My Name Is…by Pensionerbhoy
The big man was immaculately dressed in a trim suit, hand made with the best of material.
He appeared distinguished as he stepped through the open doorway. It had a sign overhead that read “Main Stand”.
He stood waiting and watching. As he looked around he sensed an atmosphere of panic in the room. Some people were shuffling about shifting fixtures and fittings of all shapes and sizes while others dashed in and out of the room stacking what they carried in the corridor outside as though ready for collection. It was almost as if chaos ruled in this place and he wondered if it might not be wise to simply turn around and leave. But he was being offered a considerable amount of money to do this job and it felt foolish to walk away from it.
As he waited, a stocky, heavy set figure approached licking his lips like a satisfied wild animal bloated by the amount of flesh it had devoured from its latest kill.
The tall stranger personally thought to himself that he had the waddling grace of an overfed, puffed up bull mastiff as he came towards him. The overweight man wiped some sweat from his brow with one greasy hand and proffered the other in a handshake. “How’d ye do? My name’s Ally Puddin’ ‘n Pies. You must be Mr. Stein. Nice to meet you. Come on in. We’ve got loads to do here and they telt me they wanted me to progress with the work as fast as possible. But then, a’ve done piles of work with these forty thieves for several years now so I know pretty well what I can get away with. I’ve developed a nice cushy relationship with the big bosses. It’s jist a question of knowing when and how to switch allegiances if ye find ye need to. Know whit a mean? A’ve developed a real knack for it.”
The red-faced man continued on “Some people call me Sly Sally or Fly Man Ally ‘n that, ‘n it’s jist no fair. A’ve only got whit’s best fir the business at heart. Och, that’s the way it goes if you’ve been at it a while. It looks good for the company too ’cause a carry on regardless even when a’ the directors change. That gives the impression of stability ‘n that suits everybody jist fine. Looks great when the papers back ye up tae, of course. Oh”, he gave a stifled snigger before saying, “’n don’t listen to the rumours that go aboot sometimes saying its’ because they cannae get anybody else to do ma job. They’re a right laugh sometimes, eh?”
The tall stranger detected a distinct nervousness in Ally’s tone as he tried to make light of his last remark.
After a brief pause, during which he eyed the newcomer suspiciously for a moment, Ally went on, “They guys at the top don’t half annoy me sometimes, mind, ’cause they promised me some of the best in the business to get the job completed in a few years but something went wrong and it’s pretty impossible tae say when it’ll get finished noo. Maybe never, ha, ha!”, he joked unconvincingly. He then went on, ”To be honest, but keep this tae ye’rsel, it disn’t help when a’m no sure a’m the man to get the best oot o’ the workers. But hey, a’m being paid a fortune tae do it; so why worry? That’s whit a say, but no in public mind ye.”
The tall stranger was rather taken aback as he had been informed that everything at the job was ship-shape and the recent upheavals he had heard about were supposedly sorted and the work back on track. It certainly was not sounding like it listening to Ally, that was for sure.
Again he wondered if he was making a big mistake, but the big money on offer was certainly a strong incentive to stay. “If that’s the attitude of someone in his position then why should I care”, he thought to himself, “and besides, it couldn’t be all that bad. After all, he knew the business from his past experiences and besides, he was acquainted with several lads on the job who had transferred over from other companies.
It was said they did so because they fancied the work even though many people claimed it was only for the money. He himself simply could not accept that was all they were there for. These guys would not change just like that. He decided to carry on, at least for the moment.
“Come on in. Don’t just stand there. We won’t bite you, ha, ha! I’ll introduce you to some of the boys. I believe you already know one or two?”, said Ally.
“Yea, I bumped into a few of them over the years and some I have heard about but never met”, came the reply from the big man.
“ Ach, a’m sure you’ll get on jist fine wae them. They’re a great bunch, ye know. Aye, a great bunch. You might find a good few of them are getting’ on a wee bit for your liking but they’ll dae their best every time. Wan thing ye’ll recognise aboot them, they’re as loyal as they come, that’s fir sure. I can honestly say that the maist o’ them are genuine full blooded loyalists” continued Ally.
The fact he had used some ill-chosen words did not register. But then, it was generally accepted in the business that a whole range of things did not register with Ally.
