Grovel Greg, Grovel Part 1

Greg, a shy and naive 19 year-old, decides to take his chances in the big city.

He must pitch his wits against racism, unemployment, and people who want to take advantage of his inexperience.

But things don’t go well, and by the Autumn, he has disappeared from the face of the Earth.

Or has he?

Parts 1 and 2 are set in 1976.

In Part 3, set in the present day, his sister sets out to discover what really happened.

One chapter will be published on Movellas each day, until the story reaches its gripping conclusion.

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1. November, 1975

The 'High Baroque' period of English fashion is in its twilight phase. The gaudy colours, and the once-so-trendy flappy things, are starting to look almost silly. Indeed, some say that High Baroque has given-way to Rococo, thanks to the current trend for the flowery, the frilly, and the over-decorated. 'Men looking like girls,' as Algernon's father (we meet him later) indignantly describes it. At some time in the mid-1960s it had become acceptable for young men to look pretty. Now, we believe we are in fashion's equivalent to the last days of the Roman Empire. This is 'High' fashion, and  today’s 'High' fashion is rather like the High Church: prone to fancy bits and ornament that we don't really need. Surely, any day now, this fat-tied decadence will crash to the ground?

 

But, for the moment, its still Cool (man).

 

However, now we are watching a young man who is not a slave to High fashion, as he walks-by,  through a town. By virtue of the month being November, and because it is as 'late' as 5.07pm, and because we are in that cold, damp little country off the north-west coast of Europe called England -it is already dark. But we can make-out this man's principal characteristics because he is illuminated by the sickly orange glow of a suburban streetlamp.

This man's sartorial taste does not conform with the perceived wisdom of today. He has short hair, no sideburns, a plain white shirt with a small collar and a tie formed into a small knot. His suit is plain and dark, and refuses to flap-about in the fashionable manner. This man looks stiff and constricted (by today's standards) as he goes along, towards his home.

 

He is a 'Square.’

 

He is not pretty.

           

He passes a group of kids in the street. Well, he thinks of them as 'kids'- but they are scarcely younger than him- let us say they are between fifteen and seventeen years old.

 

They are wearing 'baggy' trousers.

 

They are not ‘Square.’ They are fashion 'victims'.

 

It had been OK for their older brothers and sisters- easy and cheap enough to don some beads and tatty jeans and be hippies- but these kids have recently had to resemble Ziggy Stardust, then The Sweet, and now the Bay City Rollers. Its getting ridiculous- even they can sense it. So will these trendy kids ridicule our Square man for being Square as he walks past? No- they do not bother. One of them shouts 'Alright Greg!' to the him in an almost friendly way. He nods his head at them slightly as he goes by.

 

Tonight, the man we are watching is content. He has a good mile to walk, a journey he undertakes by foot all year round, whatever the weather. But today's weather is (for a change) dry, and mild, and he has finished his day's work: a sufficiently pleasant ensemble of circumstances to leave him contented. This man, who is (unfortunately) named Algernon, refuses to take the bus home, which he regards as profligate and, in any case, unreliable. Instead, he walks the dull suburban route, its features (as far as he is concerned) timeless, being much the same as they were ten years ago, or even twenty. If anything, the paving slabs are more uneven nowadays, and the grass verges scruffier than once upon a time: the trades unions having blunted the town council's ability to perform its tasks well. A mauve Wolseley drives past him. Its shocks give a laboured creak as it rounds the corner. The man's father is driving it, also making his way home, to the house where they both live. The Wolseley does not stop for him.

 

            'Alright Greg!' says Algernon's sister as he finally enters the family home. Algernon scowls at her, and then says,

            'I thought you were going to stop for me Dad?' His father denies that he saw him, mumbling something about people in dark suits on dark nights. His mother brings in the food, and the four of them settle down for dinner, and (although they did not plan it that way), an argument.

 

Later that night, Algernon can be found hunched at the desk in his tiny bedroom, writing his journal. He is cross. So he puts his side of the story in writing:

 

Tuesday, 11th November 1975 - Armistice Argument

'Day started average, got worse when got home. Madge keeps calling me 'Greg' in front of Mother + Father. Like name Greg, better than stupid Algernon, but Greg only a nickname + irritates parents who I am sure went to great trouble to think up name as stupid as Algernon. Told Father we did not observe 2 minutes silence at work. Way I said it made it sound like just could not be bothered but wasn’t like that. Father went nuts. "THE 11TH HOUR OF 11TH DAY OF 11TH MONTH LEST THOU FORGET!!!!!!!!!" he bellowed. Suppose Father just old enough to have fought in the War, but didn't. Whole thing not fair- not my decision not to observe silence, Father flies off handle very easily these days.

PS I have no objection to remembering war heroes, but how long will Remembrance carry on for? What about in 2018, 100 years after the Armistice? We will have forgotten who we are remembering. But I guess there'll still be some old codger somewhere trying to make me feel guilty for not having been In The War.

 

Having got this off his chest, he then mellows:

 

‘PS You don’t hear much about The Sweet these days, do you? And why are they called THE Sweet, not just ‘Sweet’? OK, if we are to call them THE Sweet, then why does the ‘crowd’ on Teenage Rampage chant “We want Sweet, we want Sweet....”, instead of “We want THE Sweet, we want THE Sweet........?” Very odd. And I wonder why those kids in the street don’t tease me when I walk past them any more.......? Also very odd.’

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