He sighed and pulled the car over. Two minutes ago he had driven past the bus stop, idly given the once over of the two pretty girls in their school uniforms waiting there. Their skirts, he noticed, were unfeasibly short, the top rolled over several times no doubt once they had left home and would be rolled back before arriving at their school. He recognised the uniform, the blue tartan skirt, white shirt, blue tie with a crest and dark blue blazer; it was St Mary’s & Loadstone. An uncomfortable combination of the two girls’ grammar schools names in the town. St Mary’s had been Catholic but unable to recruit enough pupils in this area of England, Loadstone High had been the state school grammar which was established to provide a non-denominational grammar education for girls. The merger after the war had been difficult and fraught and caused great campaigns in this town, both for and against. The end was a school with magnificent grounds, great facilities and an enviable record in getting girls to look beyond ‘secretary’ as a career choice. This was 1963 and women were beginning to think that wife, mother, and skivvy weren’t the only things they were good at. The school attempted to persuade their girls that ‘singer’ wasn’t as respectable or useful a career as doctor, teacher or lawyer; but they were pleased to see women start to appear as stars in their own right. These two girls were waiting for the bus to take them across town to the school grounds which attractively nestled beside a wooded valley. It was an idyllic setting and a school that expected great things from their pupils.
John sighed again and turned the car round back to the bus stop. The Bristol was a stunning, very exclusive car to drive, he loved it. He could probably have bought some expensive pile in the country by now if he hadn’t seen this in the showroom and fallen in love with it. Still, he was single and didn’t need a big house, his flat in Cadogen Sq was good enough, and the car often provided a conversation starter with some very useful people. He rolled down the passenger window.
“Been waiting long?”
“About 15 minutes, maybe it came early” answered the dark haired girl, her hair he noticed as she leant down to speak through the window, done in regulation plaits (the school didn’t approve of bobbing ponytails, a hangover from the Catholic school rules).
“Maybe it didn’t come at all?” He opined, she looked quizzical and then a slow dawning spread across her smooth, clear skinned face.
“Oh, bloody hell. I mean ‘sugar!’ It’s the bus strike isn’t it?”
“Give that girl a coconut. I couldn’t leave you standing there”
The other girl said loudly “Come on Helen, we’ll have to run, it’s 8:30, we might make it”
“It’s 3 miles! We’ll never get there in time. We might as well walk, we can only get one detention”
The school had another policy (this one from the state school legacy – when some pupils’ parents from working class backgrounds thought schooling was optional) ‘school starts at 9am, be there or stay behind after’. The last strike, two years ago, had resulted in 52 detentions for lateness. No excuses, no exceptions (even two staff were required to work late it was rumoured).
“Get in, I’m going that way, I’ll drop you off”
The girls hesitated. Never take a ride from a stranger, but then there were two of them, but then one would be stuck in the back of a two door sports car, but then he was quite good looking, but then they’d get into trouble if their parents found out, but then they’d get into trouble from school if they were late, but then the car was pretty cool. Accepting the ride won by a nose. The brunette clambered into the back and discovered that the seats and leg room (lack of) made her sit with her knees higher than her bottom. With her short, short skirt she had to keep her knees tightly together to prevent an interesting view from the mirror. Eventually she settled herself to one side with her legs angled across the car and back. John noticed all this approvingly, these were well-brought up young ladies, which he had surmised from the bus stop they were standing at (the middle class estate of Beckton rather than the council estate further out), but it was interesting to have it confirmed. The dark haired girl got into the front.
“I’m John by the way”
“I’m Helen, and the pretty one in the back is Emily.” Now it was true that Emily had the shape and looks to make it as a model but that didn’t mean Helen was a skank. They were both pretty, slim, shapely young women. Helen had dark hair in braids over her shoulders, brown eyes, and subtle makeup (makeup being banned as frivolous, the lipstick was flesh colour to avoid criticism). Her bust, he noticed, was fuller than was fashionable at present, and her legs, which were well exposed being stretched forward from the front seat, with her short skirt hiding little, were well toned and smooth. He estimated she was 17; her friend Emily was smaller in the bust but the lighter brown hair was a pretty shade. She wore it up in a bun, which she suited; it made her look older but he expected they were the same age. Her eyes were a stunning green, he noticed that.
