Story Time: BOGOF

*What’s got DP so riled up, Clicky?*

*Oh, the latest installment of the Battle for Brexit… /lights up and smokes… The everso grubby Corona Skirmish. How’s that going for the Remoaning Media?*

*Figures. They never learn…*

Welcome back, Dear Reader. After posting ‘She’s In The Shower’ earlier this week…

*Beautiful, Clicky… /puffs contentedly…*

…We thought we’d treat you to another story from UAVIII. Mine this time. It’s called ‘BOGOF’ and has nothing whatsoever to do with toilet paper. Enjoy 😉

*******

BOGOF

By Roo B. Doo

The supermarket was already a hive of activity by the time Clive Ambrose squelched into the admin office of the Marchway Emporium. He removed his sodden jacket, shook his feet and inspected the wet hem of his trouser legs. “Good grief, Sylvie, the weather’s absolutely filthy today.”

His assistant looked up from the paperwork on her desk. Sylvie arched a quizzical eyebrow and clucked at the dripping store manager stood in front of her. “Morning, Clive. You’re late.”

It was barely fifty yards from his reserved parking space to the staff entrance, but the morning’s unexpected squally shower had drenched Clive every step of the way. The car park could do with resurfacing, he thought glumly. Some of those puddles are deep.

“And today of all the days!” Clive exclaimed, pinching wet and steamy glasses off his nose. “Fiona’s car wouldn’t start, so I had to drop her off at the University first. She had an early lecture. Empowerment of women in a post-Brexit toxic wasteland, or something like that.”

Sylvie widened her eyes and pursed her lips. She offered Clive the box of man-sized tissues from her desk.  “Doesn’t she know you voted to leave?”

“Lord no!” Clive snorted, patting away the rain and perspiration beads that studded his face. “That would kill her. A shock like that could cause an embolism.”

“Or a heart attack…”

“At the very least it could induce a catatonic state.”

“But they’re all natural causes, Clive,” Sylvie simpered slyly. “No court would convict you, surely.”

Clive dried his glasses off with a fist full of tissues. “Probably not. I’ll bear it in mind.” As much as he enjoyed the banter with Sylvie, Clive was under no illusion that should his beloved wife Fiona ever find out that he’d voted for Brexit, she wouldn’t be the spouse in danger of dying.

Sylvie pushed her ample frame away from her desk, stood up and slipped on her shoes. She straightened the seam on her skirt and tottered over to the office doorway. “I’ll get you a coffee, Clive. A frothy one with sprinkles?”

Clive returned his now freshly dried glasses to his face and looked his assistant up and down. “You look different today, Sylvie. Are you taller?”

“I’m wearing heels.”

“I’ve not seen you in stilettos before. And is that make up?”

Sylvie flicked her thick, blonde hair from her shoulders nonchalantly and plucked a non-existent piece of lint from her sleeve. “Well it’s not every day the Emporium is graced by celeb chef royalty. Housewives favourite, Freddie Calender, here, giving a cookery demonstration? I thought I’d make the effort, Clive.”

Clive was suddenly worried that he’d gone too far. He would hate to offend Sylvie; sometimes he thought she was his only friend. “No, you look very smart. That’s smart thinking, Sylvie. Well done. Smart all round.”

Sylvie smiled at her blushing boss and bobbed her head. “So, coffee. With froth and sprinkles?”

“Yes please,” Clive said gratefully. He clapped his hands together and looked around his office. “So, big day ahead. I’ll go and check out the Freddie Calendar books and DVDs promotion once my shoes have dried out a bit, but I do need to speak to Alan. I suspect with this weather, and the amount of customers we’re likely to attract today, we’ll need extra matting and mopping.”

“I’ll find him and send him through,” Sylvie said with a smile and left the office with an unsteady wobble.

Clive grimaced and continued to worry about slips, trips and falls.

