John Fish B.Sc. Publishers of Tenby in Wales (UK)

ROWSE LITERARY AGENCY

DECADE

by

Roberto Rabaiotti

e-mail: Roberto Rabaiotti

SYNOPSIS

SAMPLE CHAPTER

 

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Synopsis

The story begins at a new year's eve party in 1969, in the Welsh mining town of Pontypridd. Rhys is a local boy and meets Vicki, a university-going girl from an affluent family in Godalming, Surrey. Despite their very different backgrounds, it is love at first sight and they start seeing each other, firstly at her university in Exeter and then London, where they set up home together in a dingy flat. 

Before leaving for London, Rhys meets her parents for the first time at their wedding anniversary party in Godalming. Rhys is overawed at the opulence of their home and wealth and splendour of their guests. For their part, Vicki's parents are horrified at their daughter's choice of boyfriend and are shaken to learn that she intends setting up home with him in London. When Rhys leaves the party, a furious argument takes place between Vicki and her parents, but she sticks to her guns and moves into the flat with Rhys in Battersea. They are at the beginning of a new life together and are deliriously happy. Both have new jobs and are optimistic for the future. 

A few years later, however, it is apparent that this optimism is misplaced. Rhys is unable to hold down a job and becomes depressed. The financial burden falls on Vicki and they struggle to make ends meet. There is no prospect of their leaving the dingy flat despite their promising themselves at the outset that they would stay for a short period only while they built up their savings. To compound matters, Vicki's friends and sister are following a more successful path, with good jobs, wonderful homes and no expense spared in their enjoyment of London life.  

Vicki realises that she needs to move on and that, despite her feelings for Rhys, their relationship is on the brink of collapse. In her vulnerable state, she attends a party in a modern and beautiful apartment in the City of London, thrown by a customer of hers at work. It is there that she meets one of the most famous men in the country, the captain of the England football team, Tommy Slater, who falls madly in love with her. 

Vicki ends her relationship with Rhys, who is heartbroken. He moves out of the flat and into an even dingier bedsit close by. Vicki moves into Tommy's apartment and enjoys the trappings of his success. Life could not be better for her and they marry. 

Rhys is in total despair. He drinks too much and lets himself go. He keeps in touch with a friend of Vicki's but all she brings is bad news about how happy Vicki is. Rhys even contemplates suicide. The only stability in his life is his work as a waiter and odd-jobs man in a local caf where he becomes friendly with the owner and his wife. 

One day in 1976, the caf's owner asks Rhys to stay behind after work. His expression is serious and Rhys fears the worst. He wonders why the owner wants to let him go as he had always complimented him on his work. Rhys knows that without the job, he would probably stay in bed all day and drink himself to death in his dreadful bedsit. 

To his surprise, the owner makes him a life-changing offer. As he and his wife wish to return to their native Cyprus, he asks Rhys whether he would be interested in buying his business. He knows Rhys to be an excellent worker who understands the business well and is confident he would make a success of it. Rhys has no money but the owner has already sounded out the bank manager who, being a regular customer of his who has seen Rhys's capabilities at first hand, agrees to finance the purchase, which includes the beautiful flat above. Rhys eventually agrees but not before the owner warns him as a friend to forget Vicki as her memory is destroying him. In a moment of calm contemplation, Rhys accepts that he is right and that he needs to move on from Vicki and, pouring his whisky down the drain, vows to get a grip of his life. This is the turning point and he is endlessly grateful to the caf's owners for seeing the potential in him and for giving him the confidence to progress. 

Rhys makes a great success of his business, buys another and is ambitious to expand further. His family and friends see a remarkable turnaround in his fortunes and life becomes sweet again. The memory of Vicki is always in his head but, as time passes, he is less consumed by it all. 

In the meantime, Vicki's perfect world proves to be a mirage. Slater has a dark side to him, is all-controlling, jealous, arrogant and selfish. He is old-fashioned and forces Vicki to leave the job she loves to look after the home. They try for a family and Slater becomes angry at her failure to conceive as he is desperate for a child. Little does he know the reasons for this which Vicki keeps a secret from him. As the years pass by, Vicki realises the terrible mistake she has made for she remains in love with Rhys, who is the opposite in character to Slater. 

Vicki finally leaves Slater and after three and a half years apart makes contact with Rhys. Tentatively, they start to see each other again, admit all their failings and regrets, and in scenes of high emotion, restart their relationship. Vicki resumes her old job, moves in with Rhys and they become engaged to marry, delayed only by Slater's spiteful refusal to grant her a divorce. 

