Two large purlins ran the length of the attic. They were bigger than the rest, thicker than they needed to be for the job they were doing if one thought about it for long, but people generally didn’t. At the rear of one, if you knew where to feel, was a knot hole and if you knew the trick you could push and slide a panel back to reveal a lock. I took the key out of my pocket and ducked down and scrabbled to insert it. The lock snicked open and I retrieved a bag from the void before relocking the box.

Downstairs I rinsed a cup with hot water and, sitting at the kitchen table poured my tea. Milk, no sugar. It was just the strength I required to fortify me. I finished the first cup and poured a second. I wondered if I should have had a mug so I needn’t have bothered with refills, but I liked the distraction the effort provided. In any case, if you were going to the bother of leaves and a pot and letting it brew properly, you should use a cup and saucer. Did young people know what these were? Emma occasionally drank coffee and Josh was strictly a cold drinks fan, milk and smoothies when I could persuade him to abandon cola bean based fizzy drinks. Neither saw a need for saucers. I wondered if anything I had done in my life and regarded as important was of relevance to them in this digital, connected, yet Balkanised world?

I took another sip of the Assam, glanced at the bag I had brought down and managed a wry smile. Some things were relevant whatever the zeitgeist. I drew it towards me and opened it. Inside were two boxes, one flat, 4 inches high by about 12 inches by 8 inches and the other about 8 by 5 by 4 inches. I opened them both. Neither was much use without the other.

Half an hour later the boxes, considerably lighter now, were back in the attic hidey hole. Belt and braces. I washed the tea things, and went to the garage. I opened the locker in the corner. Time to change.

I took a last look at the mobile set up in the corner and hoped it would work okay. It had in the test I’d run last week, but it had to work for real this time. The call admin would be useful if things went wrong.

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