," Ben replied. "The script has been written with him in mind. The original novel was written which him in mind."

"But that was, what, four years ago?"

"It was. Only found out a couple of months ago. Had dinner with the author, and he told us that he had trouble getting a feel for the character of the son until he saw Trevor in that TV show, the one where he played the computer geek. If you read the description of the son in the novel, it is a description of Trevor. That is why the author was so pleased when we picked Trevor for the part."

"So, can you make it with a reduced budget?" I asked.

"We think we can. Have to do a re-working of plans, but we think we can do it. For a start, using the green-screen a lot more will cut down on the location shooting; that will save a lot. We are also going to shoot digital from the start."

"I thought everybody shot digitally nowadays," I commented.

"No, most movies are still shot on film stock, which is developed and then digitised afterwards. The upfront cost of the equipment for high-resolution, digital filming puts most production crews off it. Though it is getting more frequent, it is only in big-budget films and TV work where you find a lot of digital filming.

"However, the way we film is changing and changing fast. That is why we've decided to go for digital filming from the start. OK, the equipment-hire costs are higher, but we think we can actually save after we take into account the cost of film stock and processing. The big area of savings for us is in the post-production area. We have our own graphics processing house, so can save a fortune there, especially in terms of cash flow."

Just then Trevor and Johnny came back into the kitchen. Trevor told Ben he wanted Johnny to come in with them whilst they talked. Ben said he had no objections but emphasised to Johnny that he must not talk about what he heard, not even with me. Johnny told him that was OK and he understood, so the three of them went off into the study.

The fact that they were using my study meant that I could not get on with any of my work, so I decided to make a start on dinner. I was in the middle of peeling the potatoes when Anne came into the kitchen.

"I just put the last load of laundry in the machine. What are you planning for dinner?"

"Thought I'd do a cheese and potato pie with some salad."

"Sounds fine," she commented. "Where is everybody?"

"Well, I think Arthur is up in his clock tower trying to get his setup sorted. Johnny and Trevor are in my study with Ben. Think Ben is having a bit of a heart-to-heart with Trevor."

"And Johnny is in there with them?" Anne asked.


"That pair seem to be getting very close," she observed.

"Yes, they are," I said.

"And you're not happy about it, are you?"

"No, I'm not. I'm worried that somebody is going to get hurt."

"The question is who: Johnny, Trevor or Arthur?"

"Well, I am not worried about Johnny," I stated. "He is more than capable of taking care of himself. No, it is Trevor and Arthur I'm worried about. Trevor is very vulnerable at the moment, and Johnny could easily hurt him without meaning to. Then there is Arthur. He always seems a lot more mature than his age, but at eighteen, rejection comes hard. His family has already rejected him; I don't want to see him hurt if Johnny rejects him for Trevor."

"How is Arthur taking it?" Anne asked.

"How am I taking what?" a voice said from behind us. We turned. Arthur was standing in the doorway.

"We were talking about Johnny and Trevor; they seem to be very close," I said.

"They are," Arthur replied. "Johnny told me that he and Trevor have a lot in common, but he said he could not talk about it. You don't have to bother about how it affects me. Nothing is going on between them; they are just good friends."

"You're sure?"

"Yes, I'm sure," Arthur replied. "To be honest, I did worry at first, but now, it is not a problem. I don't think they realise it, but they talk about stuff between themselves when they are with me, and I have probably picked up on more than I really should know. What I do know is that pair are just terrific friends. Nothing more."

"That's a relief," I stated. "Anyway, you clearly came over for something?"

"Yes, just needed to let you know that I am taking the internet offline for a bit. I have to install a new router." Arthur then proceeded to give me a quite detailed technical explanation of why he needed to do what he was about to do, none of which I understood. I just told him to get on and do it.

It was nearly five when Ben and the boys came out of the study. Trevor looked a lot more relaxed. I was about to ask Ben if he wanted to join us for dinner when Johnny informed me that they had to get the guest bed made up for Trevor and that they would be going to dinner with Ben. The two of them dashed off upstairs. I looked at Ben.

