Design a site like this with
Get started

Thompson’s Lost Plimsole

Part 41

Clarence Butterfield had tracked down one of the miners who had helped, purportedly, to excavate the tunnel from the rented shop to the bank. He was a small wiry individual with coal dust-pitted skin. When Clarence entered the public house, the chap was already half drunk. A small group of hangers-on and cadgers were helping him to spend his monetary good fortune. The four tunnellers had been paid well for their services and part of that payment had been for their silence. However, this man seemed to be revelling in his new-found popularity and was more than happy to regale his drinking partners with tales of his nefarious exploits. Clarence purchased a small glass of whisky, positioned himself close to the group, lit himself a cigarette, opened a newspaper and silently broke wind.

Meanwhile back at the school, Mr Davies, the Headmaster, was working his way through his morning mail which consisted of the usual final demands, letters from disgruntled parents threatening to remove their sons from the school, letters from prospective parents threatening to send their sons to this school and a letter marked private and confidential. With the usual trepidation, Mr Davies carefully opened the envelope to find that it was a letter of resignation. Charles Twist, school caretaker and a man that the Headmaster had come to see as a respected friend, had given the Headmaster two months’ notice. Mr Twist had looked on the school as a sanctuary from the horrors and loss that he had been subjected to during the war. The unexpected and unwelcomed homecoming that he had experienced on his return from the hospital had changed things. Some of the older boys had already robbed him of his privacy, knocking on his door, uninvited, asking him to relate tales of his time in France and Belgium. Also, members of staff had started treating him differently, with a sort of reverence. Yes, he’d been an officer, yes, he’d won a number of medals and awards, been mentioned in dispatches, but then so had many thousands of other. Many men, officers included, had come back to a ‘Home fit for heroes’ only to find themselves selling matches and shoelaces on street corners in order to survive. He had just been doing his duty and now wanted to live quietly. His small rooms at the school and his anonymity had provided him with the quiet life that he craved, but now that had been taken from him.

Miss Fudge entered the Headmaster’s office and gently placed a cup of tea on his desk. Mr Davies had the letter in one hand and his head resting in the other. “Whatever’s the matter, Cecil”, she asked. Mr Davies didn’t respond; his thoughts were elsewhere. Emily stood close to the Headmaster and turned in order to rest her bottom against the edge of the desk. “It’s very warm in here”, she said in a sultry voice, whilst simultaneously unbuttoning the top button of her blouse. Distracted, Mr Davies replied, “Sorry?”. Emily raised the back of her hand to her forehead. “I was saying that it’s very warm in here, I feel quite faint”. Mr Davies turned slightly in his chair just in time to catch Miss Fudge as she sank to his lap and steadied herself by placing her hand and arm around the Headmaster’s neck. Of course, cliché of clichés, Mr Davies’ wife walked into the office at that exact moment. “You forgot these papers”, she said, noticing her husband in what appeared to be a romantic clinch. Emily had her face buried deep in the Headmaster’s shoulder, manging to leave a lipstick mark on the collar of his white shirt. She turned to face Francine and smiled as she placed her head underneath Cecil’s chin. Mr Davies stood up quickly, allowing Miss Fudge to fall to the floor. “It’s not what it looks like”, he blurted, and of course it wasn’t, but it was enough for his wife to throw the papers across the room, turn on her heels and to slam the office door behind her. Emily stood up and composed herself. “Oh, Cecil”, she said coyly, whilst removing a small powder compact from her skirt pocket. “What have we done?”.

In the main bar of the Miners’ Arms, Clarence Butterfield had now inveigled himself into the small group of drinkers surrounding the tunneller. Clarence had done his homework regarding the ways and traditions of coal mines and coal miners. He had spoken convincingly about his own father being a Welsh miner and had also stood everyone a round of drinks. One by one, the drinkers made for home, leaving just Clarence alone with his prey.

The tunneller’s name was Tommy Oddbins. “Let me get you another”, said Clarence. Tommy tried to object but Clarence was on his feet and ordering Tommy a double whisky and a watered down drink for himself. Tommy, having an audience, but now slurring his words, was still lucid enough to relate his story again. “I’m new to the area”, said Clarence. “I’ve never heard of the Dray twins, who are they again?”.  Tommy gave Clarence a full run-down on the brothers and their various criminal activities. Of course, Clarence knew full well what those boys were capable of, he’d been reporting on local crime for the last few years and had a large file of unsolved crimes that he knew for certain had connections to the twins.  

Mr Davies hurried from his office and down the hall, calling out his wife’s name. “Francine, please, Francine, wait, wait!”. Miss Fudge adjusted her blouse and skirt, used the mirror in her powder compact to prettify her hair, dabbed a little of the powder onto her cheeks, licked her tongue across her teeth, smiled, and then popped her compact back into her pocket. Noticing the Headmaster’s handkerchief lying on his desk, Emily went back to her adjoining office and took her scent bottle out of her bag. Returning to the Headmaster’s office, she dabbed a little of the perfume on to the handkerchief and placed it back on the desk. Emily had seen a very attractive dress in one of the shops in town and resolved to spend a little of her savings on it. After all, things were starting to look up for Emily Fudge.  


Published by crispinunderfelt

All round good egg. Humanist and red wine drinker.

6 thoughts on “Thompson’s Lost Plimsole

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: