Posts Tagged ‘Anthony’

Half Cormorant - half mythical bird!

Half Cormorant – half mythical bird! Photo by Jilly Gardiner

I never did hand Jack into the cop shop!  How could I be the one who put him in foster care?  The poor kid would probably end up like me – I don’t want to be responsible for that!  So we had an agreement; me and me ma….   She’d be around for him in the daytime while I was at school, and I’d look after him at night while she went the boozer.    Binny was around sometimes, but was always slagging off Jack’s ma for being put in the slammer for robbing frozen chickens from Iceland (the shop, not the country!).   Me ma told me that Jack’s ma was caught with a chicken in each bra cup, and only got found out because one of the frozen chickens dropped out as she left the shop and broke three of her toes (so she couldn’t leg it from security!).   All I could think about was how big her knockers must have been to have a full chicken in each bra cup! Wish I’d been there!

Anyway, It turned out that Jack’s ma was on probation for when she got caught robbing wallets off her punters while they slept.. so they sent her straight back to the slammer after the frozen chicken incident.  Binny was well pissed off that it meant HE had to be responsible for Jack, so he did hardly nothing for him – that’s where I come in.

Me and Jack, we’ve got dead close in the past few months.. he’s like my brother.  Now the weather’s getting better I take him fishing down the dock, and we share pie and chips at our chippy.   Every Saturday I still work on The Butty Van with Pete at Greaty Market… Jack comes too.  Pete’s dead sound and lets Jack use his mobile phone to play games on while I’m serving hot dogs with extra onions and cups of tea.  Then Pete gives me and Jack some top scran which we stuff in until our bellies nearly burst.

Jack keeps asking me about the Liverbirds on top of the Liverbuildings, and why they don’t fly away… so I make up  loads of stories about them.    They say that Liverpool would fall into the sea if the Liverbirds flew away…. so I tell Jack stories about the time when the Liverbirds flew away and the city collapsed into the Mersey.   He cried for hours when I told him about how everyone in Liverpool nearly drowned.  I felt so guilty that I told him that the Liverbirds had flown to every country and city around the world, but had come home to Liverpool because they couldn’t find anywhere better.   So everybody in Liverpool was saved, and didn’t drown – and they all lived happily ever after.    That made Jack dry his tears and smile again.

Yep…. everything’s going good! That might be ’cause I turned fifteen the other day – and my luck’s changing… no prezzies though.    Penny Salerno has started looking at me again, even smiling sometimes! She’s still not letting me walk her home from school yet though, but I’m working on it.   Anthony and Susan still have me round for my tea twice a week, and they let Jack come too!   And me and Jack go to Ray’s house every Sunday and take my dog Regal for a dead long walk.  Ray says Regal crashes out for about 24 hours after I’ve walked him on Sundays…. He’s a card that dog!

And today the sun was shining (a bit)… A good feeling! I’m happy….. me and Jack and the people of Liverpool are happy, ’cause the Liverbirds are sitting pretty on top of the Liverbuildings, watching over us all!

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Three Days I was lying in that hospital bed…Three days! And it was the best three days I’ve had in ages! Nurses giving me dinner, helping me out of the bed to go for a waz, and all the tele I could watch on a screen above the bed. You were supposed to pay for the tele, but as they couldn’t get hold of me ma for three days they clubbed to together and paid for the service. I could even press a button which made the bed go up and down… People slag off the National Health Service, but I couldn’t fault it! It was a million times better than being at home.

The Bizzies came round to ask about the attack. I decided to tell them that I didn’t know who the lads were who I got a beating from, and that I didn’t see their faces, and I couldn’t tell their ages. I made that decision ’cause I knew the lads were something to do with Penny Salerno’s cousins, and thought it might be best to deal with them myself.

I’d been in Whiston hospital for three nights when me ma turned up. I wasn’t pleased to see her, and she was well put out that she had to get the bus up to the hozzy. She came in the ward all crying and giving me cuddles, saying she’d been dead worried about me. But as soon as the nurse wasn’t looking she was in my face telling me I’m a selfish little bastard, and if it wasn’t for social services on her back she’d have left me there longer ’cause she’s a busy woman, and she’ll lose money over this. I don’t know what money she’s on about, ’cause she doesn’t even work.