Vicki, however, is convinced that she is being followed though neither she nor Rhys can come up with any evidence. The trail is at the behest of Slater who wants to know all Vicki's regular movements for he has a horrific plan in store for her. He is from the East End of London and remains in contact with old friends who had seriously troubled the magistrates in their time, especially his vicious best friend, Freddie Butcher. When Slater discovers that Vicki is pregnant, he is incandescent in rage and puts the plan into effect. 

Vicki is attacked and left for dead. The doctors confirm her chances of survival are minimal. Rhys and her family accept the worst as she is wheeled into theatre on New Year's Day, 1980. The purpose is to save the unborn child who is at full term - the hopes of saving Vicki are next to none. Rhys urges her to fight but flees from her side in the hospital ward in utter anguish knowing her situation is useless. Only a memento of their first day together stirs Vicki into life before he flees. 

 

What happens to Vicki? 

What happens to Rhys? 

What happens to Slater? 

What happens to their unborn child? 

 

The final short chapter takes place two decades later and answers these questions. [~101,000 words]   

 

Also by Roberto Rabaiotti    CATALYST    Joe would not stand aside and see his beloved Wales being subsumed by the old enemy, England. He would do something about it and he knew what; an incredible coup that would be the catalyst for change. But it would require courage beyond belief. And could he really do it? Did he really have the strength? Could he really destroy the ones he loved with all his heart? And ultimately, who could stop him? But everything depended on one key overriding factor...it was vital he was selected to play rugby for Wales. A thrilling story about growing up, love, camaraderie, courage and sacrifice.

 

Download the Amazon Kindle edition of: Catalyst by Roberto Rabaiotti

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Sample Chapter

Chapter One

 

'Wow! Who's she over there?'

'Wow! Who's he over there?'

              The two questions were asked simultaneously from opposite ends of the living room, which throbbed to the beat of Sugar, Sugar. The eyes of the two questioners met fleetingly before the connection was broken by an impenetrable barrier of bouncing bodies and bobbing heads. The room was a splash of rainbow colours as the vibrant shades of clothing mixed with the swirling ribbons and balloons that were tied to light fittings and various items of furniture. The temperature bordered on boiling point and the window panes streamed water that formed tiny pools on their sills. The brows of the happy-faced dancers glistened brightly under the ceiling lights and moisture beads soon turned into rivulets which flowed through whatever groove or furrow they could find on their faces. The whiff of damp clothing added to the already heady concoction of odours that included beer, wine, cigarette smoke and, most obviously of all, marijuana. The excitement was building; in less than two hours it would be 1970. No one knew what the decade would bring, but optimism was high following the breaking down of social barriers and explosion of youth culture in the 1960s. People hoped it would be more like the love of Woodstock than the war of Altamont.

'I've no idea. I've never seen her before.'

'I've no idea. I've never seen him before.'

'She's pretty gorgeous, you've got to admit.'

'He's pretty gorgeous, you've got to admit.'

              'Let's go and chat 'em up. Her friend's pretty tidy as well so I'll move in on her and leave you to blondie, though if she gives me the eye I hope you'll let me have a crack.'

'In your dreams. She looks far too nice a girl to want to mix with a pillock like you.'

              The two friends laughed and followed up with large swigs from their cans of lager for courage before threading their way through the throng of dancers, both of them burping quietly to settle their stomachs.

'Look, I think he's coming over.'

Blondie saw the two figures approach and instinctively pushed back her long, corkscrew-curled hair that flowed down to her shoulders like a Pre-Raphaelite angel. She felt as though someone had taken a blowtorch to her cheeks and hoped they hadn't turned as red as the glass of plonk in her hand.

'Hello. Hope you don't mind if we join you. I'm Ian and this is Rhys.'

Ian did not extend his hand but just straightened his back to impose his height and, hopefully, his command.

'Hi, it's nice to meet you. I'm Karen and this is Vicki.'

'Not seen you round these parts before. Do you know Don?'

              'Not very well, but I know his girlfriend, Jen, 'cos we work together at the hospital, East Glam. She invited us along. I never really come up this way to Pontypridd.'

'You enjoying the party?'

              'You bet. It's a gas. Don's got a great groove going and there's plenty to drink, which always helps. Not long to go now and it'll be the New Year. I can't believe another one has gone so quickly. It's frightening.'