+++

Kara Swinton pulled the sun visor down from above her head and checked her appearance in the tiny mirror fixed to the back of it. Despite the early hour, she didn’t think she looked too bad; a little pale maybe, but better than she ought to considering what little sleep she’d managed to get the night before. As she turned her face from side to side she caught a glimpse of the figure slumped, sleeping in the back seat of the Uber cab they were taking to Marchway, and thought he looked considerably worse than her.

“There’s a light if you want to fix your make-up,” the driver next to her said helpfully. His eyes didn’t waver from the dark road ahead as he reached up and flicked a switch next to the mirror.

Ugh! Kara thought at the dark rings under her eyes, now illuminated by the harsh, blue light that spilled over her. She quickly switched it off and pushed the sun visor up to its original position. She could kill for a cigarette. “No, that’s okay. Thank you, I don’t want to wake him.”

“No problem,” the driver replied. He flashed a bright smile at Kara before tilting his head back toward the sleeping figure. “Late night, was it?”

Kara considered telling him that they’d spent the evening in the bar at the House of Commons – how they’d drunk far too much in an effort to keep up with their very thirsty host, an MP of twenty years standing, in an attempt to solicit further backing – but decided against it. “Kinda,” she replied with a shrug. “A work thing.”

They traveled in silence that was intermittently broken by burbled snores from the back seat. Several times Kara noticed the driver’s dark eyes flicking up to the rear view mirror, to stare inquiringly at the slack jawed, drooling face of her boss. He can’t place him, she decided. And no wonder, the public rarely sees Freddie Calender, TV chef and food activist, without his trademark grin and sparkling eyes. Kara stifled a yawn, I won’t tell him unless he asks.

Freddie turned in his seat and farted loudly.

“Oh Freddie,” Kara groaned under her breath and pushed a button on her door. The window whined down and the raw sound of the motorway rushed in. “You’d better do the same,” she advised the driver. “It’s Dev, right?”

“Yeah and you’re Kara,” Dev chuckled and shook his head. “That’s okay. I lived in India when I was little. Nothing pongs as bad as India. It was like being inoculated against future bad smells.”

Kara smiled as she allowed the cold air to stream over her face, letting it beat all traces of tiredness away. She breathed deeply; it smelt like rain. “Dev, would it be okay with you if I smoked a cigarette?”

“Freddie?” Dev started having caught the name. “Is that’s Freddie Calender, the chef off the telly?”

Kara pulled a battered metal cigarette case from her coat pocket and waggled it at Dev. “I’ll tell you if you’ll let me smoke.”

“Sure,” Dev said, flashing Kara with another bright smile. “If you don’t mind that I vape.” He pulled a white plastic tube from his door well and twirled it between his fingers, waggling his eyebrows.

“Heh. Not at all.” Kara returned his smile; Dev had a nice smile. “Thank you, you’re a life saver. This is my first today.” She reached into her other coat pocket and pulled out an equally battered lighter. “Of course, the first one always tastes better with coffee,” she sighed, lighting up, careful to blow the first drag of smoke out of the window.

“So am I right?” Dev opened his window and took a pull on his vape stick. “I am aren’t I? That’s Freddie Calender.”

“Yes he is,” Kara said sweetly, turning back to look fondly over her comatose boss. Freddie shifted and farted again. “TV chef, mediocre businessman,” she continued tartly, turning back to face forward, “and scourge of BOGOF.” Kara inclined her head toward the open window and took another deep drag on her cigarette. “That Freddie Calender.”

“And what’s a BOGOF?” Dev asked.

Kara laughed softly to cover her surprise. She watched the orange sparks dance atop her cigarette and disappear into the morning air as the car’s slipstream simultaneously whisked away it’s ashen hat.  “You’ve never heard of BOGOF?”

Dev turned his head toward Kara and shook it, although his eyes remained fixed on the road ahead. “No, is it a toilet thing?”

“Eww, no.” Kara studied the blank expression on Dev’s face and concluded that he really didn’t know. “It’s short for ‘Buy One Get One Free’… bee-oh-gee-oh-eff. BOGOF.” Still nothing. “Obviously you don’t do the grocery shopping in your house,” she teased.

Dev took another deep pull on his vape stick and blew a plume of steam out of his open window. “If you want to know if I’m in relationship, you can just ask me.”

