‘What will we do with him? Beauty, when you grow to be a man, eh, what will we do with you?’
Waking, Mr Eames turned over. Rain came down outside.
‘When you grows to be a man, a man.’ She put her face up against his. ‘Maybe like your dad you’ll be a turner when you’re a man. Beauty!’ She sighed. She fed him. She felt cold, and he was warm.
His father said: ‘a turner like his dad?’ and she answered for him saying: ‘Yes and so long as ‘is lathe goes round he’ll be there, earning ‘is money like ‘is dad.’
Mr Eames said it always did rain in this town though garden would benefit.
‘When you’re grown you’ll be a turner, lovely, when you’re grown up. We shan’t be up to much work not when you’ve been a man for long so you’ll look to our comfort when we’ll have worked to see you come to strength. Beauty, ma’s cold but if she draws up the clothes you’ll stifle seeing you’re still at me.’
Mr Eames sneezed again.
‘And when you’re grown you’ll marry and we shall lose you and you’ll ‘ave kiddies of your own and a ‘ouse of your own, love, we’ll be out in the cold. (Ain’t it chill this morning?) Why do we bring kids into the world, they leave you so soon as they’re grown, eh? But you don’t know one of these things yet. But sure as anything you’ll leave us when you’re a man, and who’ll we ‘ave then, eh cruel? Sons and daughters why do we bring them into the world?’ She was laughing. ‘Because, because’ she said laughing and then lay smiling and then yawned.
‘ “Yes I’m goin’ to Orstrylia” ‘e said’ said Aaron Connolly to Mr Eames, ‘ “I’m goin’ to Orstrylia, don’t care what no one says but I’m goin’,” ‘e said. And I told ‘im not to be ‘asty but to bide ‘is time, that’s what I told ‘im — “it am a grand country for one that ‘as some money,” I said, “but it am a ‘ard bleeder for one that ain’t.”’
‘That’s right,’ said Mr Eames.
‘It am right’ said Mr Connolly. ‘I told ‘im right but ‘e wouldn’t listen. “It am a grand country” ‘e said to me, “this be a poor sodding place for a poor bleeder,” ‘e said. “I’m for going’.” I said “don’t be a fool ‘erbert, sure as your name’s Tomson you’ll be back within the year without you go Christmas time and where’ll you be then?” I said. ‘E laughed and made out ‘e’d ‘ave this trip any road and I told ‘im ‘e’d be laffing tother side of ‘is mug when ‘e got back, “for what d’you get for nothin’ not since the war?” I said. “Time was they’d give pint and a ‘alf measure when you asked for the usual, but now they put publicans in jug if so ‘appen they give yer a smell over the pint.”’
These two were in lavatory. Mr Eames went so soon as he was done but Connolly waited there. He smoked pipe against the rules. Mr Bert Jones came in.
Aaron told him how Mr Tomson said he was going to Australia and Bert Jones said he had been the one to tell Aaron himself. ‘Well now’ said Aaron Connolly ‘but ‘e told me I’ll be positive.’ It seemed crazy notion anyway you looked at it said Mr Jones, why not go to Canada he said, though it was fool’s game to go at all. Tupe looked in then. At once he went away. After Aaron Connolly said how he was glad always to see backside of that man’s head he said Eames was poor sort of a chap, most likely ginger pop was all he could stomach, and Bert Jones lit cigarette. They gossiped. Mr Bridges came in then. He caught them smoking, both of them. He was very angry. ‘Discipline,’ he shouted, ‘keep the shops going, I got to do it. When I come in, here I find you smoking. It’s our bread burning away. I got to stop smoking. I don’t come in ‘ere once but I find someone miking. Firm’ll be ruined. Debtor prison. Siam. Bankrupt.’ He gave each fortnight’s holiday after shouting much more.
When he was gone Bert Jones said Father had not been in for over twelve month. Aaron Connolly spat and said, ‘It am Tupe done it. It am Tupe. Nor it won’t be spanners I’ll drop next time.’