In front of the nurses me ma gave me a plazzy bag with clothes in, saying she’d brought me fresh clothes to go home in. I emptied the bag on the bed.. it was a pair of my dirty jeans, a teeshirt and a pair of undies. The teeshirt wasn’t mine, and the undies defo weren’t mine, but at least they were clean.
Then a woman in a suit came in and asked if she could have a word with me alone. Me ma smiled at her and then called back to me as she was leaving the ward, ‘I’ll be waiting right outside for you son, and I’ll cook your favourite for tea tonight when we get home’.
Favourite? I haven’t got a favourite.. she doesn’t bleedin’ cook! Then I realised what she was up to.. this posh looking woman was from social services. She asked me how my home life was, and if I was being looked after properly.  At first I wanted to say that my homelife was shite, and that if a cold, dark house, with no food in the cupboards, and a mother who takes root in the pub is being looked after properly, then I’m doing just great. But I knew that if I told the truth I’d be back in care again.. and I hated that even more than having to look after myself at home.  And who’d look out for me ma if I wasn’t around? I’m sure she’d be dead by now if I didn’t check up on her. So I said everything’s fine.

The hozzy said to me ma that they wouldn’t let me go unless I was going in a car or a taxi, ’cause I was still in a lot of pain with my ribs, and my eyes looked like I’d made an enemy of Tyson.  Me ma told them that we were getting a taxi.  She lied.  We walked down to the bus stop and I had to stand in pain as I waited for the bus.  She was well pissed off that she had to pay the busfare for me, but  I was popping pills the hozzy had given me to ease the pain in my ribs, so I just kept quiet.

When I got home I had to go and lie down ’cause my ribs were in bulk and I was hoping I’d sleep so it would ease the pain.  After about an hour of drifting in and out of sleep, and hallucinating about Penny Salerno kissing my swollen face (and then heading down towards my painful ribs), I woke up ’cause I could hear crying.   I eased myself off the bed and went onto the landing.

At first I thought I was still dreaming – maybe the painkillers were too strong.  But there, sitting on the stairs was a kid.  He couldn’t have been more than three.  He was staring at the front door and quietly crying for his dad.  I walked down the stairs and stood in front of him – he stopped crying when he saw me.

‘Hello! Who are you?’ I said dead gently.  The kid had dirty trails down his face from the tears, and looked suspicious of me.   I checked the house, but there was no sign of anyone.

I went up to my room, took some stash from my secret savings (which I got for Chrimbo off Anthony), and I put my hand out for the kid to take hold of.  This was an emergency and so I could use my stash.  The kid held my hand tightly and didn’t say a word as I lead him out of the house and down the road to the sit-in chippy.   We sat in there with a minced beef pie and chips each, and two cokes,  and the kid scoffed the lot without speaking a word.   I didn’t have a clue who this kid was, but it warmed my heart to see him scoffing like that.  I have to say, my pie and chips tasted so good, I treated myself to a pickled egg and one for the kid (the kid didn’t want one, so I had two).

 

 

Burgers

Burgers (Photo credit: Neil T)

It wasn’t my fault I got the boot from Penny Salerno’s Ma’s dressmaking stall at Greaty Market!   I didn’t bank on Penny’s 17 year old cousin Zani being my work colleague on Saturday.    Penny tells me his name is actually Zanipolo, but they call him Zani.   As you might have guessed, Zani is Italian, and he growls in Italian as well!
Zani gave me the evils all morning every time Penny’s ma would turn her back.  He’d stand in front of me so customers would go to him instead of me.   At one point I was selling some turquoise voile to a woman.. I had her in the palm of my hand! When Zani stepped in front of me, took over, and completed the sale.. so he got the 2 quid owing to me from Penny’s ma.  I was steaming!

‘Eh, That was my sale!’ I shouted.

He turned to me and put his nose up to mine ‘Vaffanculo!’, I didn’t have a clue what he said, but I knew it wasn’t ‘I’m sorry’.  After staring each other out for what seemed like a life time, I turned and started calling to the customers again.  Zani tapped me on the shoulder and I turned round,  he screwed up his nose and spoke ‘ Sei uno stronzo!’

