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.


9. 9

"What now? Shirley turned off the hoover.'

How long is that bloody washer going to be on it's doing my head in.' I can't hear myself think.'

"The washing has to be done Bob if you lot didn't keep hoying your clothes in the wash basket then I wouldn't have a bloody pile to do each day in here. I don't think you lot realise how much work I do in this place.

"It's wor Jimmy who changes his clothes like the weather in here not me.' anyway it looks like sheets and towels in the machine not clothes.'

"Well sheets and towels have to be done in here as well yer na.'

That bloody washer will actually take off one day. You'd think it was Dr Who's Tardis revving up.'


Never mind, what's for dinner anyway?'

"You've not long had your breakfast.'

"That was at nine o'clock its twelve thirty now and all I had was a skimpy bowl of corn flakes.'

"I don't know where you put it Bob I really don't.'

"In my gob where do you think.'

I know that stupid, I meant no matter how much you eat you are never full. I can go all day on a bowl of cornflakes.'

"Well I can't so what's for dinner?'

"How do I know, get off your lazy arse and go have a look in the cupboards. there's bound to be something that you can make yoursel.'

"Are you not going to make me owt like?'

"What, your kidding' aren't you. You can see I’m busy up here and you want me to stop and feed you.' I wish you had to do what I do in a day I really do.' I have to make the beds, do the washing, ironing, dusting and polishing in here whilst you sit on your fat arse doing a betting slip.

"Well I will be working the neet when you and Joyce Marti are sitting in the bloody Empress bingo in Wallsend.'

Oh, I’m getting persecuted for going out one night a week now. How many nights a week are you out Bob.' Darts on Tuesday and Friday quiz on Thursday night then you’re at the club all weekend on the drink.'

"Monday and Wednesday night, I’m at work until three in the morning.' sometimes later.'

"You'd get out of doing them an aal if there was a darts match on.'

"Stop whinging and make me dinner.'

"You don't burn off much energy do you; I mean all you do is answer the phone.'

"it must take a load out of you to physically reach and pick it up.'

"Are you taking the piss woman.' had it been wor Jimmy you would have broken your neck to get down those stairs to make him Sommuck.'

Whey wor Jimmy works a damn sight harder than you do.'

"I've still got to eat.'

"You're meant to eat to live not live to eat, you fat bugger.'

"I'm not fat, I tell yer.'

 You are; you never stop eating that's your problem, your so bored you have to keep stuffing your face to break up the monotony. You could get the paint brushes out and start painting this house have you seen the plight of it.'

"It was only done two years ago.'

"Where have you been Bob are you in a time warp or something, it was nearly six years ago because I remember Bob Marshall's lad Christopher, he was two-year-old and now he's eight.'

"Christ where does time go to.'

Bob looked around at the paintwork which was now beginning to turn a shade of yellow.'

"This place could do with a complete make- over it's a shit hole.'

"Well we've got no money have we a mean I'm not bringing in £400 pounds a week am I. it was different before I lost my leg.'

"Aye it was because you pissed all your compensation down in that club.'

No I didn't, I bought you some bedroom furniture, a fridge and a new cooker and even that hoover that you are using. That was only nine hundred pounds Bob what happened to all the money did you gambled it all away.'

"It was mine to gamble, you didn't lose your leg I did.'

"I would have put it to better use is all I’m saying.'

"You could have bought your own taxi firm and could have been running it yourself.'

"Alright, I know I was stupid.' but I was so depressed Shirley, using the money gave me a kind of escape for a while and then the reality really set in. No wonder my weight shot up. I was bored, in fact I just wanted to die. Maybe it would have been better if I had died then you Margaret and Jimmy would have been well taken care of.'

"Stop it, don't talk like that; there are people in the hospital with cancer who would gladly swap places with you.' you just don't know how lucky you are.'

"I'm gannin out to the bookies to put my bet on the first race is at one thirty. by the time I get into Wallsend I might just make it.'

Bob opened the door, he stepped outside then walked over the road to the 340-bus stop that would take him onto Wallsend high street. He sat on the wall and waited for there was no bus shelter he didn't have long to wait before the green coloured single decker came up Suffolk Gardens and into the street. he stuck out his hand so the driver could see him. Many a time he stood at the stop and the bus had gone straight past him thinking that he was just a pedestrian. now he took no chances.

He paid the 15p fare to Wallsend on the new automated ticket machine. Stewart the driver said good afternoon to him as he plonked 50p into the tray and Stewart gave him his change.'

"Fifteen pence just to go to Wallsend?'

An old lady was hurrying for the bus from across the road and Stewart told her to take her time as she pulled a shopping trolley along.

"Aye Bob they've put five pence on the fare stated Stewart Biggs who knew Bob from school when they went to Burnside School together.'

"There's talk of the fare going up to twenty pence in November after the budget.' it's the price of diesel its nion the same price as petrol now yer na.' Stew pulled away and Bob sat near the front so Stewart could still chat to him as he drove along. There was a big sign up near the door tell people not to distract the driver whilst he was driving but they both ignored it.

The bus turned left down St Peter's Road and came to a stop outside the cemetery elderly women got on at the stop.

"Where you off to anyway, just slipping to Ladbrook’s to put a bet on. Then I'm off to work.'

"Where you workin' now Bob?'

"Westholme taxis.'

"What are you driving for them?'