They were in cinema. Band played tune tum tum did dee dee. She hugged Dale’s arm. She jumped her knees to the time.
Couple on screen danced in ballroom there. She did not see them. Dee dee did da.
Tum tum tum tum tum. Dale did not budge. Dee dee de did dee. She hummed now. She rolled his arm between her palms. Da da did dee — did dee dee turn, ta.
‘I do love this tune’ she said.
‘Ah’ he said.
Did dee dee turn ta. Tune was over. She clapped hands and clapped. Applause was general. But film did not stop oh no heroine’s knickers slipped down slinky legs in full floor.
eeeee Lily Gates screamed.
OOEEE the audience.
And band took encore then. Tum tum ti tumpy tum.
Lily arranged her hair. Dum dum di dumpy dum.
She hummed then. She moved her knees in time. Heroine’s father struggled with policeman now in full ballroom. She did not watch but jumped her knees now. Da da did DEE — (what a pause!) — did dee dee turn ta. Great clapping of hands. Attendant moved up gangway and shouted ‘Order please.’ He moved down. Lily Gates said to young Mr Dale he didn’t take much interest in nothing did he? ‘Why not take a bit of fun Jim when it comes your way?’ she softly said. He said ‘I can’t enjoy the music when I’m not in the mood.’ ‘Why you funny’ she said’ ‘ave a mood then.’ He said ‘Don’t call me your names Lil when there’s so many can ‘ear you.’
‘Why they’re all listenin’ to the music.’ She was whispering ‘Jim!’
She hummed tune band was now playing whey widdle o.
‘It’s ‘ot in ‘ere’ he said.
‘H.O.T. warm’ she said.
‘Why they’re playin’ it again’ she said. She looked at screen. She saw heroine’s knickers again were coming down, now in young man’s bedroom.
ooeee she screamed.
EEEEE the audience.
The band played that tune. Turn turn ti tumpy turn. Dum dum di dumpy dum. She jumped her knees to time. Da da DID DEE — (it wasn’t her knickers after all) — did dee dee turn ta.
In Dupret factory man had now been put on guard over the lavatory door. He had to clock men in and out
‘Seein’ we’re animals ‘e’s got to treat us as animals’ Mr Bentley cried very much excited. ‘Put a man on at the lavatory door, it ain’t decent, seven minutes every day ain’t long enough for a man to do what nature demands of ‘is time, stop ‘im a quarter ‘our of ‘is pay if ‘e’s a minute over why ‘e ain’t allowed to do it by law, I’m raisin’ the question in the Club tonight, and if I was out o’ work for three years I wouldn’t take on a job of that description. It’s plum against the laws of this land, checking men in and out o’ lavatories and only seven minutes for each man. Why in kennels even they don’t do it.’
‘You go and see Tupe about it, Bob, ‘e brought it on.’
‘I know nowt against Tupe. There’s no proof ‘e went to Bridges when ‘e saw Aaron here and Bert smoking. It ain’t justice ‘im sending Bert off for a fortnight and having Aaron stay back — no offence to you mate.’
‘It am a bleeder. “Aaron” ‘e says to me “Aaron I got no one but you to work that crane in your shop. But man” ‘e said, “the next time and you’re sacked and out you go.” It am a bleeder.’
Joe Gates was saying as much to Mr Craigan in iron foundry shop. And Dale asked him why he went round with Tupe then and Mr Gates said me never and Dale said he seen him and Joe Gates answered it might have been once. (They were ramming.) Gates said Tupe should have tongue cut and why didn’t some of the shop go and dig his grave in his back garden to show him. When he smiled it rained, Mr Gates said of him, and he’d be glad when he was dead: ‘glad, more’n glad, I’ll go straight into the boozer and ‘ave one.’
‘Think you’ll live to see ‘is ‘earse?’ Dale asked him.
‘Me’ cried Mr Gates ‘with my clean life and ‘is dirty living, me?’ cried Mr Gates.