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Terry Collett Jul 2017
Lydia's old man
opened the door
after I knocked.

Come for the Princess
have you?
he said.

Yes please
I said.

He looked at me
where you going?

Morning matinee
at the ABC.

He nodded
how much is it?

6d
I said.

LYDIA
Benny Boy
is here
he called out
over his shoulder

Lydia came
to the door
she looked
half asleep.

Here
her old man said
and gave her
some coins
into her
small palm
behave or I’ll tan
your backside
he went back inside.

Morning matinee
I said.

O of course
she said
I forgot
what time
does it start?

Soon
I said.  

Won't be long
come in a minute.

So I entered
into the passageway
as she disappeared
into the kitchen/bathroom.

Her mother came out
of the kitchen
eyed me
she won't be long
just having
a quick wash
and brush her hair
come in
the sitting room
she said.

I followed her
into the sitting room.

Lydia's brother Hem
was sitting eating
his breakfast
he looked at me
then looked away.

We don’t talk
since I punched
him down
after he threw
a firework
at my sister
the year before.

I sat on a chair
and looked
around the room
for a few minutes
in silence.

Then Lydia came
ready
she said.

So we went out
and off
through the Square
sorry I wasn't ready
she said
I forgot.

No worries
I said.

We walked
down the *****
and away
the start
of a new day.
KIDS IN LONDON 1958
Terry Collett Jul 2017
Bennett
was a big boy
a bruiser to look at
but he was a ***** cat
once you got
to know him.

He loved history
like I did
and he sat
at the desk
in front of mine.

He was wide
so I couldn't see
past him
so had to look
over his shoulder
to see the board.

Bennett
Mr Finn said
where was
the Magna Carta signed?

At the bottom Sir
Bennett said.

Fits of laughter
and guffaws.

QUIET
Mr Finn shouted
I meant
where about
in England
was it signed
the teacher
stated firmly.

Runnymede Sir
Bennett said
reddening.

Anyone else
where is Runnymede?

Kids looked
at each other.

I put up my hand
(a rare occurrence).

Yes Coles?
Finn said
eyeing me.

Surrey Sir
I said.

Right who signed
the Magna Carta?
Finn asked
anyone except
Bennett?

King Henry VIII
said Dennis
wiping his finger
(snot green)
on his grey
trouser leg.

Finn shook his head
anyone else?

****** Mary
a girl sitting next
to Helen said.

Finn sighed
Coles?

King John Sir
I said
looking at
Bennett's back
broad as an oxen.

Correct
Finn said
and wrote it
on the board
with dates
and names
in white chalk.

There was silence
no murmuring
no grinning
no talk.
KIDS IN A LONDON SCHOOL 1958
Terry Collett Jun 2017
Fredericks
was a tall kid
who lived opposite
the school.

He had black
straight hair
parted like ******
but without
the moustache.

We weren't friends
just acquaintances
who shared gossip
or new items
or swapped
cigarette cards
of footballers
or movie stars.

One day
he stopped me
outside school.

Hey Coles
you know girls
don't have thingys.

Thingys?
I said.

Yes you know
thingys to *** from.

Kids were passing
going into school
some hung outside
waiting for the bell.

Why not?

Don't know
he said.

How'd you know?
I asked.

He looked back
at his house.

My big brother
has this pin-up
on the door
inside his wardrobe
some **** dame
he said.

How comes
they don't have one?

How do I know
he said.

Maybe it
got a disease
had to have it
taken off
I said.

He didn't
look convinced
don't think so
Coles
he said.

What they
got then?

He shrugged
his shoulders
nothing
just a big bush
he said.

I nodded
looked back
at the school.

You watch
Gunsmoke
with James Arness
last night?
he said.

Yes it was good
I said
but don't think
he's as fast
as Wyatt Earp.

No guess not
or as flashy
as the Cisco Kid
Fredericks said.

A prefect rang
a hand bell
standing on the top
of the outside stairs.

Best go
I said.

Yeah
I might ask
Finn about
the girl's thingy
Fredericks said.

