Nena Book 6 *Remind Me Again* - Part 1

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Nena: Book 6
Remind Me Again

by Maddy Bell
Copyright © 2015 Maddy Bell
All Rights Reserved.

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Part 1

“Remind me again Den, just why are we stood here at stupid o’clock in the morning in the middle of February?”
Dennis let go an impressive yawn before mustering a reply, “money?”
I wrapped my arms around myself a bit tighter which did little to prevent a teeth chattering shiver caused by the icy wind blowing up my skirt.
“Wish I’d worn trousers,” I mumbled into my scarf.
“You lost the bet,” Den pointed out.
“Don’t remind me,” Jules and her scheming, I’ll get my revenge.
“Ot oh, looks like they’re coming,” my colleague noted as the sound of excited teenagers announced our cargo’s imminent arrival at the bus.

But maybe we should start at the beginning.

Three months earlier.
“Chris, you got a minute?”
I was just going for my lunch but I could hardly say no to the boss could I?
“Er sure Bill, what’s up?”
“Take a pew, how’re the private bookings going?”
I took the offered seat before replying.
“Steady I guess you’d call it but words getting round, there’re a few Legion trips in the pipeline, steady stuff.”
Bill nodded, “I was talking to Rich Barmby yesterday.”
“From Vee Bee’s?”
“The same, they’ve just ordered a pair of T916’s.”
“Woo, serious money,” I noted, “they come into some money?”
“In a way, they’ve picked up a load of BET work; the new motors’ll pay for themselves in twelve months.”
“Good on them, I know he was thinking of selling up last year.”
“I’ve spoken to Russ and he’s in agreement, we’re gonna start bidding for a slice of the BET work.”

“You’re the boss.”
“You’re the one whose desk it’s falling on.”
Just what I need – not!
“I’ll be upfront Chris, tour bookings are down, we’ve not been filling the day excursions and nice as your private hires are, we need to get more work or we’ll have to downsize.”
“That bad?”
“Wish it wasn’t so but yep, that bad.”
“I’ve got a woman from BET coming to see us Tuesday morning so if you could manage your uniform?”
“Yes boss,” I agreed.

“Educational tours? We’ll be doing National Express next,” Jules moaned.
“It’s hardly the end of the world,” I noted before taking a pull on my pint.
“No tips, coach full of sweet wrappers and crumbs and some grotty hotel in the back of beyond.”
“It’s work,” I pointed out.
“I guess,” she allowed, “but not as we know it.”
I couldn’t help but agree with that sentiment.

Janice Brown was the wrong side of forty, wore too much makeup and was British Educational Tours ‘provider liaison manager’, in other words she has to make sure there is adequate transport for BET’s programme of trips. She was pleasant enough but by the end of the visit Bill and I were under no illusions as to our place in the hierarchy of the operation. Make no mistake about it; we need them more than they need us.
“So?” Bill offered.
“Looks like a lot of work without any guaranteed returns.”
“I don’t think we can pass it up Chris.”
“I hear you, just saying.”
“I’ll liaise with Russ and get you an availability diary sorted out in the meantime get yourself up to speed on the bidding process, sooner we start more chance of success.”

So okay it’s not rocket science and the BET web site is dumbed down enough to allow even travel company executives to use it! In essence you are entering a lottery where the low bid will win but bids are sealed and whilst you bid for a specific period of vehicle supply actual destinations and itinery are only released to winners of the work. The juggle for the bidders is working out what to bid; Rich Barmby suggested a formula to Bill, our lowest price plus a percentage, if the work doesn’t come in drop the percentage. Nothing gained as they say.
It was just before Christmas that we got our first BET job, two buses doing a ski trip to the French Alps. When I saw the schedule I had to agree with Jules summation, it’s like running a cattle truck shuttle. No overnight stops just driving through the night, minimal breaks double manned but for the drivers on this occasion it was then four days paid killing time in the resort and our two coaches were there with fifteen others on BET trips!
After that the work started to trickle in regular enough to keep three crews in regular employment although Den and myself escaped due to firstly Den’s holiday to Florida and our assignment to a couple of out of season tours to Spain and the German Karnevals. But of course sooner or later that would change and me hitting the wrong key when I made a bid on New Year’s Eve would have all sorts of consequences down the line.