"I'm taking them to see a film in Chelmsford," he informed me. "It is one which we did the CGI for. Trevor has not seen any of our work in that area. I'll take them to dinner first and get Leni to drop them off back here after, though I warn you, that is likely to be quite late."

"That's fine, so long as I know. How are things with Trevor?"

"At the moment, alright, but he is very fragile. I'm glad he has Johnny to lean on. I might have to find Johnny a job on the crew so that he is around to give Trevor some support."

"I'm not sure that would work. Johnny does have a job at the yard, and I suspect he will want to keep that up."

"I forgot about that," Ben admitted. "I need to get some support structures in place then for Trevor once we start shooting. I suspect that we will need them."

Arthur went out just after four, as he had a gig; he was DJ at a dance over the other side of Dunford. I asked him about eating. He informed me he would get a burger and fries on the way. Apparently, he needed time to get his stuff set up. One lucky break for him was that all his DJ stuff had been at the youth club, so he was able to get hold of it after he was thrown out.

It was just Anne and myself for dinner. I realised that I had made far too much cheese-and-potato pie for the two of us. Anne assured me she could use what was leftover as filling for pancakes.

After dinner, we sat in the lounge for a bit. We even tried to find something to watch on television — a hopeless task. Instead, we both settled down to read. Anne was reading some romantic fiction she had got at the airport on the way to Necker and never got round to reading. I was trying to catch up on copies of New Scientist which had arrived while I had been away.

Just after nine, Anne informed me that she was going to have a nice long bath and then make an early night of it. I told her that I was probably going to do some writing and might be quite late getting to bed. There was an article in New Scientist that I thought would make a reasonable basis for one of the chapters in the meteorology book. The sooner I got on with that, the quicker I would get it finished.

By about ten-thirty, I had the outline of a chapter on the influence of the jet stream on the weather and how climate change might affect this. I was just wrapping it up when I heard a car pull up outside. Looking out of my window, I saw it was Leni bringing the boys back. Johnny had his own key, so I did not need to go to the door.

I heard them go through to the kitchen. Shortly after, Trevor went past my study door, saying goodnight as he did. I turned to acknowledge his greeting and found Johnny standing in the doorway.

"Dad, have you got a moment?"

"Of course. What's up?" I replied. "Trevor?"

He came over and sat in the armchair, the one comfortable armchair I had in the study. I made a mental note to do something about that when I got the chance.

"No, I think he is sorted, at least for now. It's Arthur I'm worried about."

"What's the problem?" I asked.

"He's worried about money."

"I don't see why, he's got the ten grand we put up for the business," I said.

"That's it. As far as Arthur is concerned, that is for the business. He is only using it for business expenses, and he is very strict on what he classes as a business expense. The only thing he has to live on is what he gets on his gigs, and that's not much. Tonight is the first one he has had since he got kicked out and that is only paying fifty quid. By the time he has paid his petrol and stuff there will not be that much left," Johnny informed me.

"What petrol? The Santa Fe had a full tank." I had told Arthur to use my Santa Fe to go to the gig.

"Yes, Dad, and Arthur will fill it up before he brings it back."

"How has he managed this long?" I asked.

"Well, Trevor loaned him a couple hundred when he took us to the station the day you moved. Arthur's been cautious with it, but I think it is all gone and now he is worried about how to pay it back."

"Trevor's not pushing him for it, is he?"

"Oh, no, I don't think Trevor is bothered. He meant it as a gift, but Arthur would only take it provided it was a loan. You know he has some funny ideas about some things," Johnny stated.

"Look, Johnny, from what I have heard about the family that Arthur grew up in, it is not surprising he has some funny ideas. At least from your perspective. So, what are these funny ideas?"

"Well, you know the money we put in for him to start the company?"

"What about it?"

"He seems to think that all the money that comes in from the business has to be used to pay that back," Johnny told me.

"He what!"

"He thinks he has to pay it back," Johnny stated again.

"But those were investments."

"I know that," Johnny responded. "We all know that the problem is that Arthur doesn't understand the concept of investment. Can you talk to him and explain things. I don't think he believes Trevor or me when we tell him that he does not have to pay it back."

