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.


2. 2

Maxie as he was known to his friends after the boxer Maxie Rosenbloom placed some coal on the dying embers of the fire then blazed it up with a shovel and some newspaper the kettle filled with water was hot from the night before so it wouldn’t take long to boil so he could make himself a pot of tea. At least there was tea in the house. They had been living on one egg and chips for the last two nights there wasn’t even a crust of bread in the larder. He couldn’t wait until Friday so he could get paid. His daughter Shirley worked for Charles Wharton’s the dressmaker shop at the bottom of Bedford Street in the town centre.

His wife stayed at home to keep house. She wasn’t like his mother who baked every day of her life since she married his father. Peggy Forster was forever telling Shirley that if she baked more often that there would be food a plenty on the table and that she should be ashamed sending her daughter Catherine out to work with nothing in her belly. His mother would often bring scones and a rhubarb tart that she had baked around from her house on Marina Avenue. It was funny how he and his four brothers all lived in close proximity and called in to see their mother every day. Maxie tried not to, but hunger forced him to around to his mothers in order to keep going at his job.

“What is that woman doing wi aal yor money she would say?’ Surely she can keep hoose in order Maxwell; his mother always gave him his proper name.’

“Whey ah diven’t na mother I give hor plenty and I only gan oot on a Friday an Saturday neet these days.

“Whey I tell yer noo there’s summick gan wrang in yor hoose. Is she spendin’ aal yor hard earned cash in the bloody Rex Bingo “Cos if she is, there’s gan a be hell on mind wor Maxwell. “Cos I won’t stand there and let you starve. Yer better get hor telt mind “Cos aah will when I see hor.

“Alright mother, he said that he would tell her, I will tell hor the neet when a get back yem.’

“Yer berra mind wor Maxwell she would say but Maxie refused to argue with Shirley who had threatened to pack her bags the last time that they had a row and go back to her mothers. Max didn’t want her to leave him because he couldn’t cope on his own Catherine who was now twenty six gone was planning to get married next spring and he would have to pay for the wedding. He hoped that they would get married at the registry office on Stephenson Street and keep the money that she and George Arthur had saved. Catherine had always had ideas above her station and wanted a white wedding. There would be no registry dos for her she told her father when he had brought it up. He told her that it were good enough for him and her mother to which she replied. “I’m not my mother; I won’t be tied to no kitchen sink either when I get wed father so forget it.’

“Bloody women these days have got too much to say that’s their trouble.’

“Well George will certainly not be ordering me around I can tell you that much.’

“Good luck to him then, he must be a right wimp if he cannot stand up to you.’

“Now you listen here father; I will not have you or anyone else call George do you hear me, George is a good man; he just doesn’t see things your way.’

“That’s because he’s bloody petrified of you.’

“I will look after George well enough; he earns three times your salary so we won’t go hungry I tell you that father.’ I don’t expect you to pay for my wedding either.’

“Well I diven’t keep yor mother short you know; so don’t ask me where the money goes; ask hor.’

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