The Badger

August 23, 2012

The Badger

(or: the alternative life of Roy Hodgson, v1 – the original)

by G Bolongaro

The door from the conference hall felt heavy as Roy pushed it open and stepped into the lobby of the Bedford conference centre. Roy Hodgson. The last of the great ICI sales reps. Known affectionately to colleagues throughout the 70’s as ‘the badger.’ His reputation built in the early Thatcher years. First resisting than embracing modernisation when it had seemed the right time. He’d effectively sewn up the central African market just as British influence was on the wane.

Now the paisley carpet of the hospitality suite seemed to root him awkwardly in the middle of the walkway; hand in one pocket, watery scotch in the other. His name clip askew. A laminated remnant of a more strident time.

Once a young delegate would have taken his arm and ushered him warmly from group to group. Now he scanned the room for a familiar face. Colleagues, rivals and friends now gone.  To golf. To Malaga. To angina.  Ken stone, Rodger Dyke. Both Agnew brothers.  All of them gone.  Eyes that were once eager and respectful now seemed condescending, pitying even.  He remembered what Rodger had said to him in his office the day before his resignation, “We’re just artefacts now Roy. Ornaments pulled out of our boxes twice a year for show. Don’t become a relic Roy. ”

He finally shuffled forward for the lobby walk he’d promised Val would be his last. As he lifted the glass the vague chemical sting of the cheap malt took him  back to the that processing plant in Nairobi, where as a young rep he had paused on the gantry to watch some school children on a visit  gather around one of the large vats. A tiny voice had seemed to pierce the metallic din, and he again felt that dizziness he had felt then looking down as the boy’s question rang out around the vast industrial hull:

“What is all this for?”



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