‘Yeah, to you too mate!’ I shouted.  I knew he wasn’t inviting me to his house for dinner; this fella really hated me, and for what? Dickhead!

Then Penny’s ma went off to find the bog, and knew I was in trouble.  Zani just kept staring at me and pushing me out of the way when customers showed any interest.  I finally got a  sale… spent ages priming this old girl, then when she came to hand over the cash for the pink velour curtain material, Zani does it again… he pushes me to one side and goes in for the kill, taking the money himself.

It wasn’t that which got me the sack from Penny Salerno’s Ma’s dressmaking stall at Greaty Market… it was the fact that I saw red.. I wasn’t thinking straight…  I went for Zani; diving on him over the polyester tressol.   I didn’t mean for my forehead to meet with the bridge of his nose, it’s just that the tressol collapsed to the ground, and when the ground broke Zani’s fall, my head kept moving… ’till it met his nose!  It was a right stonker of a scouse kiss; right between the eyes.  Ok, it sounds a bit aggressive now, but at the time I was just wanting to show him that I wasn’t the  wimpy little push over he thought I was! He’d wound me up all morning, and he’s bigger than me, so he could have fought back if he’d have tried.

I knew I was out on my arse straight away, especially when I saw the gash between his eyes, and the blood running down his nose.  At least he was conscious and holding onto his nose! So I did what any brave man would do…  I legged it from the stall before Zani could find his feet and get his revenge.

I stopped at the other end of the market to check that no one was following me, then sat down on a plazzy garden chair next to a burger van to get my breath back.

‘Oy! If you’re not buying, you’re not sittin’!’ shouted the fella on the van.. he had a queue as long as the Mersey tunnel waiting for cups of teas and bacon butties.

I stood up ‘No I’m not buying, got no money’.  I was about to walk away when he called me back.

‘I’ll give you a cup of tea and a beef burger with onions if you come and give us a hand for half an hour lad; I’m inundated here!’.

I didn’t need to be asked twice! My dirty apron was on and I was flipping burgers before you could say scouse kiss.

One door closes and another one opens… that’s what my mate Anthony always says.

God Penny.. I’ve got some explaining to do later!

War memorial cotton exchange liverpool

War memorial cotton exchange liverpool – Credit from Wikipedia

All right… so I didn’t quite make the 200 quid I was hoping for on Penny Salerno’s Ma’s dressmaking stall at Greaty Market on Saturday.  Well… it fell quite a bit short of that actually… more like eight quid.  WELL you just wouldn’t believe how hard it is to sell dress material to women!  They’re dead fussy and want everything for nothing, and if it’s not Egyptian cotton they want a discount.    I don’t see what makes Egyptian cotton any better than good old Liverpool cotton.  They might be all right at building pyramids, but you can rely on the scousers to be the leaders in fashion.. I mean, where else but Liverpool can you find girls with a year round tan, camel-sized eyelashes and finger nails that can scratch your back even if you’re sitting on the other side of the room?

But fashion isn’t exactly ME is it?  I’ve got one pair of trainees (no shoes) which I wear for every occasion (You can’t see the hole under the left one, but my soggy sock knows about it!), I’ve got one coat (next door’s cast-off) and seven pairs of undies which I wash, wear, and turn inside out for extra wear on a regular basis.   Don’t get me wrong, Anthony and Susan have been life savers with the stuff for school they’ve bought me when I go around to their house… but it doesn’t exactly make me a follower of fashion does it?   And if I’m dead honest, I don’t give a shit if I’ve got gear from the charity shop or posh named gear.

I was watching a fella on the fruit stall opposite, shouting to the  customers.. ‘Get your broccolis here.. three for a pound!’  I could do that! I know my broccolis from my cauliflowers.  But selling flowery material to tight arsed old grannies just isn’t my forte.  Still… eight quid’s better than a smack in the gob, even if I did work my arse off for seven hours!  And the upside of it is that I’m beginning to know my brushed cottons from my algodon cottons (or something like that anyway).

