DOCKER TOWN

 

docker town

You’re lost. Taken a wrong turn in this scary part of the city. The peasouper has played it’s trump card. You’re in trouble. You’re in Docker town. You see a light and a sign. You push a door and you’re in. The smoke’s so thick you have to swallow hard or your throat is in danger of closing and never being able to open again. Your blurred eyes squint and water as they gradually focus on their surroundings. A woman sits at the end of the bar dressed in clothes that ought to belong to her daughter. Waiting, hoping, praying that someone will buy her a drink. Very few do.  There’s a man just two feet away from her in a suit two sizes too big for him. He’s lost weight, convinces himself that it’s because he’s “looking after himself.” Truth is, he’s never been overweight in his life and he’s using the toilet more than he used to.  He orders another scotch, large of course, no ice. Three men are sat by the fire. It’s not alight even though it’s freezing outside. They’re working men. Hands rough and scarred, from unloading barges that come into the dock nearby.  All drinking the cheapest beer the landlord offers. Voices are raised from another corner. Two men square up to each other, each hoping that the other won’t actually throw a punch. A bigger man steps between them and pushes them apart. They’re both glad of the interruption.  The landlady shouts out “Oi, not in here, take it outside.” Her blouse buttons straining to keep back the enormous white breasts that she knows keeps the workers coming in. There’s a blackboard on the far wall. In chalk it says “ Food Served Here.” It’s actually sandwiches. Cheese, ham or egg. There’s a man drinking from a pewter mug that he keeps behind the bar, makes him feel like he’s at home, because he has no real home. But here everyone knows his name. It’s an hour before midday and yet at least three people are slumped in a chair too drunk to move. Dockers pubs open early. You can hear music, a piano is playing and through the haze you see a man sitting on a stool playing something vaguely familiar. People are singing along. All out of key, but so is the piano.

 

Welcome to Docker Town.

 

You decide to leave and the cold air hits you like a punch from a heavyweight boxer. It takes away your breath and you gasp repeatedly until your lungs decide to get up off the floor and carry on. The street outside is full of men. Old men, young men, desperate men. All wanting and crying out for one thing. Work. Some will be lucky today some won’t. The lucky ones will go home smiling the others won’t go home. A man stops you and grabs your arm. “Spare a couple of coppers guv?” You try to pull away but his grip is firm. “Please Guv!” His voice has gone from a question to a cry. You keep walking. You dare not look at his face. He lets go and falls to the floor. Other men just step over him as though he’s not there. One colour describes your surroundings. Grey. Thick smoke and fog hangs in the air and you soon realise that it was healthier being inside the pub. Up ahead is a crowd of men standing by a lamppost. All wearing caps and boots, hunched over with hands in pockets. You pass them. One of them shouts at you. “Any work guv?” They think you’re management because you’re dressed differently to them. You don’t stop. Just waive your hand. You can see the dock gates up ahead. So close. Close to normality. A woman to your left is standing outside a derelict building. “Want business love?” You make the mistake of looking up at her. She smiles. A toothless smile. She raises her tattered skirt above her knee. Hoping for a reaction. You move on hurriedly. She shouts out after you. “Stuck up bastard, I can do more for you than your missus can indoors.” You reach the gates and leave.

 

Goodbye Docker town.

docker town

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George And Mildred ( Part 2)

George was up early the next day. He was feeling good about himself. Argos had a sale on and the swing was only £19.99.

By 09.00 the swing was assembled and took pride of place on his manicured lawn.

Mildred of course was still in bed. She didn’t like to be disturbed until 09.30. Well, not by George anyway. The milkman always took up the milk to her around 06.30 and stayed till 07.00. Then the Postman delivered the post to her about 08.00, he also stayed for 30 minutes. They both had their own key. Mildred had insisted on it. “It will save you having to get up from your own bedroom and letting them in.” she told him. That’s what he loved about her. Always thinking of others.

Her breakfast was ready and George placed the bowl of offal delicacies on a tray and climbed the stairs to Mildred’s bedroom. He knocked and waited for her to give the usual command for him to enter.

“Okay bollock brains. In you come.”

George entered and placed the tray on the end of the bed. All the time he had his eyes closed.

He wasn’t allowed to look at Mildred until 11.00am. She was very self-conscious without her make up. Bless her.

“You’re late you fool. It’s 09.32!”

“Sorry darling, the lungs took longer to boil than usual this morning. But I’ve put some nice pieces of pig’s liver in it for you, raw of course. I know how much you enjoy your offal delicacies.”

He heard a man’s voice.

“Do you have company dear?”

“Yes I do George. Open your eyes.”

George did as he was told. Mildred was sitting up in bed. Beside her was a middle aged man with grey hair.

“Listen to me you good for nothing wally. I’ve gone off the idea of swinging. It seems like too much effort, besides I’d have to take you along with me and that would be embarrassing. So I’ve decided to have a threesome.”

George looked confused.

“But there’s only two of you in bed dear.”