              'You don't need to tell me that,' Ian replied with a slight shake of the head, puffing out his cheeks, a little taken aback by the hip language he was not used to hearing. 'It's a big year for me coming up as I'll be twenty-one, though why that's such an important birthday I'll never know. It's not as if you can suddenly do something legal, like.'

'Yeah, you're right there,' Karen replied with a smile.

              The conversation faltered and they both took sips from their drinks, their lips suddenly dry. Karen rocked her head gently from side to side and mouthed the words 'Honey, honey ...' in time to the music, not looking Ian in the eye. The pause unnerved him and he took another sip from his can. He glanced at his friend, hoping he would utter his first words to help him out. But Rhys just stood transfixed, staring at Vicki, who held his stare in turn easily without blinking. They were beaming like the Bisto Kids and, despite their not having said a single word to each other, the feeling between them was anything but oppressive. They had both been in relationships before but neither of them had ever experienced the sensations that were flowing through their bodies at this particular moment. They felt warm, comfortable, slightly tingly and very excited. Cupid had most certainly struck, his arrows hitting home like thunderbolts.

              'He does have a tongue, you know, girls, but when faced by such beauty, he's been known to go a bit schtum.' Ian was trying to charm his way out of the awkward silence.

              They all smiled and Ian did not fail to notice the quick glance Karen gave him before shyly turning her head away. This encouraged him and he moved more closely towards her with his back half-turned to Rhys and Vicki. The two couples had been formed and Ian thought that Rhys had better say something quickly before Vicki thought him a moron. Nothing much I can do for him now, he concluded, before giving Karen the widest smile he could muster. She reciprocated and his confidence rose.

              'It's very nice to meet you, Vicki.' These were the first words Rhys ever said to her.

              'It's very nice to meet you, Rhys.' These were the first words Vicki ever said to him.

              One of the dancers trying to impress his partner stumbled and fell into Rhys, pushing him into Vicki.

              'Sorry, butt.'

              'No probs, Dai.'

              Instinctively, Rhys and Vicki held onto each other's arms to maintain their balance, but, as they parted, Vicki ran her left hand lightly down Rhys's right forearm at exactly the same moment that Rhys did the same to hers. They stood only a few inches apart, breathing in the intoxicating aromas of their bodies.

              'Sorry 'bout that, Vicki.'

              'No need.'

              Sugar, Sugar ended and the mood changed as Michelle started to play. Most of the dancers left the living room, either to cool down, or, more likely, to raid the kitchen for drinks. One couple remained in a close embrace, moving slowly to the music. Rhys and Vicki walked over and joined them. They both smiled when the smooching couple began to snog without a care in the world. A surprised Ian wondered where Rhys had discovered  his magic touch. He could not believe he'd made such quick progress after barely saying a word, while, to his disconsolation, Karen had excused herself to go into the hallway to talk to another friend. And this after all my best lines, too, he mused. There's no justice in the world. Ah, well, may as well go to the kitchen and get pissed, I suppose. As Rhys and Vicki began their slow dance, holding each other with the delicacy of a first-day butterfly, Vicki sang along quietly to her favourite song of the Beatles. 'Michelle, ma belle, sont les mots qui vont trs bien ensemble, trs bien ensemble ...'

              As a way to break the ice, Rhys dipped his toe in the water to start up the first conversation they would ever have together. 'So, you speak French then?'

              'Well, hardly. I'm just singing along to the words. I do speak a bit, though, because most winters I go off to my father's chalet in Val d'Isre.'

              Rhys was nonplussed. 'Val dizzy, did you say?'

              'No. Val diz eh. It's a ski resort in the French Alps. I love it there.'

              'And your dad's got a place?'

              'Yeah. He's had it for years.'

              'Never been skiing myself. The school ran a trip a few years back but my mum and dad couldn't afford it so I didn't go. Not sure I fancy it anyway; sounds a bit too cold for my liking.'

              'Oh, it's wonderful. You really must try it sometime.'

              The conversation ended, mainly because Rhys had run out of things to say. He knew nothing about skiing and was keen to change the subject. As he was about to do so, Don rushed into the room. 'Enough of the slushy stuff; let's get something on a bit louder.'