"OK, I will try to catch him in the morning and have a word," I assured Johnny.

"Thanks, Dad," he said, smiling. He got up and left, shouting goodnight as he went up the stairs. I got back to my writing. There were a couple of articles I could do some work on.

Things went better than I had expected and by half-past midnight I had one article finished; would have to go over it again in a day or two to check for errors, but for now it was in the bag. I had just closed down when I heard Arthur come in. He must have brought the Santa Fe round the back of the house. Thinking about it that made sense, as he would have to get his equipment out, probably in the morning. I went through to the kitchen and found him getting a drink of water.

"You know there is juice, cola and milk in the fridge if you wanted some. I think there are a couple of beers in there. I know there are some bottles of cider. You can help yourself," I told him.

"Thanks, Mr. Carlton," he responded. "I don't want to take advantage of your hospitality."

"Arthur, you are our guest here. You are my son's friend; you are also a business partner. I'm not going to begrudge you a bit of sustenance. How did it go tonight?"

"Not good," he replied.

"What happened?"

"They had a live band; they only booked me to cover while the band took their breaks. I was supposed to do two, half-hour spots. In any event, the band only took one break, so I only did one spot. As a result, they would only pay me half of what had been agreed."

"I suppose that's left you short?"

"Somewhat, but I did fill the car up," he informed me.

"That probably cost a good ten or fifteen quid," I commented.

"Twelve-fifty, actually."

"So how much have you made tonight after costs?" I asked.

"Well if I count the burger I got as a cost, then eight pounds."

"Arthur, we need to talk about your finances. This is not a good time, though. Can we talk in the morning?" He looked at me, worried, but he nodded. "And don't worry about things. I suspect you are a lot thriftier than you need to be. With a bit of planning, I think we can sort things out."

"Thanks, Mr. Carlton. It would be nice to go over things. I don't really understand finances."

Although I had been working quite late, I found myself waking just after four with less than three hours of sleep. Actually, not that unusual when I am in the writing mood. I will often wake up with the idea for something in my head, go and write for a couple of hours, then get back to bed for some more sleep. What I realised was, given my new household arrangements, that my previous schedule was not as practical as it had been.

I threw on some casual clothing and went down to my study. Got a good three hours' work done before anyone else in the house woke up. It had just gone seven-thirty when I heard the sound of coffee being made from the kitchen. I went in and found Arthur. The moment he saw me, he filled the kettle and put it on for some tea.

"Thanks," I said. "Are you OK to talk finances, or do you want to get fed first?"

"Just having some toast." Arthur pushed a slice of bread into the toaster. He removed the jug of coffee from the warming plate and poured himself a mug, into which he added a whole pile of sugar.

"I see you like your coffee the Arabic way," I commented.

"What's that?"

"As hot as hell, as sweet as sin, and as black as night," I replied.

"Yes. I have to have something to get me going in the morning."

"So, what has got you up so early this morning?" I enquired.

"It's not that early," he stated, a statement which I had to agree with. "I didn't get my gear out of the car last night; needed to get it out in case you needed the car this morning."

I thanked him for the consideration but did say that we were unlikely to need the car before ten at the earliest.

The kettle boiled; I made some tea. Arthur finished the coffee and went out to unload the car. Until his flat was sorted, he was using one of the outbuildings to store his equipment. Was not sure how good a solution that was, as I suspected the building was damp.

Anne came into the kitchen and poured herself a coffee, then informed me that we needed new curtains.

"Why?" I enquired.

"I'm not that fond of being woken up by the sun on days when I was planning a lie-in," she informed me.

She had a point there. We had made do with curtains that I had for the bungalow and some from Anne's house. The only ones that had fit the turret bedroom windows were the ones from the patio doors in Anne's house. They were lightweight and unlined. As a result, they did not keep much light out. The turret room had three large windows, one of which was to the east, directly into the rising sun in the morning. I agreed with Anne that we would go and get some new curtains. She got a tape measure and went to measure up, calling me in a few minutes to give her a hand.

