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Gold Top (A Tale from a grey Lancashire Town 1948)

We used to live along the street from Mrs. Baines. She was a rather restrained old lady who’d lost her husband during the war. He fell under a corporation bus after staggering out of “The Tale Of Two Ferrets” blind drunk for the fourth day in a row, on the 5th of February 1943. He might have become confused in the black out or possibly alarmed by receiving his call up papers. He would have hated parting from his “local” in that grey northern town but many had to play their part in bringing about Hitler’s downfall.
Mrs. Baines thought herself an upstanding person. However she nursed grievances and that made her seem peevish in many ways. She trotted out a well rehearsed line when stood by her husband’s hearse. “My Percy was a sensitive soul who sought peace for all.” While secretly cursing his wayward ways, conveniently forgetting the frequency of her own visits to “The Offy” for a jug of stout.
She claimed a forgiving nature regarding “character slurs” by those “who should know better.” As for her debt at the local shop for brandy and cigarettes she claimed that Mrs. Meek, Who ran it let her have “the basics” on tick and then overcharged her for the privilege. So her life was no pic-nic “Tainted goods and stout at champagne prices.” Mrs Baines would say.
She always had a pint of gold top milk delivered every Saturday morning which she used  for tea and coffee at the weekly meeting of The Sewing Circle in the local church hall. One such morning I arrived back in the early hours without my key having attended the annual Darts And Domino Committee elections held at The Queen Boadicea and was sitting on the wall at the side of our house. Admiring the view I’d had quite a few, waiting for the curtains to be prised apart, when the milkman arrived, popping the pint of gold top on Mrs Baines doorstep.
I glanced at my watch. 6.30A.M. Daren’t wake the wife. That would be a big mistake, and worst I was dying of thirst. I just had to have that milk. So I filched it, leaped over the wall, crouched and downed al of its luscious creamy contents. Then I chucked the bottle into a bush.
I could tell she knew it was me because the next time we went round her house she made us each a cup of tea, but mine had no milk in it.

21 Mar 18

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