Cheeky sod, Kara thought, coughing to hide her embarrassment; she had noticed that the very good looking cab driver wasn’t wearing a wedding ring. “Okay, I’ll play. Do you have a girlfriend, Dev?”

“No,” Dev stated seriously before flashing Kara with another winning smile. “But I take my mum to the supermarket and help with the food shop every week. I’ve just never actually heard anyone call it BOGOF before. Do people even say that?”

“BOGOF,” Freddie slurred from the depths of sleep.

Kara and Dev burst into laughter. They tried suppressing their mirth so as not to wake him so that their shoulders shook all the more. Kara threw the butt of her exhausted cigarette out of the window and let the rushing wind carry it away with a howl of laughter.

“Surreal,” Dev said shaking his head slowly. “My first famous fare and it’s completely surreal.”

“Freddie has that effect sometimes,” Kara sighed. “Have we got very much further to go?” she asked, arching her back. The cigarette and laughter had relaxed her somewhat, but Kara could do with stretching her legs.

“Marchway is about thirty minutes away,” Dev replied, glancing up through the windscreen at the overcast sky. “If it doesn’t rain.” He tapped at the sat nav screen. “Actually, there’s a service station coming up. Do you want to stop and get coffee?”

“That would be great, thanks. I’ll wake his nibs up then, so he has enough time to come to.” Kara knew Freddie would appreciate that, and a strong, black coffee would probably do him the world of good.

+++

“There you go.” Sylvie placed a bacon sandwich and cappuccino in front of Clive. “I thought you could do with something to eat as well. I doubt you had time this morning.”

Clive was touched. He’d had to forgo his usual bowl of muesli because of Fiona’s car troubles. Not that he minded missing Fiona’s muesli, but he’d hadn’t realised just how hungry he was until he smelt the aroma of bacon. Clive smacked his lips and beamed up at Sylvie. “Thank you very much indeed.”

“You’re welcome,” Sylvie said beaming a smile back.“Did you talk to Alan yet?”

Clive took a huge bite out of his sandwich and nodded enthusiastically.

Sylvie liked to see Clive eat and was quite convinced his wife didn’t feed him at all. “Good. I see Freddie Calender is in the newspaper today. We get a mention.”

Clive stopped mid-chew and swallowed. “National or local press?”

Sylvie pulled a folded newspaper from under her arm and passed it to Clive.” Local, but he’s in all the nationals as well. Page seven.”

Clive wiped his fingers on the napkin Sylvie had thoughtfully tucked under his bacon sandwich, and opened the newspaper. Freddie Calender stared out, all twinkling eyes and dimpled grin. Clive read the accompanying article in silence, while Sylvie watched his brow slowly furrow.

Eventually he looked up. “Here we are at the end, but what’s this ‘BOG OFF to BOGOF’ business? What’s he got against ‘buy one get one free’?”

Sylvie had already returned to her desk and kicked off her shoes. “I’ll look it up,” she said, skittering painted nails over the keyboard. “Here we are. I’ve found the website.”

Clive continued eating his sandwich, more slowly this time, and re-read the article.

“It’s like it says in the newspaper,” Sylvie murmured reading the words on screen. “He’s heading up a national campaign to ban ‘buy one get one free’ deals. “‘It’s time to tell Big Retail that we don’t want more of their junk products that we didn’t need in the first place.’ Bloody cheek!”

Clive took a slurp of cappuccino and sucked the foam off his mustache. “Listen to this: ‘It’s all too easy to be lured into buying ready meals, thinking ‘what a bargain’, when the truth is, that second portion of processed crap languishing in your fridge, will be binned when it’s past it’s sell-by date because the first one tasted so bad.’” Clive looked up at Sylvie and blinked. “He’s very strident in his criticism.”

“He’s very rude is what he is,” Sylvie huffed, bristling with indignation “And quite wrong. Our ‘Authentic Dishes of the World’ ranges are delicious and very popular. Especially the chicken Tikka Masala in ‘Feasts from the East’. Do you think Head Office knows about this?”

