Going Green by Nick Spalding

Chapter One


Glass . . . Glass . . . Glass . . .

Why do none of these sodding drinks ever come in something made of glass?

Hugh Burnley Fishingstool tells me I should be buying more of my drinks in glass bottles, instead of plastic ones, but how the hell am I supposed to do that when there are literally none on display here in the Meal Deal section of Boots?

I shouldn’t even be spending this much time looking, though, because time is something I most definitely do not have today.

I’m already ten minutes late for work, and I simply don’t have the precious minutes to waste peering at the refrigerator section, trying in vain to locate a smoothie that isn’t contained within the dubious confines of a single-use plastic bottle.

Hugh Wormley Fittingshawl will just have to look down on me with disgust.

I have to get going, and I have to get going now!

I grab a bottle of Evian, and pile it on top of my chicken mayo sandwich, along with a slightly sweaty-looking millionaire’s flapjack. None of this looks all that appealing, if we’re being perfectly honest here – but given that the sandwich person who used to come around the office at lunchtime has been let go thanks to all of the cutbacks, and because I have no time to prepare food myself, I am forced to grab this kind of bland culinary experience every day, or starve to death.

If it were only the sandwich person that had disappeared from work, then things wouldn’t be in the dire straits that they are. But so much more has gone wrong, and it isn’t over yet.

. . . which is the reason I can’t be any later than I already am!

It’s become hard enough to avoid getting the heave-ho from Stratagem PR recently – without turning up dishevelled, and ten minutes late.

I have to get to work!

The queue at the till is of course twice as long as it usually is.

When I eventually get to the girl on the till, I curse myself internally when I realise I have once again forgotten my bag-for-life.

There are now ten or twelve of the bloody things floating about in the cupboard under the stairs. Sadly, I don’t also have one tucked away in my handbag, waiting for me to pull it out and do my bit for the polar bears.

I’ll just buy another one. It’ll be fine.

Hugh Turnley Wobblingschool will be turning in his grave. Or possibly his kitchen, as I’m pretty sure he’s still alive.

But I don’t have time for the guilt to suffuse every part of my being. That’s just the way of things today.

Neither do I have time to exchange pleasantries with the till girl. As soon as she’s idly beeped the Meal Deal across the scanner, I stuff it all into the hastily grabbed bag-for-‘life’, and head for the exit as fast as my late-for-work legs can carry me.

My idiotic Mercedes C-Class starts to clobberdy-bang before I’ve even driven it out of the car park. The clobberdy-bang usually doesn’t begin until I’ve been driving for at least five minutes, but this morning it starts as soon as I turn the ignition key.

I have no idea what the clobberdy-bang is. It is a thing of purest mystery.

The clobberdy-bang has been going on for a few months now, but the car is still driving okay, and the noise really isn’t all that loud – especially if you turn the radio up.

Okay, the occasional black smoke that emanates from the exhaust pipe when it happens isn’t good, I will concede that. But again – and I can’t stress this enough – the car is still driving okay.

I’ll get the problem sorted out at the garage sooner or later, but it will not be today. I’m sure the car will get me the five miles down the road to work, clobberdy-bang or no clobberdy-bang. The Germans know how to build cars that can put up with things like clobberdy-bangs. They’re famous for it.

I’ve said clobberdy-bang way too much. The phrase is now going around and around in my head like a strange, alien mantra.

God, I’m tired. I probably shouldn’t have been up until 1 a.m. last night ordering stuff in the ASOS sale, but it was up to 70 per cent off, for crying out loud. I simply had no choice!

I’m riddled with buyer’s remorse this morning, of course. In a couple of days I’m getting three dresses, two tops and a pair of leggings delivered to my door that I will probably feel a bit sick about taking from the delivery guy. Especially when I still have two pairs of jeans I have yet to wear that I bought in the last ASOS sale. Cream and burgundy seemed like a good idea at the time.

What can I say? I’m a sucker for an online bargain – and for browsing the internet at inappropriate times.

. . . which is why I have sandy eyes and a permanent yawn today.

Luckily for me, the traffic isn’t too bad this morning, and I manage to make it to Stratagem in relatively good time – having made up a few minutes by breaking the speed limit to the extent that I’m lucky there are no coppers about.

As I pull frantically into the large car park that serves the whole ten-storey office block, I have to slam on my brakes so I don’t crash straight into a tall man in a slightly ill-fitting suit as he crosses in front of me.

My fault entirely. I’m going way too fast – such is my desire to get up into the office as quickly as possible. He looks at me through the windscreen of the Mercedes in horror, backing away a few paces as I screech to a halt. I return the look with one of harassed apology. He’s a good-looking guy, which makes this near collision even worse. The first attractive man I’ve been around in ages, and I nearly kill him.