Roy Paine is the hero of my self-published e-novel Roy's Summer of Sport, written under the pen name Ed Villah. Roy lives in the villagey fringes of Croydon, far from the very different London of Hackney and the Lower Clapton Road. But he has a ticket for the Olympics - women's hockey, 8th August, 2012 - and heads for Stratford using public transport. He gets a number 38 from Victoria, one that goes all the way to Clapton Pond. He's never been there before. Never even heard of the place. It sounds nice - kind of rural. Roy has time on his hands so he stays on the bus instead of getting off at Hackney Central, eager to gratify his curiosity...
The bus reached its final stop. Roy tumbled out into the heat and began walking back the way he’d come. The smell of fish and chips beckoned him from an open door. Roy looked in. Battered cod fillets sizzled in serried display. Roy succumbed. A man in a red polo shirt, sweltering skin, capable hands, raised his chin at him and said, “Next please.”
“Large cod, small?”
Roy waited, not sure whether to stand or lean, speak or say nothing. The man dug his silver shovel into the chips. There were two other men behind the fryer, both in the same red polos, both speaking the same body language: team of men at heavy work.
One of the other men rang up the price. Roy paid and accepted the meal, wrapped in white paper, from the first man’s expert hands.
“Are you liking the good weather?” the man said.
Roy, surprised, said, “Oh, yes. About time we had some.”
“I’m hoping will stay Sunday, for my allotment.”
“Allotment?” Roy wasn’t sure he’d heard properly.
“Yes, allotment. Up in Chingford.”
“What do you grow?”
“Everything. Plum. Peach. Hazelnut. Orange.”
“Yeah, few of them.”
“You should sell them here,” said Roy.
“No, no. Just for me. And my good friends.”
“Well, good luck with it.”
“Thank you. Goodbye.”
Roy left the chip shop and spotted Clapton Pond itself over the road. He crossed, found a gate in the railings, saw a seat beside the water and sat down. An ornamental bridge traversed the water. At its centre was a little island and next to that a fountain cascading in sympathy with a weeping willow on the pond’s far bank. The cod was crisp, the chips were hot, the salt and vinegar tingled Roy’s mouth in the way he’d hoped, the way they should. Roy tuned out the roar of London buses at a busy stop behind him and ate every scrap of his meal.
Getting up, he spotted a corner shop with plants and fruit and vegetables stacked outside. From there he bought a cappuccino prepared for him by a friendly young man who looked and sounded Indian. Roy walked on, past a bookmaker, an estate agent, a small Tesco, a modernist Salvation Army church, a cacophony of hair salons, a book shop, an Italian restaurant, an off licence, a Polish deli, a Caribbean and an Indian takeaway, a halal butcher, it went on.
With an outsider’s shyness Roy consulted his A-to-Z, walked on again, cut through an ancient graveyard, came out beside an old stone tower and opposite a Marks and Spencer. Left, then right, up a sloping walkway to the Overground station he’d passed on the 38 earlier. His train soon came and carried him to Stratford, but this time on arriving there he fell in with the loose, unbroken chain of humankind making its way to the Olympic Park.
Roy's Summer of Sport is available to Kingle-owners for a very reasonable £2. Purchase it here. Will it ever be a "real" book as well? It is very possible. Thank you for your custom.