In actual fact, it was widely joked that his brain itself was the only thing about him that was registered, as a limited company. He wore his heart on his sleeve, though, and that endeared him to many who never saw past his cuffs, especially at a dinner table or two.
But then, the most frequent hosts were such stalwarts of the media profession they were sought after by some of the top class P.R. people in the country. It was also said they justly ended up with some people who were anything but top class. In fact they had no class whatsoever.
The tall stranger was a little bemused at first by the way Ally talked but, shaking his head, he started to follow him towards the centre of the room. He noticed most of the objects in the room had been removed. He could tell by the fresh markings on walls and floors where it was obvious items had been in situ not long beforehand. He just assumed this was part of the clear out, ready for the new start he had heard so much about in the media.
For some inexplicable reason his enthusiasm for the job he was offered was returning.
“After all, I love a challenge and being at the very centre of all this “change”, well…” He was finding himself becoming more and more attracted to being part of this new beginning, in spite of having to work with people like Ally. In fact, he was beginning to warm to this whole new venture now and he was definitely comfortable with the salary on offer.
Ally stopped short right beside a rough looking character. The guy was sweeping and his elbows were swinging the brush all over the place. The tall man had pulled up simply to avoid being clouted by an elbow from this “Mr. Reckless”. “You could do an awful lot of damage with those elbows”, he thought to himself. “I’ll keep well away from you when I start. I don’t fancy going to A&E every day.”
Ally turned and spoke, addressing both men at once, “Hi, Stuart, this is the new man, Mr. Stein. He has just arrived so I am giving him a quick tour. I’ll introduce him properly to you and the rest of the boys this efternin doon at the bothy in Bearsden. I’ll no keep you back the noo from getting’ rid o’ the muck that’s all over the place. Did they tell ye tae watch out for the asbestos?”
“Aye, boss”, replied the sultry figure without smiling and with his eyes fixed hard underneath a frown that seemed set in concrete. “They said it widnae dae’s ony herm if a didnae inhale. So, am haudin’ in ma breath f’r five then goin’ f’r a breather. It’s great practice f’r Seterday efternins, boss, if me ‘n ma pals ‘r no doon at the bookies aforehaun, hee, hee, hee. A’m only kiddin’ boss!”
Ally grinned from ear to ear and dragged his tongue across his lips in his usual slithery manner. As he turned away he remarked, “O.K., then. Jist dae that ‘n a’ll see ye this efternin at Bearsden. Right, big man, lets see who else is here. Jist follow me.” Before Ally had taken a few more steps, with the big man right behind him, a slim gaunt looking, grey haired man in a flashy looking suit, crept out of an adjoining room. For all the world it looked as though he was trying to sneak out without being seen. The stranger wondered if he was up to something as he had the demeanour of a burglar making his escape with the loot and heading for the exit unnoticed.
But Ally was familiar with the antics of the older man after months of dealing with him. He pounced on him, catching him unawares. The suited man gave a slight jolt of surprise or maybe it was fear. “Trying to sneak off again without saying good mornin’, Chuckles?”, joked Ally. “’ee, ‘ee, nay lad. Ee, you can be so funny at times, Ally. No, by gum, I was simply trying to avoid, eh, avoid interrupting, yea that’s it, avoid interrupting the lads doing their work. Wur there’s muck there’s brass, lad, as they say in Yorksheer, ‘n we would not want to ‘alt that, would we now?” he said with a nervous cackle. “ Aye, the quicker the better. The more the merrier ‘n all that, lad.”
The big man was bewildered. He simply could not make head nor tail of the conversation. He was convinced the old geezer was trying to worm his way out of something but had no idea what. He reminded him of something but he just could not put his finger on it.
“Damn!”, he thought, “It’s right on the tip of my tongue”.
