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travelling by muck tub

by ged 

Posted: 11 November 2003
Word Count: 1378
Summary: Love blossoms amongst the barrow and the dock gastes

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Her name was Rosie and she lived on Apple Lane and I’d do anything for her, anything, stroll over hot bonfire night embers in bare feet, not a problem, light the fire my socks and shoes are already off. That’s how it started, wanting to do anything for Rosie from Apple Lane, unfortunately doing almost anything costs money, apart from of course the reason why I’d do anything for Rosie, making love. That’s free, making love, sex you can get at huge variable price depending on what you want and what you expect to get for the money. ‘You get what you pay for’ has never been more applicable when it comes to two things, leather blouson jackets and ‘paid for’ rumpy pumpy. A fat housewife on a battered estate in Leeds will expect remuneration in single figures (‘eight quid and a button’ as they say around the Leeds area) whilst a Britney Spears lookey- likey with a bottom that looks like it’s never been kissed will set you back the amount of money you spend in Ikea, when you’ve only nipped in for a couple of light bulbs.
It was wanting to impress Rosie, impress her so those silk knickers she leaves drying on the radiator in her living room, would be lying on the bedroom floor in Apple Lane next to my M&S boxer shorts, as we made a beast with two backs. But it never worked out like that. She likes the finer things in life does Rosie, like bread with poppy seeds on and tea that tastes like someone’s poured perfume in it. She even gets Paris Vogue, she was the talk of Barnsley high street when she ordered that.
Jimmy the Newsagent,who has bits of porridge on he overly long moustache and extraordinary thin legs for a fat man, thought Paris Vogue played for Arsenal. It’s in French of course but being fancy and wearing silk knickers and eating poppy seed bread, Rosie from Apple Lane probably understands French. It was that information that made me decide on Paris as venue, first class on the train from Doncaster, straight into Waterloo then the Eurostar would glide us over to the worlds romantic city (So they say but I reckon it’s hard to beat a Heckmonwike sunset on any payday in August) a quick look at that big arch thing, an eyeful of the Eiffel tower then back to the hotel for French shagging.I had it all planned, even down to what vest I was going to wear. The trick was how to raise the seven hundred and eighty two pounds ninety pence to fund the trip. She’s said ‘yes’ to the invitation after a lady like pause of three days two hours and seventeen minutes. She’d insisted on separate beds but I’d told her French beds were never separate as the French were such a passionate race and I’d sleep on the floor.
Working on the docks there were plenty of things to ‘have away’ to make a quick farthing, tinned goods were the best, very saleable, salmon was a favourite, tinned salmon is still regarded as ‘luxury goods’ to most of South Yorkshire and there’s never any trouble getting shut, ham and tongue likewise, the scale coming down when we get to the corned beef and bottoming out at the cling peaches and pears in their own juice. Tinned goods are bona fide a currency within a three mile range of the docks, solid as Sterling, however with variable exchange rate. Take the bus home, give the driver your destination Newton Street, give him a tin of salmon and you’ll get a small corned beef and a large tin of cling peaches or a small tinned ham and two tins of little orange segments. Some drivers will try and have one over on you, but I’ve been doing it long enough to demand the proper change. My dilemma was that at current theft levels of a couple of tins every other day it would take me just over six and a half years to get the seven hundred and eighty two pounds ninety pence together.
As I approached P.C. Blue Nun was on the gate, he shift started at dinner time and finished long after Coronation Street (so called Blue Nun because of the big wine stain on his face, although Blue Nun was white and not the deep red of the mark on his face. A mark that was shaped like Argentina) he looked up from under his one big eyebrow, the wheel on the barrow squeaking on each revoloution, my dock issue oilskin coat tied over the top tight and secure. I nearly got past him but the barrow wheel came to a bouncing halt on his size thirteen Police boot. “Come on John, he smiled, are you having a laug?”
I looked at him innocent. “What’s in the barrow, let me guess, enough salmon to start your own farm?” He laughed and farted at the same time he was famous for that, ‘The laughing farting Blue Nun Policeman’ was his proper title, he’d get a tons of points for that name in Scrabble.
I shook my head tried to look like I did on my holy communion picture. He took a suprisingly large knife out from inside his heavy overcoat, one of those big knives that Rambo had in the woods above that small town when he was doing his own stitches. He cut the string that held the oilskin on, and threw the coat back. The big caterpillar that slept on his forehead arched up. “Empty?”
I nodded, he waved me through and I made my way home. Same routine the next day, just as I thought I’d made it through the big size thirteen blocked the way.
“Think I’d be lulled into a false sense of security did you?” 178 at Scrabble grinned as the Rambo knife whipped through the string. “Empty? – On your way.”
He let me through once, then jumped on me out of a side road a hundred yards down the road. All out of puff and his wine stain purpler than ever. Again though the same routine, the knife slicing through the string, the oil skin thrown back, empty.
A week later I could see him waiting for me at the dock gate smiling like a small boy.
“It’s a diversion, he said, there’s nothing in the barrow because it’s all on your person” and he began slapping me all over like a demented Bavarian. When he found nothing he cut the string only to find it empty beneath.
He stopped checking for a week, just let me glide past, he looked though, eyes darting like a pervert on opening a twenty quid porno mag, first at the tyre to see if it looked like it was bearing a load, then the coat to see if my pockets were full of John West.
Nine weeks later and I stopped. I’d got enough money for the trip. 178 at scrabble was moved to a desk job, when it all came out. How could he have not noticed the theft of 45 wheelbarrows, right under his nose? They came around, mob handed like the Sweeney on Valium and expected no doubt to find a yard full of one wheel muck tubs, but no alas, all they found was my 10 year old barrow with the oil skin tied over it, they must have thought my brains were brand new. “Little Teflon bastard” 178 called me when he released nothing could stick, it was all circumstantial and on hearsay.
So here I am looking out of Gay Paree, the wind off the Seine reddening the tips of my ears and my hand on Rosie’s bottom running my thumb repeatedly over the seam of those silk knickers. We’ve got friendly with a couple from the wrong side of Halifax. Eddie and Anne, but a good sort the both of them.
“Did thee fly from Leeds Bradford?”he asked as we slobbered over a big pancake full of bitter chocolate sauce, a crepe I think they called it,
“No I replied to be honest Eddie lad we came by muck tub”. Even Rosie gave me a funny look.

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Comments by other Members

Anna Reynolds at 12:25 on 11 November 2003  Report this post
Ged, I liked the immiediacy of this- you get right down to the quick of it in the first few lines and manage to keep that pace up pretty much all the way through. It's funny, sweet and sly, although i did wonder if you needed that paragraph about the tinned goods exchange to go on for quite so long- you've set up a great little story about will they won't they get to Paris and that's what we want to get back to. I also wanted more about Rosie, who your narrator is gently mocking even as he dribbles about her. There's no reason why this couldn't be a little bit longer, with maybe a couple of breathing spaces here and there- and the detail is great, it really paints a picture. Delightful.

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