He nodded, not sure how to respond. Emily leant forward and playfully slapped her friend. “Helen!” she laughed, “you’re so silly”
“You both seem to have more than your fair share of looks” he said now, realising this was just a joke between them. Turning round again he set off for the school. Halfway there he noticed the two beginning to squirm. Trying to keep his eyes on the road, he couldn’t help noticing as they unrolled the top hem and pulled their skirts down to knee length. Every time a white hand went to the hem he couldn’t help looking at it. It was a flash of white at the side of his vision and it pulled his eyes involuntarily.
“We have to roll them down before we get to school” Emily explained, needlessly.
They arrived at the gates and it seemed ominously quiet. A notice was on the gate. He drove in as instructed to drop them at the door. Another notice was there; four cars left as he drove up, each seemed to still have a girl or girls in the car. Helen went to read the notice.
“It says the school is not properly open today due the strike and lack of teachers. It says they have a covering group of teachers and pupils can stay if they have to but are recommended to go home. It says the catering staff have all been unable to come in so there will be no lunches. It was, umm, oh, I can’t remember the rest”
“I think we get the gist” said Emily, “well, home then”
“Sorry girls, I have an appointment in Backsop at 9:30, I can’t afford to be late for it. I can’t drive back across town.” It began to rain. Helen got back in to shelter.
“Not to worry” said Emily. “We can walk back”
“You’ll get soaked, I bet you have no coats? No I didn’t think so. Those blazers are designed to soak up water. Look. There is an alternative. You could come with me to Backsop. I’m meeting someone at the golf club, you can have coffee and biscuits while I talk over the options and then I can drop you back.”
The two looked at each other, it was uncanny how girls could communicate without saying anything. They clearly weighed up the options. They weren’t expected at school, they weren’t expected at home, and they would be back long before anybody realised. The decision was taken and they accepted. The car pulled out again, a teacher arriving late on a bicycle that had clearly seen better days scowled at the throaty roar of the Bristol’s massive engine. So disapproving of the car was she that she didn’t notice two of her A-level pupils in the passenger seats. The girls breathed a sigh of relief.
“Problem?” Asked John.
“That was Miss Backenstraw. She’s a –” her voice dropped to a whisper “-communist” It would have been better if she was anything else, a lesbian, a criminal, stripper, anything; but a communist had to be whispered in case you caught something from the word. He guessed this was an attitude acquired from parents.
“Really? At this school?”
“I know right? Well she wouldn’t approve of us travelling around in this car I’m sure; she thinks everybody should use public transport ... or bicycles. That’s the socialist way. She wants us to go to University and study economics or politics or something like that”
“Not something useful like science? I’d like to meet her”
“You wouldn’t! She would drive you crazy with the dialectic imperative”
John looked in the mirror at Emily, who was rolling her skirt back up “If you two are going to shorten your skirts again, maybe not quite so much. The golf club is full of very respectable people and I need one of them to approve of me, also I don’t want you giving Major Blunden a heart attack!” he laughed. Major Blunden was about 90 and still ‘one for chasing the ladies’ though it was felt he no longer knew what he’d do if he caught one. “Still, it’s good that you get exposed to alternative ideas. I enjoyed that at University”
“Where did you go?”
“Oxford, studied Natural Sciences, got a third because I spent too much time chatting, cultivating useful friends and umm, well never mind” The girls looked at each other and went “oh yes?” together and laughed. It was true, he had bedded quite a few liberated young women, narrowly avoided being rusticated after sinking one of the college rowing eights (thankfully not the first team’s, rustication would have been the least of his worries then, the rowing team being rather fanatical); but also made some very, very useful contacts for his future career. But he had also spent a lot of time talking philosophy, arguing politics and absorbing ideas from all round him, his formal education had suffered, but his informal education had burgeoned. “Honestly, that’s probably short enough” he added, still enjoying the view of these girls’ lovely thighs.
