Grovel Greg, Grovel Part 2

A continuation of Grovel Greg, Grovel - Greg moves to London.

It is 1976. Greg is a shy and naive 19 year-old, who has decided 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?

In Part 2 Greg moves to London, and takes-up residence in the strange lodging house, "Turbot".

Part 3 is set in the present day, as 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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6. A Man of the World

Early on Sunday morning, Greg walks back to Stockwell. It is sunny again, and, if anything, it promises to be even warmer than yesterday. He looks at the sun as it climbs up through the morning sky, the first time he has viewed the sun as a non-virgin. He is satisfied. Now, he is part of it all- the sun, the moon, the earth, a functoining cog in the machinery that makes Mother Nature tick-along. He feels entitled to look at the sun. He squints. Or possibly he is more like a soldier who has bravely used his lance in a dangerous and forbidden place. He celebrates his happiness by spending eighteen pee on The Sunday Times. He reads the usual stuff: Uganda, the IRA, strikes, more strikes, and, refreshingly, England doing a little less badly in the Test Match. Then he remembers that he has not even used the Durex- all Derrick's fussing had been for nothing, he thinks. And what were Durex for, anyway? He wasn't really sure. He really can't ask Derrick, for Derrick is a Man of the World, and he would think he was stupid. Normally, he would ask Olly this type of question, but they are no longer pally. But Durex can't be for anything important, thinks Greg, because he had managed do do 'it' OK without one, hadn't he?

            Then another thought strikes Greg. Leomi is African. African as in from Africa. Straight from Africa, not arriving via the West Indies like Derrick and all his mates. So, although to the unknowing observer, Leomi is one of that crowd, she is, to the West Indians, an outsider.

Greg is dying to tell someone that he has broken his duck. He would like to ring his parents, but of course that would be stupid. He could tell his sister, maybe, when she is older, but not now. It is too early in the morning to call at Derrick's place, and besides, he might quiz him about the Durex. And he does not want to talk to Olly. But Bollocky or Zepp may be at Turbot. Naturally, he would be all casual about it-

            “Anything much happen 'round here last night?” he would sniff.

            Why do you athk, weren't you here?” Zepp would reply, and then Greg would let it slip that in fact, no, he had not been there, he had spent all night doing things to a woman.

            But when he gets to Turbot there is no sign of Bollocky or Zepp, nor Olly for that matter: they must be either still in bed, or out. But it feels like someone is about: doors are open that are normally closed- including Greg's bedroom door. This does not worry Greg unduly; he has nothing of pecuniary value in any case.......except his Post Office savings book! He dives into the drawer where he keeps it. It is still there.

            Greg realises who he can relate his sexual expolits to: his diary. Yes of course; he wonders why he did not think of this just now. He sits on his bed, pen in hand, and reaches-out for his diary with the other. His diary is not in its usual place. 'Hmm,' thinks Greg, 'that's odd.' He looks in his drawer: it is not there, either. Then under his bed. Then in his suitcase. Then in his jacket pocket. There are not too many places to look in Greg's little room. Soon he knows that it is certainly not here. So perhaps someone has been in his room, after all? He is upset about this. He has kept his diary going ever since last year, back in Bury. It tells his tale about how he decided to come to The Smoke. It describes his feelings, who he has met, and what he thinks about them. Why would anyone want to steal his diary? What would anyone do with it? He would hate anyone else to see his diary, because of all the personal stuff about Nadia, and his sex plans for Leomi, and so-forth; but he could not see what value it would be to anyone else.

