The Street Urchin

The Street Urchin is set in North shields and tells of young Billy Phelps a promising young footballer- his father is a trawlerman and has no time for his children or his wife when he meets a Norwegian girl and begins an affair.
The impact of the the marriage break up and triumph over adversity are told in this heartwarming story.


16. 16

When the vaulting was over the equipment was put away and Mr Tucker Picked out two teams to play basketball. Billy liked this game as he was quite tall for his age and he could jump for the net much easier than the rest.

The whistle went and the game began and the ball was passed from player to player. The opposing team had to take of their vests so they knew whose side they were playing on. Billy got the ball and dribbled past several of the other side before jumping up and releasing the ball. It hit the back board before dropping in the net.

“Nice basket shouted Mr Tucker as he blew the whistle. The ball was then given to the opposing team and the whistle went to restart the game.

Billy scored four baskets to put his team in a clear lead when Mr Tucker blew the whistle to end the game.

“Right lads time for showers.”

The boys all headed out the door of the gym then turned left into the shower room.

Billy was about to put on his clothes when Mr Tucker spotted him.

“Come out here Phelps.”

“Sir said Billy; looking down at the red tiled floor.

“You haven’t showered lad, why?

“I forgot my towel Sir.”

“You must forget your towel every week then do you?

“Wait there.

Mr Tucker went out of the room and returned with a thick blue towel.

“Here Phelps, you can use this. Put it on that hanger over there in the cloak room when you’ve finished.”

 Billy took the towel and thanked Mr Tucker before undressing and getting into the shower.

Mr Tucker returned and gave him a bar of soap; “Here this will help, now hurry up it’s nearly lunch time.”

 After Billy had showered; he put back on his short trousers and his plimsolls and a tee shirt.

He made his way to the dining hall. He stayed for free school meals because his mother couldn’t afford to pay the two shillings and six pence for each of her children.

Taking his seat on the bench there was about twelve children to a table.

 There was a metal water jug and some glasses along with cutlery. Billy took a knife fork and spoon. Then he filled up his glass with water and returned to his seat.

The trays of food were brought out then set aside and grace was said.

Then the prefect at the top of the table shared out the food and it was passed along.

Usually the prefect cut himself the biggest portions.

After lunch Billy would take himself off down into the town centre where Woolworths was.

They had a pick’n mix sweet stall where Billy would go around and sample each one. He was careful not to let the store manager see him. Then it was off to the next counter to buy a big bag of broken biscuits for his mother which he got for only a shilling.

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