• Vol. 03
  • Chapter 10
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Well the groceries were an hour late in comin', so when Lou came round for our Wednesday, I weren't even halfway through rotating me salads.

Fair drained she was, she said, and I knew it were all from the WI. Sure enough, some soft-hearted tin shaker from one of them corduroy-and-cardigan shops popped round, spouting off about poor little potbellied mites in Chad or some such mess of another's makin'.

Oh, full of the starvin' little beggars she was, all through two pots of me Wednesday Darjeelin' and a wedge of me fresh cream Victoria (for 'manners', mind). Now Lord knows I'm certain no kiddie should starve, wherever the poor bleeder's spat out, but I were still right bothered about them groceries and I clocked they'd subbed the butter for some of that spreadable muck you can't cook with. It's cod bake on Wednesdays. Me breadcrumbs won't crisp up with that spreadable muck put over.

Oh, she gave me such a look! Soggy breadcrumbs? With starvin' mites in the world? And 'er with a flippin' great gobful o' sponge!

Well, I weren't havin' that.

So what, I said. So what if I don't get all salty-eyed at the thought of 'ungry nippers? They're in my world alright, but they're stuck there a long way off wantin' out and I'm stuck 'ere with no butter not wantin' in. Not wantin' in ain't the same as not givin' a sod. It's just what you're in, where you're in it.



Look at you: feelin' rotten about all them potbellies and stuffin' down tea and cake like they'd ban it for the rest of us if you didn't! Tin shakers and God-squadders switchin' off for telly and takeaways. Suits hostin' posh dinners for rice sacks and cookin' pots. Pennies for the dead now and the dead o' forty years from now I say, and not a hearth-and-home-lovin' sort among 'em who'd want in by any sane will.

Givin' ME that look!

Two hours a day, every day for three months I sat with our Mam at the 'ospice. She'd make up her face talkin' o' big black Yanks at union club dances and the jingle o' sixpences in 'er pockets and I'd sit there knockin' off crosswords, out in the middle of the furthest bloody ocean from anywhere. 'Cos I couldn't talk away the pain the pills were holdin' off and I couldn't fix the end that were comin' despite 'em. Doesn't matter how loud you shake that bloody tin: either side o' every ill in the world, there's someone wantin' out and another not wantin' in.

Well I knew we'd 'ear no more o' potbellies after that. She never sat in that bloody room.

Serves the daft cow right for knockin' me cod bake.