“What is it you do, if I can ask?” Helen ventured.
“You can ask. It’s a little difficult to make it sound useful. I arrange for investors to get involved in companies.”
“Daddy does that at the bank”
“Ah yes, this is slightly different. I identify companies that need extra investment, sometimes they don’t realise it themselves. Then at other times I get a group together to buy something that could do better split up or merged. It’s strange sometimes a company needs to merge with another to do better, other times it needs to be broken up to improve performance. So I’m more involved than maybe a bank providing finance or brokerage services. Do you see?” The word for what he did hadn’t been invented yet, and, truth to tell, he wasn’t quite as rapacious as the later investors of the 80s and 90s would be. He made a good profit rather than a killing.
“Sort of, I think”
“And what does your father do Emily?”
“Oh, he works in an office...”
John laughed quietly, typical. Families had so little idea so often.
“ ... at the council. I don’t really know what”
They were in the country now, the valley road extended straight ahead and up the head of the valley. He opened up the car to the delighted squeals of the two girls. It was always good to show off. ‘This car makes the most delightfully ferocious noise’ he thought, again. It was a thought that always came to him when he drove it fast, it always brought a grin to his face.
Heading the valley and then dropping towards Backsop, the golf course came into view. The track off ran over a small stone bridge and then was parallel to the road for a while, then veered off over a second stream to a large imposing building; smaller than a mansion, definitely bigger than a normal house. It had been converted from Silcoat Manor in 1925 when the family went bankrupt. The golf course had proved to be a profitable venture so that now Silcoats had three courses across England. The ‘club house’ was a popular place to combined business and pleasure. His meeting today was a case in point. Specifying the golf course meant that his contact could claim it as a business expense and still probably get a round of golf in. That all encouraged people to keep their meetings. John walked in with a young lady on both arms, drawing looks – admiring, envious, irritated (from the older more fusty members, and the female members who didn’t approve of their husbands smiling at pretty girls) – the receptionist pointed them to the member’s room where the Hon. Archibald Ferrers was waiting.
“Archie, sorry to keep you, had a little trouble delivering these two to their school. As you see, I failed abysmally, so I’m down to provide lunch I suspect. School is closed because of the strike”
“Bloody unions, excuse my French ladies. Still, lovely to have some younger blood floating around. Watch out for Major Blunden. Oh, you’ve warned them already? No problem old bean, just arrived myself. Can I order anyone a drink?”
“Archie, these two are underage, and I try not to start on the whisky until after lunchtime. Now, you two, why don’t you sit over by the window? Excuse me?” he signalled to a waiter “Yes, these two ladies are guests of mine, can you make sure they have what they want and put it on my bill? Thank you. Just order whatever you fancy, the cakes are very good if it isn’t too early. Now Archie let me explain what I have in mind” Business took over, John became rapidly engrossed in the job in hand, which was to persuade Archibald Ferrers that this was good investment for his thousands. His family owned an estate or two, but they tended to be overheads rather than profitable these days, they needed this kind of imaginative entrepreneurship, but they also needed to feel comfortable to taking risks with the family fortune. These were people who would think nothing of launching themselves and a ton and a half of horse flesh over a six foot fence with no idea what was beyond, but risking money was a different risk entirely. One’s personal safety was easy-come-easy-go, but the family had to go on for ever. The discussion was muted, serious and ultimately successful. John Maxwell had his consortium. One hundred thousand pounds to buy an enterprise based nearby that sold two very different product ranges; plastic coat hangers, popular with several fashionable retailers because of their bright colours and ‘with-it’ plastic modernity; and garden fertiliser. There was no overlap, no economy of scale, nothing that made the two enterprises more efficient as one. John Maxwell and his backers would buy the company (currently in need of re-investment and unable to invest in both sides of the business at the same time), split it and sell one half to a chain of nurseries interested in producing their own brand of fertilisers. The other they would look to expand, there was a market for coloured plastic hangers, there was bound to be a market for other semi-bespoke moulded items. Together the company was worth seventy or eighty thousand, after a little re-engineering investment and splitting, they would be worth about sixty five thousand each. John’s cut would be 10 per cent of the profit, plus his profit on his investment (ten thousand). As long as he picked his targets well and his backers too, it was a good business to be in. They didn’t even need to slim down operations usually, just make them more efficient and able to deal with potential growth.