Yeah do that
I said.

He went up
the stairs
two at a time.

I followed
walking slow
that was
something new
I didn't know.
BOYS IN LONDON 1958
Terry Collett Jun 2017
Biggs
was a small kid
had wing nut ears
and bulgy eyes.

We played games
of football cards
against the wall
of the junior school
playground
in morning break.

Usually I won
but I liked him
so let him
win games
so I could see
his smile
which would spread
from ear to ear.

One morning
Cogan came over
and took
Biggs's cards
from the ground
and held them
against his shirt.

You want em Biggs
you come get em
Cogan said.

Biggs's ear went red
and his eyes
bulged more.

Let him have
his cards back
I said.

What's it to you?
shudup
or I'll take yours
as well
he said.

I picked up
my cards
and said
is that your face
or are you breaking in
for a friend?

You talkin to me?
Cogan said.

I stuffed my cards
in the back pocket
of my trousers.

If you heard
what I said
why ask?
I said.

Cogan looked
past me at Biggs.

If you want
your cards
come get em
he said.

Biggs headbutted
Cogan's gut
and the cards flew
in the air.

There was a rumble
of bodies and fists
and legs.

I picked up
Biggs's cards
and held them
again my chest
and stared.

A teacher came
and broke them up
and took them inside
to see the head.

I pocketed
Biggs's cards
and walked ahead.
BOYS AT SCHOOL IN LONDON IN 1959
Terry Collett Jun 2017
Vole was a small kid
wore narrow
wired framed glasses
cropped
mousey hair
piggy eyes.

He sat next
to me in class
smelt of yesterday's
dinner
and last week's
wash.

But I liked him
he was funny
and generous
with his sweets
and the occasional
cigarette
which we would smoke
on the bomb site
in a bombed out house
on the way home
from school.

In class
he was forever
putting up his hand
to answer a question
or be allowed
to go to the bog
if he couldn't
hold on
any longer.

He got into a fight
in the playground
at mid-morning break
with some kid
from another form.

He was
a big ugly kid
with large fists
and curly hair.

Vole got smacked up
but never went down.

He caught the big kid
with a cheeky left
to the big kid's gut.

But then
the prefects came
and the crowd
broke up
and Vole hid
behind me
as the prefects
searched the playground
and only his
heavy breathing
made a sound.
BOYS AT SCHOOL IN LONDON 1958
Terry Collett Jun 2017
Ingrid's sister
opened the door
of her house.

I asked
if Ingrid was there.

She looked at me
frowning
O it's you Benny
she said
no she's not here
any more
she's living
with an aunt
by the sea.

I looked at her
then looked past
her into the passage
behind
in the hope
Ingrid would appear.

Why is she there?
I said.

Our mum's
in prison for life
so it was thought best
for her to stay
with our aunt
who is older
and can give her
a more stable home
she said.

I see
I said
have you
an address
so I could write
to her?

She disappeared
inside for a short time.

I stood there
on the doorstep
waiting.

She came back
and handed me
a piece of a paper
with an address on it.

How is she?
I asked.

Very upset of course
her sister said
but she'll settle
with our aunt ok.

I nodded
and she closed the door.

I walked back up
the New Kent Road
with the piece of paper
guessing I'd not
see her again.

The sky darkened
and began to rain.
A BOY AND THE GIRL WHO LEFT 1958
Terry Collett May 2017
I knocked
at Lydia's front door
there were voices
beyond the door.

Then the door opened
Lydia stood there.

Coming out?
I said.

Not sure
if I can
she said
they are rowing.

I looked at her
the unbrushed hair
lank and straight
her pale face
and staring eyes.

Why not?
don't they
always row?
I said.

Can't just ask
while they're rowing
Benny
she said.

Ok I'll be on
the fence round
the corner for awhile
I said.

She shut the door
I walked
round the corner
sat on the green fence.

The sun was out
but lukewarm
the sky was dull.

Rowing parents
was nothing new
but I had to admit
her parents rowed often
usually about her
old man's boozing.

