Daresay

two_old_ladies-at_bus_stop_western_rd_brighton_uk_p_maton_14-06-15

Chilly this morning, they give rain later

They’m usually wrong, don’t know why they bother

No point sayin’ something that turns out another

Overpaid’s what they are them weather forecasters

They should be ashamed, payin’ all that money

To them as should know if it’s rainin’ or sunny

While we all get wet, it’s usually pourin’

Then get on the bus sittin’ an’ drippin’

Still – ha ha – they’m trying their hardest, daresay

’Ee’m late today, held up in traffic

I expect, that’s the trouble, them roads full of potholes

The Council won’t fix ’em, no money they say

Austerity they say, not like in my day

It’s them politicians, that one like a weasel

Wears builders’ helmets to get in the papers

Tighten our belts he says, bloomin’ cheek

I’ll tighten ’is belt and then watch ’im squeak

Disgraceful it is in this day and age

Still – ha ha – they know what they’m doing, daresay

My appointment’s ten thirty, ’ee’d better come soon

You know what they’m like in them hospital rooms

Waitin’ an age to get in in the first place

Then sittin’ five hours with all them strange faces

Not knowin’ who’s next, doors openin’ and closin’

Trolleys and scurryin’, no sense to it all

Until your name’s called

More and more people and most of ’em foreigners

Not enough money for nurses and doctors

It was never like this before

Still – ha ha – least we’ve got a Health Service, daresay

The doctor’s surgery, that’s another thing

Whenever I ring it rings and rings

And then when it answers I’m told to ring back

In the morning, didn’t used to be like that

I could see my doctor whenever I wanted

It’s all them foreigners that’s what it is

There’s too many now, they come over here

Take up all the places, and schools it’s the same

They should stay where they come from

That’s what I think

Still – ha ha – most of ’em’s decent, daresay

Where’m ’ee got to, ’ee’m never this late

Bet it’s a crash, someone goin’ too fast

Them young lads is worst, my neighbour ’ee says

They’m doin’ a hundred along the bypass

They’m too young to drive, they don’t care you know

They’m just showin’ off to the girls in the back

It’s all very well but think what they do

To their families and friends when the the car hits a tree

They should stop ’em before they get killed or maimed

I dunna remember it being the same

When we were first startin’

Still – ha ha – that terry-ostrone, daresay

I sees in the paper they’m gettin’ a new Aldi

Comin’ next summer, cheap they are too

We’ll be better off, mind you foreign stuff

You just don’t know where things come from do you

Africa ’n that, don’t matter really

Long as it’s fresh and don’t cost too much

We need a new one, there isn’t enough

What with them foreigners

And all them new houses they’m buildin’

I dunna know where it’s all leadin’

Still – ha ha – we’ll always get by, daresay

Ah ’ere’s the bus now, not before time

Was startin’ to worry and I’m runnin’ out

Of things we all like talkin’ about

Someone point out that we was ’ere

Before them people over there

Don’t let them on first, it isn’t fair

Foreigners an’ all, they’m pushin’ in,

They dunna use the bus like us

We’m here every day, if they makes a fuss

Someone should tell ’em it’s our bus

And they can wait their turn

Still – ha ha – they’m polite enough, daresay

Copyright © Paul Costello June 2016

 www.paulcostello.me

 

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Postcard from Gloucester

Dear Auntie Evelyn

I love the bus station cafe. There’s something homely about a woman mopping with disinfectant as I nibble at my Bakewell tart and make a spoon stand in the tea.

Been to Gloucester – to save a few bob and catch a movie. There’s a bleak feel to the centre. Chain stores like Next and Currys have moved to retail parks, or like Woolworths gone out of business, and many premises stay empty. Town clocks have stopped in sympathy – at twenty to four, the ‘sad’ smiley.

But other shops like Greggs and McDonalds do well when there’s little money about. And in Northgate, Wilkinsons sells cheap essentials from a bright and well-stocked store with vague checkout assistants. Mine, fresh out of school, said they only sold second class stamps in twelves, but then asked if I wanted six or twelve, all the while looking over my shoulder as if fixated by Don’t Tell the Bride on a wall-mounted TV.

‘But you only do twelves,’ I said.

‘Six or twelve?’ she repeated.

‘You told me you only do twelves,’ I said.