“I doubt it, Sylvie.” Clive rubbed his hands together to remove any sandwich crumbs from his fingers, and wiped his mouth. “They’ve been exceptionally buoyed ever since landing Calender’s ‘Time to Cook’ nationwide tour. His name has a certain cachet, but you’re right to ask. We should find out. Can you get me Megan at Head Office on the phone?”

“Of course.” Sylvie picked up the receiver of her telephone console and jabbed at the keypad with a pen. “It won’t stop with ready meals, Clive, you mark my words. We have BOGOF deals on wine, pet foods, toiletries… Oh good morning. Could I speak to Megan Prendergast, please. Clive Ambrose from the Marchway store would like to speak with her. Thank you, we’ll hold.” She kept the receiver to her ear but placed a hand over the mouthpiece. “And has he even considered the impact this could have on food banks? I bet he hasn’t.”

Clive drained his coffee cup and reached down to slip his mostly dried shoes back onto his feet. He appreciated his assistant’s feistiness – finding Sylvie strangely attractive when she had her hackles up – but unintended consequences were a fact of life. The trick, in Clive’s opinion, was to deal with them as best you can and to always look for the silver lining.

His thinking was interrupted when Sylvie nodded several times toward the phone on his desk. He picked up the receiver. “Good morning, Megan, Clive Ambrose from Marchway here. Tell me, have you seen the Freddie Calender articles in the press today?”

Sylvie leaned back in her chair and watched Clive’s conversation. He didn’t say much but from his facial expressions and body language, Sylvie could tell that Head Office was as shocked by the news as they were.

“No, of course you need to scrutinize his contract thoroughly. The issue I have is that we’re expecting him to arrive at the store in a little over an hour.” Clive rolled his eyes at Sylvie at the response he was hearing before eventually saying “Goodbye” and ending the call.

“Well?” Sylvie asked expectantly. “Are we going to cancel?”

Clive stood up and pulled his jacket on. “No, the Legal department needs to study his contract properly. That takes time.”

Sylvie gave a snort of disgust. “So we’re going to have to be nice to him, all the while he’s slagging us off in the press?”

“Well, not us per se, he’s not stupid,” Clive soothed, straightening his tie. “But Head Office seems a little bereft of ideas.” He started for the office door, but stopped to pick at something stuck in his teeth. He pulled the irritant out; it was a piece of bacon. He studied it and thought about Fiona’s muesli, the morning’s deluge and his satisfied bacon-filled stomach, before popping it back into his mouth. There’s always a silver lining to be found.

“Come along on, Sylvie,” Clive said, holding the door open for her. “We should go and inspect the demonstration and promotional areas. I really hope this weather doesn’t keep the customers away.”

+++

Dev leaned against the pillar in the coffee shop, watching Kara pay at the counter. He allowed his eyes a moment to rake over her slender form, though he quickly looked away when she glanced up and caught his stare.  Kara was all smiles as she approached him with the coffees.

“Here you go,” she said and handed Dev a cardboard cup, topped with a plastic adult teat. “A tall Flat White. That’s on me.”

“Thanks Kara, but there’s no need.”

They moved to the napkin station where Kara liberally applied brown sugar to her larger cup of white chocolate Mocha. “Oh don’t worry about. I got it with my loyalty points.” She pulled the wooden stirrer between her lips and sucked off the milky foam. “Consider it as part of your tip.”

Dev sipped gingerly from the steaming hole in the lid of his cup. “I’ve had plenty of racing tips as tips but this is much nicer.”

“Why, weren’t any of those tips any good?” Kara asked playfully.

“Nah, they were all nags,” Dev said with a grin and tilted his cup toward Kara. “Thanks again.”

They left the coffee shop and as they reached the entrance doors to the service station. Both were surprised to find the rain that threatened earlier had actually arrived. A sheet of water fell from the roof covering the entrance like a second transparent door.

“Oh hell, we’re gonna get soaked!” Dev declared as he gauged the strength of the rain and the distance to the car. “We’ll have to make a run for it.”

