When he got back to the office, he was still smiling to himself about the “Arch” Deacon quip as he placed his mug of Coffee on the desk and sat down to give himself a few moments to relax and gather his thoughts. Nick knew he was going to have to phone “Head Office” and inform them of this morning’s events. Nick dreaded calling his Line manager, Valerie Blackshaw. He would have to tell her what had happened, what the police had said and finally, if she would need to do any damage limitation to counteract any negative PR for the hostel. There was not even enough time for him to consider some form of damage control response strategy, before the infernal telephone began its urgent ringing. Nick’s shoulders sank a little lower with each tin-tabulation, surely Valerie hadn’t heard already. Staring absently at the machine, it encompassed his mind, like the tolling of a great bell.
He reached over to pick up the phone, fully expecting Valerie B. to be locked and loaded on the other end, and she was. Nick held the receiver at a comfortable distance from his ear, fully expecting the blast which followed. “What the bloody hell is going on, Nicolas?” Valerie Blackshaw, was an austere woman, who always seemed to be wearing some form of a tweed pleated skirt, hemmed several inches below the knee, for modesty you understand, and a pair of Brown sensible brogue shoes. She looked like she was lost in some black and white movie about the 1930‘s, which was strange as she was a post war baby boomer. Her only excess, if you call it that, was a string of undoubtedly genuine pearls and matching stud earrings. Nick fondly imagined she wore this get up twenty-four hours a day, even in bed. For all her comedic qualities, she was a fearsome woman that it was best not to cross if you valued your job. A woman he had grudgingly learnt to respect.