I called after her that I would be up in a bit but needed to speak with Arthur first, then went out to find Arthur. Told him I had to go into Chelmsford this morning but would talk to him about the finances in the afternoon. He asked if I could call in at the electronic store and pick up some pieces for him. He said he would write up a list. I told him that a better idea would be for him to come in with us; we would drop him off and then pick him up on our way back. I then went to give Anne a hand.

Once Anne had got all the measurements she needed, I went to shower and get changed. Anne said she would make a start on breakfast. I came back down to the kitchen to find her telling Arthur off.

"A piece of toast does not count as breakfast," she stated. "If you are going to be working all day up in that clock tower, you need a good meal to start the day. The last thing we need is for you to get faint from lack of food and have a fall. Now, sit down and wait while I do you some bacon, egg and mushrooms."

The way she said it made it quite clear that no disagreement was allowed. Arthur sat down at the table. I poured him a coffee. I think he needed it. Fortunately, Anne had made me a fresh pot of tea, so I poured myself a mug of tea, then sat across from Arthur.

"Arthur, why did you just make yourself some toast this morning?" I enquired. "You know there is a fridge full of food, not to mention the cupboard full of cereals that we have to keep in for Johnny."

"But they are yours," he replied.

"So, you're living here," I stated.

"I know, but I am not paying anything."

"Look, Arthur, we do not expect guests to pay. At the moment, you are our guest. Things will be different once you move into your flat, but until then, you can help yourself to food from the fridge."

Arthur looked at me, then across to Anne. "OK, but I do not want to be a burden," he stated.

"You are not a burden," Anne interjected.

Once breakfast was finished, Arthur went to get the list of pieces he required. Anne looked at me. "You need to have a long talk with that boy." I just nodded.

Neither Johnny nor Trevor had materialised by the time we were ready to go to Chelmsford. I left a note on the table telling them where we had gone. I also sent a text to Ben telling him that we would be out this morning but saying Johnny and Trevor were both in.

We dropped Arthur off at the electronics store and then went to find curtains. Shopping turned out to be not as bad as I thought it would be. The first place we went to had some curtains that Anne fell in love with immediately. Better still, they were available as a ready-made set in a size which met with her requirements. We bought three sets. The only downside of the whole thing was the hit on my card.

Arthur was not visible when we pulled up at the electronics place, so I went in to look for him. He was chatting to staff about some aspect of electronics which I completely failed to understand. I told Arthur it was a good job he had not given me the list as I would have had no idea what questions to ask.

"Oh, the list was simple. I sorted that out ages ago; we've just been talking about some of the new stuff that has come out."

Arthur paid for the stuff he had got, and we returned to the car. On the drive back, I asked him how the installation was going.

"So far, so good. Got one small problem; they did not have a couple of connectors I wanted, but I should be able to order those online. If there are no unexpected problems, I should be up and running over the weekend. I am hoping to start the service on Monday; then I have to get around to all the clients and realign them to the new base station."

There was something about the way he said that which made me think that things were not as straightforward as he was making out. I made a mental note to ask him about it when we spoke about his finances.

We got back to the Priory shortly after twelve. I was surprised to find Ben, Trevor and Johnny out front, tidying up the garden. Ben looked up as I got out of the car.

"Thought this needed some attention, and I know you're no bloody good at gardening."

He was right, there. Gardening is one thing in which I have no interest. Thinking about it, I may have made a mistake buying the Priory; it had extensive gardens.

"Will have to do something about getting a gardener," I stated.

"I'll do it," Arthur said, as he opened the back of the Santa Fe.

I turned and looked at him. "You're sure?"

"Yes, I used to do the garden behind the shop and enjoyed it."

"Right. We will talk about it after lunch," I stated.

"What's for lunch?" Johnny asked.

"Don't know yet; have to look at what we have got, then decide," I informed him.

Lunch turned out to be pancakes stuffed with the remains of the cheese and potato pie and covered in a cheese and chive sauce, before being put in the oven to warm through. It tasted a lot better than it sounds.

