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.


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The amount of rubbish people were now throwing out was increasing week by week and his men began to complain. There was talk of a strike for a wage increase to cope with the demand. Maxie couldn’t get through to the younger members who were now working for the council that the job was far easier than it was in his day of emptying ash bins and all kinds of other junk that people had thrown out.’

Maxie went to all the union meetings and they tried to discuss a solution to the problem without taking action but the council were not budging. So on the 8th August 1989 a general strike was called. No rubbish would be collected by anyone.


For weeks the strike dragged on and Margaret Thatcher who had broken the miner’s strikes five years before had to accept defeat. The rubbish pilled up in the middle of the streets in North Shields and council estates all over the country there was a risk of disease and rat infestation as the bags of waste began to decompose and the rubbish spewed out onto the road. Many cars were forced to take alternate routes as the mountains of rubbish grew ever higher. Margaret Thatcher introduced a Community Charge (Poll Tax) after the strike ended and people were worse off because of it. The levy was set by the councils to recoup the money it would cost to have the rubbish removed. All other waste like mattresses; furniture, washing machines, and fridges,

would be paid for by the householder.

The early finishes that workers used to get were abolished and starting and finishing times changed. In the end Thatcher’s government had won because by paying the binman more money it would cost every household nearly £900 pounds per year to have rubbish removed. This was broken down into monthly payments so indirectly people were now worse off than they were under the old rates system.


Sarah Miller turned up at the hospital looking for her friend she asked at the reception then walked to the ward.’

“You must love hospital grub do yer, said Sarah upon seeing Shirley lying in the bed on ward twelve.’

“Actually it isn’t bad; you know Sarah; it’s like a hotel in here man they feed you and there’s nae dishes to do afterwards.

“Eeh you wor a miss at the bingo yesterday yer na.’

“Well I’ll be oot in a couple of days so we can gan then.’

“Well it will be my treat then said Sarah as she took out a bottle of “Robinsons Lemon and Barley Water” and placed it on her locker.

Did you have any luck then Shirley asked?’

“Aye I won a line; ten pounds a line now you know.’

“When did they put that up?’

“Couple of weeks ago I think.’

“Well I’m definitely going when a come out then.’

“So have the doctors said owt then.’

“Aye they are going to start me on some new treatment; it will make me feel a bit sick for a few weeks but the doctor reckons a will be runnin’ aboot in a month she lied.’

“Whey ask them t’ put me on it an aal will yer.’

“They both laughed.

“A could murder a fag though Sarah; have you got any on yer?’

“Aye,’ hold on a will get yer a wheel chair and we can gan t’ the day room.’

Sarah left the ward for a moment then returned with the chair.’



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