Thursday, 21 November 2013
|Depressed, from southeast London|
One day my husband never came home, and when I rang the company where he worked, a kind woman said that he hadn't been to work for a few days, and if he did eventually turn up he would be fired. I felt angry and confused, and I needed to talk to my husband to see why he had stopped going to work, and how were we going to pay the rent and put food on our table. He never showed up that night, so I rang his brother, who said to me that I had completely ruined his brother's life, and because of that he had returned to Portugal, to try and salvage his life. He then said that I wasn't to call any more, and that I only had myself to blame if my life was falling apart. That was the last time I ever spoke to my brother-in-law.
Thursday, 14 November 2013
|Arthur Scargill in the arms of the police. But was he all bad?|
If decades are defined by individual years, then Great Britain in the 1980's must surely be all about what happened in 1984, and an event which could have easily brought Margaret Thatcher's government to its knees.
Flashback to 12th March 1984, when the leader of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), Arthur Scargill, faced up to Thatcher's reforms of the British mining industry, by instigating a strike which would eventually last almost a year, and in turn make him an icon of the 1980's.
It's nearly thirty years since images of striking miners battling with police poured from our televisions, and filled the pages of the tabloid press, and it's nearly thirty years since Scargill almost destroyed Thatcher's government.
Hated by those who mirrored Thatcher's anti-union stance, and idolised by those very men he represented, Scargill was seen as a leader who wasn't going to give up the fight easily.
But how can I imagine that this man is an icon, when most people believe that he was just an inciter of mindless violence, keen on promoting his own image?
Monday, 4 November 2013
Wednesday, 23 October 2013
Thursday, 17 October 2013
Monday, 14 October 2013
|Here is where it will end. But where is here?|
Tony looked down at the bar when I mentioned the violent thugs we had known. He looked down and thought about Glen. Tony had worshipped Glen. He had idolised Glen. He had always said that Glen was the brother he had never had. But now Glen was gone. Dead. Cremated and scattered. Gone from our lives, because he had played with fire. Tony finished his second drink, and getting the attention of the barmaid, he ordered more drinks. He then said that we had to think about the future.
The future? If it was to be anything like our past, then I reckoned that we were doomed, because people like Tony and me are on a downward slope from the day we are born, until the day we die. And if there is the occasional day when the sun brightens our lives, and warms our tired faces, there are so many more when rainclouds hang over us, and the only sky we can see is dirty and grey. No, we have no future, and as the pretty barmaid with yellow teeth slammed down our glasses of whisky on the bar, I could see from the corner of my eye that Tony knew what I was thinking, and he knew that I was right.
Tony grunted. His glass was stained with lipstick. He had been served whisky in a dirty glass. I can’t say that I was surprised. The pub was dirty. The lads fooling around in the corner were dirty. Their language was dirty. The barmaid with the yellow teeth was dirty. I imagined that the toilets were dirty. The bar was dirty. The ashtrays were dirty. The street in which the pub was standing was dirty. The people who made their way to and from the shops were dirty. We had left southeast London – which is also dirty – to find ourselves in another part of the world which was just as dirty and depressing. If the future was here, and we had turned the page, I reckoned that we had made a false start.
Tony slammed his fist down on the bar. A few of the lads looked at us, and then the barmaid with yellow teeth made an appearance. We may have been down and out, but we were entitled to clean glasses. She flashed us a forced smile, and taking the glass in her small hand, she held it up. Tony sighed. In our favourite pub, in southeast London, we had never once been served a drink in a dirty glass. Never! Never! Never! And now, in Brighton, we were expected to drink from glasses stained with a slag’s lipstick.
Tony stood up and wanted to say something offensive. I knew what he was thinking. Our favourite pub in southeast London was no longer our favourite pub, because we had finished with London, and so we had finished with our favourite pub. Dirty glasses and dirty pubs were all we had to look forward to, as we drifted aimlessly through life, until we found another safe haven in which to rest our weary bodies, and reconstruct our lives.
There were too many lads in the corner giving us evil stares, and when one of them told Tony that he was a fucking cunt, we realised that perhaps it was time to move on. Of course, such insolence would never have been accepted back at home, because Tony commanded respect, and if there was a problem to be resolved, Glen could always be relied upon in Tony’s hour of need. But we were a long way from home, and Glen was gone. Tony just muttered an obscenity, and turning as fast as his overweight frame would allow, he walked out of the pub.
Extract taken from "The Londoners Trilogy - Four Years In London" Out now on kindle via Amazon.