Herbert Williams

Herbert Williams.

Brief Encounter

What it is, I'm mindin my own business when this bloke from the paper knocks the door an starts askin me a lorra questions. So I asks im in an makes im a cuppa, I don' like standin on the doorstep, there's too many eyes watchin. He's norra bad bloke either 'cept he's got big teeth an you can't see is eyes proper behind them glasses of is.

He sits there lookin awkward an you can tell he's never been this side of Leo's in is life an it makes you laugh, the ole soddin thing. Anyway, he wants to know all about me, ow many kids I got an what I gets from the Social an even what I thinks of Maggie Thatcher. I'm telling you there int much he don' wanna know. I'm thinkin next minute he's gonna ask me if I'm getting it reglar an there's no way I'm gonna tell im things like that, no way at all.

But no, he goes on to other marrers like the slates offa roof an that damp patch I been goin on about for years without no-one doin' nothin about it an the way everythin round here looks like a tip an the vandalism an that. An I tells im straight, you don' find no councillors down here 'cept at election times an even then they don' stay longer than they as to. They drives round shoutin the odds but where do they live theirselves, up in Cyncoed or Lisvane an places like that. You don' find em down the Ruperra on a Sat'dy night or even the Moorlands. Well that's up to them an I don' blame em livin somewhere nice but that's not to say they gorra pretend the sun shines outa their arse because it don'.

Anyway, this man from the paper sits there takin it all in an lookin real serious like I was Lady Muck or summ'n an I says Here, what's this for, an he says I told you what, we're doin summ'n on social whatsit an to tell you the truth I don' know what he means, it's one of them long words that social worker used to throw out till they gives er a new pitch somewhere else. Well why come to me I says, there's plenny others livin round here an he says I didn', not specially, I just knocks your door opin' someone was in. Thank you very much I says, a bit sarky like, cos though you may not wanna be picked out special it's better than bein just tipped outa the barrel. And just then Debbie comes ome and starts chopsin as usual an givin me funny looks like she thinks I'm up to summ'n with this bloke. I tell you kids today ave got one-track minds and you know what sorta track I means. So I sends er across the road for some ciggies an then Gary comes in bawlin is head off an I tell you I've ad a gutsful, I've ad it right up to here. So anyway I says, ow about a cuppa an he says that's OK by me an he puts down is biro an starts talkin to Gary, calmin im like. An Gary takes to this bloke, there's summ'n about im, you can tell he's used to kids like, they're not just summ'n that gets under your feet like a loada dirt. An I asks im, ow many you got then, an he says three, two boys an a girl. That's nice I says, ow old they now then, an he says the oldest is eight or nine, to tell you the truth I can't remember now what he did say exactly. But it was real nice talkin to im, it's ages since I talked to anyone like that, well I mean Mick an me don' talk we just fights arf the time an when he's over the wall like he is now we don' talk at all.

Next thing you knows Debbie's back with the ciggies an I opens the pack an offers im one but he says no thanks I give em up las' Frid'y an I says only las Frid'y an he says yeh don' tempt me an I laughs cos if it was me I'd be eatin the flamin packet, too right I would. So I lights up an Debbie says can I ave one all cheeky like an I tells er to sod off an she gives me a bitta lip. So I swipes er one, at least I tries to but she's like a whippet that one and outa the ouse before you can say knife. An Gary's just sittin there quiet as a lamb an next thing I know this bloke's got im on is lap an is talkin to im real nice like he was is own father or summ'n.

Anyway, I makes the tea an we sits there drinkin it. Real nice it is. Soothin. An I thinks ow nice it'd be livin like this alla time, just nice an quiet, no fussin or quarrellin. An I wonders what is missus thinks of im bein in a job like that, lookin up strange women an goin into their ouses. I tell you if it was my ole man I'd be givin im the once-over every night of the week. But I suppose you gets used to it. Or maybe you doesn'. An anyway it's no business of mine so I stops thinkin about it, at least I tries to stop thinkin but I can't really cos it's there at the back of my mind, naggin an worryin me like one of them cold sores you gets on your lip inna winter. An I'm thinkin then ow nice it'd be to go upstairs with a bloke like that, yes I knows what you're thinkin but I don' mean that, what I means is jus lie there an stroke each other an talk a bit. Cos he seems so kind. An considerate. Yeh. That's what he seems like then. Kind an considerate.

Then Gary gets restless an wriggles off is lap an this bloke goes on talkin, not making notes or nothin just talkin. An I tells im everythin, I'm not kiddin. Everythin. About our Dad with is rhubarb an our Ernie with is bike an Uncle Tom with is accordion, an ow our Mam used to stuffa turkey at Christmas an the time Auntie Mabel runs off with the man with one arm from the war. Christ I even tells im that, God knows why, I musta been barmy. But I tells him orright an I got the bruises to show for it. Like I say, it was so nice just sittin there talkin. Not doin nothin. Just talkin. Like we was human beings,. Not dumb animals like they treats you up at the Social.