While I was preparing lunch, I had time to chat with Ben. He said that Trevor seemed a lot better today but was still somewhat fragile. Ben had spoken to Phil, and Phil had agreed to cut short his trip to New York and fly home early. He was due to arrive in the morning. Leni was picking him up and would be bringing him directly to Dunford.

After lunch, I asked Arthur to join me in my study. Johnny had gone to the yard to do a half day. Ben and Trevor were still doing some work in the garden. I got the feeling that it was more to keep Trevor occupied rather than to tidy up the garden.

Once in the study, I asked Arthur what the problem was with his finances.

"I can't see how I can pay back the money you put in to start the business," Arthur stated.

"What do you mean, pay it back?" I asked. "It was an investment. You don't need to pay it back; you just need to make a profit for us." Arthur gave me a questioning look.

"Well, let's start by doing a cashflow," I stated, opening up a spreadsheet on my desktop. "How many customers do you have?"

"As of today, sixty-nine," Arthur answered. I entered the figure into the spreadsheet, then the monthly charge of fifteen pounds a month and got a total monthly income of one thousand and thirty-five pounds. Not much, but better than nothing. Over the next half hour, I worked through the outgoings with Arthur. These ended up coming to just under six hundred pounds, so there were roughly four hundred pounds a month to play with. I suggested he should take that as wage. Arthur was not happy with that.

"Mr. Carlton, I can't do that. If I take it all, there is nothing left for you and the other investors. You need to get something back."

"Alright, Arthur. How many hours a week do you think it takes you to run the internet part of the business?"

"Don't know, not that much; max ten but that would be in a bad week.

"Well Arthur, the minimum wage for an eighteen-year-old is four ninety-eight an hour. If we say you are doing ten hours a week, that is roughly fifty pounds a week. You should take that at least out of business."

"If you're sure, Mr. Carlton, it would help."

"Now a question which has been puzzling me. I am sure you must have been turning over more than a thousand a month when you were at the back of the shop. Where did the turnover come from?"

"Of course, we were," Arthur replied. "We regularly did well over a thousand a week; some weeks, we broke two thousand."

"Well, where did it come from?"

"Computer repairs and upgrades, mobile-phone unlocking and repairs, and we had some service and support contracts for local businesses. I looked after the networks for them," Arthur said. "A bit difficult to do that from here; there is no walk-in trade."

"Do you need walk-in trade for the network support?" I asked.

"No, I got that mostly on recommendation," Arthur replied.

"I have no doubt your adoptive father has cancelled those contracts as well."

"He would not have much choice. I was the only one who knew anything about that work."

"I, suggest, Arthur, that your first task when we finish here is to contact all your old network-support customers and see if they would like you do continue to do it."

"Sorry, I've been stupid; I had never thought of that," Arthur said, looking a bit sheepish.

"Look, Arthur, you've had a lot going on," I told him. "It is not surprising that you have not thought out the whole business. If anything, it was my fault for not sitting down with you at the start and going through everything.

"Now, is there any way you can offer the computer repair and phone unlocking without having a walk-in facility?" I asked.

"Well, I suppose I could put some adverts up on the web and go and collect the stuff for repair from the customers," he stated. "The only problem is transport. I would need a van."

"Arthur, if you can give me a few days, I think we can solve that. So, let's get down to putting some figures in the spreadsheet."

For the next three-quarters of an hour, that is what we did. We went through each category of business that Arthur used to do in his adoptive father's shop and made estimates of how much of that he could pick up. When we had finished, things looked a lot better. Arthur would be taking somewhere around seven hundred to a thousand a week, and after taking a reasonable wage would be left with one fifty to two hundred profit.

All right, it would probably be a few months before he could get the turnover up to that level. The important thing was I had shown Arthur how he could generate enough business to provide a return to his investors or grow the business and still take a wage out of the company.

There was one downside. Arthur pointed out that Vince Cable, the new Secretary of State for Technology and Industry, had announced he was going to push for everybody to have access to the internet. By that, he meant extending the wired network. If that happened, Arthur could lose a significant part of his business. It made it all the more important to get the other pieces up and running.