Archie Ferrers said goodbye to the two girls on his way out, attracted as he was by their young fresh looks, he was more attracted by a morning’s golf as part of his efforts to put the family on a more sound footing.
“All done?” asked Emily “That was quick” Actually it had been about an hour, but the time had gone quickly for the two girls who enjoyed the attention of the young Italian waiter and the admiring looks they drew from several male golfers. Subtly the hems of their skirts had risen a little more.
“Yes, I’d done most of the groundwork already, he just needed convincing rather than persuading. No hurry though. But, I do need to go over to Much Flaxton to see the factory owner today, I’ve just rung him and he can only see me today or next month. We’ll still be back in plenty of time. Is that okay? Oh, yes, a coffee please, espresso. Thank you”
The girls were both impressed by his sophisticated ways – he drank espresso, not milky coffee. “Shall I tell you a secret? Well I started drinking espressos to reduce my fluid intake. If you have a three hour meeting it can be advantageous not to have to leave the room, if you get my drift? Yes? Now I do like them, though I’ll happily take a Nescaff too” He pronounced it the English way, without the accent at the end. He used tricks like that sometimes to make people who had ‘worked their way up’ think that he was one of them. Perhaps he was, perhaps he wasn’t, he could mix with ‘Honourables’ just as easily, another benefit of going to Oxford. His first year had been a steep learning curve, but he had been keen.
At 11 they set off, at 12:30, nearly at Much Flaxton, John suggested lunch. The girls felt they ought to offer to pay for their own, though they had barely enough for a sandwich, but were pleased that he insisted on buying them both their chicken in basket. John had a beef sandwich and a pint. He was already beginning to think about the next meeting. The two girls noticed that he had just the one beer, Helen registered that, her father was known for not driving a straight line home sometimes after a business lunch. John explained that he had the money, now he had to persuade the owner to finally make a decision and agree to sell. So far the owner had vacillated. John asked if they wanted to help. He would say they were doing some work experience and ask the owner to explain his business. He, John, had noticed that whenever Pendleton tried to explain the logic of a plastic moulding factory in a farm yard that also made manure for sale, he soon lost the thread. It wasn’t hard to see why, the thread was nearly non-existent.
So it proved this time, Pendleton was happy to explain the two businesses. The farm had always produced rotted farm yard manure. He had seen the advantage of selling sealed bags of the stuff to the public, and then to shops, then buying in materials to make more and better. It was clean and easily transportable. They then started making a peat-based fertiliser too. Now they had four different products. The injection moldings business had been his brother’s, but his brother was now dead and the business was profitable but not well managed. Pendleton really needed to scale back and return to farming, his first love. As he explained all this to the girls, Emily was genuinely interested, though Helen soon found herself concentrating on stroking the bull’s nose. Hamish was a Highland bull and the softest creature in the world. Pendleton smiled at the girl who was captivated by his prize bull. As he continued to explain, Pendleton persuaded himself. At the end, all John had to do was offer a fair price, counter Pendleton’s counter offer and then shake on it. Both felt they’d negotiated up or down to their own benefit and both were happy. The details – when the factories would move down the road to the new buildings, when the workers would be told (both of the sale and that they still had their jobs) etc – were agreed with a further shake of the hand. John liked this kind of business, small companies worked on verbal contracts and handshakes whereas big companies had started to engage banks of lawyers making it more expensive and risky to try a deal, there was always a get-out clause slipped in somewhere.
