The Jolly Boys

Shirley Stephenson is a bored housewife who never stops day in day out, its the same humdrum existence. Bob her husband is a lazy good for nothing. who lost his leg in an industrial accident and is claiming benefit fraudulently. he keeps her short and moans because she goes to the bingo. Shirley finds the courage to file for a divorce and free herself. her life is suddenly transformed after she finds all of the compensation that Bob has been hiding from her. she orders a taxi she takes £30.000 and takes a box with some things that her gran had left her.

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Lambourn Avenue wasn’t far away and he drove there in less than ten minutes. He helped Paul move the furniture then set down his dust sheets to protect the carpets. He took out the aluminium paint tray and poured the Crown white emulsion into it then put up his step ladders and made a start on the living room ceiling. He cut in using a five- inch brush around the edges then filled in with the roller painting in three feet sections, laying off as he went along to save roller marks then when that was done he moved onto the stair case ceiling and did that exactly the same way. Then he did the three-bedroom ceilings. Whilst the ceilings were drying he measured the wallpaper for the living room trying save as much as he could. Paul had bought five rolls of wallpaper for the living room and the pattern was easy to match up.

The main bedroom would take four rolls and he said that he could get away with three rolls for the smaller rooms.

Stephan measured the pieces then numbered them and began to paste the first piece using a flapper brush. Stephan would normally put a backing paper on the wall first but Paul was trying to save money so he just stripped the wall and left it so Stephan glue sized the wall first after filling in any cracks with poly filler. He stopped for a cup of tea and one sandwich that his wife Anna had put up for him. Stephan was not a big eater and his wiry looking frame proved that, he only weighed nine stone with all of his clothes on. His blond hair was shoulder length and thick. He had a moustache and had grown his sideburns in the 1970’s and had kept the look as his wife liked it. His son Kevin was into Duran Duran the 80’s pop group he grew his hair like Simon le Bon. He wore box jackets with padded shoulders and pod shoes with skinny legged jeans. Kevin was taller than his father and heavier by a stone. He played football as a midfielder for the Chirton club team. Stephan hoped that his son would find a good job and make a life for himself just as he had in England.

Helen Judd returned from her part time job at the local Chip shop owned by an Indian called Sidhu.

He wasn’t a very good boss and worked his staff to death for very little money. She had to be there at 9 am in the morning to set the automatic peeler away. Then all the potatoes were put into a large plastic drum to be washed. Any bad ones were discarded. They were then placed into the chipper and when they came out were placed into stainless steel buckets and covered ready for the first fry at 11.30 am. The shop opened spot on at twelve each day and the food had to be ready to serve because Sidhu didn’t like to lose customers. He had a lot of customers from St Joseph’s School on Wallsend Road where his shop was located. His battered sausages and mince piece were his best sellers and his own curry sauce made with Garam Masala, cumin seeds, and turmeric made him a lot of money. He would not allow anyone into the room where he made his sauces from his own recipe it was a heavily guarded secret. He got phone called orders from factories and even Barriers in Wallsend where they would drive down to collect twenty or thirty portions of fish and chips each with curry sauce. Several bottles of pop and bread buns went with the orders. Sidhu had to make sure that his two- staff members had the order right and woe betide anyone who cocked up. At twelve on the dot, men in boiler suits and rigging boots would come to collect the food. They would bring their own bread tray pinched from the co-op the red and blue trays would be filled with the well wrapped red- hot food then they would pay and drive off at speed back to work to eat their meal. Sidhu knew the importance of customer relationship and he was very polite to all of his customers. He hoped to open another shop in the centre of North Shields he was making a lot of money and his suppliers were fellow Indian’s all working together. Asan Bhatathiri had set up a filleting machine store at the back of the old Low Lights on the fish quay where he bought the cheapest fish, processed it and supplied all the fish and chip chops around the North East. His main buyer was Gill’s fish and chip restaurants. He also supplied other restaurants and had a lucrative business. Sidhu knew he could rely on Asan as they were cousins. They were both brought up in poverty in Goa, they came over to England in the early 1960’s the idea that they both had to make enough money from selling Indian food to bring their families over materialised and after seven years they started small business, they all shared one house, the cooking and cleaning was done by the women. Building up the business, and working together as one big family proved successful. They worked hard and for many hours. They saved until they had enough to apply for a loan from the bank and bought the store and shops and were able to buy their own properties. The taste of India became popular in Britain and people began to buy curry at least once a week.