“No sodding way,” Kara hollered over the sound of the falling rain. “I want to have a smoke before we go back. Freddie hates me smoking.” She sauntered over to an empty table and chairs set back from the cascading rain, under the cover the overhanging roof.

Dev followed her and sat down. He patted his pockets. “Oh shit, I’ve left my vape stick in the car.”

“You won’t be able to vape when we get back either. Freddie hates that too.” Kara said pulling the battered metal box from her pocket and extracted a cigarette. “Would you like one of mine?”

She watched Dev dithering as to whether to take one or not. Oh you bad girl, Kara, she chastised herself but felt no pangs of guilt. “You don’t have to of course, but you should also consider this as part of your tip.”

“No, it’s okay,” Dev laughed, “but I appreciate the offer.” He took the battered Zippo lighter from Kara’s hand and flicked it into life. “Here, let me.”

Kara took a deep drag and blew the smoke out of the side of her mouth, away from Dev. She took the teated lid off her coffee and took a cautious slip. “Ahh, the second smoke of the day tastes equally as good with coffee.”

Dev turned the Zippo lighter between his thumb and index finger. “Hey, the case and lighter match. That’s neat.”

Kara took another drag and plucked the lighter from Dev’s fingers. She placed it on top of the cigarette case. “They were my granddad’s. He swapped them with a Yank during the war.”

“What did he swap them for?”

“Provisions. They were both POWs in World War Two. I got them when he died a couple of years back. Well, my sister doesn’t smoke, so they came to me,” Kara said with a shrug. “They’re a useful memento.”

“Of your granddad,” Dev murmured solemnly.

“Well yes,” Kara drawled and release a plume of smoke from her mouth. “And that neither smoking, nor bloody combat managed to see him off.”

Dev eyed the steadily falling rain and lightly drummed his fingers on the table top. “Go on then, as it’s part of my tip.”

Kara chuckled and slid her cigarette box and lighter over to Dev. “Knock yourself out.”

Dev lit up a cigarette. “So if Freddie Calender doesn’t like smoking-”

“He hates smoking.”

“And vaping-” Dev popped the lid from his Flat White.

“Completely loathes it.”

“And hates BOGOFs-” He took a slurp of his coffee.

“Vehemently.”

“Is there anything Freddie Calender does like?” Dev asked, licking hot foam from his lips.

Kara flicked ash onto the floor. “You mean apart from Freddie Calender? Um…”. She puffed out her cheeks in contemplation.

“Ha, yes.”

“Jammie Dodgers.” Kara lent in toward Dev and whispered conspiratorially. “They’re his secret vice.”

Dev smiled and gazed at Kara snort with laughter at her own joke. He let his eyes linger on her pale and beautiful face, and this time, when she caught him staring, Dev did not look away.

He chipped off the remains of his cigarette and stood up. “The rain seems to be easing up some. If you’ve finished that, I think we could make a run for it. We shouldn’t get too wet.”

“Okay.” Kara took a final drag and discarded the butt into an encroaching puddle of rainwater. It hissed and fizzled out. “Freddie hates it when his coffee is cold.”

+++

Freddie Calender slung his foot out of back of the black saloon car and into a puddle of water. “Bollocks!” he swore loudly and pulled his foot back inside, wiping the sides of his pristine white trainers against the tufted car mat. “Fella, you’ve managed to park on a lake. Can’t you find us somewhere drier?”

“Sorry,” Dev said and reversed out of the parking bay and maneuvered it into a empty spot immediately behind. “Is that better?”

Kara cracked open her door and looked down. “Yes, much. Thank you, Dev.”

“Yeah, thanks mate,” Freddie said, slapping Dev hard on the shoulder as he slid out of the car.

“I’ve got my phone with me if you need me,” Kara mumbled and pulled her bag up onto her lap, rummaging inside. “He’s booked for three hours but this shouldn’t take much longer than that. You’re sure you don’t mind waiting?”

“No problem.”

“I mean, you don’t mind us not paying for you to wait.” Kara placed her hand on Dev’s arm. “I’m so sorry. I had no idea Freddie was going to suggest that.”

