Clive mostly worked ‘no claim, no fee’ in the family business, Anderson & Sons. He was an only child and he always felt the lack of a sibling was somehow down to his singular ability to disappoint. Although he was now into his thirties and the chances of his parents producing another Anderson legal eagle were remote, Clive chose to see the plural ‘Sons’ as a symbol of hope and redemption.
Anderson & Sons operated out of a sprawling red brick Victorian villa that had once been a family home. Clive’s grandfather had owned the entire parade. He sold them to developers in the 1980s who then gentrified them, so they now housed Diamond Smile dental studios, two architects’ offices, a graphic design studio, a private dermatology clinic, physiotherapy rooms and the legal practice of Anderson & Sons.
From a young age Clive had wanted to follow in his father’s footstep, to grow up to emulate his boyhood hero. His mother, however, wouldn’t hear of him becoming a second-generation joiner and insisted he follow her into his grandfather’s law business. With shoulder pads the size of Alexis Carrington even now, she terrified him and he capitulated. And along with his portfolio of minor-damage trauma, will drafting for people without dependents and notarizing forms for local authority land searches, Clive was in charge of the office tea fund.
Which was how Clive happened to be in the SupaValu car park when the crash happened. It was a horrific accident, terrifying for the experienced lady driver in the blue Ford Focus who reversed from her parking space to find a young maniac speeding into the back of her beloved car. Or, perhaps it was a minor incident, where the spirited youth driving his red Honda Accord was surprised when the Ford suddenly pulled into his path and his quick reflexes were to thank for ensuring the damage was not more serious.
He had stocked up on tea bags, Earl Gray and PG Tips, coffee with and without caffeine, unrefined sugar and a 3-litre bottle of green top milk. There was also a small carton of red top milk for his mother and Clive treated himself to a pint of blue top although he wasn’t allowed that in the office because it wasn’t good for his arteries. Mother caught him using it in the kitchen one day and smashed his blue bottle away with her red bottle.
Clive packed the shopping into the boot of his car and drove to the office. He put away the provisions in the kitchen and made himself and his mother a cup of tea. He carried her Royal Doulton cup and saucer into her office and placed it on the pink placemat on the desk. He considered telling Mother about the incident in the car park.
“I saw a car accident in the car park at SupaValu,” he would say.
“Any injuries?” always the first thing she thought of.
“I’m not sure. Nothing major certainly.”
“Isn’t minor trauma your area of expertise?”
“I suppose so, yes Mother.”
“So you left your card with the victim? What could be a surer case to argue than something witnessed by one’s own lawyer?”
“Yes Mother. I mean, no, I didn’t.”
“Well no time to waste with tea then. Get yourself back up there and become engaged by the client. Now, Clive.”
Clive smiled at his mother and said, “Enjoy your tea, Mother. It’s Earl Gray, your favourite. So have you any land search forms for me today? I’d like to sign them all off before I get stuck into a will for an elderly lady who owns an ex-council house and wants to leave it to animal welfare after she dies.” And taking the forms and his own mug of tea, Clive headed for his attic office where he stayed for the remainder of the day.