William Whitehead was close to despair. Elbows on the table and head in hands, he tried to make some sense of his most recent meeting with George Turner at the Town Hall. The application to have his properties excluded from the compulsory purchase order seemed to have stalled completely. The red tape and bureaucracy surrounding the whole clearance scheme was complex and intimidating. No matter how many forms he completed and how many requests he made, he felt as though he was banging his head against a brick wall.
Just now, he felt that it was perhaps pointless to try and fight the system. The easy option would be to take the compensation. It would set him up nicely for the rest of his life. He could buy a small bungalow with a garden, somewhere a little further out of the city. There’d be no financial worries, no building maintenance and no roof repairs to deal with. He’d have time to do a bit more gardening, go out on more manoeuvres with the TA and generally take it easy. He rubbed his hand tiredly across his eyes.
Pretty as the picture he’d mentally just painted appeared, he knew it had no basis in reality. He sat up straight in his chair and pulled back his shoulders.
I won’t give up. I’ll fight them to the bitter end.
Maurice Marshall sat in the sunshine in the narrow confines of his backyard. Like a fat spider; he sat immobile, waiting for victims. Only his eyes, darting from the back gate to the notebook on the rickety table, and the fat fingers of his right hand moving rapidly to tot up gains and losses betrayed his alertness.
In well cut navy pin-striped trousers, matching waistcoat and white poplin shirt, collarless at present, he counted the afternoon’s takings from illegal bets on the horses running at Aintree. There were still expenses to pay but it had been a good day.
Apart from the punters who slid into the backyard to place their bets, a couple of runners doubled backwards and forwards from the local pubs, delivering betting slips and cash. The last of the winnings had been collected and he was nearly done for the day.