Special Request


"What's with this Bill?"


"You know what, this private hire in October."

"What about it"

I rolled my eyes; he can be so perverse sometimes. The fact that it was on my, well mine and Dens schedule and it wasn't there an hour ago was enough reason for me to be curious ' the post it saying see me was another hint.

"Are you gonna tell us about it or not"

"Come in and shut the door"

This sounds serious. I pulled the door shut and took one of the chairs opposite Bill.

"So what's the mystery?"

"No mystery, its just a private party."


"God help us, your worse than the missus. Well you know that the holiday bookings have been down the last couple of seasons," he waited for my nod before continuing, "well it's not just us, even Wally's have been cancelling departures. Anyway we've been looking at ways to keep you lot on the road, we've not quite got desperate enough for rail replacement but we might have to."

"Stop beating around the bush."

"Sorry Chris, well we've decided to give private hire another go but instead of day trips we're going for the longer tour stuff battlefields, history stuff and I'll talk to you all soon about what we're going to offer for next season, the idea is to start doing more themed stuff and old fashioned tours."

"Sounds good so far, anything I can do to help."

"Well that's where this trip comes in. Its the local British Legion."

"You are kidding! So go on where are we going and why me?"

"Northern Germany and we had a special request for you and Den, apparently the organiser chap went on one of your trips last year, Black Forest I think he said."

Well I did three Schwarzwald's last year so he could be any of about a 100 passengers.

"So what's on the itinery then, cemeteries and stuff I suppose?"

"Well apart from a couple of stops he's requested you've kind of got carte blanche."


"Well that's the other thing I wanted to talk to you about. How do you fancy a bit of a promotion?"

"What come off the road?"

"Well not exactly. I was thinking of putting you in charge of the 'specials', at least for this season. Your down time between tours you can do the organising stuff then you take the trips too. Den'll be your allocated driver and if we need more capacity we'll work that out later."

"Sounds like a lot of work to me."

"I never said it would be easy."

"Can I think about it?"

"Well don't take forever, I do need you to do the Legion trip whichever way you decide."

"Hmm, okay. I suppose you've got some details for me?"

"So whaddya think?"

"I dunno Den, it's a lot of work."

"You're up to it."

"I guess."

"And it's a good opportunity."

"What about you, you never fancy a desk job?"

"Nah I enjoy being on the road too much. Don't mind giving you a hand though."

"Well it is tempting, I mean open book on new themed tours, it's a novel idea."

"I think it's a stonker, back to the old ways ' the punters'll love it."

"I'd best talk to Julia before I say yes."

"She'll only say the same as me."

"Well its only fair."

Of course my significant other was all for it, I could almost see the pound signs in her eyes! Not that she's mercenary or anything, heaven forbid!

My debut as tour captain was still some time away of plenty of time to get it sorted. “So run that past me again."


Six weeks later

"A tour for a bunch of archaeologists around Lüneburg Heath."

"Okay, what's the catch?" there had to be one, nothing is that simple.

"Well there's only twenty of them and some of the places they want to visit are a bit out of the way."

"Like how much out of the way?" Den enquired.

"Not remote, more poor access, single track roads."

"We could use Tiddler, I'm sure Bill won't have a problem with that, we might need to negotiate with them if the access is that bad. I take it we can do it date wise?"

"Yeah, its early October a fortnight before the Legion trip."

"Lets have a look at the itinerary then."


"Right then Jonathan, I think that covers everything, I certainly can't think of anything else."

"Well there was one thing Chris, do you know who the tour manager will be?"

"I was planning on doing it myself, why?"

"Well we were rather hoping that that German girl could do it, nothing personal like."

"German girl?" then it dawned on him, Nena, his alter ego.

"Well I'll have to see if she can be available but I can't promise anything."

"It'd be good if you can, my mother did a trip with her at Christmas and never stopped going on about her, Nena this, Nena that."

"I'll see what I can do."

"I'll get this lot back to you this week Chris."


The two men shook hands and Jonathan Brown left Chris's borrowed office.

"Flippin' Nena! Every time I think I've sunk that spectre she comes back to haunt me. It's not like she does the job any different to me - hardly. I guess I can talk to Julie about it later.


"Just say she can't do it" Julie suggested.

"But what if they cancel?"

"Chris, they aren't going to cancel, they've already paid the deposit so don't worry so."


"But nothing, Nena doesn't exist does she? So she can't take this tour whatever they want."

"I guess not"

"Well quit worrying then, they'll get over it."

"I suppose you're right."

"I know I am, now get up to the bar and get me another drink."


Chris shivered as he walked across the Global yard, four thirty in the morning, especially in October is never warm but this morning nerves bolstered the cold.

"Ey up Chris." Den called across from where he was just locking his car.


"So boss man, you ready for this?"

"As I'll ever be."

The two of them walked round to the yard where their chariot for the week, Tiddler was waiting. Bill had readily agreed to them using the little Setra, it had freed up a big bus for a school contract which had worked out well all-round.

Den opened her up and got the motor running before opening the side hatch to stow their bags.

"I hope there's enough room in here" Chris mused.

"There's only twenty of them,” Den pointed out.

“Yeah I guess.”

They mounted up and by five, with the first inkling of dawn still an hour away they set off to pick up their charges. Since Chris had got his PSV license it gave them the option of doing trips like this without having to overnight on the way. Den would drive down to the Channel before Chris took over for the next leg across to their German destination. That would leave Den to drive while they were away before a similar arrangement on the return.