Heading back, he was pleased, naturally. He returned them to their homes. At Emily’s her father was just driving in when they turned up. An expensive limousine wasn’t the usual school transport so a quick-thinking Emily invited him in for a cup of tea. The two of them explained most of the day, the bemused suspicious looks didn’t change a whole lot, clearly the parents thought she should have walked home in the rain rather than been chauffeured round all day in a Bristol 406. John started putting on the charm “I am most awfully sorry if I’ve put you to any trouble. I know it wasn’t my place, but they seemed so interested in business “ Emily’s father opened his eyes a little wider, that at least sounded worthwhile “that I thought they would find the day illuminating” Hearing that he had been to Oxford helped too. George (for that was his name and they rapidly got onto first names) was something of a snob and thought anyone attending Oxford or Cambridge was a cut above. His wife was harder to melt, she saw the dangers of a pretty girl being driven around the country by a handsome man (and then caught herself too, she had noticed that he was handsome; ‘behave’ she told herself), her sister had had to marry after meeting a fly-boy during the war. If their marriage wasn’t entirely a disaster, it wasn’t a bed of roses either. Still, she thought, looking at her husband, it wasn’t like she’d done much better waiting until they married to try sex.
The key to the family was Marjorie, Emily’s mother, if she was okay, then George would accept it all. A picture on the wall showed Marjorie in a tutu. “Oh, yes” she said, “that was my one brief claim to fame, I was one of the swans in Swan Lake”
“You like ballet? What a coincidence. I have two tickets spare for the Russian ballet next week. Unfortunately my business partners can’t make it now. I wonder, would you like to come? Honestly the tickets will just be wasted otherwise.”
Marjorie looked at George who looked flummoxed and made some vague offer to pay – since he hadn’t bought the tickets yet John could hardly say how much they were even if he would have let George pay; they would be way more than George thought would be reasonable anyway. “No, no, you know the kind of thing,” he winked at George, ‘you’re a man of the world, you know how things work’ he seemed to imply “ this is a” he made quotes in the air “business expense. I suppose it stretches the truth, but it is a small perk compared to what some claim. Please, do say you’ll come. Yes? Excellent, until next week then. I’ll ring to arrange the details.” Even George was content as he felt he’d been assumed to understand the ways of business.
Emily escorted him out “You haven’t really got tickets have you?”
“Not yet, but if it smooths over any problems all well and good. And what the heck, it will be fun. I prefer singing really. Opera, Gilbert and Sullivan, folk, whatever, but people in tights prancing around is impressive if less inspiring. I know, I know – Cro Magnon, that’s me. What about your Dad? Does he support Leyton Orient? I saw the photo”
“Oh, that was grandad standing in the crowd when Edward VIII visited in 1921. He rarely gets to games now, though he still follows the scores”
“Look I’d better go, take care. I’ve enjoyed the day with you two. If you want any more visits to old factories and golf clubs, let me know”
Sure enough the following week, after a frantic search for tickets for which he paid over the odds, he rang to arrange details. He asked if George would prefer to go instead of Emily and heard a snort of derision at the other end of the line. “I’m afraid George isn’t that keen on ballet. To be honest Emily has never seen one, but it will be good for her I’m sure. It’s very kind of you”
“Not at all”
The ballet was as good as it should be with the Bolshoi, they were magnificent. John noticed that both mother and daughter used the opera glasses quite often when the men were front of stage. The very visible shapely bulge in their tights clearly had an attraction to women. Perhaps this was why so many women liked ballet. For himself he found the very flat chested women unalluring, though their rock hard buttocks and amazing flexibility would no doubt be interesting in bed. He tried to keep his attention on the dance-action but found his attention wandering a few times; ballet was an odd extreme in dance really. The skill, he felt, had taken precedence over the story; it was more important to make the dancing difficult than to pass on the drama to the audience.
