them that are carried

issue #17 of PUSH is out this week; it includes an interview i did with Johny Brown of The Band of Holy Joy. please buy a copy from joe.england64@gmail.com for £3.50 via PayPal. here is a story i had in issue #16…
robert owen gardens

despite the fucking mendacious horseshit repeatedly spouted by neo-liberal twats in the right wing media, i’d normally have been the very last cunt to claim that the lasting legacy of that bitch Thatcher provided even a scintilla of succour for the working and non-working classes as a whole and the residents of the Felling in particular, even though one of the really fucking  surprising, and presumably unintentional, side effects of the 1980 Housing Act was that once my Nanna had nipped the end of her last Richmond Superking menthol  between index finger and thumb, then entered the concert room of the great Windy Nook Social Club in the sky, clutching her bingo book, ready  to join Grandpa, who would remain three pints of Fed Special ahead of every other fucker there  for all eternity, i  suddenly found myself balanced precariously  a quarter of the way up the property ownership ladder,  when the two bedroom, twin reception, fitted kitchen, turquoise bathroom suite (including power shower), front and back gardened , post war, Welfare State sanctioned, social democratic consensus funded, ex Gateshead Council family home for conscripted National Service heroes, on a corner plot at the end of Hopper Road (just round the corner from Mam and Dad’s place on Robert Owen Gardens that was the only home i’d known), where Mam had been brought up and that Nanna, grown weak and weary from decades of hiding under the stairs every other Tuesday when the rent man clashed the door, especially if Grandpa had been severely on the piss, had bought in cash with the compensation earned after he’d checked out under the front wheels of a departing 58 in Heworth bus station, following a prolonged Sunday afternoon session in The Swan,  became the alpha and omega of my property portfolio

as i’d hitherto achieved the square root of fuck all in my three decades on the planet, on account of the fact that most days i was content to busy myself with the unpretentious vade mecums of life (drink, tack, tabs, betting), declaring such wanky bourgeois concerns as getting a job, settling down, growing up or even standing on my own two feet for reasons other than propelling myself through the doors of bookmakers or licensed premises, held zero fucking appeal,  i was completely fucking stunned  when news of this bequest was broken to me at the reading of Nanna’s will in the offices of Lawrence and Martin Solicitors on Regent Terrace as, despite the fact Mam’s brother Uncle Robin, a fabulously wealthy homosexual who had reinvented his persona to the extent  he spoke like he’d been brought up on the same kind of estate as Prince Harry or Zara Phillips rather than in the Felling,  and who was preoccupied during the revelation of who had inherited what by idly tousling the locks of the latest in a succession of bleached blonde twenty something hospitality industry professionals who accompanied him on his biennial trips home (the current visit fortunately being combined with the familial duty of attending Nanna’s funeral), had  previously made it abundantly clear he had no interest in claiming any goods or chattels from those he grudgingly accepted shared a bloodline with him, the truth being that ever since Grandpa’s going, Mam had effectively been the sole carer for Nanna, who had spent her last years completely fucking away with the show people

it seemed the only explanation for how Mam, grown erinaceous by all those fucking unthanked labours for son and mother, had come to the end of the road with me,  to the extent that her and Dad, who divided up his time between either grabbing every shift of extra over time going or pissarsing about up the allotment and would have failed a personality test if he’d been required to take one, having paid off their mortgage fucking years earlier, were united in their unshakeable belief of the need to divest themselves of any responsibility for their only offspring, whose twin interests were seemingly  limited to lengthy bevvy sessions with my similarly thirsty pals in The Portland  or snoring and farting in my  pit,  so she had presumably managed to append a scratchy signature  to the codicil that willed me the house via the assistance of some borderline legit paralegal, in return for a guaranteed shot at probate and the attendant chance to make money for fuck all, by spinning out the less than complex process of closing the Post Office savings account that Nanna had half filled with her infrequent, meagre bingo winnings, then cashing in a bundle of pre decimal Premium Bonds stuffed in a desiccated manila envelope

