Secretarial: The Temp What the chauffeur saw

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The Independent Culture
PAUL THE chauffeur and I have struck up a bit of a friendship, mostly because we spend a lot of time sitting around with mugs of coffee in the kitchen waiting for Oscar, who always calls for the car an hour before he really needs it. I wasn't sure about Paul at first - thought he was pretty dour - but that's mostly because I've never had a friend with a ginger moustache before, and I gather now that a ginger moustache is almost compulsory if you want to join The Regiment, which I think is the phrase that a particular type of soldier uses to avoid saying "SAS". Paul's over 40 now; he got out of The Regiment nearly a decade ago and set himself up as a chauffeur-bodyguard and security adviser.

"Fing is," he says, "iss all abaht ego, innit?"

"What do you mean?"

"Wew," says Paul, who was born in Romford and joined the army at 16 as an alternative to a life of petty crime, "people like Mr Katz darn need someone like me - vey womp der full monty so vey can tew vare mates. Borin' for me, but iss mahney, innit?"


"So arze it going wiv der pussy of der year, ven?"

"Yeah, OK. All the girls in the club have been topping up their sun tans, and Leeza spent too long in a booth and practically set fire to herself. I don't think she'll be sitting down for a week."

"Not much good for a lap-dancer, is it?"

"No. She was planning to make a raid on the team from The Sun and get herself on Page Three, but I think she's going to be confined to a pole for the duration instead."

"Got any celebs?"

"Ooh, loads. We've got half the staff of Ginger Productions, that bloke who used to do the game show with the custard pies, two blokes who used to do the afternoon shows on Radio 1, and the guy who fathered Michelle Collins's baby in the sitcom about singing telegrams."

"You done well, there, girl. Got ver full A list." He twinkles his eyes at me as he buries his nose in his mug.

Oscar pops his head round the door. "Paul," he says, "After you've dropped me off, can you come back here and take Trina to the jewellers?"

"Sure, boss," says Paul. "What time do you fink I'll be getting off tonight, by the way?"

"Ooh," says Oscar, "About half a lemon." He closes the door and goes off to primp his hair in the bathroom. This takes some time, as you need to allow 10 minutes for each layer of spray to set before adding another.

"Well," says Paul once the door has closed, "That's Trina out of a job, then."

"How d'you know?"

"Same every time," says Paul. "New girl turns up, Mr Katz picks her out, has her on his arm for publicity photos for a month, gets his end away. Then he says to me, take her off to the jeweller and let her pick out anything she wants. The next night, she comes in to the club all happy, like, and gets given her cards. I've seen it a million times."

I get chills.

"But that's awful."

"Too right. But they fall for it every time."

"It's tantamount to prostitution."

"Well," says Paul, "That's the racket they're all in, innit?"

"God, that's terrible. Someone should do something about it."

"Don't worry," says Paul, "I have. After the fourth time I'd had some poor dip in the back of the limo, dreaming about her future as the fourth Mrs Katz, and seen what happened the next day, I went down to the jeweller where he has his account and found out what the most expensive thing they sold was. Rolex Oyster. So now, when I'm taking yer Trinas and Trixies off on their shopping expedition, I roll down the window and tell them exactly what's going on and exactly what to buy. They cry and wail and I give them tissues, and there's mascara all over the upholstery, but every single one has taken my advice. They're not stupid, these girls. They know they're going to need summat to tide 'em over."

This unlikely knight in shining armour polishes off his coffee, sighs with satisfaction, puts the mug on the table. "I've cost him 80 grand so far," he says. "I'm hoping to get to at least 100 before he catches on."