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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They got up and danced for a bit and they both started kissing and fondling each other.’

It wasn’t long before Albert led Brenda to his bedroom which had a water bed in it.

Brenda laughed as she rolled around on the bed.

Stan did his routine with his trousers that always gave women a shock; but Alyson looked at it then raised her eyebrows in anticipation.

The house was filled with the sound of love making as the two couples went at it in the bedrooms.




John Bine and Alan Henderson sat in the classroom of Ralph Gardner secondary Modern along with the other thirty children in the class. In the Ridges you either went to Meadowell juniors, then onto Queen Victoria, and finally Ralphie’s. Or you went to St Joseph’s catholic school. Some went to Linslill or St Anslems. Whatever school you went to the job prospects were poor. Even though there were plenty of labouring or semi skilled jobs to go around in the early seventies. Unless you you passed your eleven plus exam or your final grades before you were fifteen you could not go on to take O’levels. 

It was a hopeless situation for many because the education system was letting them down. Some of the older teachers were stuck in old methods of teaching and the lessons were mundane and uninspiring.’

Teachers knew the hopelessness that they were faced with each term and tended to just go through the motions. Some children became so bored they carried on in the class or played truant. It was disruptive for some and a relief for others.

Today Joshua Smith led the religious instruction class so most of the lads took the time to skive. At least two thirds of the class no longer went to church and had little or no interest in the bible. The boys comprised of Des Baldwin, Alan Stonebanks, Wesley Ludlow, Sandy Porterfield, Alan Wiseman, John Sturrock, George Woods, Ian Ilderton, Tom Laws, Peter Turner, Ken Dodd’s, John Webb, Tony Patterson, Ray Bowman, Randolph Garbutt, among the boys who would be joining the world of the working class at the end of this term. What did the future hold for them no one was certain but many would be unemployed.  After reading about Isaac and his brother Esau who tried to seal his brother’s birthright Joshua Smith asked them to write something about the story.’

Many of them wrote “can your brother really be trusted?’ would he try to steal the clippy mat from the passage, or me father’s donkey jacket?’

Others wrote how their brother had eaten three slices of bread with dripping on and they had to go to school with nowt.’

Josh looked at the books when they had all left the room and he shook his head in despair. How he kept going doing his job was beyond him. Most of the girls in the class faired a little better he thought as he made his way to the quadrangle to take a gardening class. The lads left to go to either the woodwork or metal work room; the girls to domestic science.

John and Alan chose woodwork with Mr Cooke; A tall balding figure, with a brown overcoat and permanent white spittle that formed in each corner of his mouth.

They were both in the process of making a (cracket) a small wooden seat that you could sit on near the fire. Both Alan and John began sanding the top of the cracket down ready to be varnished. Mr Cooke allowed you to buy the things that you made if they were good enough.

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