"No, just in the office like, the pay's crap but it's a job isn't it.' I still get a few bob of the social as well.'

I put in fifty- six hours this week already. last week I had sixty- two hours in and guess what I took home. my basic is only a hundred and twenty less tax that's about £98 pound take home pay on a flat week. It means you've got to work over time to make a decent living wage. last week i came out with ninety-two quid. Before my accident I was raking in £400 a week shot blasting down at Barriers. Now I’m on a bloody pittance.'

"If this carries on much longer I’m going to have to send wor lass oot to work.'

"She's a bit old to be standing' on street corners isn't she Stew.'

"Cheeky bugger laughed Stewart, is your lass still taking in washing like.'

They both laughed again as Bob told Stewart that he'd gone out to get away from the sound of the washer in his house.

The bus drove past Bolham's shop then crossed the Burn Bridge. Stew tooted as he saw Peter Dickson going to his allotment at the top of the bridge. the allotments had been there over thirty odd years and Peter had been keeping pigeons since he was a lad a Burnside. Not that he was in school much because he'd bunk off every afternoon. The tall think looking bloke with a thick moustache opened the gate then waved as Stew went past. Peter who worked in the Neptune Yard had been made redundant. he was only the same age as them and the job prospects were virtually none existent. He was reduced to signing on the dole every week.

When the bus reached his stop, Bob said that he'd see Stew for a pint in the club at the weekend.'

Walking up the street he past the chemist shop and Paul Dodd's Solicitors before crossing the Road at Park Road and then past Tom Owen's fruit shop before reaching Ladbrokes Bookies.'

He walked up to the counter leisurely then took a fiver out of his pocket and handed Sandra Walton his money.

"Do you want to take the prices and pay the tax Bob.'

"Aye gan on Sandra, Bob gave her the money from his change in his pocket. She handed him the receipt and he left after saying goodbye.'

he walked further up the high street to Dickson's pork shop. He was about to walk past when he smelled the pork sandwiches. He turned and went in.

"What can I get you said a small rounded looking woman.'

"Can i have a pork sandwich and can you put everything on it.'


"Yes please, and I’ll take a couple of those mince pies as well.

"We do the big plate mince pies and it’ll workout cheaper. Do you want one of those instead.

"Aye alreet I'll take one.  I'm at work until God knows what time so I'll keep half for later.'

"Do you want me to cut it for you.'

"If you wouldn't mind, thank you.'

The woman cut the pie into four then placed it into the bag. "That'll be £1.42p please.'

Bob gave her two pounds and got his change.'

He crossed the road then went past the Anson to the other bus stop and the bus was already at the stop. He waited until the queue died down then got on. he sat near the front so he could get off and the bus then pulled away with several prospective passengers running to the catch it as it left the bus shelter. It drove past super snooker and stopped outside the paper shop before carrying on up Station Road past the Wallsend Boys Club. when it came to the coast road it stopped and waited for a break in the traffic before carrying on and then turned right onto Mullen road.

He was luck in that the bus stopped more or less on the doorstep of the Westholme Club.

He was early so he went into the club and had a pint and ate his pork sandwich before then going to the side where the taxi office was. Ken Welch was just leaving to pick up a fare as Bob walked in.

"If you get any airport runs giz a shout Bob will you mate.'

Nae bother Ken.'

Ken Welch always gave Bob a few quid from his tips if he got a few airports runs to do. Bob would usually get him a return as well so that was double money for the driver which meant a bigger tip for him. He let Lynn Bewick away sharp because she would let him go sharp tomorrow night when she would let him go to the club. he wasn't playing darts tonight as the captain had already told him he wasn't playing that's why he'd taken the twilight shift.

 It was quiet until about seven o'clock when the mad rush would start and people for the next three hours would want a taxi to or from a venue to either go to the town or back home. The big market would be heaving tonight so he'd make sure all of the drivers were kept busy.

Bob sat in his chair and put on the portable TV set in the office and turned it onto BBC one to watch the racing the results of his fist race were in and he had a good start to his bet with a 12-1 winner Midnight Flyer. He only needed Arthur's Archer to come in at 10-1 for a double.

He put on the kettle and spooned coffee into his mug that he'd brought from home then added milk. He put only three spoons of sugar in instead of his usual four. The kettle was still quite hot from when Lynn was in so it didn't take long to boil.  He poured the water into the mug with a picture of Fred Flintstone on it. It was a present from his sister when she'd gone to Benidorm on her holidays. He opened the bag with the pie inside as the runners and riders from his next race from Doncaster began to make their way out of the paddock and down to the start. He placed two pieces of pie onto a plate and then popped it into the microwave oven for one minute. The Riders were now at the start and being led into the stalls. Arthur's Archer was safely inside and they came under starters orders. The microwave pinged and Bob took out his pie. He found a bottle of red sauce he brought in for his take away fish and chips that were delivered from "The Golden Chippy" every Saturday night when he was working. He ate them as he watched match of the day.

The two pieces of pie were eaten and Bob looked around as if to say where had they gone. he was tempted to put the other two pieces into microwave and eat them as well but thought about what his wife had said about him losing weight. He was watching his third race when the phone rang.

"Hello Westholme taxi's?’

"The voice on the other end sounded intimidating. "send a taxi down to the Queens straight away.'

"Who is the taxi for?'


"Colin who?'

 "Colin Ferry you fuckin' numpty.'

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