              Ignoring the dancing couples, he removed Michelle from the record player and replaced it with My Generation. This gave Rhys the excuse to disengage from Vicki and they walked over to the corner of the room where they had left their drinks. Rhys took a slow sip, followed by another, and then another, before nervously commenting on how pretty Vicki looked. She just about made out his words above the pulsating electric guitar and smiled in delight. The compliment was totally justified for Vicki looked amazing. Her hair framed two oval-shaped, pale blue eyes, so bright and welcoming that it was almost impossible for Rhys to take his own brown eyes off them. Her skin was a golden-brown that radiated health with just a few faint freckles on her cheeks to tease him. Her smile only served to show off her perfect, sparkling, white teeth, so white and perfect in fact that Rhys even wondered whether they were real. He instinctively closed his mouth, knowing that the yellow tinge to his own were poor by comparison.

              Rhys also admired Vicki's figure. She was of average height but there was no mistaking her lean, athletic build. He was convinced she was not carrying an ounce of fat on her, well, perhaps a little on her behind, which curved slightly and enticingly from the base of her back. She wore knee-length, fawn-coloured boots with long, cream laces tied from bottom to top. Black tights, or were they stockings, Rhys thought dreamily, were visible below the hem of her chocolate-brown, corduroy miniskirt. Over her lime-green shirt, Vicki wore a spruce-green, woollen waistcoat with a kaleidoscope of cotton flowers sewn haphazardly around. Her shirt was buttoned low enough to reveal an ample, upright bosom. Rhys tried to glimpse for any sign of a lacy bra but Vicki's erect nipples soon alerted him to the fact that she was not wearing one at all, which only served to pump a gallon of lust through every vein of his body. A stainless-steel chain supporting the CND symbol was hanging around her slender neck, though his eye was more instantly attracted to the numerous chains of beads of every shape and colour imaginable that complemented it. For a split second, he saw a resemblance to Jane Fonda and immediately imagined Vicki in the same catsuit with her bare breast showing that the fabulous film star wore in Barbarella. But it was her hair that drew his next comment.

              'I must say, the way you've done your hair really suits you. I love that corkscrew style.' Rhys virtually had to shout to make himself heard as Pete Townsend thrashed at his guitar in the background.

              'Thanks. I'm glad you like it. It's so hard to look after, though. I copied the idea from a man, actually, Marc Bolan.'

              'Who's he?'

              'Marc Bolan? He's the lead singer of Tyrannosaurus Rex.'

              'Never heard of them.'

              'They've had a couple of records out recently and I reckon they could be the next big thing. They're a sort of folksy-electric band. I think they're great.'

              'So a bit like Dylan then, now he's gone electric?'

              'Yeah, I suppose so, though Bolan is much better looking. He's like sex on legs, just gorgeous.'

              'Perhaps I should do my hair like him as well then?'

              Vicki lowered her head before raising it again to look back up at him. 'You don't need to. You're very good looking as you are.' She blushed slightly.

              Rhys was momentarily lost for words. He could not remember anyone saying that to him before. He knew his previous girlfriends must have thought the same or they would never have gone out with him in the first place. It was sort of assumed rather than explicitly said.

              'Well, thanks,' he finally returned, his face lighting up. He was so taken aback, he took another sip from his can to recover his composure. 'This Mark Bolland bloke. Tell him to change the name of his band or shorten it at least 'cos it's a real mouthful.'

              'I will if I ever meet him.'

              They laughed.

              'I don't know whether it's because the music's so loud or because I've had too much to drink but do I detect an English accent there? You're not from around these parts, are you?'

              'You're right. I'm from Surrey, born and bred.'

              'Really?' Rhys replied, unsure where Surrey was, but knowing, or so he thought, that it was somewhere in England.

              'Yeah, Godalming.'

              'Where? Gobbledygook, did you say?' Rhys answered with a grin.

              'Ha, ha. Godalming. You know, it's near Guildford.'

              Rhys had heard of Guildford, though he wasn't sure where it was exactly. 'That's near London, innit?'

              'Sort of. It's about thirty miles away.'

              'I've only ever been to England once before. In fact, it's the only time I've ever been out of Wales. We went on a school trip to Bristol Zoo. I'll never forget it. A hippo pissed on Dai Griffiths. Hilarious, it was.' A slight chuckle followed his words. Vicki smiled, flashing those wondrous teeth of hers. 'We didn't half get into trouble afterwards though, 'cos we left a load of empty cans on the bus and, because we were underage, the bus company went mental with the school. All school trips were stopped for a year. It meant me missing out on another trip to England as we were supposed to be going to see some boring old bridge in a place called Colindale. Can't say I was sorry.'