I’m not giving up that easily though.. next week I’m aiming higher, hoping to double my money.   I might even treat Penny to the pictures afterwards with my wages if I have enough (bet she’d be dead made up).

By early May me ma was hardly ever in, and when she was she was so off her head that she could hardly speak.  It hurt so much at first, but I had this other life;   a fantastic life where I walked Penny Salerno home from school every night, and then I’d go for tea round to Anthony and Susan’s house.  Anthony was Boss.   I’d never have been able to survive on the food in our cupboard at home…. a jar of mouldy piccalilli and a tin of sliced peaches (which had been there since I’d come back to live with me ma from the foster parents).

I can touch the light, and it feels dead good! Photo by Jilly Gardiner

Anthony could sense things weren’t going well in our house, so Susan was making dead gorgeous scran every night, and then washing and drying my school clothes for me to take home for the next day.   Susan had even gone out and bought me a pack of new white school shirts from Next!

I was feeling dead smart when I’d walk Penny home from school.   Then on Saturdays I’d fish on the dock, and Sundays I’d go to Ray’s at tea time to walk our Regal, and they’d always give me a load of ham and tomato butties and trifle for afters……   Yeah life was fantastic!

I just dreaded nine o’clock at night when I’d go home, put the key in the door and not be sure what I’d find.   It was mostly a relief when me ma wasn’t in; but if she was I was terrified to find what state she might be in.    One night I found her lying draped over a tipped up chair in the kitchen – puke all over the floor, and a cup smashed to pieces with her still holding on to the handle (with nothing else attached).

Sometimes Binny was there… sometimes he wasn’t.  He was always in the same state as me ma if he was there.  I reckon neither of them ever noticed me come in… I wondered if me ma remembered I lived there at all.   I’d just go to my room and lock the door, lie on the bed and surround myself with National Geographic mags.  Then before I went to sleep I’d think about my walk home with the gorgeous Penny Salerno, and her smile….. thinking of her always relaxed me (worked me up in a good way, but made me feel relaxed and content).

The less I was seeing of my ma, the more I could pretend everything was brilliant.

Anthony asked if I wanted to go and stay at their house after we left the prison.    But I decided to go home instead… I just wanted to be on my own.

It was a bad decision.

Anthony dropped me off after checking I was OK.  I told him I was, but I honestly don’t know if I am.  I waved him goodbye as he drove off and let myself into our house.

I was about to go up to my bedroom and lock the door, when me ma bounced out of the living room and stood in front of me, shouting.  ‘Who the f&ck was that!?’ She screamed.   She’d be drinking.

‘Who was what?’  I said, my heart racing.

‘Don’t f&ckin’  lie to me!  I saw you get out of the car!  Who is that fella?  Have you been grassing me up to social services?’

‘No’ I screamed.

‘You’re lying!’

‘I’m not!’ I tried to walk past her to the stairs.  I could see that she was smashed, and that there was no point in having a screaming match.. she wouldn’t remember tomorrow anyway.  She grabbed my arm and swung me round.

‘Tell me who it was in the car!  You’ve grassed me up haven’t you!’

‘No!  It was my mate’.

‘You’re a lying little bastard!  You’ve grassed me up.. my own son! You’re a dirty, lying little bastard!’ She screamed in my face.

I felt so mad… I wanted to cry and scream at the same time.  I snapped ‘It was my mate!  He took my to see me dad in prison!’  That shut her up.  She stared at me like she didn’t believe me… her face all screwed up like an old woman.

‘You didn’t!’ she said it like she hated me.

‘I did!  He might be a murderer, but I still thought he’d be a better dad to me than you are a mother!’.

I didn’t feel the slap across my face – it was too quick.  I just felt my head smash against the wall as I fell sideways.   I laid on the floor by the stairs, surprised that the bang hadn’t knocked me out.  She was still screaming over me.

‘You scheming little bastard!   After all I’ve done for you – and this is what you do!’  She staggered away back into the living room – probably looking for the whiskey bottle.

I wondered if she’d meant to hit me that hard.  I sat up and felt my head; there was  a lump the size of mount Etna, but no blood.   But as a stood up, there was a metallic taste in my  mouth.   I put my hand to my face and realised there was blood.

