The Yorkshire Chapter
‘Why is it always cold on station platforms?’ he thought to himself as he stood and watched the old, dirty and rattling transport shudder its way towards Huddersfield. The man had arrived at Mirfield station situated in the Calder River valley which seemed to be presently doubling as a wind tunnel. He descended the concrete steps to the road and looked about for a taxi. Nothing! To his left a road ran arrow straight to what looked like not much in the way of a town. In the opposite direction he could see a supermarket sign and most of his fellow passengers that had disembarked, were heading in that direction. The man decided to follow them and a few minutes later he was standing at a crossroads. He’d bought an apartment in the town because no one had heard of the place and he wished to remain anonymous. Well – as far as his past was concerned.
“Is tha lookin’ for summat?”
Steele, for that was the man’s name, turned and considered the gentleman who’d addressed him. He thought about the question and even though he was not from Yorkshire realised what the man had meant.
“Yes,” Steele smiled. “A decent pub.”
The helpful passer-by directed him to his left to a hostelry named The Railway. ‘Because they pull real ale’ he had been informed. That was the direction in which he went. He was hungry, thirsty and fairly sure that he would be able to hire a taxi to take him to his new home once his appetite was replete.
“Welcome sir,” was the cheery greeting from the middle-aged lady behind the bar. “What can I get for you?”
Steele looked round for somewhere to leave his wheeled suitcase.
“Just pop it under the coat rack. A pint of Landlord?” she suggested.
“Is it hand pulled?” Steele asked.
“Yes,” the lady replied and went away to fulfil his request.
As it was early evening the pub wasn’t so busy and from the smell emanating from a doorway at the opposite side of the bar they did food.
It was an hour later that he rang for a taxi which took seconds to arrive, or so it seemed. The driver was an elderly Asian man with that Yorkshire accent. Steele wondered how long it would be before he found his own vowels begin to flatten.
The apartment, really a one bedroomed flat, was okay, he’d only seen photographs up to walking through the door. A separate kitchen/dining room, a lounge, bedroom and bathroom greeted him in an anonymous, magnolia sort of way. It was dusk but there was enough light to see the green hillside opposite that appeared to be predominantly being farmed. Steele liked a view. During his upbringing he’d spent enough hours staring at four walls and in homes where the view was restricted. Nottingham University had given him a taste for the outdoors and when he’d applied for the job in Leeds, and been accepted, Steele decided that he didn’t want to live in the bustling city but nearer the countryside. Mirfield had all of what he required. It was a described by the estate agent as a busy town with great road and rail links, on the edge of open countryside, and with good walking available less than an hour away. On the map it was clear that the journey to the Dales may take a little longer than an hour but they were accessible.
The furniture he’d managed to buy online was due to arrive the following day but the central heating and water was turned on so he wouldn’t freeze in his sleeping bag. He went to sleep feeling quietly confident, well at least there was a decent pub.
Setting up a new home was always time consuming, expensive and full of frustrations so after a morning of making little progress he reckoned that he deserved a pint of that very nice beer and some lunch. Steele also wanted to put some feelers out for a cleaner and handyman. It was the same lady behind the bar and she was pulling his preferred beverage as he walked up to the bar.
“Landlord sir?” she asked.
“Patrick,” he smiled and nodded.
“I haven’t seen you round here before,” she continued pulling his beer.
“Just moved here from Nottingham. I have a new job in Leeds,” he finished.
“Do you live close?” she wasn’t being nosey really just placing him in her own mind and also for those in earshot.
He explained where he lived and that he had the flat and a factory unit not far from his new home. The ‘Annexe’ as he called it, had been empty and going very cheap. It was in the valley about a quarter of a mile down the hill next to the river. There wasn’t a garage with the apartment and he had a treadmill and some weights that he used to keep himself fit and nowhere to keep them, so the Annexe was ideal.
“You don’t know anyone who needs a cleaning job do you Tina?” the barmaid had introduced herself.
The woman thought for a few seconds and then,
“Funnily enough friends of ours, Bill and Stacey, are looking for something part-time. They’re both retired. They might be interested.” Tina finished.
“How do I get in touch?” Steele asked.
A few days later Steele had achieved a lot, he’d set Stacey Fordyce on as his cleaner, but he had nothing but some decorating for Bill. Within a couple of months the apartment was as he wanted it and Bill was working on the Annexe. The Railway was firmly his ‘local’ and he was beginning to make other contacts in the place as the locals were very friendly. He’d not come across a dour tight-fisted Yorkshire man as yet!
Friday nights were always busy in the Railway but this particular Friday there was a bunch of rowdy young men in suits that, Steele was informed, were on the ‘Ale Trail’ or, judging from their state, nearer the end. Steele had enough and decided to go to the toilet before setting off home. A young man was just leaving the men’s room and reeled into Patrick.
“Steady son!” exclaimed Steele for which he had to dodge a wild swing aimed at his head.
What the young drunken man couldn’t have known was that Steele had some self-defence training and as he’d swung at Patrick with his right hand he’d exposed the outside of his right knee. Steele raised his own right foot and smashed it against the lad’s braced leg just above the knee joint. The noise of tearing cartilage was sickening. Steele exited the pub by the rear door and set off home without speaking to anyone. Five minutes later a car pulled up beside him, it wasn’t a police vehicle. The window rolled down and an Oriental gentleman looked at Patrick,
“I think you can help me,” he said pleasantly.