The girl next door

Maxie Forster is a binman who carries out ashes from the coal fires of North Shields the holes in his leather soled boots are letting in water from the rain and he cannot afford to go and take the boots to the cobbler shop in Billy Mill. He tries repairing them with some old lino and cuts the shape out with a stanley knife and glues them with some evo stick then places cardboard in the insides. Looking over the road on his round he spots a family being evicted by the bailiffs - the wagon is loaded with furniture and the woman and her five children stand in the rain as the barrow with everything she owns is pushed down the street.


15. 15

Sylvia Belsham was giving him some strange looks across the table as the lies kept pouring out of his mouth.



Would you mind if I asked your daughter to a dance this weekend Mr Michaels.’

“I have no objections if Annabella doesn’t mind going with you.’

“Well Mr Howard you haven’t asked me yet.’

“Sorry Annabella, I mean Miss Michaels, would you care to accompany me to the dance this weekend?’

“I don’t know she said my friends from university have asked if I will go out with them.’

Russell’s face dropped disappointedly’ another time then maybe.’

“Yes, maybe she smiled.’

When the sun had gone down Sylvia lifted the tray from the table and Russell gave her a hand to carry in the cake stand.

“Please wait after the Michaels have all left Russell I would like a word with you said Sylvia.’

“Certainly Mrs Belsham.’

Sylvia escorted the Michaels family to the door then said goodbye and closed the door.’

Sylvia walked back to the living room where Russell was standing looking out of the window.’

“You are in love with that young lady aren’t you?’

I, I…

“You don’t have to say anything Russell it’s written all over your face.’

“What did you hope to gain by telling lies?’

“I couldn’t tell her that I live in the Ridges and that my father is a coalman.’

“Do you think that Annabella would have thought any less of you than she does now?’

“You have little experience of women don’t you Russell?’

“I’ve only had one girlfriend Mrs Belsham, which was Janet Porterfield when I was in junior school.

“The innocence of youth, we must not only make you into a gentleman but you must learn the art of making love to women.’

“Don’t blush Russell, I was young once you know. I was not fortunate to have any children of my own after Harold was killed in the Somme during the Great War.

He was a captain you know and very dashing. We met at a ball dance organised by my Aunt Matilda where he swept me off my feet with his charm.

We were only married for six months when he was posted and two months later he was killed.’

“I’m sorry to hear that Mrs Belsham.’

“Now listen hear young Russell; you are going to go back and knock on Annabella’s door and if her mother comes to the front door ask to speak to Annabella.

“What do I say when she does come Mrs Belsham?’

“You tell her that there is a dance next Friday and that you will pick her up at seven thirty. Don’t wait to be rejected just come back here then I will tell you what to do next.’


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