proof that Mam’s arguably fraudulent philanthropy, even if she announced to the room that we should pay heed to Nanna’s final wishes on account of a note written on the Basildon bond pad in the top drawer of her dresser, where she always kept her correspondence, like one of those 18th century wits who published volumes of intellectual epistles,  had a less than noble provenance became quasi-public when my innocent speculating as to the market value of the property was ferociously cut across by her sermonic declaration that “you’re not fucking selling it, you’re moving in there, tomorrow, straight after the funeral,” which both brooked no dissension and brought the legal proceedings to an abrupt end amid uncomfortable silence, which was broken after we’d filed out the door by an argument developing between Mam  and Uncle Robin about whether to decorate the living room or front bedroom first, without me being consulted of course, after she’d noticed him slipping me pair of fifties, ostensibly for a few litres of magnolia undercoat

if i’d been a proper grown up, i’d have gone to town in B&Q with the cunts but instead i headed off towards The Gloucester where, serendipitously, my mate Stevie, sat on the front wall tying his shoe, had his attention  easily grabbed by me waving the brace of big ones in front of his eyes and mentioning drink, causing Stevie to quit riving furiously at a recalcitrant lace and go on the piss for the next six hours or so and because he’s fucking boss at the old witty repartee, i ended up bad laughing and fucked on vodka, bailing out for a taxi home via Ron’s Chippy for a large doner and fuck the vegetables

wandering down the street, kebab in one hand, cock in the other, trying to write NUFC in slash under the lights, it was pretty fucking sobering to see Mam and Dad loading up his work transit with everything from my new house bar the beds and sofas on the night before Nanna’s funeral and before i’d even had a chance to try my keys in the lock, swapping them for a dozen slabs of cans and a holdall full of spirits, but when i queried this on arrival, Mam explained this symbiotic exchange was necessary in case anyone came back for another drink after the wake, as we’d need some space and anyway i had my own stuff to bring in here now, a point reinforced when i let myself in the back door at their house and almost tripped over my worldly possessions, which consisted of several assorted boxes of records, clothes and pornographic magazines and DVDs

Nanna’s funeral the next day was alright and i’m glad i dug the old tuxedo out the wardrobe i’d bought back when I reckoned the Nick Cave style was the way to go, because i looked the part in the big limo that took us down the Crem, though it was one of those few times when i missed not having a bird, just for appearances and that, though i suppose i could have shelled out to some agency for one to accompany me, same as the way i paid for birds to give us a gobble when i’d not had it in months (a nice looking thing though, sort of pre Raphaelite, not like that massive bird whose tits i’d shot all over in the Dam for twenty Euros the other year), but i put it out my mind and, service over, we got back in the limo up to Windy Nook Club for the wake in the small lounge not the concert room like (sign on the door saying no dogs allowed, except “them that are carried”), where Mam and Uncle Robin started working the room and that, but as i was starving, i reckoned all that mattered was digging into the booze and ensuring my nutritional requirements were fulfilled by  the buffet, until around 4 when most of the cunts started heading off, at which point Mam drew me to one side and informed me this was as good a time as any to round up the ones in the mood for a party and head off to mine for the post wake pre housewarming drink, which wasn’t a bad idea at all

we started giving the drink a proper fucking hammering and by the time the first set of neighbours who’d called round to complain about the noise had been faced down with free booze and a pacifying joint, it suddenly occurred to me, with half the cans done in and the whisky going down the same route, just as Mam and Dad said they were off home, that i was having a fucking brilliant time, especially considering that less than forty eight hours earlier I’d learned i’d come as near to winning the lottery as i could ever imagine, by assuming ownership of this house

it was fucking weird to think that at thirty two years of age, i was about to spend my first night away from my parents, when Mam stopped halfway down the front path and turned back to tell me i’d forgotten to return their house key, which wasn’t what i’d expected her to say at that point, as i was half prepared for the admission she’d forced Nanna’s hand into signing over the house to me, not that it would have bothered my conscience like, but instead she also informed me Dad would continue to do the gardens front and back as he always had done and that, once i’d signed the standing order form she vigorously waved in front of my sneck, all utility bills would be paid by them, providing i lived in Nanna’s house and even better, i still got to sign on as well as have the house, which i thought was worth celebrating, so i had another couple of cans and ended up totally battered, though luckily some helpful fuckers carted me upstairs before i fell asleep on the sofa and the next thing i knew was when i woke up the next morning around 8 to the sound of the Saturday morning loud mower, when Dad started cutting my front lawn, so i got up and had a piss, before putting the kettle on

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