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.


21. 21

 “She had tried leaving it for a week or so to see if her daughter would ring but no calls were forth coming.





Russell Howard was met by his boss at Robert Maidstone’s and was asked to come into the office.

“Sit down Howard said James Crawshank, as he lit up a cigar and blew out the smoke.

Russell sat down nervously in the leather upholstered swivel chair.

 Relax Howard said his boss; I’ve been hearing some good reports about you lately from your other colleagues.  I am going to move you up and you will lead a new project that I’ve been given; now this is a lot of responsibility to take on Howard do you think that you are up to the task?’

“Yes sir, I think so sir.’

That’s good because I want you to work on a new project to design some new offices that will overlook the River Tyne in Walker. A housing development officer wants to build luxury apartments and a hotel there and stands to make a lot of money and we can too if you can come up with something special; but the design has to be right. “Can you come up with something Russell?’

Yes sir, I have a few ideas that I’d like to try out.’

“You and Bob Matthews will work on this but you will be in charge.’ Of course there will be a significant rise in your salary and a bonus if you can pull this off as there are other developments going to take place along the Tyne in the next twenty years. Since the war, the Tyne has been in decline and the Lord Mayor of Newcastle has set out his plans to let investors come and re-develop the whole of the Tyne which will bring millions of pounds of business into the North East. “Now if you can pull this off Russell, we could end up will another contract which could see us being a major player in this re-development programme.’

“Yes sir, I see.’

“I want you to move your things this morning into your own office and get to work on this as soon as possible. “ Do you understand?’

“Yes sir and thank you.’

Russell got up and walked down to his desk then picked up all of his equipment, pencils, rulers, protractors, and his papers. He walked along the corridor then up the stairs. He saw his name on the door of his new office. Russell Howard development officer it read. He opened the door which looked out right across the Tyne and his eyes widened. This was it he thought as he closed the door and sat at his desk and new swivel chair. His career was about to take off in a big way and his life would never be the same again.

He set to work with renewed ambition. He was determined not to foul up because he wanted not only to impress his bosses but he wanted to impress Annabella.


That evening after work he was met by Thomas Cottingham who informed him that Mrs Belsham had instructed him to teach him to drive. Russell explained that he’d had a couple of lessons from his uncle Charles. Thomas still went over everything with him before allowing Russell to take the wheel. They drove down to Tynemouth along the coastline then they practiced parking and three point turns.

Learning how to change gear was probably the hardest thing he had to learn in this car. 

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