              'I think you mean Coalbrookdale, where the first iron bridge was built.'

              'Yeah, Colindale, just like I said.' A cheeky grin followed which almost made Vicki melt with desire. 'How come you ended up at a party in Ponty then?'

              'It's through Karen. She was my pen pal for years before we met up. She lives in Cardiff and I've been to stay with her a few times now. She's been up to my house as well and come down to see me in university, in Exeter. This is my first time in Pont ... ee ... prid.'

              Rhys smiled at her pronunciation. 'Pont ... ee ... preethe, it is, not Pont ... ee ... prid.'

              'Oh, sorry. Pont ... ee ... preethe.'

              'That's better,' he replied kindly. 'Are you at university now?'

              'Yeah, it's my final year. I'll be leaving in the summer.'

              'Exeter. At least I know where that is. It's in Cornwall, innit?'

              'You're close. It's in Devon, actually.'

              'You sure?'

              'I'm positive.'

              'Mmm. Shame that. I was hoping you might have brought a pasty or two with you. I'm starving.'

              Vicki chuckled and smiled back, their eyes meeting and fixing without any sense of unease. Rhys was about to continue when the door burst open and Ian entered.

              'Sorry to butt in, Rhys, but you're needed next door.'

              'Why, what's happening?'

              'Don's starting a game of Buzz and, being as it'll be the last one of the year, in fact, the decade, he wants all the regulars around. There's a few Party Sevens he wants to get through before midnight as well. Sorry, Vicki, but, you know, it's important. I'm sure you can get together later when Big Ben comes on the telly.'

              'Hey, don't worry,' Vicki blurted out, though she had no idea why it was so important. Must be some sort of male bonding thing, she thought. 'I need to catch up with Karen and Jen anyway.'

              'Tell Karen there's a big kiss waiting for her at midnight,' Ian threw in hopefully. Vicki smiled but did not respond. 'Anyway, come on, Rhys. The game's starting.'

              Rhys arched his eyebrows, looking to the heavens, and shrugged his shoulders, to indicate to Vicki that he had no choice in the matter. But his sunbeam smile and gentle stroke of her shoulder made Vicki's knees quiver. 'I won't be long. See you at midnight or possibly sooner.' And with that, he left with Ian. Vicki couldn't take her eyes off him.

 

. . .

 

Rhys and Ian sat down at the end of a long dining table where six of their closest friends were already seated. The surface was a car crash of a mess with smudged and lipstick-smeared glasses holding liquids of all different colours and textures mixing with bottles, crumpled cans and overflowing ashtrays. Smoke swirled around the airless room, the walls of which were stained yellow-brown, and it was stiflingly hot, just like the living room. In fact, it was impossible to touch the radiators without scalding yourself. It may have been minus three degrees outside but Don was immune to his overcompensation indoors. He even wore a denim jacket over his roll-neck sweater. Rhys thought he must have the blood of a lizard. At least the music was now a distant murmur and everyone could hear themselves think. Ian accepted the offer of a Woodbine from Dai and struck up a Swan Vesta to light it. He sucked hard and exhaled a large ring of smoke that floated upwards in a ghostly fashion, four smaller rings following one after the other. He emitted a contented sigh. Two unopened cans of Party Seven and two others of Party Four sat imposingly next to Mark like oil drums, and it was he who reached for the can-opener to punch a hole into the top of one of them. It popped with a sharp hiss and foamy beer squirted all over him and all over Geraint next to him.

              'Bollocks!' Mark exclaimed, wringing his hand and wiping the beer from his Terylene shirt which, while wrinkle-free, made him feel as though he was sitting in a Turkish bath. Geraint looked down his own shirt with a wry grin. He had spilt so much beer over it during the evening, he was beyond caring. Carefully, Mark punched another hole, this time without mishap, and filled the two empty pint glasses in front of Ian and Rhys. The six glasses in front of the other participants of the drinking game were already full to the brim. It was the chairman, Don, who took up proceedings.

              'Right, before we start, Ian, Rhys, two fingers each for coming late,' a reference to the two finger-widths of beer they had to consume in one go.

              Ian protested. 'But Mr Chairman, it was you who asked me to go and fetch Rhys in the first place.'

              'No matter. Two fingers.'

              'But ...'

              'TWO FINGERS!'

              There was no point in arguing. Ian and Rhys drank from their glasses.                    