‘Okay, twelve,’ she said, not seeing the funny side of it.

Trade is briskest in Southgate. Four years ago Poundland grabbed all the budget customers with a £1 store, before a 99p Store set up opposite, stealing much of Poundland’s trade. An enterprising local then opened a 98p Store next to Poundland, and it was no surprise when a 97p Store took up residence in an old Bradford and Bingley premises next to the 99p store. The pattern continued down the street, even prices one side, odd the other, and it’s now got as far as a 17p Store, with 13 to 16 opening shortly.

I must say, auntie, this is a boon for everyone. In the last year I’ve refurbished my entire living room and kitchen for two pounds, thirty three pence. I know much of it doesn’t match and isn’t Lakeland quality, but it’s better on the pocket. Even this postcard was discounted to 1p in the 21p Store – sorry there’s no picture!

I had lunch in the docks (a Fatty Melt™ from Greggs and a Twix reduced to 7p in the 18p Store), surrounded by beautifully preserved but largely unoccupied warehouse conversions and glossy restaurants with few customers. Meanwhile, some folk are being forced to live in semi-derelict houseboats. One barge called Hope had a revolving dryer on deck, holding trousers, a shirt and a pair of knickers. When a woman came through the shutter doors to collect them, I saw how far things had gone; down to one set of clothes and having to hang them out with nothing on! It’s really sad, auntie, that things have come to such a pretty pass.

Yet, off Westgate, the fine 15th century tower of Gloucester cathedral, an inspirational setting for Harry Potter and Shakespeare productions, rises proudly through the deprivation. Other gems sit amongst the post-war drabness, like the decorative frontage of the Imperial Inn and the fascinating clock figures above Bakers the jewellers, fighting a lonely battle with the bland fascias of Southgate’s discount stores.

And I’m impressed by the high spirit in these tough times. With a large student population there’s a youthful vibrancy to the streets, fashion-conscious youngsters thriving on cheap deals from Primark and burgeoning charity shops. Other generations have followed. I saw groups of men chatting and laughing outside Wetherspoons in handsome retro shell suits, and on Eastgate, lively, ruddy-faced people had gathered on town benches to chat and share a drink. A man stepped in front of me and asked,

‘Have you got any money, mate?’

I hadn’t thought I looked in need, and assured him I had enough, but I was overwhelmed by the locals’ generosity, when they too must be feeling the pinch.

Near their meeting place is a barely discernible doorway leading to a different world. A grand staircase rises to the galleried corridors and panelled rooms that make The Guildhall a perfect escape from the Gloucester chill. For a giveaway £5.50, tea and lemon drizzle cake are included in a Screen Tea Matinee at the delightful art house cinema. I’ve just seen an excellent VW Polo advertisement, followed by a thought-provoking, if slow-moving Argentinian film about cattle rustling. Before the red velvet curtains opened, I sat sipping Earl Grey at my beaten-copper side table, swapping literary banter with other World Cinema enthusiasts, watched over by handsome characters in rich oil paintings above the frieze of what must once have been a thriving boardroom.

Well, my bus is due, so must dash. I’m expecting another hairy Stagecoach journey. On the way, the driver cornered the double-decker so fast that the top deck bounced off the hedges each side. I thought he was just showing off with that captain’s hat – but he clearly pictured himself banking to land.

Bye for now, Auntie Evelyn. Hope the ulcer is better. Absorbent gauze is so expensive, but it’s definitely the best thing for weeping sores.

Love Paul

Paul Costello  ©  November 2012

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Fineleaf Editions

Philip Gray

The first Fineleaf title in 2013 will be a new book by Paul Costello – Utterly Undiscovered. The author sets the scene:

Council workers Paul and Debbie leave the Brighton rat race to open a Bed and Breakfast so close to the edge of civilisation that a rotting signpost at the crossroads says Shroosbury in one direction and Utterly Undiscovered in the other three. Dubbed My Basil by long-suffering Debbie, Paul fights off furry invaders, fat Americans and teenagers who hang around half-naked. How is it that neighbour Jack finds him crawling across the car park at dawn in his dressing gown? Why does he loiter in a listed Victorian urinal? And how can he discourage the visitors he most fears – winos and noisy parrots?

http://www.fineleaf.co.uk

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