His Walk


The town has seven hills. All the villages that make up the town start on a hill and fall down to the river.

He let me order him a seventh pint and said I walked up everyone o’ those buggers, lugging the coal-pickings like a ruddy labourer.

I were born on a Rag and Bone cart. Anyroad Old Bobby O’Neil. and his mares Max and Miller were dragging up Winter Lane. My mother bawling in labour and father shouts out front door for Bobby to stop. Folk like that round here, do ought for you. Anyway with mam in hospital up yond hill where workhouse used to be, Bobby told me father. ‘You owe me one: Me glass is empty. lad.
Pissing Doctor told me not to go on the ale, you know. I knew. You’ll ‘ave me plugging it.

I bought him his eighth and wondered what it would bring.

They’ve knocked the Hayloft down for that bloody roundabout now at Townend. It’ll be the the end of this town. That great Western Relief Road leading to roundabout. Whose it relieving that’s what I’d like to know. It’s a new world now .kld, No room for living in the past, eh! Whoa. ‘Ave to go for a piss lad. Wait up before you get another round in. These Hayloft T-shirts are rare , you know.

I bought him his ninth.

Your mother lived down Winter Lane, didn’t she? He asked. At last we were getting somewhere. Aye, did she? I sounded coy. I wanted to sound coy. A rare piece of skirt your mother. I’ve not offended you, have I ? He was testing the waters seeing how far he could go. I shook my head but my fists were curling into balls and the knuckles whitening.

I bought him his tenth.

I went with your mother, you know. I knew. She was going with ought in trousers. How could I say no. Such a tight arse, such a tight skirt. This was deliberate. He knew what I was after. She had a bairn, you know. This was it. Nowt to do with me. She’d leg over with dozen since me. The expected denial. The bell for last orders.

I bought him his eleventh, with a whisky chaser. We left and I forced him to climb the steepness of Winter Lane towards the hospital.

The ambulance came too late.

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