              'Weights & Measures?'

              Mark responded to Don's question. 'Mr Chairman, Ian is well short.'

              Don looked at the other participants. 'Are we all in agreement?'

              Without hesitation, they all nodded.

              'Half of that, down in one,' Don ordered, handing out the sentence.

              'But ...'

              'Any more protests and you'll finish the whole lot in front of you.' Don's tone was mockingly stern. Everyone started to laugh. 'No showing of teeth!' Everyone stopped laughing. Ian gulped down half his pint, making sure he was well past the mid-point so that he would not be picked up again by Weights & Measures.

              'Oh, dear me,' Don sighed, shaking his head. 'Didn't I specifically request left-handed drinking only?' Once again everyone nodded, including Rhys, who knew nothing about it. They all wore rueful expressions at Ian's misdemeanour.

              'When did you say that?' Ian argued.

              'Please moderate your tone,' the chairman cautioned. 'It must have been when you were absent from the table. This is your responsibility. Finish it.'

              'But ...'

              'FINISH IT!'

              Ian took a deep breath and downed his pint, tipping the glass over his head to show that it was empty and hoping that his punishment was finally over. He burped hard, twice.

              Just as Don was about to start the game, Howell raised his hand.

              'Yes.'

              'Mr Chairman, it has been brought to my attention that a grievous offence has taken place.'

              'Oh, and what may that be?'

              'It is an offence worthy of the most severe punishment.'

              'Please explain.'

              'I have been made aware that the reason for the delay in the game was because Rhys was in the living room ... I can hardly believe or bring myself to say the word ... FORNICATING with a young lady.'

              Everyone gasped in astonishment and shook their heads in disgust. Their mouths remained open in mock horror as they stared at Rhys.

              'Is this true, Rhys?' Don carried on from Howell, his tone full of incredulity. 'You were fornicating with a woman even though the boys were waiting to start a game of Buzz?'                          

              'Well, Mr Chairman, I would hardly call it fornicating. I was just talking to her.'

              'So you admit it! This is indeed a grievous offence, a heinous crime in fact.' Don looked at the other participants with the gravity of a judge about to place a black cap onto his head. They all shook theirs in disbelief. 'The penalty can only be the most severe. The whole pint, down in one.'

              'But ...'

              'DOWN IN ONE!'

              Rhys had already consumed a great deal of alcohol, but, in the spirit of the game, he steadied himself and sank the pint in four seconds flat, which drew a muted round of applause and nods of approval all round. He followed up with a gut-wrenching burp, tipped the empty glass over his head and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand.

              'Right ...' But before Don could continue, Howell interrupted him once again, living up to his name of Chief Sneak.

              'Mr Chairman, it is with great displeasure and utter disbelief that I have to raise yet another point of order with you. You see, Rhys's offence is minor when compared to the information I have just received, information so startling it can scarcely be believed.' Howell looked at Rhys with an expression of total dismay which led the others to do the same.

              'Wha'? Wha've I done now?' Rhys was baffled.

              Mark sensed what was coming and filled Rhys's glass up to the brim, drawing a look of sheer horror from Rhys's face. After a theatrical pause, the Chief Sneak carried on. 'Not only was Rhys fornicating with this young lady but I've discovered that this young lady is ...' Another theatrical pause followed, but this time much longer than the first, as Howell looked each of the participants in the eye, before revealing, '... from ENGLAND!'

              Howls of disgust rang out around the room accompanied by a flinging back of arms and shaking of heads in utter contempt.

              'ENGLAND! Is this true, Rhys? Are our girls not good enough for you anymore?' The chairman could hardly believe his ears and sought a denial. But none was forthcoming.

              'Well, she could possibly be, like, you know, from England,' Rhys blustered.

              The chairman had heard enough. 'The whole pint down in one,' he proclaimed dismissively with a flick of his hand.

              This time, Rhys did not bother to plead mitigation, took another deep breath and sank his pint as quickly as he could. It took twice as long as the one before and, when finished, he was convinced he needed to spew. To further muted applause and comments of 'nice one', he decided to remain seated and allow his stomach to settle. He kept quiet, fearing that opening his mouth would render less-appealing emissions than words. He knew that at this rate, he might well be paralytic by midnight, and the game had not even started yet! He was determined to try and stay as sober as possible, as he wished to be in a reasonable state for when he met up with Vicki later. She had never left his mind for one single second and he craved to see her again.