The sales pitch had gone well, much better than expected. I was delighted when the Purchasing Manager confirmed the order for 5,000 glue sticks. I had reached my monthly sales target two weeks early. There was a good chance of a hefty bonus this month.
I sat back, relaxed and watched England dissolve beneath me as the train sped Northwards.
The Dolphin sat in the seats opposite. He wore an overcoat with the collar turned up. A bowler hat was perched rather pompously on his head. At regular intervals as he emitted from his blowhole, the hat would be lifted and hover briefly above his head, like a felt lined Halo, before landing with a satisfying plop.
The Dolphin looked familiar.
A flustered trolley attendant manoeuvred his sturdy carriage towards us. I ordered a coffee and a packet of chocolate chip biscuits. After all I did have something to celebrate.
The Dolphin ordered a bottle of diet Coke and a slice of fruit cake. I had been tempted by the sultana infused fancy but had veered toward the biscuit at the last moment.
“How much?” The Dolphin asked.
“On the house,” replied the attendant in a gracious Scottish accent. The Bowler performed its gymnastic feat in celebration. “After all,” the attendant continued, “It is not every day that the world’s greatest Quantum Physicist travels East Coast Mainline!”
“Very kind of you.”
“Not at all. May I take the opportunity to say that your use of Lascalle’s Diminishing Calculus Theory to demonstrate that the Universe is a bit knobbly in places has changed the course of history. It is an honour to meet you.” Again the Dolphin’s hat hovered above him, but this time landed at a much jauntier angle atop his bonce.
The attendant offered a packet of hand crimped Sea Salt and Vinegar crisps. The Dolphin graciously declined.
I watched for twenty minutes as the intellect that had discovered the knobbly bits of the Universe struggled to unscrew the bottle cap and remove the cake’s cellophane wrapping.
The Dolphin swore quietly to himself in a series of sonic clicks no doubt hoping that there was another, more dextrous Bottlenose on board the 11.48 to Waverley.
A boy of eight summers approached. He wore the green jersey of the Cub Scout movement. His right sleeve bore a new badge which read “For Pedantry”.
“Do you want to any help?” The Cub asked with evangelical eagerness. The Dolphin nodded his assent. The Cub took the items from the Dolphin’s tray, unscrewed the bottle and removed the wrapper.
“I thought Dolphins were meant to be clever,” The Cub said.
I munched on my second chocolate chip cookie, wondering what to do with my bonus.
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