The company booked them into the Gatwick Manor, a quaint hotel with the remains of a moat in front of it.
Dele had researched the hotel before leaving Lagos, and was excited at the prospect of seeing a real life moat. What he saw looked more like a pond with a stone bridge over it.
At the reception Emma explained that, because of a shortage of rooms, they would have to share rooms.
Although Dele did not have anyone in particular he wanted to share rooms with, he knew one person he did not want to share rooms with.
Dele remembered him from the interview and his lips curled at the thought of him.
Dele had sized up the people in his group on that day and there was one guy who looked like his suit was painted on him. He was fine and he knew it, Dele could tell.
He had an aloof air and carried himself like the others were beneath him, it was hard not to notice him.
Dele had taken note of him and, weeks later, still remembered his name when they had met up at the pool for their swimming test.
Bruce stood on the fringe of the group where they huddled in the lobby. He did not know anybody there and so was relying on fate to pair him up with someone he would get along with since they would be room mates for four weeks.
If he was forced to pick a room mate, it would be Karo. He looked across at Karo who was also standing back from the main press of bodies.
‘Maybe if I stood back far enough I’ll get a room to myself.’
There was the chance of someone getting a room to himself and Bruce hoped it would be him.
‘So, it seems no one wants to share a room with you.’ Emma gave a wry smile.
‘It would seem so.’ Dele smiled back. As the only smoker in the group, finding a room mate was not so easy for him. All the others in the group had paired up, some with more enthusiasm than others. The girls in the group were an even ten while the guys were nine.
At the end of the pairings, three people stood without rooms.
‘Okay,’ Emma said, ‘here’s what we’re going to do. I have a budget for ten rooms, but I think I can squeeze it and spring for one more room.’
The news was met with mixed feelings. Those who were already paired up considered breaking up, and the three who were without room mates smiled.
When they dispersed for their rooms, Brian, Karo and Dele each had a room to themselves.
The next morning at 8 o’clock they got on the coach that would take them to the training centre and the start of their ab initio training.
‘Let’s meet up later and go into town.’ Ego suggested.
They had just finished their first day of training and were on the coach back to the hotel.
‘We actually should.’ Napoleon concurred.
‘How about we meet up in an hour?’ Francisca asked, and they all agreed.
One hour later they were in the hotel lobby.
While the others deliberated in which direction the town centre was and on the best way to get there, Bruce walked over to the hotel proprietor where he stood behind his desk.
‘Good evening sir,’ he said. ‘Please where is the town centre? And how can we get there?’
Tom, the proprietor, was taken aback. Nobody had called him ‘sir’ since… For as long as he can remember.
‘These Africans’. He hid a small smile.
‘There’s a bus timetable out in front by the bus stop. You need a 100 bus going left to Crawley Town Centre.’
‘Thank you sir,’ Bruce said.
‘You’re welcome.’ Tom smiled again.
‘Alright guys,’ Bruce announced to the group, ‘the town centre is to the left and we’ll have to take the 100 bus to get there.’
They all trooped out of the hotel, across the bridge and to the the bus shelter. That was where they got stalled first.
The cars were driving on the wrong side of the road.
‘Do we cross the road or stay on this side?’ Someone asked.
‘We stay here. According to this timetable, a bus should come along in three minutes.’ Bruce said reading off the bus timetable.
In exactly three minutes a bus pulled into the bus stop across from where they stood. As one they turned to look at Bruce who felt his ears go warm.
‘Our bus should come along soon.’ He said without conviction.
‘Guys, I’ll walk.’ Karo said. The town centre can’t be too far.’ With that he strode off.
The others waited a minute or two before following him. Bruce stood at the bus stop a moment, certain a bus would soon come. He watch the distance grow between him and the group and his resolve failed. He jogged off to join them.
Bruce had only just caught up with the group when he heard the squeal of brakes. He looked back and saw a 100 bus pull into the bus stop e had just left.
‘Guys! Look, the bus.’
They were still trying to decide whether to return to the bus or continue when, with a hiss, the bus door closed and it drove off, driving past them where they stood.
‘Let’s meet here in an hour,’ Ego said when they got to the Crawley town centre post office.
‘One hour? That sounds okay.’ Dele supported.
Venue and time agreed upon, they all went their different ways to explore Crawley.
One hour later when they met up at the rendezvous point, only seven of them turned up.
‘Francisca and Ego left earlier,’ Dele said. ‘I think Karo is still in town, we met at the ASDA supermarket and he said he wanted to get dinner.’
‘That’s okay,’ Napoleon said. ‘I saw some of the girls at the mall. They were laden with bags, but were still shopping. I guess they’ll make their way back to the hotel when they are done.
Not sure of which 100 bus to take and what their hotel bus stop was, Napoleon called a cab from his recently purchased phone. When the cab came they bundled themselves onto it and were surprised at how short the journey from town was when the cab pulled into the hotel driveway.