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.


4. 4

weekly round. Maxie got out of the wagon and then into the path It was not only wet but it was cold as well as he picked up the first of the bins onto his shoulder and made for the wagon to empty it. The ashes from the fires made him cough as he tipped the bin into the wagon then took it back and replaced it by the steps of the house then took out the rubbish bin. There were eight bins to empty in each path as the wagon moved slowly along.  Looking across the road he got his eye on a hand pushed cart outside of Nelly Johnson’s house. The bailiffs were carrying what bits of furniture she had in the house because she was in arrears with her rent and they were being evicted. She stood in the street with her five children in the rain as two men went into the house and took everything. Her neighbours came out and hurled abuse at the two men as they took every stick of furniture, even the beds in which they slept in. Only the youngest of her children had a coat on and it was Lilly Purvis who lived on her own who came out and took the poor woman into her house.

She was putting herself in danger of eviction by harbouring the woman and her children as the council what see these people as lodgers and that wasn’t allowed.

“Come in Nelly she said, and bring the bairn’s with you.’ I’ve made a nice cuppa tea.’

“Thank you pet she replied as her children went into the house and all gathered around the heat from the fire on the range. “ I’ve baked some Bread Nelly and the bairn’s can have a slice each wi some dripping and salt on it. “Your too kind Lilly thank you.’.

What are you ganna do when yor man comes in and finds that you’ve been hoyed oot?’

“I diven’t na really Lilly Wi might have t’ move in wi his mother an’ she’s a right old battle axe. “ We aren’t ganna live wi me nana Johnson said George her oldest boy.’

“Wi have nae choice son, until yor Da’ gets some steady work.’

Eeh a remember havin’t’ live wi wor Tommy’s mother when we first got wed. It was like livin’ in hell. The bloody rows I had wi his mother was nae body’s business.

The youngest girl Sally began to cry and her mother swept her up into her arms. There was no shoes upon her feet and she was shivering Nelly had already lost two of her children to pneumonia and she didn’t want to lose any more to the sickness as it was called.


Maxie turned and went into the next path he was lucky to have a job he thought to himself, as he’d watched the bailiffs clear the house then push the cart away with all of Nelly’s furniture on board down the street. The sound of the wheels on the cart reverberated on the ground as the two men pushed the barrow out onto West Percy Road and headed down to North Shields town centre. Those poor kids would take some stick at school today from the other kids who would surely pass it around that they had been kicked out of their house.’

He carried on emptying the bins until one side of the street was clear. He got his eye on Kevin Brands milk float and waited until he had gone into the path then slipped around the back and lifted two pints of milk from the crate then hurried back to the wagon and sat in the seat handing one to his mate.

“You little bugger Maxie, you’ll end up in front of the bloody magistrate you lad.’

“Not me, I’m too clever I always get then from right at the front in the middle crate he won’t notice until he’s half way around his milk round.’

Both men had had nothing for breakfast that morning and the milk although freezing cold was welcomed in their empty bellies.



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