In the bathroom upstairs, I stared at myself in the mirror, holding my mouth open with my hand.  I could hardly see my teeth for all the blood.   After a good five minutes of close inspection, I could see that not only had my tooth gone through my gum, but when I wiggled the tooth, it actually came out in my fingers.   There I was, standing, looking a state in the mirror, holding my tooth in my hand.

I clenched my teeth and tried to smile.  The big black gap wasn’t too bad if I just ‘half’ smiled.  Penny Salerno would never fancy me without teeth.

I suddenly felt sick… really sick.   It was lucky the toilet was in the same room, because I puked my guts up, along with the tooth next to the one I still had in my fingers.

I needed to lie down… so I staggered to my room and passed out on the bed to dream weirdly realistic dreams of Caribbean Islands.  I was swimming in this dead clear water with all little tiny tropical fish around me.   And when I looked to shoreI could see Penny Salerno sitting on the beach waving to me.  I was waving back.. and she was smiling.  She was gorgeous.   But then she stood up and started shouting and screaming to me… I couldn’t hear what she was saying.

I looked down into the water, but I couldn’t see the fish anymore, just red… the water was red, like blood.  The sea was red.    And then I turned to see what Penny was pointing at on the water… There was a body… floating face down.  I started screaming, and it was floating dead close to me.  It was then I realised it was me ma!    Floating, dead on the water.  I started crying… screaming, wanting to help her.. but the pressure of the water wouldn’t let me close enough.

It was too late.

The Dream... The nightmare - Photo by Jilly Gardiner

I’ve been to hell.   A place I never want to stay.   It smells like our school, and echos in just the same way… but the doors bang harder, and the security guards (what they call ‘screws’) are even more evil than our Science teacher!

formerly known as strangeways

Image via Wikipedia

Anthony had agreed to come to Strangeways in Manchester so I could see the fella who was me dad.   He’d written a few emails and made a few phone calls – and then here we were – being checked for flickies and coke as we walked in.

I felt sick.   Sick with excitement, sick with dread.  I was finally going to meet the fella who was me dad, Carl Laurence.    I’d rehearsed it in the mirror loads of times – smiling, shaking hands with myself ‘Hello dad, I’m Tommy.. your son’.   But now I’d forgotten what I’d rehearsed.  I couldn’t remember my own name, let alone how to shake hands.

Anthony was dead boss.. he put his hand on my shoulder and smiled.. he didn’t have to say anything.. I knew he was telling me that he’d make sure everything was all right.

And then, there I was, sitting opposite the fella I’d been waiting to meet for years.   Tall, brown skin, messy, Afro hair.   He didn’t shake my hand.  He just stared at me across the table.

I couldn’t talk.  Anthony explained to him who I was, and that me ma had said I was his son.

‘So…. Tommy!’  Said Carl, ‘You’ve grown up!’

Turned out he’d known me when I was a baby.   It’s weird, but I didn’t have the feelings  I thought I would.   Before I came to Strangeways I so wanted to meet him, for him tell me he was my dad.  But now as I watched his lined face, and looked between his missing teeth, I didn’t feel like I had any connection to him at all.

‘Are you me dad?’ I said nervously.

Carl smiled, but not a good smile, a smile that meant something else, ‘I could be.  With a mother like yours, who knows!’

At first I didn’t know what he was getting at.. but then I got it.  I stood up, ‘What are you saying about me ma?’

‘Nothin’ lad, nothin’.  I must admit, he did look a bit sorry for saying it.

Anthony got hold of my arm, and made me sit down.   But I couldn’t listen to Carl Laurence after that.  He kept speaking, but I couldn’t hear it.. I couldn’t understand it.   I watched his eyes, his mouth, his wrinkles moving.   If he was my dad, I didn’t give a f&ck.   I had a horrible feeling welling up in my stomach as he kept speaking.  He was trying to be nice but I hated him.

I didn’t speak again.   Just listened to his words, but couldn’t take them in.   I was made up when Anthony said we should go.. he knew something was wrong… he knew I wanted to leave Carl Laurence behind.