‘Sugar!’ I allowed before checking the BET email again, no denying it, I’d bid three buses and we’d won all three, great – except we only had two vehicles free for the work. Janice had been quite emphatic; failure to supply a vehicle would bar us from bidding for six weeks which would then of course have knock on effects.
I knocked on the door, “can I have a word Bill?”
“Er yeah,” I agreed.
“Where are they off to this time?”
“Two buses to Les Gets and one to Livigno.”
“Not heard of that before.”
“Apparently it’s Italy, not far from St Moritz.”
“Why do I sense there’s a but?”
“I should’ve checked before I put the bid in.”

“Checked what?”
“Terry and Paul are off that week, I checked the rota, we don’t have anyone else to cover.”
“I’m sorry Bill, I’ve mucked up big style, I’ll leave if you want me to.”
“And just who else do you think I can get on your wages, don’t be so daft. Get me the diary; let’s see if we can sort something out before we panic.”

Half an hour later Bill sat back and took a swig of cold tea.
“So me and Sandra will do the Hen trip to Glasgow and you and Den fill in for Terry and Paul.”
“I’d best break the news to him; he was looking forward to Glasgow.”
“I’m sure once you explain things he’ll come round.”

“So let me get this right, Bill and his missus are taking the Hen party to Glasgow.”
“Uh huh,” I agreed plonking a pint in front of Den.
“And instead of a cushy couple of nights in the Holiday Inn we get to race halfway across Europe to hole up in a ski hostel in the middle of nowhere.”
“Er yeah, that’s about the sum of it.”
“Cheers bud.”
“You think I’m happy about it?”
“Hmm,” he mumbled.

“Hi Chris, Janice from BET.”
“Oh hi Janice, what can I do for you?”
“We’ve got a little bit of an issue with a job you’re doing.”
“Oh? Which one? What’s the problem?”
“Well not a problem as such, more of a request from the school, it’s the Livigno job?”
“Hang on, let me just get the paperwork, hang on, did you say Livigno?”
“I’ll be doing that myself.”
“Straight to the horse then.”
“So what’s the issue then?”
“The school’s concerned about having male drivers.”
“Everyone here’s CRB checked.”
“That’s not the issue, it’s a girl’s school, they’d prefer to have women drivers, they’ve had issues with male drivers in the past.”
“It never just rains does it?”
“Sorry Chris, look Global won’t be penalised if you can’t manage it, but it would be appreciated if you can do the job.”
“When do you need to know?”
“Sooner the better but this Friday lunch at the latest.”
“Leave it with me Janice I’ll see what we can do.”

I put the phone down, what a cock up. Where the hell do I conjure up two female drivers when we don’t have one on the books? Not strictly true, Sandra has her licence but she’s five months pregnant and I’m not gonna suggest that Bill’s wife drives to Italy in ten days! Nope, it looks like this is the final straw on this episode; I’ll ring Janice in the morning.

“They want what?” Julie spluttered.
“You heard, they don’t want male drivers.”
“I wonder who they are protecting?”
“What do you mean?”
“Well fifty hormonal teenage girls, two men, I’d say it was the drivers in danger not the girls.”
The coin dropped.
“I see, not that it’s any help, we still don’t have any women drivers.”
Jules gave me a funny look, “you sure?”
“Course I’m sure.”

“You could do it.”
“Talk rot.”
“You’ve got your licence, Nena could make another appearance.”
“You have got to be kidding.”
“You’ve done it before,” my girlfriend pointed out.
“Doesn’t mean I want to repeat the process and what about Den?”
“Just tell them that you’re married, might keep the little minxes off.”
“They’d see straight through me, no it’s a stupid idea.”
“I bet they’d go for it.”
“I don’t have the wig anymore.”
“Who needs a wig?”

“Janice? Hi it’s Chris from Global?”
“Oh hi Chris, Livigno I guess?”
“Yeah, we’re struggling to meet the requirements although I might have a half solution.”
“I’ve not had much success either,” Janice offered, “so what have you got?
“Well one of our drivers, his girlfriend has a licence and she’d be prepared to go with him.”
“Best offer I’ve had!” Janice smiled down the phone, “let me talk to the school and run it past them, I’ll call you back a bit later.”

Against my better judgement it looks like Nena will be making a reprise appearance, I suppose I’ll have to break his new relationship to Den too! As for Jules, well let’s just say she knows how to press my buttons.

©Maddy Bell 22.03.15

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