Walking past Baxter’s, the former printing
works in the twitten behind Sussex Stationers, I remembered
that I worked there, briefly, in the late 1970s. I was a courier.
The idea was that I would go to London on the train, and pick
up documents, and take them back to Lewes. One afternoon I
was sent up in a hurry, to pick up some documents containing
financial information. There were two large brown envelopes.
I had to turn around and come back straight away, so they
could reproduce the documents overnight.
My big mistake, in retrospect, was thinking that nobody would
mind if I had a couple of drinks. Then I met some people in
a pub. The evening was a blur. I remember making a joke about
how the overtime I was earning was just about keeping pace
with the drinks I was buying. These days, the works manager
would have called me. But this was before mobiles, before
texts and emails. The email, in effect, was me. I made the
train in the end. The problem was that I had lost one of the
brown paper envelopes. The important one, as it turned out.
I remember coming up the twitten, terrified, wanting to get
it over with. I walked into the building, the one they’re
demolishing at the moment. The worst thing was the look on
the guy’s face. It was a look of pure relief. He said,
‘thank God you’re here! Thank God!’ Then
he said, ‘Where’s the other one?’ Like I
said: I worked there, briefly.