Saturday is the one night of the week when Frank is not driving to one of the wholesale fruit and vegetable markets around the country. Usually he meets up with friends at the Bay Club but tonight he is meeting the lovely Rosa at the Nelson Inn, a cosy, timbered hostelry which overlooks the Thames Estuary.
He arrives in good time and has already settled in with a pint of bitter and several packs of crisps when he sees Rosa’s little electric blue Renault swing onto the forecourt. He brushes crumbs from his front and steps out to greet her.
He opens the door as she grabs her shoulder bag from the gearstick. ‘Lovely evening,’ he says, ‘I’ve got us a table.’ Rosa grabs a white cardigan from the back seat and follows him indoors. It is dark inside the low-ceilinged room and the air is thick with cigarette smoke. Frank buys some drinks and leads the way to a table by the door to the beer garden. He picks up the glass he left a few minutes ago and downs its contents to make way for the second.
‘Cheers,’ says Rosa, raising her glass of lager and lime and taking a sip. ‘It’s a beautiful sunset.’ The door to the garden is open and several people are drinking outdoors. ‘I hear you had a bit of excitement,’ continues Rosa. Frank feigns surprise. ‘What, me?’ he asks. She grins, ‘Well it was you wasn’t it?’ Frank downs half the pint glass. ‘Depends what I’m supposed to have done. I get blamed for all sorts around here.’ He opens another pack of crisps and tucks in. Rosa takes a pack from the selection on the table. ‘You could have blown yourself to Kingdom Come,’ she scolds. Frank laughs loudly, ‘It did give me a bit of a jolt,’ he admits, ‘We had no idea it was connected to anything. I thought it had just been left there waiting to be joined up.’
Frank has finished the pack of crisps, tipping the crumbs into his mouth before opening a large bag of dry roasted peanuts. ‘Did you know that the Old Bill were dashing about like maniacs trying to work out what had happened?’ asks Rosa. ‘Mm, I had heard. Serves them right. Thick as two short planks the lot of ‘em.’
‘Have you any idea what a full drum of cable costs?’ Rosa asks. ‘Who cares? They shouldn’t leave it lying around for all to see.’ Frank drains his glass and asks if Rosa wants a top-up. She has hardly touched her drink and declines. ‘Anyway,’ he says, getting up, ‘I notice your old man was quick to take the stuff off my hands.’ He shakes more crumbs from his jumper. ‘Ah,’ says Rosa, ‘But that’s business.