The interval came and they went to the bar. This was clearly a novel experience for them “I took the liberty of ordering three glasses of wine, I hope that’s acceptable. It always helps to make an experience like this special”
“Emily is only seventeen you know? But I’m sure it’s alright. It does make this seem special as you say”
“Are you enjoying it Mrs Franks?”
“Please, Marjorie, I told you. Yes. I love it. The male lead is so ... so...”
“Virile mother, that is the word you want, naughty old you”
“Emily! You are simply impossible”
John laughed and leant into Marjorie and whispered something, she blushed and looked at him. He nodded. “I suppose I’m not surprised, it was the same in my day too” she said
“Nothing for you to hear about young lady” said her mother. The lead male was known, by those in the know, to favour attractive young male acolytes. His employers tolerated his preferences despite it being contrary to the socialist ideal, but then he danced like an angel.
The second half was like the first. If you had a programme you might tell what was happening, otherwise people were bounding, twisting, leaping to the music but not telling a story. The end was followed by rapturous applause that went on and on. John wondered why he never got seven curtain calls for saving a company worth millions but then these people lived on adulation (and little else judging by their skinny frames). He drove the two back to the suburbs where they were both effusive in their gratitude. He declined the coffee offered, berating himself later in case he appeared too posh to drink supermarket freeze dried coffee, but he was tired and he had a complicated deal to put together tomorrow, that was genuinely the reason (he told himself, knowing it wasn’t totally true).
The story might have ended there if he hadn’t met Helen in the town three weeks after, she and her mother were having coffee. It was clear she was excited.
“Hello, oh, sorry, I’m John Maxwell, I gave your daughter, and Emily” he added that quickly so there were no misconceptions “a lift to school a couple of weeks ago. Of course the school was closed so I’m afraid they got dragged round the countryside a little.”
“yes, yes, Helllin told us” she pronounced her daughter’s name in a faux-posh way, was she playing up to his supposed class or was she always like this? “it was good of you. Will you join us for coffee? We’re looking for clothes for Hellin, she has had some good news-”
“-I’ve got an interview at Aberdeen for Veterinary Studies!!”
“That’s great! That really is, I remember now that you said you wanted to be a vet.” He turned to her mother “I’m so impressed, I’m far too soft, I love animals, but I couldn’t do the hard things with them” he meant put them down or neuter them. He could be tough in business, but not to a fluffy creature. Helen’s mother smiled and nodded, meaning to say that she was the same. “Aberdeen! That’s a long way. How will you go? Not drive?”
“Oh, no, I’m afraid Hubert is far too busy. We think by train. If she gets the early morning one she can be there and back in a day.”
“If I could offer some advice?” he hesitated and she nodded “Check the sleeper train and go up the night before. Helen would have time to see a little more, it isn’t only the course is it? You need to be happy with the place you’ll be in for three, no is it five, six, years? And she might arrive more refreshed too – though I wouldn’t necessarily guarantee that, it can be fairly noisy.”
“I was thinking of asking if Emily could come.” Chipped in Helen “the school said they would approve the day off for both of us to save me going so far alone”
“Oh, but the cost Helen!” her mother said, and then coloured up, thinking that John might think they couldn’t afford it. “I don’t know, it seems all very confusing”
“I have business interests in Aberdeen – no, not fish” he smiled at Helen who was already thinking exactly that. “There are some things starting to happen there that I can’t talk about”
“All very mysterious”
“Helen, shush and let Mr. Maxwell speak” he noted that she had reverted to ‘Helen’ so it had been put on for his benefit.
“Call me John please. Well, I travel up quite often. Perhaps I could itemise the costs and come round and discuss with you and your husband. It isn’t as expensive as you might think ... though I always go first class I’m afraid for a single cabin, but the girls could share and it wouldn’t be too bad I’m sure.”