            The experience of losing his diary demoralizes Greg. At first he tries to trivialize it, and put it to the back of his mind. After all, it was a nice day, he had just had sex. But the matter of the diary keeps returning to him: who had taken it? Why had it been taken? And what a shame that such a damn fine record should go missing! Gradually, Greg's good mood disappears, and the theft of his diary triggers-off a chain of negative thoughts in his mind. Leomi is, to them, an outsider. As much of an outsider, Greg realises, as he is to 'them'. All 'they' have done is pair-off the two outsiders. How convenient! They have done nothing wrong, as such, but they have not truly let him into their group, by allowing him to share one of 'their' women. They have hooked him up with the one that none of them fancied, keeping the better skirt for themselves. Oh how he would like to get off with Shaccara now! If they saw him with her on his arm, that would show them! Especially the spiv one in the sharp suit that she hangs around with.

            All at once, Greg's thinks his life is not so rosy after all. He had been here since 10th April, and from then until now things had gone well. He had worked, and made friends: he had survived. He had made love. But now he felt alone. He feels let-down by Derrick, he does not trust Olly, and Bollocky and Zepp are ineffectual friends, because they are rarely there to hang out with. He does not even feel that close to Leomi- it is more accurate to say he has had sex with her, as opposed to 'made love'. Meanwhile, as Greg is thinking all this, an black Mercedes D-class pulls-up outside Turbot.

 

Greg can hear someone knocking at the front door. He goes downstairs to open the door. Mr Zabbath is on the doorstep. Greg has not seen him for so long, he scarcely recognises him. He has brought another man with him, who prefers to lurk in the background.

            "I have come to evict you," says Mr Zabbath, pleasantly. As he utters the word 'evict', he appears to derive some pleasure for himself. Greg was not expecting eviction. Especially on a Sunday morning.

            "Why?" asks Greg.

            "You have not been paying your rent, Mr Lake," replies Mr Zabbath. Greg furrows his brow and exclaims:

            "No," corrects Greg,"YOU have not been collecting it!" He says this with such forcefulness that Mr Zabbath is taken aback. The lurking man starts to fidget, (as well as lurk).

            "You have had every chance to pay your rent," states Mr Zabbath, but by now his confident manner is gone, and he just seems cross. "We are going to evict you," he reiterates. The lurking man now steps forward.

            "Notice to Quit," declares Greg. "You have not issued Notice to Quit." It is an Government advert he saw in a paper. He does not know what it is, but it sounds right. "You've not issued me with a rent book and you've not served Notice to Quit in the due manner."

            Greg's legal-ish phrase 'the due manner' worries Mr Zabbath- maybe his little shit of a tenant knows what he's talking about. He restrains his henchman.

            "If you evict me," continues Greg, "then I shall go to the best lawyer in Christendom and we shall screw you for every penny you have. And get my house back," he adds. At this, Mr Zabbath disappears with his henchman in his black Mercedes, but not before making a vague threat of further action.

            Though not rich, Greg has certainly not been poor since he has moved to London. This Greg attributes to the higher wages he gets at Mark Quote supplemented by the occaisional piece in AD. In reality, the main reason why Greg has not been poor since he has lived in London is because his landlord's laxity in collecting rent. At first, Cautious Bury St-Edmunds-Greg made a provision for the uncollected rent. But as the weeks went by, Happy-go-Lucky London-Greg started to assume that Mr Zabbath was never going to collect it. So he spent the provision, mainly on beer.

            Greg is satisfied with his performance against Mr Zabbath. He is impressed by how an apparent knowledge of the law can have such a profound effect. Nevertheless, he cannot help thinking that his foothold in London is more tenuous than ever. He guesses that he will have to start budgeting for rent again. On the other hand, Mr Zabbath didn't appear to want rent; he had not asked him for money- he just wants him out. What would be the point of paying any more rent if the outcome is going to be the same whether he pays it or not- eviction?

            Greg refuses to feel guilty about being behind with his rent. He remembers the exorbitant £50 deposit, equivalent to many weeks rent, that Mr Zabbath had screwed out of him when he had first got to London.

            Greg could not understand why his landlord only wants to evict him. Why is he not prepared to settle for the rent he is owed? It is odd. And another thing- it happened just after his diary went missing: could the two events be connected?

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