The Other K2

Tony Hughes

<i>London, November 1925</i>
The man we shall simply call Robert sat at his drawing table in the offices of Sir Giles Gilbert Scott at No.7 Gray's Inn Square and beamed. Today destiny had smiled on him.
He had taken it upon himself to prepare some proposals for modifications to the newly designed GPO Telephone Kiosk No 2 and had bravely knocked on the door of Scott's office that afternoon and asked if he had a moment. Having poured over the drawings, Scott had been silent at first, then he frowned, and then, to Robert's great relief, had smiled his enigmatic smile and patted Robert on the back.
"Sterling work, young man. I can see how one or two of these suggestions might find there way into our proposals for the Mark II."
"The idea, sir, is to make the kiosk cheaper to manufacture, and yet improve it's durability."
"Quite," said Scott, frowning slightly at the mention of cost. The estimated price of thirty-five pound and fourteen shillings per kiosk had almost lost him the commission.
"It is my belief, sir, that with these modifications the kiosk could confidently be described as...well... as...indestructible.
"The indestructible Kiosk No. 2 , Mark II, eh?" said Scott. "You may be on to something there."
His colleagues had swarmed around Robert as he closed the door to Scott's office, shaking his hand and one or two of the older staff even ruffling his hair in congratulations. At 20 Robert was the youngest draftsman in the practice, but all knew he had a bright future ahead of him.
At five o'clock Robert packed away his drawing equipment and filed out of the office with the rest of his colleagues. Half a dozen of them were heading to a nearby pub, and Robert walked with them down Gray's Inn Road to the Holborn thoroughfare, through the bustling after work crowd.
As they turned east and passed the imposing gothic brickwork of the Prudential Insurance Building, which they all never failed to cast their critical draftsman's eyes over, one of the men spoke up.
"Come with us and have a pint, Robert. To celebrate."
"I ought to be meeting my brother," said Robert. "He'll be at The Old Bell waiting for me."
"Just one glass, Robert," cried Charles, the senior draftsman of the pack. "My round."
Robert hesitates.
"Well, just one then."
"No, I really must go."