Climbing onto the bus for the Southend outing, Jed was relieved Jim had been allowed to fill a last minute cancellation and come along. Jim would be great at easing his apprehension. Not because he didn’t want to go, that is, but more so because he didn’t know what to expect. After being at Jacob’s for a couple of months now, he was still struggling to come to terms with women’s talk, and if the women on the bus did even a fraction of the things they had promised to do, well then there was every chance he’d be blushing for the next ten hours.
He was therefore extra relieved when Philly waved and pointed to seats he’d kept for Jim and him. They were sufficiently far away from Bess and June, who, although good hearted, had yet to understand the concept of sharing too much information with the masses. Only last week, June had used one of their tea-breaks to reveal her bedroom fantasies. Since she was close to retirement, Jed had expected curlers and a drop of lavender water behind the ears. But not a chance, June had left little to the imagination, making Jed splutter in his tea as he tried to erase the picture of June in suspenders. He shuddered as the picture came to him once again.
As the bus filled, Jed could hear snippets of conversations about ice-cream, beer, sun and deckchairs. He’d heard it all umpteen times over the past week. It had gotten so bad, that Friday morning Steve had announced that if production eased off any more due to chat, he’d cancel the outing. Actually, he’d told them he’d fire the sodding lot of them and hand their fish and chip tickets to the first bunch of drunks he found. That had done the trick, until tea break.
Everybody was just plain old excited to be going to the seaside. Jed had to admit he also fell into this category, not that he was telling anybody though – that would have made him look really un-cool. Thinking of cool, he was determined to remove the knotted handkerchief covering Jim’s bald head before they reached Southend.
Jed saw Steve climbing onto the bus and even today there was a length of fabric acting as belt. The difference today being it was securing a pair of shorts that hovered at Steve’s knees and would have done better left for gardening. He couldn’t help grinning when he noticed Steve’s hair. It seemed to be plastered down with what must have been half a tub of Brylcreem and a couple of hair clips. Steve lifted a megaphone to his lips and Jed joined in when the bus erupted in cheers.
“All right, you noisy bleeders. Shut it, shut it,” Steve said.