And Helens mother says as Helen climbs down the stairs of the building mind the road and dont talk to people you dont know and make sure you get the right change from Baldys you know what hes like Helen holds the stair rail and takes one step at a time as they are quite steep and she doesnt want to fall down in her small palm she holds the coins for the shopping and they are becoming damp as she holds them so tight and in her other hand she holds a bag to put the shopping in and thinking over in her mind how much change she ought to have if her sums are right and she thinks she has got it right although Baldy will get it right no doubt but she must try and get it right or her mum will tell her off she reaches the lowest stair and stands there looking back up the stairs and waits to hear if her mother has stopped talking and its all quiet and so she moves out into the street and the sky looks grey and rainy looking and that man is on the corner in his black coat buttoned up to his neck and the black trilby hat and he looks at her as she passes and she looks away her mother had said dont talk to people you dont know and she doesnt know him but her dad said the mans a bookies runner although shes not seen him run anywhere as yet although he may run when shes not looking and she wonders as she passes him what a bookies runner is and why he stares at her so he doesn't look friendly in fact he looks like a criminal as far as she knows what a criminal looks like the man turns away and gazes up Rockingham Street and she walks quickly to Baldys shop and climbs over the steep step that leads into the shop and it is quite full and so she waits her turn behind Mrs Knight who is a tall thin lady from upstairs who has cats and she smells of cats and when she looks out of her door when at home she looks like a cat too Helen sniffs yes cat smell she thinks and looks at Mrs knights coat and sees cats hairs and she holds a purse in her thin hand and a shopping bag in the other Helen being only eight years old cant see beyond Mrs Knight but at the side she can see other people at the counter and Baldy is busy and his assistant is rushing about quite madly Helen thinks she ought to have gone to the loo before she came out shopping because now she feels like she needs to *** but she doesnt want to go back home again so she tries to think of something else to take her mind off of the *** wanting feeling then someone taps on her shoulder and as she turns she sees its Benny the boy from school who lives up the road and whom she likes and who doesnt call her four-eyes or take the mickey out of her hello Helen says looking at Benny what you doing here? shopping for Mum he says holding up a brown shopping bag got a list or ill forget I always forget he says he moves close to her and shows her the coins wrapped in a paper list in the palm of his hand you shopping too? he asks yes she says looking shy and gazing at him got to get some things I can remember what Mum says and what change I have to get afterwards he studies her as she stands there her hair in plaits with a center parting and the wire framed glasses which make her eyes look large and cow like and the faded red flower dress and green cardigan with two buttons missing what you doing after? he asks dont know she replies why where are you going? going to the herbalist he says get some liquorice sticks and a glass of sarsaparilla could I come too? she says if Mum lets me and Ive done all that she wants? sure you can he says meet me by the Duke of Wellington if you can go about ten or so if youre not there by ten past ten Ill go without you he says she nods her head and hopes she can go and looks at him standing there his brown hair and hazel eyes and a cowboy hat at the back of his head and the six shooter in the belt of his blue jeans and she feels happy for the first time since shed got up and she says can Battered Betty go too? sure he says and she smiles and senses her heart go quickly in her chest thump thump thump thump yes Helen what can I do for you? Baldy asks her as she is next in line to be served so she recites what her mother had told her so much sugar in a blue package and a certain amount of cheese and a pound of broken biscuits and a loaf of bread and o yes a dozen eggs she says offering him an empty egg box and he goes off to fulfil the recited list and Benny is served by the assistant and he hands the man the list and the man reads it and goes off to put together the items on Benny list and suddenly Helen feels the need to *** again and hopes Baldy wont be long getting the stuff she asked for and o yes Benny says my old man says hes taking me to the pictures on Sunday did you want to come? he wont mind its a U film so kids can go too she pushes her knees together hoping Baldy will hurry up Ill ask Mum Helen says feeling the sweaty coins in her palm and having to pass the bookies runner and hope she wont do her any harm.
A 8 YEAR OLD ******* A SHOPPING ERRAND IN LONDON IN 1955.