The Factory Girls – Episode 14

Jonathan felt as if he’d been drinking way too many of the strong cocktails he used to get at student parties, only without the fun. Last night he’d sat at the window of his little flat for ages, looking out over the crooked high street he’d come to love. He’d been shown around the Manchester factory that the Xion executives had been talking about and had thought it was fantastic, but now he’d become used to the warm, kooky ways of Cardill’s he wasn’t so sure that was what he wanted.It would be cool, he’d reminded himself several times, to live in Manchester. Everyone said it was a really happening city, with great bars and so much live music. His social life had dwindled to drinking real ale with old men up here in Deveroe, so it might be great to get out with people his own age again. And yet . . .He was being sentimental, he told himself. It was tough, certainly, to witness what this news was doing to everyone here, but Jonathan was different. He was a graduate. He had career prospects and aspirations, and maybe this funny little factory closing would work in his favour, but it certainly didn’t feel that way right now.In the end, he’d grabbed his wallet and had made for what had become his local. The Brown Cow was an old-fashioned pub with wooden floors, padded barstools and a superbly grumpy landlord, but the beer was good and the company usually relaxing. Not last night, though. Even the old men, normally content to chew over the football results, had been buzzing with the news of Cardill’s imminent closure, and he had been pounced upon the minute he’d walked in the door.“You must know something, lad,” one of them had insisted, “you’re management.”Management. It had sounded like a dirty word and even more so by the time everyone in the place had listed the myriad friends and relations who earned their living at Cardill’s. Jonathan had barely been able to finish his pint and had finally escaped into the cold night air feeling more battered than before.This morning was no better. The factory was full and Jonathan admired the girls for that, but the mood was tight and sad. The usual buzz of banter was gone.With a sigh, he opened up his Factory Improvements file, started just three months back with so much enthusiasm and now rendered pointless. He reminded himself that he’d need to impress whoever his new boss might be, but it didn’t fire him up and he was relieved when Helen burst into the office, Dana Tims in tow.“Have you seen Carol?” Helen asked him.“She’s out the back, supervising a wagon,” Jonathan replied, though in truth Carol had seemed to be looking over the hills, lost in thought.Helen turned to Dana.“Let’s go and find her.”Something about their urgency struck him.“Why?” he asked.“Because we have an idea an idea to save the factory.”Jonathan felt hope spark inside him.“In that case,” he said, “I’m coming with you.”Twenty minutes later they were all chewing on Ina’s most richly buttered toast as Dana proposed her idea. Jonathan watched her pace the office in stained jeans and a T-shirt, and was surprised by her eloquence. Her grey eyes were alight with enthusiasm and she kept flicking back her long hair so that the defiant red stripe down one side of it flashed past Jonathan’s eyes, mesmerising him.“We put posters up everywhere,” she was saying, “we lobby our MP and the council and all that, and we get the newspapers in and maybe the local TV, too. ‘Historic factory axed in name of progress’, that sort of thing. We make a real stir. It can work at least . . .”She sounded uncertain suddenly, and Jonathan leaped to his feet.“I think it’s a great idea, Dana!”“You do?” She turned her piercing eyes on him and he felt himself flush as usual, but for once there was no witty put-down. “Thank you,” she said instead.Jonathan smiled.“How about we start with an open meeting here, tomorrow? Get everyone on board and canvas for ideas. Carol?”“Why not.” Carol jutted her little chin out and nodded fiercely. “Let them see what this really means to us.”“I’ll do posters,” Jonathan offered.“And I’ll text everyone I know,” Helen said.“Me, too,” Dana agreed, “and maybe I’ll pop round the pubs tonight to let the oldies know.”Jonathan laughed and she looked over and grinned wickedly at him. For a moment he almost offered to go with her, but thankfully he caught himself in time. A geeky graduate like him would be the last person feisty Dana Tims would want to be seen out with.


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