As I left, he said he was getting out soon, and he’d look me up.   Why did I just want to cry.. not wimpy crying, but angry crying.  But  I wasn’t going to show him.   I kept it together right until I got outside the first doors.. and then Anthony put his hand on my shoulder and squeezed it.  I fell apart!  Burst into loads of tears… Stupid, wimpy bastard that I am.

I just don’t know what to think or feel anymore.  Who the f$ck am I?

It seemed like ages before the door opened.   I was surprised to see a woman staring at me.  She was around 40 I suppose, though she  still looked a lot younger than my 36 year old ma (but that wasn’t hard to do!).
She just stared at me, dark hair in little waves sitting on her shoulders.  I was dead surprised to see a woman standing there,  and she looked just as surprised to see me!‘Yes’?  She said seriously.  For an old bird she was quite fit!I held my soaking wet jumper in front of my chest, trying to hide my freezing cold nipples which I could feel sticking out from under my shirt (They were hurting where they’d been rubbing on my shirt as I walked!)‘Is Anthony there?’ I said, trying to speak without my teeth chattering.
The woman raised her eyebrows (They were dead thin and neat!).‘He’s at work’, she said.  She looked dead suspicious of me.  I’d seen that same look on the faces of  almost everyone I met.  But Anthony hadn’t given me that look when he caught me scrounging in his skip.  That’s maybe why I felt I could trust him.  He didn’t question me like the others did;   he looked at me like I was a person, not like I was just some scum who was after something.I felt dead stupid just standing there with her staring at my soaked white shirt stuck to my nipples!
After a about five seconds just standing there, I smiled awkwardly, ‘Ok thanks.  See you!’I turned and started to squelch away down the path.  The woman suddenly called to me
 ‘Who shall I say called?’I turned to face her, but carried on backing away down the path towards the road,
 ‘Tommy.  Tommy Scouse.’  I turned away, relieved to have my back to her.   I was way too cold to stand still anyway.‘Wait!’ She shouted.  It made me jump.  I turned round quick.  She smiled for the first time. ‘He’ll be home soon.  You can come and wait if you like’.   I didn’t know what to say.  I was standing there dripping wet.  I could feel my hair springing into little curls as it started to dry (I always hated the way my hair did that!)She smiled again (She was actually really fit!).
 ‘Come on in,  I’ll make you a drink.  You look freezing!’I looked from left to right, as if it wasn’t me she was talking to.  When I looked back at her, she smiled and stepped aside ‘Anthony won’t be long, I know he’d love to see you.’I didn’t know what to say.. Anthony would love to see me?   I know he was dead nice and all that, but why would he want to set eyes on a scumbag scally like me?  (They were other people’s words, not mine!)  Why would he even care?I nodded to her, and practically ran through the door before she changed her mind.   I was so cold, and just needed to warm up for five minutes.
  I walked passed her into a big hallway about the size of our kitchen, only longer.   She shut the door and pointed towards another room, which I awkwardly entered before her.   God it was nice! Not massive like the queen’s house, but posh.   Posh chairs, posh carpet.   It was then I realised that my clothes where practically dripping onto the carpet.  I panicked, and pointed out the door towards the stairs
‘Can I just…’  I stood there like a soaked statue, just pointing out of the room.  For a second she stood staring at me, then a light came on in her head and she pointed with me.
‘Oh, yes of course! Sorry.. you must be absolutely freezing!  I’ll get you something warm to put on!’  She vanished out of the room.   There was this lingering smell of flowers when she went.. really girly.   It was nice (not that I like flowers or nothing!)It gave me a chance to look around the room while she was gone.  It had this massive leather couch.   I reckon I could have laid flat on it, and still my head or feet wouldn’t touch either end.I looked over at the fire place and there was a real fire burning in the grate.  It was June, but it wasn’t that warm out.
We had a space in our living room where a real fire should go, but it was full of drink bottles and cans.   Every now and then me ma would empty it and put some junk mail on it, lighting it with a match.. it would only burn for a few minutes, but it was nice to watch.  But this fire was different; it was warm and welcoming.  And the giant logs on it crackled like one of those fires you see on the tele.   I stood closer to it to feel its warmth.. it was so nice.
I glanced up at a big square mirror above the fireplace, and that’s when I caught my reflection… A drowned rat stared back.   My hair had dried.  It had jumped up into a mass of brown curls, just like a girl!   I frantically tried to pull them down with my fingers.She came down carrying some clothes in her hands.  I stood to attention, knowing how stupid i looked – God I wish I hadn’t come here now!
She handed me the clothes, ‘Why don’t you take those into the downstairs bathroom, and change out of those soaking wet things!  You’ll find clean towels in there too.’   I took the stuff from her hands, but still stood there like a knobhead.‘I… er..’  I just couldn’t think what to say.‘Go on.. before you freeze to death!’.Before I could think of anything to say, she’d let me down a hallway and pointed into the bathroom.   I went in and locked the door.
 For about 20 seconds I just stood there, staring at the door.    When I finally turned around I was in this f&ckoff big bathroom with a shower AND a bath (not just a shower head hanging over the bath).   The white toilet was sparkling clean, and the floor and walls where covered in really big tiles, like something from Roman times.   I’d never been in a bathroom like this one in my life before! AND it was a ‘downstairs bathroom’, which meant they must have had a bathroom ‘upstairs’ as well!  If it was my house I’d have to have two baths every single day, just so I could use both bathrooms!   It looked so inviting.. I wish I could have got in that bath and poured the bubble bath from the bottles on the side into the water.  I splashed my face with water from the sink.. it was warm and lovely.

