Car 7

Mr Bill Havers

Outward appearance

Burly man, mid 30s, curly hair, in slacks, soft shoes. Reading The Daily Mail.

Inside information

Pharmacist for a small chemist's shop in Kennington Road. Has been troubled by a series of unskilled, unfriendly shop assistants. Until Bertie arrived.

Bertie is 19, from a family in the garment trade. She isn't pretty, but she is remarkably cheerful and energetic, with a blunt nose and freckles. For some reason, their senses of humour mesh. She tells jokes about her boyfriends or family. Her uncle Joe is an unapologetic Stalinist who still hopes for a return of Communism. Her aunt Ruby saw off thieves by chucking her stock of fruit and veg at them.

They even went out together to see Diana Ross. Bill's wife was worried until she met her. "I was wondering why you were so much more cheerful lately," his wife said.

Bill replied, "It's just nice working with such nice people."

Bertie's brother was convicted of causing an affray. The original charge was assault. He's big, cheerful, but loses his temper. Bertie asked if Bill couldn't try to get him a job in the shop. Something told him: no.

What he is doing or thinking

He's agonizing over it. He would hate to turn Bertie down, and hate even more to lose her friendship. But someone with a temper dealing with customers? He can't imagine what Mr Kumar would say. He can't ask. It's not right.The train slows. He's going to have to say no. With a sense of loss, almost of doom, he folds away his paper.

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