 As a weekend treat people would ring the take away and order food and then go in and collect it so they could sit with their family and watch a video film whilst eating fish and chips and curry sauce or an Indian meal with rice and chips.

“Helen looked at the transformation that was her living room as Stephan glossed the last skirting board. He removed the masking tape that stopped paint getting on the carpets.

“It’s lovely Stephan.’

“I’m pleased that you like it.’ “I’ve only to do the doors in the bedrooms and I will be done.’ Mind you will have to leave the windows open so that the rooms will dry out. It should only take a few hours Helen.’

“I can’t believe how quick you are Stephan; it would take Paul all week to do one room.’

“I’ve done that many now Helen, it’s just practice.’

"I think my mother want’s her house done if you can fit her in Stephan.'

“I can do it this Saturday if your mother gets the paint and the wallpaper.’

"That would be great if you could. How much would you charge Stephan?’

“Are the rooms the same as this?’

“More or less but she would wants her bathroom done as well.’

“Alright, I will do it for £150 .00 pounds.’ is that alright?'

"Yes, that will be fine Stephan.' I will make you a pot of tea whilst you finish off the doors.'

Stephan opened the tin of white gloss and stirred the paint with a bamboo cane that he kept specifically for that purpose he took his brush and dipped it into the tin then took off the excess then began on the first panel of the door. His hand moved rhymical, without effort as he laid off the paint then moved quickly onto the second panel working his way steadily down the door. when it was completed he did the door frame and then set to work on the next.

Helen brought his tea up with some a couple of Blue Riband biscuits. He thanked Helen and set the tea down on the pasting table. the portable radio he brought helped him to concentrate on the job as his brush strokes moved with the rhythm of the music. When he'd finished the frame, he took a quick drink of his tea then pushed on with the other two doors.

It was twenty past five when he cleared all of his tools away in the car and Helen paid him.

She thanked him and said that she'd see him on Saturday at her mother’s house.

"Don't worry Stephan, Paul will help me move everything before you come and we will have the rooms all stripped and ready.'

"I have an industrial stripper and I could do it for you far more quickly for an extra £20.00.

"Would you Stephan, that would be marvellous, I would have to come on Friday afternoon though because the walls will have to dry out once I'm done.' Then I can come on Saturday and start the ceilings.'

"Alright, I will send Paul over to help you move the furniture Stephan.'

Stephan got into his car then said goodbye to Helen. he drove to the Esso garage at Chirton, he filled the tank in his car then went in and paid. it was nice to have a few bob in his pocket. the last job he had was just to replace some brake pads on a car the man only paid him twenty pounds. Stephan preferred decorating jobs because they paid more.

Stephan came and handed his wife Anna £80.00 this would ensure that the rent was paid and the rest used to buy food and other provisions with. Kevin her son gave his mother ten pounds per week but often gave her all of his money when his father could not find work. Anna felt guilty taking all of her son's money but it was necessary to keep the house going. Kevin never complained. Anna had cooked Kotlety a traditional meal from Poland which was minced pork with boiled potatoes, and beets. she had made pierogi to go with a tripe soup. pierogi was a kind of dumpling made from stuffed pork onion and herbs. It looked similar to ravioli. the tripe soup was a favourite of Stephan's. The soup was made from a meat stock then sliced carrots and coriander added. The tripe was added last with seasoning.

Stephan took a shower then changed into a pair of jogging bottoms and a tee shirt and picked up the paper and read it whilst he waited for his son to return home so they could all eat together.

 

Sitting at his small table in the corner of the living room Bob Stephenson wrote out his betting slip. Bob like to have a flutter on the horses. It was something he and his father liked to do. his father James was now seventy- six but was still getting around alright with no health problems. He enjoyed a pint or two down at the club on a weekend, he got a taxi down to the club and met up with his son who would call and put on his father's horses if he hadn't gone himself. He lived at the bottom of Bead Crescent with a woman since his divorce from his first wife Mary. Betty Bottom (Bumface) who he was now living with was twenty years his junior and Bob disliked her with a passion. He thought she was a robbing bastard who was just using his father. His Father just couldn't see it, or he maybe he didn't want to. Bob made sure his father got everything that he was entitled to.