Helen’s mother had once been to Calais on a day trip. That was as far as she had ever been from London. It was the travelling she was more concerned with she explained rather than the cost. Aberdeen was a daunting, far-away place. John got the impression her husband was even less adventurous. Keen though she was on her daughter having an education in a ‘profession’ as she put it (though it was clear she would have preferred medicine), she was a little daunted at sending Helen to the other end of the country for an interview.
That very evening John called round with the facts and figures. He always used a small, local hotel when he went up and had checked they had rooms. Two rooms were reserved but could be cancelled if they didn’t like the idea. He explained that since he had to arrange a visit at some point, this had been an incentive to actually phone up and harden up on the arrangements. He didn’t explain that the rooms were adjoining and shared a bathroom; no need to worry them. The small oil exploration company, - ooops – “I shouldn’t have mentioned that” he said, “Please don’t tell anyone, this is very early days but could be a big opportunity” anyway, it was expecting his visit on the same Friday that Helen had her interview. Partially because tickets back were cheaper, and partially because it made sense to take the opportunity to see the place, he suggested they return on the Sunday on an early train.
“So that’s settled, up on the sleeper on Thursday and back on the Sunday. It really is a superb journey”
“Thank you so much John, it’s a weight off our minds to know that the girls will be escorted by someone like yourself. Someone experienced in travel I mean”
Helen rolled her eyes, she and another girl were already planning a trip round Europe together in the summer after their A-Levels, but her parents still didn’t think she could catch a train in the UK on her own. Still, after the last day out with John, she suspected that the trip would be quite fun.
It was all arranged, and seeing as they now had an escort, the parents were happy to see their girls off at the local station rather than travelling up to Euston. As the train pulled out, both girls let out a sigh of relief. “Having trouble dealing with worrying parents? They only have your best interests at heart”
“I know” replied Emily, “I know”
The journey up to Waterloo was easy enough, since they were travelling against the flow. The afternoon rush was beginning home and they were heading up to London. London of course was manic, it always is, the underground would be horrible. They had loads of time and so John hailed a taxi; it would take longer in the traffic but they could sit and look at the people and the buildings. The two girls started to get excited. Helen admitted she had never been in a Black Taxi, it was always seen as a needless expense in their family. “Well, it often is, especially if there is just one of you, but with three the costs aren’t so much greater than the underground” explained John.
“The only time I was in one was when we were heading to Granny Timmins’ funeral” said Emily. Apparently if you are going to a funeral then taxis are a valid expense to stop your black dress getting creased. They got out, three young people in jeans (their better clothes carefully packed for tomorrow), there was a feeling of freedom in the air.
“Euston has a waiting room for the sleeper, we can at least drop the luggage there, then we should find somewhere to eat” In fact it was only meant to be for first class travellers, but some nifty work with his ticket enabled them all to come in. They all went in and found seats, then John specifically targeted the official who was going round checking; he looked at John’s ticket and just assumed they were all the same, job done! He was also agreeable to leaving the luggage in the corner (for a small consideration slipped into his hand).
The Rocket was packed with loud commuters, but John drew the two girls down a side road, two blocks away a pub called the King’s Head was populated by locals and one or two more knowing travellers. The food was the same as every other pub, chips and peas with everything. They sat at a table and had three fish and chips, a pint of ‘Best’ and two white wines. They all felt they were heading off on a holiday, barriers started to come down. “I should tell you now, I booked a first for myself and a second class for you two, so you are sharing. The cabins are exactly the same but you have a fold down bunk. Oh, and they are next door to each other. Not that that makes any difference” John was wrong about that. After the dinner (he paid) and the desserts (they paid – insisting, as they had been given money for food), and a couple more drinks each (beer and then whisky for him, two more white wines for them) and then coffees they were mellow and content as they went to sit in the waiting room. An hour later and they were ready to board. The cabins were not just adjoining it transpired, but being booked at the same time, were connecting too. The connecting door had been unlocked on the assumption they were a group, the door could not be locked or unlocked by the travellers, only by the guard. The girls said it didn’t matter. They might also have been wrong.