It wasn't a long drive to their pickup point, and at stupid o'clock in the morning the traffic was pretty light.

“Well Jonathon's here at least.” I noted as we pulled into Meadowhall coach park.

“Looks like they all are.” Den noted; there were certainly quite a few bodies suddenly emerging from the few cars waiting nearby.

“Morning Chris,” Jonathon mentioned as Tiddler's door opened, “no Nena then?” he went on peering into the bus.

“I er, not yet, um this is Den our driver.”

“Morning.” Den offered

“Morning Den.” Jonathon replied.

“Shall we get this lot loaded then?” our ‘clients' were gathering with their bags behind Jonathon.

Den hopped off and was soon stowing bags.

“Everyone here?”

“Well apart from the two at Dover, they're all pretty keen.” Jonathon mentioned.

It was a mixed group, mostly middle aged with a couple of Oldies and one younger couple. They all seemed to get along and they waited for Den to finish loading before a word from Jonathon had them climbing on board.

The door hissed shut and before I was seated Tiddler was easing away from the kerb . I let Den negotiate his way to the M1 before I clicked the microphone on.

“Good morning everyone.”

“Morning.” Came a rumble of replies.

“My name is Chris and beside me driving is Den, if you need anything just ask us. I've got to tell you some stuff about our vehicle, firstly emergency exits, there are three, the front door, middle door and the rear nearside window. There is a first aid kit above the front door and fire extinguishers at the front and side doors. We strongly advise that whilst not a legal requirement in the UK you use the lap belts on your seat, once we cross into Belgium it does however become mandatory so if we get stopped by the police make sure your belts are done up!

We have about a five-hour drive down to Dover; we'll have a couple of short stops on the way to catch our eleven o'clock ferry. Everyone has their passport to hand?”

There was a general murmur of agreement.

“The boiler is already on so in a few minutes I'll come round to do hot drinks.” I clicked off the ‘phone.

“I was gonna go across to the A1.” Den mentioned.

“S'okay, I'll wait till we get onto it before I serve up.”

We were already almost at the Worksop turn so it would hardly delay things much. Our passengers were at any rate mostly chatting away in various animated conversations so they'd not notice anyhow!

The day developed bright but the few clouds above us were moving at quite a pace and nearer terra firma Tiddler was taking a bit of a buffeting on the increasingly busy roads. We made good time until the QE2 Bridge but the traffic kept moving so we arrived at the port just after ten. Our extra passengers were quickly loaded and after the usual merry go round ride around the docks we joined the rows of vehicles waiting for our eleven am ferry.



“Please Chris.” Den agreed as they queued for their food in the drivers lounge.

“Here we go then.”

“I thought you'd sorted that Nena stuff out with whatsisname, Jonathan?”

“Steak pie please, I thought so.”

“Same again, well it sounded like he was still expecting her this morning.”

“Er maybe.”

Thinking back I don't remember stating one-way or the other. I had hinted very strongly that she wouldn't be available but I guess I never out and said she couldn't full stop. I guess I sort of sidestepped the issue when it came up and maybe I sort of forgot about the request.

“Don't tell me she's gonna make an appearance?” Den quizzed as I tucked into my lunch.

“As if!”

“Well stranger things have happened.” He noted before taking a glug of tea.

That was true.

“Nena will not be making an appearance this week or any other time soon.” I stated vehemently.



We were just outside of Hannover before the subject came up again.

“Just a quick toilet break folks, its only about an hour to our accommodation.” Den stretched before slipping off of Tiddler.

The drive across Belgium, Holland and into Germany had been boring to say the least – not exactly scenic and my attention had been on the unusually heavy traffic as we headed east.

“Long day eh Chris.” Jonathon mentioned.

“Yeah, only another hour or so though.”

“So Nena joining us there then.”

I was caught unawares and just mumbled “um.”

Jeez, that guy is persistent.


Den took the last leg so I could do my stuff for the accommodation and so on. Jonathon came forward for a chat, as our destination got closer.

“We eating at the hotel?”

“No, I've got us booked in a restaurant just down the road in about forty minutes.”

“Okay I'll make sure this lot don't hold us up then.”

“I'll get everyone in their rooms then we can drive down on the bus.”

“Nena joining us tonight or in the morning?”

Bum! He really was expecting Nena to turn up, what do I do now?

“Er yeah”

“So tonight then.”

“Er no er tomorrow.” Why did I say that?

“Great, I look forward to meeting her. I'll just have a word with this lot.”

“Er use the mike.” I offered thumbing the control as I passed it over.

“Thanks Chris, people!” he paused to make sure he had their attention, “ok I know it's been a long day but we'll be at our accommodation in about ten minutes.”


“Now we've got a meal booked for half eight so as soon as you've dumped your bags can you return to the bus and these guys will take us to chow. And something to look forward to, the lovely Nena will be joining us tomorrow.”

“Yay!” one tired voice called out.

Oh bugger!

To be continued.

Maddy Bell 19.06.08


Pictures of Nena have been generated using Ania's 'Cherie' Fkiss doll on Angy-Chan's template and are Copyright 2004-8. They are used with permission, if you'd like to see more go to www.acharsi.prv.pl All other pictures are Copyright Maddy Bell 2006-8

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