The Jolly Boys

Shirley Stephenson is a bored housewife who never stops day in day out, its the same humdrum existence. Bob her husband is a lazy good for nothing. who lost his leg in an industrial accident and is claiming benefit fraudulently. he keeps her short and moans because she goes to the bingo. Shirley finds the courage to file for a divorce and free herself. her life is suddenly transformed after she finds all of the compensation that Bob has been hiding from her. she orders a taxi she takes £30.000 and takes a box with some things that her gran had left her.


15. 15

"It's common curtesy mother, if we were to park outside of his house he would soon complain.'

"Are you alright son you look stressed, it's unlike you to go on like this.'

"I'm sorry mother I’m just sick of being exploited in this country just because you and dad came from Poland.' "We are treated differently even though I was born here I have a foreign name and everyone assumes I'm an immigrant too.'

"We have to diversify son; it is no good falling out with your neighbours. We all have to get along no matter where we come from.'

"Seems to me that we are the only one's diversifying here mother; whilst the rest look down on us and use us as cheap labour.' look at dad today doing a full house for what? £170 pounds when a tradesman would do the same work for £400." Look at me today washing forty- six cars for thirty five pence a car.' If they had paid me the proper the rate I would have got £3.00 pounds per car. That's £138 pounds that I should have earned today. That is exploitation mother. Dad keeps saying work hard son they will keep you on.' But I know that they won't mother.' My father works hard doesn't he mother?

"Yes, he does.'

"Well I don't see the job centre breaking down our door to give dad a job, do you?'

"You have to have faith son, not everyone is like that.'

"Keep telling yourself that mother you might even convince yourself.'

Kevin went to his room and sat on his bed he turned on his computer and pushed in a floppy disc. Kevin was able to was get onto a place called ARPANET and CSNET which gave him access to sites in the USA. He sat scanning the different pages available to him. he discovered another site called PALTALK on it he made friends with people and chatted to them via a microphone and web cam. The picture wasn’t great and you had to keep rebooting the computer but it gave people an opportunity to talk to different people share views and play music. There were different age group rooms that you could visit and whilst in one of these rooms he met Tanya Bratislava who was Ukrainian. Kevin told her all about himself and sent her a photo to begin with. She in turn sent one back of herself. and Kevin liked what he saw. The short haired Ukrainian with blonde streaks in her hair and a diamond stud in her nostril worn like Indian women had a nice face. She also had a small butterfly tattooed on her shoulder. each night they would come on the site and talk for hours in a private room on the computer, that way no one else could see what they were saying. it wasn't long before the question came up about boyfriends and girlfriends. Tanya told him that she had lots of boyfriends but no one that she was serious about. She asked him if he had a serious girlfriend and Kevin told her that he hadn't got one which she seemed to like. Tanya told him that she was studying Science at Durham University. Kevin plucked up the courage to ask her to meet him and she agreed. He took a bus on the Sunday from Newcastle which was cheaper than the train. He told his mother who gave him five pounds so that he could get himself a cup of coffee and a Sandwich. Kevin said that he'd go to McDonalds where they could get a coke and a burger for £1.50p.

Kevin took a small rucksack with his coat in case it rained and his mother gave him two cans of coke to take with him and a few sandwiches in case they decided to go to the park somewhere.

Kevin hadn't been away from home before, his father had talked about going back to Krakow for a visit with the family when he was five years old to meet his father's parents but he was unable to find a permanent job so it never happened. Now nearly eighteen, Kevin promised to save up enough money so they all could go once he got himself a proper Job.

When the bus pulled in at Durham bus station Tanya was waiting for him and he looked at her and she was even more beautiful than he ever imagined. she was wearing a red coloured t shirt and a green jacket she had jeans torn at the knees which were fashionable and a pair of Dr Marten's boots that made her look much taller. She was about five feet eight and slim; in fact, she had a good figure Keven thought.

She came up to him and kissed both cheeks in greeting.

"Come let me show you around said Tanya as she took his hand and they walked together around the town. "My mother has made us some food and I have two cans of coke.' Good we shall go to the botanic gardens where we can sit and eat. The walked for about half a mile before reaching the gardens. how much is it to get in?'

"Nothing Kevin, I have my student card with me.' they walked down the path then Tanya showed her card and they both went in. The botanical gardens with its many features surprised Kevin. they wondered around the green houses with giant lily pads then saw the water features, statues and wood carvings. they walked over the man- made stepping stones to see the Bridge that Claude Monet the artist had painted. Walking deeper into the twenty-five-acre garden Tanya stopped she too was carrying a little rucksack which had a blanket in it which she laid down on the grass and they sat and ate the food that his mother had lovingly put up for him. "I could stay here forever said Kevin as he lay back in the sunshine.' It’s so peaceful here.' "Where I live Tanya, all you hear the screeching of tyres and the smell of burning rubber from stolen cars. The streets are filled with litter because people just drop it rather than carry it home or put it into a bin.'

"They would be arrested in Lodz where I come from.'

"It is strange how you live not far from where my grandparents live.'

"Yes, maybe we were meant to meet.'

"Why did you not go to university Kevin?'

"I know what I want to do Tanya, I want to be a mechanic i know how to strip a car’s engine to pieces and put it back together in working order. My father showed me.'

"With a degree, you could become an engineer and help to build aeroplanes.

"Yes, I know that, but if I was shown I could learn that anyway. I don't need a degree for that.’

"You do Kevin, by doing a degree you show that you have the capability.'

"I see so if I had a degree would that automatically qualify me for any job in engineering.'

"Just about yes, what grades did you get when you left school, have you got any A level's

"Yes, I have maths and English.'

“Good any O' levels?’

