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.

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16. 16

Russell walked shyly to the gate then approached the door and stood for what seemed an eternity before looking at the window where Mrs Belsham was urging him to ring the doorbell.

His hand shakingly rang the bell and he stood back trying to compose himself.

Annabella answered.’

“Mr Howard what can I do for you?’

“There’s a dance next Friday night at the plaza I will pick you up at seven o’clock.’

“Annabella said what makes you think that I want to go?’

“Because I think you like me and I like you; stop messing about Miss Michaels and just be ready when I call.’

“Will I? I mean I will.’ She said getting herself all flustered.’

Russell went back next door and closed the door.’

“Well done Russell, that’s more like it.’

“I bet she didn’t refuse?’

“No she didn’t Mrs Belsham.’

“Now, you will start a course of driving lessons tomorrow don’t worry I know a gentleman who will teach you.’

“I have had some lessons Mrs Belsham,“but how am I to pay him?’

Leave that with me; it is up to you to pass your driving test before next Friday she will be impressed when you pick her up in your own car.

“I haven’t got a car though Mrs Belsham.’

Look in the garage Russell.’

Russell followed Mrs Belsham as they walked through the house and out the back door and into another door that led into the garage. Inside there was a large tarpaulin sheet covering a vehicle Mrs Belsham removed it and underneath was a car.

It was over forty years old but it was in immaculate condition. The blue Jaguar stood out from any other vehicle that he’d seen; it was a thing of beauty. 

“If you give her a good clean and polish she will look spectacular.

“What can I say Mrs Belsham.’

“Don’t say anything Russell; now there’s an overall hanging up on the door over there; I will leave you to clean her up.’

Russell set about washing the car; he lovingly cleaned and polished every single part of it then sat in the driver’s side and held the steering wheel. The smell of the leather interior caught his nostrils. He had used some leather polish to restore the soft velvet texture of the brown leather. She was beautiful all right like a thoroughbred race horse.

Sylvia Belsham came in to see it and her eyes lit up. “You have done well Russell, now Annabella cannot fail to be impressed when you come to pick her up.

“I cannot thank you enough Mrs Belsham.’

“No need to thank me.’

All the same I appreciate this.’

“I have rang Mr Thomas Cottingham who will pick you up tomorrow for your first lesson. You will have three hours everyday and your test will be booked for Friday lunchtime. Now off you go and Good luck.’

Russell got on his bicycle and cycled all the way home with a big smile on his face.’

 

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