"Are you OK with all this?" I asked, once we had gone over the cash-flow projection.

"Yes," Arthur replied. "It looks good. All I need to do is make it work out."

"I'm sure you can do that, Arthur," I assured him.

"What about the garden?" he asked.

"Oh, I'll get somebody to come in and do that. Probably the same people who did it for me in Lynnhaven."

Arthur looked at me in almost horror. "Mr. Carlton, your garden in Lynnhaven was crap." To be honest, I had to agree with that statement. It was just an area of lawn surrounded by border bedding plants. "You've got the elements of a great garden here; I would like to take it on?"

"Why?" I asked.

"I like gardening," Arthur replied.

"Well, how much would you charge?" I enquired.

Arthur looked at me, puzzled. I repeated the question. "I need to know how much you would charge me to do the garden. I was paying thirty quid a week for the one in Lynnhaven, and this is at least four times the size."

"Oh, I wouldn't charge you. As I said, I love gardening."

"Arthur," I said. "You need to put on your business head. If you take on the garden, you are providing a service. Charge for it."

After a bit more discussion we agreed that I would pay Arthur seventy pounds a week to look after the garden. Also, I would pay for any plants and materials.

I had just finished with Arthur when Matt phoned; he wanted to know if he could call on me Saturday morning to discuss the plans. He did say it was urgent as he wanted to get people started on things on Monday. I agreed, rang off, then settled down to do some writing. I had a meteorology book to get done.

Anne came in with a mug of tea for me just gone four and told me that Ben was taking us for a meal at the Crooked Man.

"The boys included?" I asked.

"Don't know, I'd better check with Ben about that. Otherwise, I will have to leave something for them."

It turned out that the boys were included in the invitation. As we walked down to the Crooked Man, I noticed that Trevor and Arthur were lagging behind a bit, deep in conversation. Arthur seemed to be shaking his head. I had no idea what was going on. Their conversation continued once we got to the Crooked Man, with the pair of them hanging back on the terrace whilst the rest of us went up to the bar to order our meals. I was about to go out and ask them what they wanted when Johnny informed me they would have steak and chips, medium-rare.

The weather had turned a bit chilly as the day had progressed, and, although not raining, there was a hint of rain in the air, so we decided to take a table indoors. Trevor and Arthur seemed to be having some kind of argument. Suddenly Trevor shouted out, "For fuck's sake Arthur, I spend more than that on a single meal in London; if I want to give you a hundred a week until you are set up, that's up to me. You're taking it. No argument." Arthur nodded in surrender.

The two boys came in and joined us at the table. Trevor looked somewhat frustrated. Arthur seemed somewhat subdued.

"I ordered you steak and chips," Johnny informed them. "Hope that's alright."

"It's fine," Trevor mumbled. Arthur just shrugged his shoulders.

Saturday morning, Ben picked Trevor up quite early. I had no idea what that was about. Johnny went off to the yard. He told me the yard was getting busy and he would be there all day and possibly all day Sunday. Anne had left to go and see her sister. They planned to make a day out of it and go shopping in Romford.

Arthur was sitting at the kitchen table, drinking tea and not looking too happy. I asked him what was wrong?

"Trevor has been putting money in my bank account," Arthur stated.

"I know. He transferred three thousand to your business account; that was part of the deal when we set up the company," I commented.

"No, this is to my private account. Haven't looked at it since the start of the month as I knew there was nothing in it. I transferred fifty from the company yesterday just to cover my standing orders at the end of the month. When I went to check the account at the close of banking, there was over three hundred quid in it. Trevor has been transferring a hundred quid a week."

"So, what did Trevor say?" I asked.

"He said he had set up a standing order to pay me one hundred a week for the next eight weeks. Said he knew I had no money and wanted to help out.

"I told him he should have told me. He said he intended to when he saw me, but other things got in the way."

That I could understand but could not say anything to Arthur; I did not know how much he knew. Johnny, I suspected knew everything. In fact, I thought he might know more than either Ben or myself. I got the feeling that Trevor confided in Johnny. Did he confide in Arthur? There is no way I could know, so there was no way I could explain to Arthur what the things that got in the way were.

