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.


14. 14

“Right lads their father would say off to bed with you. They would undress then put on the old shirts that their father could no longer wear because the collar was frayed and they rolled up the sleeves and used them as night gowns.

The three of them slept in the same bed Alan at the top and his two brothers at the bottom. The flannelette sheets and candlewick quilt was hardly enough to keep them all warm so their father’s donkey jacket was placed over the top to keep them warm.

“I hope that we get snow for Christmas said Alan.’

“Are we getting’ the sledge oot if it does.’

“Aye but we are all gan a have t’ go snow shovelin’ straight away after school and if we get any money off the posh people in Hollywell we can give it to mam.’

Another week and we can go Carol singing as well. “I made three pounds last year said Michael.’

Aye, whey you can sing; me and Will here are tone deaf.’

“Hey,’ get to sleep you lot or I’ll send yer father in to give you the belt shouted their mother.’ They all knew better to disobey her.’

“Night mam they all said then went to sleep.



Jackie Howard lived at number fifty seven Cedarwood Avenue in North Shields. He worked for Rowley’s Coal which came in handy because there were always a few bags of coal to be had. His coal house was full after he and his mate Bob Coulson worked a scam whereby they loaded up the wagon with six bags extra every day. They were dropped off at their houses and Dianne his wife for thirty two years would sell it by the bucket load to her neighbours cheaper than they would pay Mr Rowley.’

From all the coal each day Jackie made up to ten pounds a week. He was only earning eight pounds fourteen and six a week. It was heavy, dirty work but it was a job. His Son Russell was the cleverest in the family he was good at technical drawing at school as well as mathematics. He was now twenty four and was working for Robert Maidstone’s as an architect. He was making twice the money that his father earned and never got his hands dirty. He saved up his money and bought two suits for thirty guineas his brown leather soled brogues went with the Grey suit and his black oxfords with the blue suit. Russell talked quite posh because he had to adapt when working in the office because they could not understand his broad Geordie accent.

He went to night classes to gain qualifications and visited a lady Monkseaton on his bicycle where for two hours a week she taught him how to speak correctly. It cost him two guineas. But it was worth it; he was able to move up the ladder faster which meant a pay rise. It was during his lessons with Sylvia Belsham that he saw a girl who lived next door to Mrs Belsham. Her name was Annabella Michaels’She was twenty three years old and had a very pretty face her long black hair was naturally curled

And she dressed in these long flowered dresses and Jesus sandals in the summer months and long boots and Jeans with a white denim shirt and black waist coat in the colder months.

They had exchanged pleasantries when they had seen each other but he longed for an in depth conversation with her. He bombarded Mrs Belsham with questions about the girl next door every time that he came for a lesson; until finally, Mrs Belsham organised afternoon tea one Sunday. They all attended St Matthews Church and when he went he got to see Annabella, her mother and father. Mr Kevin Michaels was a local councillor and his wife Elizabeth was secretary for the church parish council.

He lied when they asked him where he lived when he told them he lived in Tynemouth on Percy Street.

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