Dev smiled and shook his head. “No, that’s okay. As Freddie pointed out, it’s extremely doubtful I’m gonna get another fare from Marchway back to London. Besides, he’s promised an autographed photo for my mum. I can’t leave before I get that.”

“Okay then, see you later.” Kara open the car door and got out.

Dev sat back in his seat and watched Kara heft her bag up onto her shoulder, and weave her way through the puddles littering the car park, toward the supermarket. He pulled out his vape stick and switched on the radio. All in all, for his first celebrity fare, he thought it had gone pretty well so far. But Kara? She was definitely the best thing about it.

+++

Freddie saw the expectant delegation of suits and primary coloured uniforms before he stepped through the sliding doors and into the supermarket. He knew they had seen him as soon as he heard a squeal of excitement. There was always a squeal.

“Hello Mr Calender!” Clive called out and strode toward him. “We’re so pleased to welcome you to the Marchway Emporium.” He grabbed Freddie’s hand and pumped it enthusiastically. “Very pleased indeed.”

“Yeah, I’m excited to be here.” Freddie grinned his trademark grin at the waiting crowd before him and shook the proffered hands. “I can’t wait to get cooking.”

“Shame about the weather but hopefully it won’t put too many people off coming out to see you.” Clive placed his hand on the small of Freddie’s back and attempted to steer him forward. “This way, we’re all set up for you.”

Freddie stopped. “Wait. I need to introduce you to my assistant,” he said tentatively and swung around, looking for the absent Kara. “There she is. Kara!”

Kara had just arrived and was stamping her wet boots on the matting inside the door. She looked up and smiled at hearing her name. “Hello. How do you do. Golly, it’s extremely wet out there.”

Sylvie tottered forward and took Kara’s hand. “Yes, it was dreadfully unexpected. I’m Sylvie, the Store Manager’s assistant. I can take you to dry off first if you like.”

“Kara’s my go-to gal, aren’t you, Kara?” Freddie wrapped an arm around Kara’s shoulders and pulled her in tight. “If anybody needs anything of me, especially whilst I’m cooking, speak to Kara. She’s on point. Okay?”

“Ah, well perhaps I should give this to you then,” Sylvie said to Kara, and loosened a page from her clipboard. “It’s all the ingredients specifically requested for today. We just want to make sure there’s nothing missing.”

Freddie snatched the paper from Sylvie. “No, I’ll check that. I am the chef.” He pinched his bottom lip between forefinger and thumb as he scanned the list. “No, that’s everything. Thank you.”

You arse! Kara thought sourly and plucked the page from Freddie’s hand. She’d seen the flush of colour in Sylvie’s cheeks and decided a spot of charm might be the best remedy. It’s amazing how skillful I’ve become at charming people since I started working for you, she admonished Freddie silently.

She passed the paper back to Sylvie with a toothy smile. “Oh my god, your nails are wonderful, Sylvie!” Kara held Sylvie’s hand and studied the finish on her nails. “Did you get those done professionally?”

The flush in Sylvie’s cheeks turned to blush. “No, I did them myself. I used transfers. I learnt how to do it on the internet. There are so many videos on YouTube…”

“Well then,” Clive said clearing his throat and replaced his hand on the small of Freddie’s back, nudging him onward. “Shall we go to the kitchen demonstration area? We’ve converted part of our Riverside cafe for the day. Temporarily of course, but we think you’ll be satisfied with the layout.”

+++

“Hey! I thought I might find you out here,” Dev called out and ambled over to Kara. He passed her a cardboard carton, a wisp of steam curled out from the hole in its lid. “I thought maybe you could do with one of these.”

Kara was stood smoking alone in the bright sunshine, and rocking on her feet. The free hand she had stuffed in her coat pocket took the coffee from him gratefully. “Hey! Aw, thank you! How did you know that the third cigarette of the day is spectacularly good with coffee? Wow. You really are an excellent cab driver, Dev.”

 “Thank you, Kara.”