The older man interrupted his train of thought by asking Ally, “Anyway, ‘ow are you this morning?” he said a bit sheepishly, as though testing the atmosphere, “I ‘ear you’re looking for some more cash? Come on lad, really? ‘a, ‘a, you’ll never learn, lad, will ye? I’m well aware you need more workers ‘n all that but, see ‘ere, lad, I’m not made o’ money, ‘ee, ‘ee. You need to give me a wee bitty more time, son. I ‘ave plans for the future lad, aye big plans and you’re a real part of them. It just takes more time than normal when your trying to complete deals without anybody getting wind of them, if you know what I mean? You do understand my position, don’t ye? I know you’ve been asking for some names, even demanding I ‘ear, a’, ‘a, ‘a. I wish I could, lad, but I simply can’t reveal any names right now. But, boy, if you knew the promises, my God, you’ld burst a blood vessel cheerin’, lad. You really would, I’ll tell ye. Listen, why don’t you come see me tomorrow? Yes, that’s it, come tomorrow when I’ve gotten rid of a few things, off my mind of course, ‘a, ‘a, ‘a! You’re not the only one see, that can make folks laugh, ‘a, ‘a! Oh, by the way, did I tell you about the new orange kit? No? It’s a beaut! It’ll go down great in Belfast, that’s a certainty. I plan to go there to promote it myself. You do know they simply love me over there now since I went to their supporters places and told them my ‘ole story. It didn’t take much to convince them and I ‘ave t’ say, lad, I’m definitely all the better off for doing it. Sales of the shirts should do a bomb over there. Did you get that one, Ally, ‘ee, ‘ee, ‘ee, ‘ee, ‘ee, ‘ee? Do a bomb! Better than anything you ever did when you used to act the clown on that Question of Sport programme, lad, that’s for sure. Go on, admit it. It was miles better, Ally.”
They both chuckled, though Ally actually looked none too pleased. He had the rankled expression of a wee Scottish balloon unbelievably deflated by a big greasy Yorkshire pudding. In spite of being wary of Ally’s unpleasant reaction, Chuckles was flying now and in full flow, “Aye, lad, we definitely need to sit down and talk. Oh, and by the way, we can discuss that small matter of increased shares that need sorted for you at the same time, you know, the one’s I said were available at not a bad price, one pence each more than likely. But keep that under ye’r ‘at, lad, ok! A bird in the ‘and, a stitch in time, better late than never and all of that, ‘a, ‘a.”
Ally’s expression changed. He now looked interested and attentive again. “Och, aye, boss. Aye, a remember now”, he replied hastily, “That’s fine. We can leave the mair men thing tae another time. Ach a suppose it’s no that urgent actually. It’s jist a keep forgettin’ ‘n sayin’ tae the papers it wont be long. A’ll jist huv tae try tae keep ma big mooth shut, eh! ha, ha, ha, ha!”
Both men laughed heartily. One with signs of relief and the other of resignation. The big man jerked. He had remembered what the old guy reminded him of. “A snake-oil salesman if ever there was one”, he thought with a smirk. The old chap was about to move away when Ally grasped his shoulder. For a moment the older man showed real signs of apprehension. Then he saw Ally was grinning and slithering his lips again and he felt more relaxed. “Don’t go runnin’ jist yet, boss. I hivnae telt ye the good news yet. Remember a said there wis a big man available for nothin’ that was the best and would get us back tae the top “toot sweet” as long as he got top dollar for wages? Well he’s arrived, boss. Aye, in spite of bein’ away frae the gem for quite a long time, he’s here noo, hale ‘n hearty and fit ‘n rarin’ tae go. ‘n he’s right beside ye. This is….”, before Ally could get another word out of his mouth, the older man interrupted, “’ello, very pleased to meet you. I’m Chuckles Green the Chief Executive. Ally ‘as told me so much about you. I am so glad you could join us, lad. We both firmly believe, given your past record at other clubs and at international level, you are the ideal man for the job. I am certain you will fit in perfectly with our set up. Maturity is the very centrepiece of our ambition and you look to ‘ave it in abundance. That is the main reason we went for you – and our lack of money, of course. No, no that was a joke. ‘onestly, I was just kidding, ‘a, ‘a! Ally ‘as me always looking for a bit o’ crack you know. Just like himself. Don’t mention it”, he whispered to one side,”but ‘e once tried it ‘imself. Some maintain ‘e never really made it ‘n ‘e gets just a little bit touchy about it. I’m no judge of these things, mind. Wat I do know is, ‘e stands by me ‘n for me that’s wat really counts in the end. Anyway, like I said, it is a pleasure to ‘ave you in t’ business and with us, Mr. …? I didn’t catch your name. What did you say it was?”
The big man stared for a moment weighing up the possible reactions of both men.
Then he spoke with the voice of authority and with utter confidence, “My name is Stein – Colin Stein.
H H / PB