It was a beautiful May morning, a bright blue cloudless sky, with just a hint of a breeze.
Clifford and I, had just driven up from London on Friday night, to our Suffolk retreat.
(Those were the days, we are now nouveau poor).
We had just eaten a huge fry up, and were deciding what to do, gardening, a bike ride to the village for some provisions, a coffee.......
A knock at the front door (OH! no who is that?).
Clifford opened the door (I could see a large man about 6’2” and the same width).
“Morning, you Clifford Chance ?”
“No! I am Phillip Shore, Why?
The big man glanced down at a very badly blurred photo copy of well, anyone!
"It’s okay. Tell Mr Chance I’ll be back. Here’s my card!" And off he went.
What was that all about, I asked?
The Bloody divorce. SHE has now obtained a court order to serve me a summons, with, a penal notice attached, I knew it was coming BUT......
It’s going to take me days, weeks, I have to go through every bank statement from the last two years and —- explain all credits, I am self-employed OH! I just wanted a quiet weekend………
When I had first met Clifford (in a London bar called Mortons) circa 1980, I thought he a very attractive man, thirty years old, beautiful suit, great haircut, olive skin, wow! I thought, we discussed a book we were both reading on body language, by different authors, and various other subjects, he told me he was recently divorced and, had two young children. We ended up going out for dinner. I thought him interesting but! Sydney Australia beckoned, six months of fun in the sun.
Two weeks’ time, I was off, I was very excited.
We said our goodbyes. He promised to ring me.
(Apparently he did. My flat mate didn’t give me the message. So he said five years later!)
I came home from Sydney eight months on, changed my career, bought a flat, and life went on “ a lotta lotta fun a lotta lotta larfs” as Cilla Black would have said.
Five years later, I went to Morton's “Happy Hour. I was just getting very "happy” with a girlfriend, and who should walk in: Clifford. He told us he was in the middle of a very dodgy SECOND divorce. My mum would have said RUN!
"I wish I had gone to Australia with you five years ago," he said.
My future Ex-wife, she’s a nutter. Her third lot of legal aid solicitors. It's already cost me sixteen grand, no kids, eighteen month marriage. She wants the house, my pension, and to be kept for life, AND she still owns her own flat.
“RUN," Mum said loudly. "RUN fast”
Back to the clear blue sky, late Saturday afternoon.
Knock! Knock The big guy. I opened the door.
Has Clifford Chance returned?
NO! Do you want his phone number?
NO! I will be back. Here’s my card. Tell him he can’t dodge me for ever. Thanks.
We saw him go up the drive and turn into the cricket pitch.
"Quick," said Clifford, the yellow peril. "I’ll lie down in the back, and you drive to Sue's in Woodbridge. I need time to think. I don’t want to be arrested, go to prison.
Off I drove up the mile long tree lined drive. (Sounds rather grand, a shared communal drive). In my bright yellow rusty Cortina estate, a great car to be inconspicuous. In my mirror I saw the big man pull out of the cricket pitch. And follow us.
It was like the Sweeny. All the country lanes. I lost him at the Woodbridge traffic lights.
We arrived at our friend's house. I was laughing so hard, I couldn’t breathe. After copious amounts of alcohol, Clifford stood up.
"This is silly," said Clifford. "I’ve got to accept the papers. I’ll ring the big guy now!"
Mr John Smith The Thoroughfare Woodbridge Suffolk Photo copies Private detective Writ server 01394 38788
Sunday morning. "Morning Mr Smith. Come in. Tea, coffee, bacon butty?
Call me John please. Mr Chance you are a gentleman. I can’t tell you, how many times I have been threatened, hit, sworn at, spat on, and, I am very sorry to have to serve these papers on you. If you would sign here, I'll be gone." Off he went.
Three hours later the phone rang! "Hi, it's John Smith. I am so sorry, but, I served you papers on a Sunday and well——-"
"Oh!" said Clifford. "Just change the date. I won’t tell if you don’t John!"
"Thank You Clifford, Blurred Photo Copies, Free For Life!"
About the author
Stephanie Simpkin was considered stupid at school, leaving at fifteen. She was good at maths and loved reading, but later understood that she was in fact dyslexic.
Many decades further on she has just started writing stories, is one of the Woodbridge Writers, and is loving it.