Following a career in marketing and public relations, Sue now spends
her time writing and jointly edits a monthly community village magazine,
for which she produces numerous feature articles.
Sue is a member of both the Lowdham Writers’ and the Nottingham Writers’
Groups and plays an active part in both the organisations.
Sue enjoys writing short stories, some of which have been published
and also produces the occasional humorous monologue.
She is currently working on her first novel, a light-hearted look
at modern-day village life.
Writer's Work - A Curious Encounter
At lunchtime during the summer Eric Whitmore would escape to The Arboretum
Park to eat his sandwiches, read his paper and try to forget the problems
of small boys at the school where he taught. He would head for a secluded
bench, where he could admire the ornamental bedding and the lush trees.
However, Eric had a kindly face; strangers always asked him the way
and it was his predisposition to be helpful in whatever way he could.
On just such an occasion Eric, torn between reading his paper and
inspecting the progress of the road-works for the new Nottingham tram
system, became aware of a presence sharing his bench. It was the smell
he noticed - musty and acrid. He turned to see a most unusual character
regarding him with beseeching, watery blue eyes.
The young man looked as if he wanted to speak, but his deathly pale
face showed fear. Eric noticed his strange garb; baggy pinstriped
trousers, odd shoes, no socks and a dirty hole-ridden jumper. The
mans hair was fair, long and unkempt. The teacher was tempted
to move away, but the watery, squinting eyes fixed on him pleadingly.
Yes? asked Eric, is there something the matter?
The man pointed towards the road.
You want to know the way? An easy request, Eric thought;
at least he wasnt being asked for money. But the man shook his
head furiously still not uttering a sound. I dont
understand, said Eric, puzzled and wondering how he could extract
himself. Thinking that perhaps he wanted food, Eric offered him his
Kit-Kat, but again the man shook his head, this time shuffling nearer
to him. Eric threw up both his hands in a gesture of bafflement, so
the man inched further forward, slowly lifted his arm and again pointed
to the road.
Thats Waverley Road, said Eric.
The man nodded and for the first time he spoke, but it was difficult
to make out the words, which sounded like Dangeroo works.
It was a strange accent - one Eric couldnt place, and still
puzzled he stood up and stared in the direction where the Waverley
Road excavations were in progress. The man stood too and mimed a digging
action. It occurred to Eric that perhaps the stranger had a speech
Its the tram theyre putting tramlines on
The man half turned, worry written all over him. His whole body shuddered
before he ran off and disappeared in a clump of shrubs. Eric shook
his head in disbelief at this strange behaviour, picked up his lunch
box and stared in the direction of where the stranger had dashed.
There was absolutely no sign of him. Odd, thought Eric.
A couple of days later, Eric was sitting in the
same secluded spot enjoying the sunshine when again the pale stranger
appeared beside him on the park bench. He felt a little nervous
at the sight of him, but the appealing look on the mans face
and the fact that Eric had rooted out a leaflet about the new tram
system just in case he met the odd fellow again, made him feel better.
Eric pointed to the picture.
Tram? Uttered the man. The word was quite clear.
Yes, said Eric. Theyre building a tram system
in Nottingham. Its starting at Hucknall and will run to Nottingham
railway station. Itll be finished in about eighteen months.
The man pointed to the ground.
It go down? The mans strong accent made the words
barely intelligible and Eric realised that perhaps he could not
No, on the top, he replied. First of all the tramlines
will have to be set on the road. Its not going underground.
Relief spread all over the mans face. For the first time he
smiled, showing uneven, brown teeth. Unsure how to react to the
mans obvious reassurance at hearing these words, Eric asked:
Do you live locally?
Eric noticed how the man squinted, obviously suffering from the
bright light. Not receiving an immediate answer, he thought hed
try something different.
Im Eric Whitmore and I work nearby. Whats your
The man turned towards him and again smiling said, Gabby
live under here.
Eric still didnt know what to make of the stranger but suddenly
felt a desire to help him.
Are you all right? There are lots of people who can help if
youre out of work, need benefits or accommodation. Here, let
me write on this leaflet where you can go for help.
Eric fished in his pockets for a pen, and quickly sketched a route
to the Citizens Advice Bureau, folding a five-pound note into
the leaflet before handing it back. But it was wasted on Gabby,
who stuffed the leaflet in his pocket saying, Not underground.
Then, with another flash of a smile, he scooted once again into
the same bushes and disappeared. Eric searched the area in vain,
but he could not fathom out how he had managed to vanish so completely.
A couple of months later, the incident with Gabby
forgotten, Eric and his wife entertained two boisterous nephews
for the weekend. They decided on a visit to the Caves of Nottingham,
and during the guided tour, something about the mildew smell stirred
Erics memory. Remarks made by the tour guide added to his
a network of caves still exist underneath
many parts of Nottingham. But it was the guides complaint
about people ignoring the potential dangers in the restricted areas
that caused Erics imagination to work overtime. We wouldnt
have known anyone had been there if we hadnt come across a
tram leaflet with directions to the Citizens Advice Bureau
containing a five-pound note. Can you believe it? How they got there
we shall never know? Into Erics mind sprang a picture
of Gabby, pale, watery-eyed, blinking in the bright light of the
summer day, worried that the tram might go underground - to reveal
- exactly what?
Please Note: Although many of the places and
the new Nottingham tram system exist, the characters in this story
are purely fictional.