Part Six: How much annual leave do international salami dealers get?

This blog is written by Jonathan David, the hero of Saul Pope’s story ‘Russia, The Man and Jonathan David’. He was hoping for a nice, quiet life after the exertions of a starring role in a novel, but it wasn’t to be. Having been located by the author, he’s now forced to write a blog and help promote the book. If he doesn’t, Saul has threatened to reveal Jonathan’s current location to his nemesis, ‘The Man’… 

Below is part six of his story. If you’d prefer to start at the beginning, then click here.

 

 

I’m writing this in my bedroom. Not my bedroom in my luxury Bayswater apartment (which actually belongs to a 15 year-old Russian boy), not even in the ‘mini-bedroom’ that comprises one-quarter of my converted municipal garage just outside London, but my original bedroom, the one that I slept in for as long as I can remember until I left home to seek my fortune at the University of Northern England (Goole Campus). The bed I’m now lying on still has tattered Garbage Pail Kids stickers adorning its scratched, veneer outer surface (no wonder I never brought any girls back here), and the walls are decorated with the same nightmarish eighties zig zags that I chose during a rather flustered and rash moment in Fenwick’s when I was nine.

 

My mother, a stickler for cleaning, claims to never come into my room – apparently she’s saving it for when I give up trying to make it in the real world and come to live back at home. As soon as I got back home, I checked whether she was good to her word by sliding my hand down the side of the bed – it was still there. A coconut Boost wrapper, which has been there since I planted it before I left for university almost ten years ago, lightened my gloomy mood somewhat. So it’s true that some things never change. As I held the mini comfort blanket in my hand, I wondered whether I should list it on eBay – they don’t sell coconut Boosts any more…

 

So, why have I moved from the hip, cosmopolitan and fast-paced Bayswater to the suburbs of Leicester, which doesn’t even try to tick any of those boxes? It’s only a temporary move – I hope. Last night I received another untimely text message from Vladik:

 

Jonathan, please, check emails now

 

He must have been waiting for my response, because when I turned over and went back to sleep I received another one:

 

Is urgent, I mean check mail now bruv

 

More inappropriate slang from his new English teacher. Expelling as much air as possible in a momentous sigh (which was for effect and rather pointless, as nobody else heard it), I turned on my laptop to discover my temporary eviction notice:

 

Hello Jonathan!

 

You must leave flat 5 minutes after read this message! My father have terrible dream that bad person break to my new flat and live there. He take jet to London to check if true. Please go! Come back when I tell you is OK. You can to leave clothes etc in garage because he is not look there but please take 200 sticks of sausage as father will find stink. Sorry I betray you.

 

Keep it real,

 

Vladik

 

I’m not sure what mystified me more – the nineties style hip hop closing, or the fact that he thinks he’s ‘betrayed’ me (I assume he right-clicked and made a bad choice with the thesaurus). Snapping the laptop shut, I leapt up, swept the Coke cans – which looked like a modern art installation strewn across the Versace tiles – into a plastic bag and placed them along with most of my other belongings into the garage. Fifteen minutes later I was stood at Bayswater tube station with the salami and a change of clothes in my Head sports bag, wondering whether to go to my other temporary home or back to my original home. Putting things to chance, I decided to go back to Leicester if Mum picked up the phone before five rings. She managed it in three:

 

‘Jonathan? It’s a bit early for you to be up and about, isn’t it?’

‘Yes, I know it’s before nine, but I’m phoning to let you know I’m coming up to stay for a bit.’

‘Why? What about your job at the salami factory?’

‘It’s not a job in a factory; it’s a job selling exclusive salami. I’m an international salami dealer, and I’m taking some time off.’

‘How much annual leave do international salami dealers get?’

‘I don’t know yet. Can’t you just be pleased that you’re going to see me?’

‘I’m worried about you. Dad says you still sit around all day doing nothing but listening to music and writing lists, and…’

‘Oh, Mum, I’ve heard it all before from him! I’ll see you in a couple of hours.’

 

It wasn’t until got to St. Pancras that I remembered off-peak trains don’t run until after 9.30, but I felt the need to keep up the pretence of assumed wealth and so spent nearly all my remaining cash on a return ticket to Leicester. I managed to avoid the overtures to conversation of the over-curious middle-aged woman opposite – she was bursting to ask about the exotic smell emanating from my bag – by creating the a new list and then imagining I was in a disco where only that music was playing:

 

            Music: Top 5 Eighties Guilty Pleasures

            1.      I Could Be So Good For You – Dennis Waterman

            2.      Tarzan Boy – Baltimora

            3.      Eye Of The Tiger – Survivor

            4.      Brother Louie – Modern Talking

            5.      (Keep Feeling) Fascination Human League    

 

I got so carried away in that disco – only me and my beautiful, missing Olesya were there, having fun and dancing close and tenderly to my guilty pleasures – that it took a stern rap on the inter-city’s window at Leicester Station to bring me back into the real world. Dad had come to pick me up. Struggling off the train with 190 sticks of sausage, I inadvertently stuffed the list into his hand:

 

            ‘Still up to your old tricks, son? Nothing to feel guilty about if you like a bit of Dennis Waterman.’

            I could feel my face going red.

            ‘Hmmm.’

            ‘Hmmm? Is that all you’ve got to say? You go to Russia, panicking your mum, then when you come back you practically ignore us, and all you’ve got to say is hmmmm? You need some discipline – you need a job!’

            ‘Dad, I’ve got a job. I’m an international salami dealer.’

            ‘I Googled it, son. There’s no such thing.’

            Is that all people do these days – ‘Google’ information, rather than use a bit of common sense to work things out?

            ‘Well, a meeting tomorrow with one of Leicestershire’s leading delicatessens says you’re wrong!’

            I made a mental note to take the Yellow Pages to my room when I got home – I’d need a name and address if I was going to convince Mum.

            ‘Good – I’m fed up with having a son who’s a dole scrounger!’

            ‘I’m not a…’

            ‘Why couldn’t you have written a book like that Saul Pope? It’s interesting, what he’s done.’

            ‘That book’s ruined my life!’

            ‘But he’s a millionaire because of it.’

            ‘No, he’s not!’

            ‘The Leicester Mercury says he is – ‘Leicester’s favourite son’, they call him. He’s taken that title off Lineker.’

           

Mention of my favourite footballer and the so-called writer in the same breath led me to take a vow of silence. It lasted all the way home, until I got into my old bedroom. Having peeled all the Garbage Pail Kids stickers off my bed, I clicked play on my Walkman, opened my last can of Coke and sat at my old school desk. If I want to get back to that disco, just me and her and some wonderful eighties music, then a part of me has to die. I opened the Yellow Pages and looked for a place where I could sell my wares…

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