Basher Buckingham was well pleased with his day’s work. It was getting on for three in the afternoon, and it was time to be making tracks. As Community Centre Operations Director he could choose his hours of work, and he didn’t choose to work late, ever. Some days he didn’t choose to work at all. ‘The good manager gets others to do it all’, was something he had read somewhere. Probably the Daily Mail, but so what? He knew he was a good manager, otherwise why did they pay him £40K p.a? His side-kick Sid slid into the room, looking anxious as usual.

“Er, Basher, there’s a lady here wants to know about a creche. Is there one?”

Basher quivered. He did a lot of quivering these days, there was so much to quiver about. He only quivered when he was cross, and he was cross now.

“What’s she think we are, a blooming Charity? Of course there’s no creche.”

Sid looked nervous. “Well, actually, Basher, we ARE a charity.”

Basher’s quivering increased, as Sid knew it would. “We’re not that kind of charity, Sid. We can’t give away stuff to people who don’t pay their way.” He glanced at the huge board with the logo of a soaring phoenix (some said it was a vulture, but they were just pigs) with the motto picked out in gold, ‘The Heart of the Community’. Basher was proud of that. It had cost over a thousand, but it looked good. “Here, Sid, get on to the builders again. I want a better price on the land.”

Sid hesitated. “People won’t like it, Basher. Selling off the land to make money is wrong in their eyes. It won’t make us popular.”

“Damn what’s popular, Sid, I got a business to run here, and money’s the name of the game, son. That blasted council only lent us a million, that wasn’t enough to keep us going. We’ll be bust if we don’t sell the land. Look after the shop a bit, Sid, I got to go and threaten the shopkeepers about those posters saying we’re wrong to allow builders to knock our ugly old centre down. They’ll remove ‘em after I’ve had a word, they got no backbone. I’ll give ‘em ‘community action’!”

“That’s right, Basher, and we get a smart new Sports Centre too, with you as the Director! Can’t fail! So why are people so against it, Basher?”

“Because they’re stupid gits, Sid. All of them, especially that blasted council. They don’t deserve this Community Centre. Or me and you, for that matter.”

“They can’t all be stupid, Basher. Otherwise, why are we running a community centre for them? There are some that come to the gym that are grateful.”

“True, my little cherub. If the Mayor calls, tell him he’s still banned. And say we’re not putting on any more charity gigs, we only make a few hundred on them.”

“Better go, Basher. You got an appointment with that Bob Bailey about the youth club. Here he comes now. Persistent sod, ain’t he. Says you promised him.”

“Right, Sid, I’ll get out the back. Blasted snot-nosed kids, they ruin our image, they’re the bad part of the community. It’s cat shows and Scottish dancing we want”

“So what’s the good part of the community, Basher? Who do we want here?”

“Sid, you put your finger on the nub. We want money. M..O..N..E..Y. It’s only money can pay wages, mine as well as yours. So we only want the wealthy part of the community. The trouble is, this pokey little town is full of poor people who ain’t got no money! We got to keep them OUT, and entice the rich IN! That’s my idea of a Community Centre! I know the trustees agree with me. They never say nowt.”

“I know, you’re brilliant, Basher. But who will come to the new Sports Hall when the old building is destroyed? We’re quite unpopular, you know.”

Basher felt a quiver coming on. “Who cares, Sid? Who cares about that stupid lot, as long as we get the money, lots of it! Never mind where it comes from!”