I commented on the fact that Arthur was in the kitchen at nine-thirty in the morning. He was usually up in his tower doing wiring or something or working on his flat. Arthur told me that he was waiting for the servers to arrive; he had booked delivery time between nine and eleven.

"Bloody good luck on that," I told him. "When I order stuff online, it is a miracle if it turns up even on the day promised."

Arthur laughed and told me I was not ordering from the right places. Just then, the bell rang. It was the servers. Once they had arrived and Arthur had checked the delivery, he vanished with them over to the stable block. I had a feeling we would not see Arthur until lunch, and even that was doubtful.

Phil turned up just after lunch. I told him that Trevor and Ben had gone off early morning.

"I know," Phil informed me. "Ben has arranged some sailing lessons for him."

"I thought he had sailed before," I said, remembering some comment that Trevor had made.

"Yes, he has," Phil confirmed. "It's all been on inland lakes, and he has not done that much. He needs to be able to sail at sea; that is different. That's one reason why Ben has taken him to get some training this morning."

"One reason?" I asked. "Then, there are others?"

"Yes. I needed to speak to you without Trevor being around," Phil stated. "He seems to trust you, probably because you were the first person he confided in about this whole mess. I need to know what you think about the situation."

"Are you thinking of dropping him from the film?" I asked, knowing that would destroy Trevor.

"No!" Phil exclaimed. "Though, I have to think that there may be no film. It won't work without him, and I need to know if he is going to be there for us to make it."

"I can't answer that," I told him. "All I can say is I think Trevor would go through hell and high water to make it. Look, so far as I understand it, it is the first role he has gotten where he has not had to have sex with somebody to get it. He has gotten it on his merits, not because he prostituted himself to somebody with influence. That's important to the lad. It is giving him some pride."

Phil nodded. "Thanks, Mike. Knowing that makes all the difference."

Just then, the phone went. It was Bob, my agent — and also Trevor's father. His first question was if Trevor was with us. I replied that he was, but he was out at the moment. Phil indicated he had to make some phone calls and went off into the other room. We spent the next twenty minutes discussing quite unimportant things until eventually, he asked the question which I presume was the reason for his call.

"How's the meteorology book coming?"

"It's coming, though I suspect it may not be the book you want," I replied.

"I'll be the judge of that," he responded. "Any idea when you can give me a sight of it?"

"At the moment, no. It's going to be about twenty chapters. I've got one written, two drafted and outlines written for five more. The thing is, I am not writing them in order. The way things are going, I suspect I will be writing the first four chapters last."

"Why's that?".

"Well," I responded. "The first four chapters are setting out the groundwork for the later chapters. It is where I describe the concepts and principles that we explore and use later in the book. Before I write those chapters, I need to know what is coming later in the book That is why they are likely to be written last."

"So, what are we looking at for delivery?" Bob asked.

"First draft, late October, early November," I estimated. "Final copy, I think late December."

"Sounds about right," Bob stated, sounding a bit disappointed. "On that timetable, we miss the Christmas market."

I did not comment. We talked a bit more about odds and ends; then Bob rang off. I don't know why I had a feeling that there was something important that Bob had not said to me.

Going through to the kitchen to make some tea, I found Phil on his phone. He was clearly making arrangements for the film. After a somewhat exasperated, 'Make it happen', he closed his phone, clearly ending the call.

"Tea," I asked.

"Thanks," he replied. "We are going to start filming on the 16th of August. I just have to hope that Trevor can keep things together till then."

"What about while you're filming?" I asked.

"Trevor's professional," Phil stated. "Once we are on set, nothing else will matter. There is always the risk he will fall apart once we finish the shoot, and we must be prepared to deal with that if it happens."

"We?" I asked.

"Yes, we," Phil said. "Look, Mike, Bob and Susan are not that much support to Trevor. Not sure they know how to deal with him. From what Ben's told me, he seems to have latched onto you as some sort of father figure. Johnny praised you up to him, and Trevor wants some of the same."

I sat down, not knowing what to say.

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