Local government officers write fiction! Entertaining and thought provoking stuff. This is the first story from the Change the Ending Collection - hope you enjoy it, look out for more.
There are People Alive and Trapped in the Town Hall
That’s all I need. Another do-gooder.
That’s what I thought when I first met Jas, although I didn’t say that, of course. He’d knocked on my door one evening; I hadn’t been in from work that long.
"Hello, I’m new to the area" he started. "I’m seeing if there’s any interest in starting a five-a-side kickabout on the occasional evening, over at the school. Nothing serious, but the first one’s tomorrow at eight. Hope I might see you there."
I congratulated him on his initiative, commented on my expanding girth and said I’d try to get along. I had no intention of going.
To give him his due he didn’t mention five-a-side again. And I learned later, from Will, that he’d done some sort of deal with the school. Use of the all-weather pitch in return for a few hours’ mentoring and coaching from the office types that he rustled up to play.
Another knock on the door from Jas and this time it’s some sort of competition to see which part of the town can recycle the most. Actually the kids loved that, ferreting around for every scrap of material. We didn’t win, but it was fun.
Another knock on the door… You get the idea.
Ah yes, Will. Before I knew Will was Will, he was the miserable old git that scowled at the kids whenever they rode their bikes up the street. I’d told them to keep away from him. It was only at the street party to commemorate VE Day – you know by now who cajoled us into that – that we all found out that Will was at Normandy.
We also found out that Will loves sport, so now he comes to the pub with a little group of us to watch the mid-week match on Sky. We normally do that after we’ve had our five-a-side game. Yes, I know!
Jas had one more surprise for me. "Why don’t you come along to the council’s neighbourhood meeting?" he said. "That’s all I need…" I told him.
Martin Smith is Chief Executive of the London Borough of Ealing.