“In fact I suggest you prepare yourself for a most effusive customer review.”

“Consider me already bowled over,” Dev said with a wide smile. “So how’s it going with Freddie’s demonstration?”

“Pretty good, I think. Despite the earlier bad weather, he’s drawn quite a crowd.” Kara took a long drag on her cigarette, followed up by a short sip from her coffee cup. “Have you been shopping?”

Dev was carrying a bulging plastic bag, with the primary coloured Emporium logo emblazoned on the front. “I have. Fortunately I had some time to kill this morning, so I thought I’d check out inside.”

Kara smiled and released a cloud of smoke into the bright blue sky. “Did you buy anything nice?”

“Yes I did,” Dev said pulling his vape stick from his pocket. “I got some presents for my mum.”

“That’s cool.”

“Yeah.” Dev took a hit from his vape stick. “Say, Kara, have you had a chance to look around the rest of the store?”

Kara looked at Dev and flicked the ash from her cigarette. She squinted in the sunshine. “No, not really. I’ve been busy with the demonstration. Why?”

“It might be nothing, but the Emporium seems really keen on BOGOFs.”

“What do you mean?”

Dev shrugged his shoulders and sighed. “I mean, really keen. They have a whole aisle of ‘buy one get one free’ ingredients from Freddie’s demo dishes and it’s jammed with customers.”

“No!” Kara could feel the blood draining from her already too pale face.

“Yeah, there are even food bank reps behind the tills collecting BOGOF donations. I didn’t know they were allowed to do that.” Dev reached into his shopping bag and pulled out a book. “And then there’s this.” Freddie Calender’s twinkling eyes and trademarked dimpled grin shone from the cover. “They’ve got a big promotion of these inside as well. All ‘buy one get one free’. I bought this and got one of his DVDs with it. What a bargain! Mum thinks Freddie’s great.”

Kara placed her coffee cup on the floor before taking the book from Dev. She stared at it in astonishment. It was Freddie’s latest title, ‘Time To Cook’, but a large, primary coloured sticker had been placed over the last word. “’Freddie Calender’s Time To BOGOF’?”

Dev tried hard but the giggle that he’d held inside him could no longer be contained. “I’ve only known Freddie a morning, but even I know that he is gonna hate that!”

Kara roared with laughter and grabbed Dev’s arm. “We’d best not tell him then, eh? We don’t want to ruin the journey back.”

+++

Sylvie was typing into her computer when Clive returned to the Emporium’s Admin Office. “Well, that all went off very well in the end, I think,” he said, sitting down at his desk. A steaming cup of tea and a jam doughnut, with a thoughtfully placed napkin, were waiting for him. “Thank you, Sylvie. That’s very kind of you.”

“No problem, Clive.” Sylvie turned away from her computer screen so that she could watch Clive take the first sugary bite from his doughnut. “Have you spoken to Alan this afternoon?” she asked.

Clive shook his head no and continued chewing.

“He stopped by earlier, cock-a-hoop about something he’s posted up on Twitter.”

Clive swallowed and licked sugar and jam from his lips. “Alan’s on Twitter?”

“Yes. I’m not on Twitter myself, but Alan says he’s got a number of followers on there. They’ve been liking and retweeting a photo he took of our Freddie Calendar book promotion. Apparently it’s gone viral.”

“Really?” Clive wiped his fingers on the napkin, woke up his computer and opened Twitter. “Did Alan happen to mention the name of his Twitter handle?” he asked, reaching for his tea and taking a large gulp.

“Yes. He posts anonymously on…” Sylvie paused, peered down at her notebook and grimaced. “At silver streaky bacon?”

And for the second time that day, Clive Ambrose found himself unexpectedly soaked.

*******

*Trust Jammy Oliver to land a show with a captive audience, Clicky… /stubs butt… Time for a Song methinks…*

And that, as they say, is that. Underdog Anthology XI: Ay Corona! (working title) is due out in April, and I really must get back to finishing my story for it. So until next time, Dear Reader, have a Song ❤

*Seriously, Clicky? …/laughs like a drain…*

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