His private pension from his days down at Swan Hunters Shipyard was paid into his bank every month and Betty always was the one who was wanting to go and get her hands on it. Betty worked for Dawson and Sanderson and would often book holidays abroad. and it was always Betty who made the bookings. it was Bob who would question his father on how much the holiday was going to cost. his father never questioned the price of the holiday he would just give Betty the money. Bob however would ring Dawson's to check out the real cost of the holiday. He knew that there was a rabbit away when she asked him for more money for the holiday that they were going on this June. It was supposedly for baggage handling fees.

"Betty do you pay for baggage handling?'

"You have to in Cyprus she would declare.' 

"Really, and how much would that be each then he would ask.'

 "Well there's a twenty- pound deposit to be paid each way.'

"I see said Bob; do we not get a discount because you work in a travel agency?'

"Oh no, you get nothing from Dawson and Sanderson. So that will be an extra forty pounds each.

Bob let her think that she had them and let her waffle on.'

"She then added. "oh, by the way it is going to be extra for the villa as well because we are going in peak time.'

 peak time we are going when the kids are at school.'

"It's not Dawson's it's the villa owner you see, he's put up his prices.'

"So how much each is it going to be then?' Bob watched her as she made a mental calculation.

"It's going to be another hundred and twenty quid each.'

so that's so that's £620 pounds you want off me, is it?'

"Yes, that's about right I think. she made a sum on a piece of paper on the table then nodded.'

"Funny that because what you are asking for is the exact cost of the holiday so that would mean you wouldn't be paying anything at all including spending money.'

"What?' what do you mean.'

"What I mean is you'd added money onto this holiday so it doesn't cost you a penny.'

"No I haven't done such a thing.' what do you take me for?'

"A robbing little swine is what you are, you see I rang Dawson and Sanderson this afternoon and you know what they told me.'

"Betty's face began to redden.'

"When I spoke with your supervisor Doris Gales she told me the full cost of the holiday including the "20% discount which works out at £320 pounds each. I asked if there was a baggage handling fee because I thought I would have to pay to take my shower leg with me as well as my wife case and you know surprise, surprise there is no charge at all.'

"Well there was when I enquired and my supervisor never told me that there was any discount.'

"What about the extra hundred and twenty quid each for the villa then?'

"Well I spoke with Nicos Kasoulidis and he told me he wanted more money for the villa.'

"Yes, Doris mentioned that, she said that the holiday was going to cost us £300 pounds each but Nicos asked for another twenty quid each which brought the cost up to £320. But you being the scheming little cow that you are thought you'd get the cost of your flight plus your spending money by robbing my dad and me, didn't you?'

"No, I didn't, it was a genuine mistake James, honest.'

“Come on son anyone can make a mistake.'

"Well I’m telling you this Betty, I’m on to you and I will be watching you and I have also checked my father's accounts and I know exactly how much money he's got. if any more than £320 goes out of that account I will come down you like a ton of bricks.'

"What about his spending money?'

he's going to need at least eight hundred pounds.'

"Bollocks, dad you will need about five hundred quid tops. If you give me your pension i will put so much away for you each week.'

"I can do that for him declared Betty.'

"Alright dad how much are you going to give Betty each week, I’ve worked out that there's twelve weeks before we go away so if you put away £42 pounds a week then you will have £504 come our holiday.'

"Alright I will do that then son.'

Bob looked over at Betty and smiled knowing that she could not rob his father now because he would only give her the forty- odd quid each week until the holiday.

Bob could see the hatred in Betty' Bumface’s eye's. her little plot to crib a few hundred quid had back fired on her. He would certainly keep an eye on her.

 

Shirley was busy hoovering and changing the sheets in the bedrooms. She was a woman of routine and every Thursday it was the same the beds were stripped and the sheets washed and changed. The washer was on its rinse cycle and bob tried to block out the noise from both the washer and the vacuum cleaner. he checked the form guide for Newmarket and Doncaster as the spinner whizzed on the washing machine.

"Shirley shouted Bob up the stairs.'

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