“Yes seven.’

That would be enough to get you into university.'

"What would I have to pay?'

"Nothing, but you will need accommodation and that costs.' I work part time in a boutique which allows me time to study. Come on I will get you a prospectus from the university. I’m sure that they run engineering courses here.'

We can fill it out and then hand it straight in. They will be taking on new students after summer so now is the time to apply. "Don’t worry they take on a lot of foreign students.'

"I'm not foreign Tanya, I was born here in England; but I have two passports.'

"Better still they walked to the university campus where they sat and Tanya helped him to fill out the forms then they were handed in.

"Thank you Tanya for all of your help.'

“I know a few lads on the campus, Kevin gave her a look. before she smiled and said: "don't worry they are friends.' They are looking for someone to share their flat and pay some of the bills. You would be perfect. Danilo, and Marko are Ukrainian like myself you will like them. come I will introduce you.'

They walked to Church Street then entered "The New Inn where the lads frequented.

Once inside Tanya looked around and Marko came and kissed her on both cheeks then asked her to join them.

Tanya introduced Kevin and they shook hands. They were all sharing a bottle of cheap wine and Danilo went to the bar to order another bottle.

Kevin offered to pay but the young men held up their hands and said it was taken care of.

"Danilo, Kevin wants to be an engineer, don't you?'

"Yes, I just filled out the prospectus.'

“Good then you will need somewhere to stay once you are enrolled. you can bunk with us. "It’s kind of small but it’s cheap.' "Have you got a sleeping bag?'

"Yes, I have one.'

"Bring it because it saves making beds every day. its easily stored away and we fold up the sofa beds to make a sitting area. We eat a lot of pasta mostly and raid the bins of Presto's supermarket for food they throw out. Don't worry it is perfectly edible. It leaves us more money to buy wine. A big cheer went up and Kevin laughed.

"Thank you both I appreciate that.'

"Now I can get you part time work at Melton's car garage. I take it you can fix cars?'

"Cars, van, Lorries, I can fix them all.'

"Good, it's only £60 pounds per week working for Neil but it pays the bills, we share the food bill, cooking and the cleaning is that okay.'


"Right as soon as you get notification, which won't take long bring your gear to this address.' Kevin folded the piece of paper and put it inside his wallet.

Two more glasses were brought to the table where they shared a glass each of the white wine. "Get used to these wine soirees Kevin because it is here where we swat up on all of our subjects.'

This place is a hive of activity with students all cramming for either finals or to get through their first semester like us lot. "Don't worry Kevin you will soon catch up with us, I have all the notes from the lectures that I've attended and will help you. "First and foremost, you must enjoy yourself because university life is something that you will never forget. They clinked their glasses together.

Kevin stayed until after ten o'clock even though he was enjoying himself, there was two music students playing acoustic guitar and a girl singing and they were really good.  then he got up told the lads that he was going for the last bus. He had to catch the 301 from the Hay Market or he'd be walking home. Tanya took his hand and they walked back to the bus stop where he'd gotten off that lunchtime. 

"I will be on Pal talk later if you want to speak.'

"It will be after twelve when I get home Tanya and have my YTS at Dutton Forshaw’s to go to tomorrow. I work there all week full time for only £23.50p.'

"Never mind soon you will be earning a lot more.'

"I have to go home and tell my parents that I'm going to go to university for four years.'

"Will they be alright about it?'

"I guess so, dad is always going on about bettering myself so this is my chance.'

Tanya took his hand and told him not to worry and that everything would be fine. He looked into her eyes for a moment and then his head seemed to move all on its own and he kissed her softly. Kevin thought that she would pull away from him but she didn't, she kissed him back. It was soft and gentle and it felt so natural. She lay with her head on his shoulder and he put his arm around her. they sat not saying anything just content to be in each other’s arms. It was only when the bus arrived that they parted briefly and waited until the other passengers got off.

"I will speak to you tomorrow after work said Kevin.'

Tanya kissed him again before he got on the bus and went upstairs. He sat near the window looking down at Tanya and she looking up at him. He was missing her already as the bus pulled away and he waved. She stood looking on until the bus turned the corner then walked towards her own flat.

When Kevin got in his mother and father were still up and eager to know about his date.

Kevin told his parents about Tanya then explained that he'd put in a prospectus to join Durham university. "Where will you live Kevin?'

Tanya introduced me to her Ukrainian friends who have a flat and I will share with them - Marko Boham is going to find me a job working in a garage and it pays £60 pounds per week.

"How are you going to work and study?'

After work mother, the owner is pretty flexible and will allow us to attend lectures as long as we make up the time.'

"It is going to be hard having to do both a job and study son said his father?'

"Yes, but think of the rewards afterwards father; I will be a qualified engineer.'

"Four years is a long time Kevin are you sure you want to do this?'

Yes, I do, If I stay here I will never be anything other than a garage worker trying to scrape by on a pittance. As an engineer, the possibilities are endless. I could work for Rolls Royce making engines for an aircraft or car engines. The wages would far exceed what I could earn here.'

"I see your point; when will you find out if you have been excepted?' In a few weeks, I have to take in my qualifications and they will want to meet you both too. I will continue with my studies at night school until then father.

"I'm sure you will make us both very proud.'

"Did you speak with John Copsey today father.'

"No, he seems to be avoiding us for some reason.'

"Just forget about it Kevin.'

"Right I’m off to bed I have to be up early in the morning.'

"Goodnight son.'

Kevin went to his room feeling a lot better he only hoped that they would accept him at Durham University before the next semester.




When Bob returned from Wallsend after putting his bets on he came into the kitchen and saw the note that Shirley had left. he went straight to his bedroom and checked the wooden box then. 

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