The milk man
came past
on his horse
drawn cart
the brown horse
had a nosebag
looked disinterested
in his surroundings.

Lydia came
around the corner
and sat on the fence
next to me.

Can't go far
Dad said
not more
than a stone's
throw away
she said.

Depends who
is throwing
the stone
I said
and how far
they can throw.

You know
what I mean
Lydia said moodily.

So what do we do?
I said.

Talk about going
to Edinburgh
she said
on that steam train
we saw.

I mused
on the train
ok so when
and what we
will need
I said.

So we got
off the fence
and sat
on the grass
within a stone's throw
of her flat.

We talk
about going
to Edinburgh
on the steam train
but just as we got
to the list of things
it began to rain.
KIDS IN LONDON IN 1958
Terry Collett May 2017
I had an altercation
with the William brothers
on the stairway of the flats.

I had the tall one
on the chin
but the shorter one
winded me
with a crafty punch
to my gut
and I went down.

The tall one
put in a punch
while I was down
then went off
up the stairs
out of sight.

I stood up
and looked over
the balcony
at my manor
below and off
to the horizon
as far as the eye
could see.

Blue skies
pigeons in flight
kids on and by
the pram sheds
the coal man
delivering coal
over the way.

Girls playing
skip rope
or hand standing
against the wall.

Next time
I'll have
the short kid first
leave the tall one
after to pick at will.

But a punch
to the gut
leaves me feeling
out of salts and ill.

But that's life
some you win
some you lose
life is what comes
not always
what you chose.
A KID IN LONDON IN 1958
Terry Collett Apr 2017
I went with Benny
to Waterloo train station
it was busy
people rushing about
getting on or off trains.

The white and grey steam
rising up to the station roof
or puffing out across
the platform.

Your old lady
wasn't keen on me
taking you here again
Benny said.

I looked at him
I think it's
the money thing
I said
remembering Mum
at the front door
that morning
eyeing him and me.

She went and got
the money.

Only a few pence
on the bus
he said.

That's how she is
I said.

A loud burst of steam
took our focus.

Benny smiled
don't you just love that
that power
and the smell
of these engines?

Yes I do
I said.

A porter walked past
pushing a wagon
of mailbags
his hat pushed back
on his head
sweat on his brow.

I wonder where
my dad went today?
I said
he went to Bristol
the other week.

Does he go to Scotland?
Benny said.

I guess he must
I said.

Edinburgh?
He asked.

Not sure
I replied.

Want to go one day
Benny said.

Me too
I said.

Could go together
he said.

I liked that idea
the long journey
looking out
the window
seeing the smoke
from the engine
going past
the window.

A loudspeaker
gave out information
about some train.

Out beyond
the station
came hard rain.
A BOY AND GIRL AT WATERLOO 1958
Terry Collett Mar 2017
Lydia tried to spin
Benny's six shooter
around her finger
as he had done
but it slipped off
her thin finger
and fell on the grass.

How do you do it
and I can't?
she said.

Practice and practice
he said
picking up the gun
and showed her how
it was done.

Can I try again?
she said.

He handed her the gun
she put on her finger
and tried again
but it fell off onto
the grass once more.

He picked up the gun
and said
here let me put it
on your finger
and so he did
and held it there
now turn your finger
slightly upward
and spin it.

He released her finger
and she raised her finger
spun it around
and it stayed on.

She said
done it done it
and looped the gun
into her hand
now I'm a proper cowgirl.

Sure are
Benny said
do it again.

She spun the gun
on her finger again
and it spun around.

Good see you
can do it
he said.

He took the gun
from her finger
and spun it around
his finger quick
and slipped it
into his holster
at his side.

She was pleased
she'd done it.

They walked off
the grass and back up
the ***** into the Square
as it was lunchtime
and her mother said
not to be late.

So he left her
at her door
and went up
to his flat to see
if his mother
had his lunch also.

He liked that he'd
showed her how
to spin the gun
and it had been good
and fun.
A BOY AND GIRL IN .LONDON IN 1958
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