“Do you think I’m stupid George? This is Mister Hartford. He’s schizophrenic.”

“Oh I see dear. Shall I bring up another bowl for Mister Hartford?”

“No. You can go now. Mister Hartford can have a nice nibble on my delicacies until we’re both completely satisfied.”

“That’s very kind of you dear.”

George left the room and closed the door behind him. Almost immediately he heard a loud slurping noise. Mister Hartford was obviously very hungry.

Back in the kitchen George started to daydream. He remembered the first time he set eyes on Mildred. It was the summer of 1971. A friend of his had persuaded him to attend a local fete. The spitting competition was about to start. Up walked the most beautiful creature he’d ever seen. He was suddenly aroused by the sound she made as she pulled up the phlegm from somewhere deep inside her. Twenty seven feet nine inches she made that spit travel. A world record even to this day. He adored her in the piggy back race. Not content with having just one person on her back she had six. All men, all over eighteen stone. She won that race by four seconds. Then there was tossing the caber. This was something she excelled at. How he wished he was Bobby Caber that day!

The day ended with the traditional dog fights. Something that’s banned nowadays. But back then it was the highlight of the fete. Mildred won of course, beating a twelve stone German Shepherd in the final.

A stinging sensation in his thigh made him come to his senses. Mildred had crept up on him from behind and lovingly stabbed him in the thigh.

“You daydreaming again you worthless piece of shit?”

“Sorry dear, miles away again.”

She looked out of the kitchen window and made that familiar snorting noise that she did when she was angry about something.

“What the fuck is that swing doing in my garden? Take it down immediately you moron. It’s obscuring the view of my abattoir!”

mildred

George And Mildred ( Part 1)

George Baker was in the kitchen making offal sandwiches (  his wife’s favourite tea time snack) when he heard a stream of obscenities coming from the living room. He decided to investigate.

“Looking for something darling?”

Mildred, his wife of thirty six years was frantically emptying the contents of her handbag.

“Of course I’m looking for something you moron. Why else would I be doing this?”

“Just wondered if I could help, that’s all dear.”

“You haven’t been able to help me in ANY department since 1986. So just shut the fuck up and sit down.”

He did as he was told. His eyes still glued to the amount of stuff being taken from the handbag. It looked like a scene from Mary Poppins.

He wasn’t surprised to see nail varnish, hair curlers, ketamine and a brass door knocker, but he actually gasped when she took out the chain saw. She looked at him and sneered.

“What?”

“Nothing darling. Just admiring your packing skills.”

“Listen Numb nuts, you never know when a chain saw will come in handy. Last week I was round Jane’s having a glass of wine and she showed me her garden. She mentioned that a massive bush was overhanging her front opening. Five minutes later it wasn’t a problem.”

He wasn’t quite sure what she meant by that. But years of experience had told him not to question anything that Mildred said.

“No, no honey, you’re right. As always.

“Yes and don’t you EVER forget it!”

They sat there in silence. Something that he wasn’t accustomed to. He started to count down from twenty. He knew it wouldn’t take long. Nineteen, eighteen, seventeen, sixteen, fifte….

“You still sitting there you useless lump of lard. Go and get my sandwich and make me a cup of tea.”

“Of course darling. Sorry darling.”

He made his way to the kitchen and switched on the kettle. He thought back to better times when Mildred was a young care-free girl. She had a strange hobby back then. She liked to race greyhounds. Sometimes she would even beat them. He remembered one day at Hackney. She was in trap two and the favourite was in trap six. The doors opened and she was away like the wind. There was no stopping her that day. She won by a good six lengths. Happy days.

Now at the age of sixty two her racing days were over. She still kept herself fit and trim of course by street jumping but the speed had gone from her legs for any thoughts of returning to the greyhound track. He wondered if that was the reason she was always so angry. Today was quiet by comparison. He hadn’t been stabbed yet. Something Mildred took great pleasure in. Only a small wound of course. Normally at the top of his leg. It was just her way of showing affection. He was still deep in thought when Mildred entered the kitchen. Penknife in hand.

“Where the hell is my tea, shit – for- brains?”

“Sorry dear, miles away. Just coming now.”

He felt the familiar stinging sensation in his thigh.

“That should wake you up, you good for nothing fool.”

“Thank you dear. Much appreciated. Just what I needed.”

Mildred tutted and sighed and made a sort of snorting noise. George was never sure which part of her body the snorting noise came from. But knew better than to ask.mildred

“Right, bring the tea into the living room. I think we should talk.”

The words struck fear into George. The last time Mildred had uttered those words she told him she wanted to breed tigers in the garden shed. They tried it, but only the once. Mildred had bad scratches on her back and the tiger died from suffocation.

He sat down and waited for whatever scheme was brewing inside her head.

“Okay, listen you idle useless half wit. I’ve decided that we need to spice things up a bit in this poor excuse that we call a marriage. We’re going to try swinging.”

Georges chin almost hit the floor. Where on earth would he get a swing from at this time of day. Argos would be closed by now….