The Factory Girls – Episode 39

Taking a deep breath, Jonathan scanned the bronze name plaques. Mr Matt Darrow, he saw in fancy copperplate. He pressed the buzzer.“Jonnie boy!” Matt’s voice crackled heartily through the grille. “You made it, fantastic! I’ll buzz you up, mate. Fourth floor, and make it sharp. I’ve a surprise for you.”Jonathan thought he caught a giggle in the background and frowned. Surely Matt wasn’t having a party? That was all he needed! The truth, however, was possibly worse, for the door was flung open by his beaming mother, resplendent in fuchsia pink.“Jonathan, darling, isn’t this fun?” She enfolded him in a perfumed hug. “I was speaking to Mattie last night and he said you were stopping by, so Daddy and I thought we’d seize the chance to pop up on the train and take our lovely boys out to dinner. Isn’t that fabulous?”“Fabulous,” Jonathan agreed faintly. He turned to his brother. “You’re calling yourself Mattie now?”Matt shrugged.“It’s what Trixie called me and it sort of caught on.”“Trixie?”“Lovely girl. In the office on secondment from New York for a tricky cross-continental case. She’s gone back stateside now, I’m afraid, but was gorgeous while it lasted.”“What a shame, Mattie,” his mum responded, sparing Jonathan an answer. “Any other girlfriends we should know about?”“No-one special,” Matt said breezily. “I’m way too busy for anything serious at the moment. You should ask this one about that; he’s the one with the girlfriend.”Their mother spun back.“You’ve met someone, Jonathan? Oh, how lovely. Wait till I tell your sisters. What’s her name? Is it serious?”Jonathan cast an “I’ll get you later” look at his brother, who smirked back.“She’s called Dana,” he admitted. “She lives with her brothers. They run the local garage.”“A garage, eh?” his father said, stepping in to pump his hand. “Good money to be made in garages. What does she do?”“Well, she’s training to be an accountant.” He prevaricated, hating himself for his own cowardice. His mother’s eyes lit up. “Accountancy? What a sensible choice. She sounds lovely, Jonathan.”Jonathan forced a smile and looked uncomfortably around. His brother’s apartment was all leather and chrome. A bottle of expensive-looking wine was set on the table with four crystal glasses. A clutch of shiny shopping bags suggested his mum had been on a shopping spree. He sighed. His parents seemed genuinely pleased he’d found someone, but he couldn’t begin to imagine what Dana would make of them or they of her.“And how’s the, er, factory?” his mum was asking now. “You were visiting Moonbright today, weren’t you? Daddy said that’s a very strong business, didn’t you, darling? It won an award!”“Innovator Of The Year,” Jonathan agreed. The plaque had been in Raj’s office.“Why were you there?” His father was looking at him closely and Jonathan guessed he already knew why. “I might be moving there,” he admitted. “Cardill’s may be closing down.”“Will be, more like,” his father shot back, confirming Jonathan’s suspicions. “Shame, really. Very sad.” He coughed. “But it’ll probably work out best for you in the long run, Jonathan.”“Why?”“Well, like you say, ‘Innovator Of The Year’. Isn’t that what you always liked about manufacturing?”Jonathan flushed.“Maybe. Or it could be I’ve changed my mind. And, even if it is all working out well for me, what about all the others? Hundreds of people in Deveroe will lose their jobs if it closes. So, as you say, it is very sad!”His mother clutched at his arm.“It’s sweet of you to care so much, Jonathan.”Sweet! They just didn’t get it, did they? “It’s not sweet, Mum, it’s just human! Most of these women have mortgages and kids. The town has already lost its cement works so half the men are out of work. If Cardill’s goes, too, the whole place is in danger of collapsing!” He paused to draw a breath and found both parents and his brother staring. He shuffled. “Sorry. It’s just tough on them, and I have to see it every day.”“You’re very eloquent in their defence,” his father remarked. “You’d make a great lawyer, wouldn’t he, Matt?”Jonathan sighed. He could see that his family thought he’d changed, and maybe he had. But maybe he liked the new him better than the old one and, if Cardill’s closed and he moved into Raj’s team at Moonbright, maybe that person would vanish again. Worse still, maybe he would lose another person who had become very dear to him. For Dana, at least, he had to keep fighting. He had promised the committee national media coverage, and he was going to see they got it.“The factory girls want to try to save Cardill’s,” he said firmly. “And you, Dad, might just know someone who can help them!”


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