Chapter 2


Martin Stevens was in a bad mood. He stamped up the temporary stairs with his ample shoulders hunched so tightly that the “Site Manager” sticker nearly peeled off his high visibility vest. He flung open the door of the portacabin with a bang that made the “Considerate Contractor” certificate fall off.

“Two bloody weeks,” he announced. “Jake’s lot can’t finish the shuttering for another two bloody weeks. We won’t be pouring concrete until after Christmas at this rate.”

The three other people in the site office knew better than to say anything. They all adopted suitably shocked and irritated expressions.

Stevens stood in the doorway, wheezing slightly, and stared at the heavily scrawled-upon planning sheet taped to the opposite wall.

“If we have to delay the north side, can we make an earlier start on the south side and the boundary?” He asked, pinning his deputy with a stare and thumping his white hard hat down on the table.

The deputy shrugged his shoulders. “Only if the mud-dusters don’t find anything,” he muttered, turning to look out of the murky window at the archaeological dig at the bottom end of the busy site.

It was a fact of life on a construction site in the City of London that there would be archaeologists crouching somewhere next to the earth movers. The planners insisted that history should be investigated and recorded, usually for a maximum of six weeks, unless anything interesting turned up.  On most sites a ragged band of earnest students and a bearded academic would scrape around the most promising corners. Inevitably they would find something; some coins, bits of pottery, verdigris-crusted belt buckles, vestiges of wooden pilings. Rarely they would find something substantial; a mosaic floor, pits full of plague victims, unexploded bombs.

The construction teams and the property developers regarded the diggers as a necessary curiosity, to be tolerated and not humoured. On most sites it was possible for the two groups to work around each other. The heavy equipment moving in as soon as the academics declared each trench complete. The historical evidence was photographed, small items were removed for cataloguing and then everything was covered in concrete for another five hundred years.

Stevens sighed. “Well let’s hope that Indiana Jones doesn’t find anything then.”

5 Responses to “Chapter 2”

  1. Good work, I think you’ve already written about as much as something I’ve been working on for a year!

  2. 3 Ann

    Chapter 1 was better. I’ll find it hard to care what happens on a construction site. Whatever it is it will take at least 17 men in high viz vests not visibly doing anything and nothing will happen for at least another 300 chapters except tea drinking.

    • Ann – brilliant! That’s chapters 4 to 12 sorted. Then the building inspectors will arrive.

      • Having stood on peterborough station a few times recently I can confirm that this is exactly the approach taken by the construction men in the adjacent plot there. It’s almost parody in motion.

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