I managed to peel the shirt off my back, which was so wet and see-through, it was completely stuck to me.   I found a huge, white, soft towel and dried myself off, before putting on these black kecks the woman had given me, and the striped, blue shirt, which was way too big.  But at least I was warm now.

I looked in the long mirror and saw a complete state looking back at me, but I did look better than I had 5 minutes ago.  My hair was really curly now, as it always went when it was wet.. I always have to prise the curls out with my fingers while it was wet, so it doesn’t all gather up like a giant ball on top of my head.   But it had already dried, so it was too late.

I gathered my wet clothes in a heap and unlocked the door, carrying them out of the bathroom and down the hall.   I popped my head around the door of the living room.

‘Hello Tommy!’  It was Anthony.   I felt awkward.  How do I explain why I’m in his house with his Misses, and wearing his clothes?

‘Erm, Anthony.. I just came round for… erm.. I don’t know.. It’s not what it seems.. I didn’t want to wear your clothes, she made me!  They’re too big anyway..’

Anthony started laughing.. but it wasn’t a laugh like he thought I was pathetic, it was a warm laugh, like I’d just told a joke or something.

‘Tommy, Tommy! It’s okay, I don’t mind you wearing my clothes.  You can bring them back next time you come.   Glad to see my wife Susan has been looking after you!’

I was just gobsmacked.. why were they so kind? What did they want from me.. were they just taking the piss? Making me believe that they were my friends, but really they were going to have the bizzies waiting around the corner when I left the house, and they’d cart me off for using their bathroom and robbing their clothes!

‘Don’t be so nervous! Susan’s making you a cup of tea.. do you like tea?’  Said Anthony, smiling.

I nodded, yes.   Susan then came in with a tray and 3 mugs of tea on it.   Funny but I expected posh cups and saucers with big red flowers on them.. like the queen would have.   She gave me a mug, and then put this plate of biscuits on the table.. God they looked good! Chocolate ones, Jammy dodgers.. everything.

‘Help yourself!’.  Well if that wasn’t an invitation, I don’t know what was!  I had four of them dipped in the mug of tea and down me neck in seconds!

Anthony asked me why I was wet.. I told him I was fishing and fell in the Mersey (I thought it was best I didn’t tell him about robbing the pipe, and all the rest of it!  He’d never have me around again).  I just kept digging into those biscuits until they were gone!   I thought they’d be mad, but they just laughed, and Susan even asked if I wanted some dinner.  But I said no thanks (I was ready to burst with all the biscuits in my belly!).

I decided to get off, thinking that by the time I walked home it would be nearly time for the social worker to be there…. I decided that if I didn’t turn up and play the part, me ma would get into trouble.   And besides… I didn’t want to end up back in foster care… that’s no place for any kid… not even me.