The train pulled out only 10 minutes late, that nearly counted as on time. John lay on his bed and read the notes for tomorrow’s meeting. A knock came on the connecting door. “Come in” Emily walked in wearing pyjamas. It wasn’t so much what they revealed as the fact he was seeing this attractive young woman in her nightwear that he found turned him on a little.
“Would you mind if I used your sink to clean my teeth?”
“No, of course, problem with your sink?”
“No, not exactly, Helen is washing her ... that is she is err ... well, you see she forgot to pack any spare knickers. She’s washing them in the sink for tomorrow”
“ha ha ha ha” he laughed out loud, nearly asking why she couldn’t lend Helen a pair of hers; perhaps it wasn’t something girls did? She went to the sink and leant over, the pyjama bottoms stretched tight over her rear. She really did have a pretty bottom. Her panties were clearly delineated and he adjusted himself whilst she wasn’t looking; unfortunately Helen was. She had come to the door and, after seeing him reach inside his trousers and rearrange himself, she coughed.
“Hi, I heard Emily telling you, she is very mean” she gave Emily a significant look, or rather Emily’s tight rump a significant look “I’m not usually this disorganised, I just, well. I was rather distracted checking the veterinary school’s interests, preferences and history and the like”
“Relax, we all do silly things sometimes” He noticed suddenly that she wasn’t in pyjamas, she was in a shorty nighty; if she had just washed her only pair of panties then ... As if to answer the unspoken, barely thought question of what she had on underneath, the train lurched and she staggered forward, falling onto his bed, onto him actually. The shorty nighty rose up a few inches, revealing that her bottom was in fact not covered by anything under the nightdress. The beautiful view of her exposed arse was brought to an end by his gentlemanly, rapid pulling of the nightdress back over her bare skin.
She looked up at him and mouthed ‘thank you’. He smiled and winked, she went red. Emily half turned round and laughed “What’s this then?” the train lurched again and the water that had been splashing into the bowl instead splashed over her pyjama bottoms. They were instantly soaked, become semi-transparent and revealing the pretty seagull decoration on her panties beneath. The other two laughed as Helen rolled over towards John’s feet (and felt his erection as her head hit it beneath his clothes) and sat up. “I should get changed” said Emily
“I should if I were you” Helen laughed “You look like you’ve had an accident” Emily now also coloured. The alcohol had loosened their more normal reticence towards boys. Both had made suggestive remarks; she came back in a few minutes, in just her pyjama top and a fresh pair of panties.
“Now we both need to dry our knickers for tomorrow – those were my lucky pants” She wore the same pants for every exam she had taken since she was fifteen.
“They probably needed a wash by now then” said John
“No, I mean, they have been, I mean well, you know!” Apparently she was wearing them to bring her friend good luck this time. Her top didn’t really cover her bottom and when she retrieved her toothpaste from the floor where it had fallen, she showed just how good a bottom she had. Helen looked at her and looked at John. She knew immediately Emily was not accidentally revealing her camel toe, and she could see it was exactly what John was enjoying looking at. Now she wondered if it was Emily’s attractions or her own unwarranted display that had brought his erection to the fore. Of course it was both. He was in the sweet shop, not bought anything yet, but the sight of all the sweets was still exciting.
The girls both tried to regain their ‘ladylike’ composure with sensible conversation, but they showed no sign of leaving his room. Apparently it was easier to sit on his bed because the fold down bunk next door meant you had so sit hunched. John nearly pointed out that the bed could be folded away until needed, but then thought better of it. The girls, young, nubile, undoubtedly virginal, were a welcome diversion on the journey. His erection subsided as they chatted, he even forgot to keep looking at Helen’s hem, which rose slowly up her thighs until she pulled it down; then it would start edging up again.