But at last he ups an says he as to be goin. Yeh. Goin. An I'm really sorry cos he seems real nice, the sorta bloke you can trust. An I feels lonely when he's gone. Real lonely. An that night I lies awake, thinkin about im. Lyin with is missus in a posh house in Cyncoed or Lanishen or wherever. Lyin with er. Makin love possibly. An then I thinks about Mick, in is stinkin cell in Adamsdown. Stinkin rotten pit you wouldn put the cat in. An I thinks about the judge who put im in there. Sittin there with is stupid wig an is big bum an is pot belly. Sendin im down for five years. An the way the copper grabs old of im, grabs im by the arm as if he's a loada dirt and shoves im down outa sight. An me up there inna gallery cryin my art out.

Oh yes I thinks about that. An I cries again, honest. I cries till there's no cryin left in me. All because of this bloke from the paper. An I goes to sleep at last clutchin the pillow. Like a flamin kid aye. Clutchin the pillow pretendin it's Mick. God what a night. I'm glad to see mornin.

An the next thing I knows, it's a day or two later an Sadie from over the road's wavin the paper in fronta my face. Hey kid you seen this she says, you're famous, you're all over the paper. An I looks at it an there I am, my name an all, even the kids, everythin I flamin said is there in black and white. God elp I says, I'm not avin this, I'll ave their guts for garters you see if I don'. You will too says Sadie, I knows you will, they got no right. You show em kid she says, stirrin it up like. An I tells er to bog off an leave me to it, an she gets all uffy an grabs er paper back off me, an I as to go out an buy another but I don' mind cos she gets on my nerves. An I think everyone's lookin at me, honest to God I does, cos the things they put in there int fit to print, I tell you no word of a lie. An I sees is name over it, an I thinks you rotten stinkin swine, comin to my ouse an sittin there takin it all in an puttin it down like I'm a loada dirt, some animal or summ'n. Cos that's what it means. He thinks I don' count. Just cos I int got the brains he as. Just cos I lives where I does. Just cos my boy friend's over the wall. Just cos of everythin. An I don' care what he is, Labour or Conservative or anythin, what he did's a rotten mean trick an I don' care who knows it. Cos he didn' care for me at all. He couldn ave. He didn think nothin of me. Nor of Gary. Nor Debbie. Nor any of us in the ole soddin' street. Because he did it to the lot of us. Not just to me. The ole lot of us. Even mouthy Sadie, if she only knew it. An I thinks of goin up to the paper an givin them a mouthful, but I doesn. Cos you can't win with the likes of them. I knows it. An don' tell me you can cos I knows better. I wasn born yes'dy. Nor the day before for that marrer.

So I just stays where I am. Opin' it'll all blow over. Puttin up with the nasty looks an the remarks. You knows the sorta thing. Some people'll do anythin to get their names inna paper. Not sayin it to me straight out like but I knows what they're sayin about me orright. God ow I ates 'em. You finds out who your friends are at a time like that, I can tell you that for nothin.

Of course it dies down, after a week or two. They can't go on talkin about me for ever like, can they? Even Sadie can't do that. But I don' forget. Oh no. You don' forget a thing like that.

But I keeps the paper. You bet. I keeps the bleedin paper, with is name in big letters. An is photo an all. An one day I sees im in St Mary Street, walkin with is missus. I sees im a mile off an I knows im straight off. I tell you I'd know im if I seen im in the pitch dark in the middle of the desert. An I goes up to im an says, ullo I says, ow are you this long time? An he looks at me blank. Honest to God he does. An is missus gives im a queer look an the devil gets into me. An I says, when you comin back then love, didn you like it the first time? An he goes all red an catches is missus's arm an tries to urry er on, but she pulls back an stares at me an says, what you talkin about? An I says, he knows, you ask im. Real evil like. An he starts coughin an splutterin an says, I never seen er before in my life, I don' know er, I never met er. An I laughs like a drain an says, shoutin it out so all the soddin street can hear me, Twenny quid everythin off! Twenny quid! God elp me love, I says, he wasn worth twenny pence. An everyone's starin. An she goes white as a sheet, is missus. An suddenly it clicks with im - he knows who I am. An is missus looks at im an she sees it in is face, she knows he knows who I am. An she puts er ands over er face. An I scarpers. Jus scarpers. Because of the crowd. Because of what I've done. Because I'm scared. Jesus I'm scared. An I practically runs. I goes up the arcade like a whippet, pushin an shovin, thinkin the fuzz is gonna catch up with me any minute. I just keeps goin like the clappers, not seein nothin or no-one, just keeps goin cos I'm scared of what I done. An I gets on the first bus I sees an before I knows it I'm up by Roath Park, an I gets out an walks round an round till suddenly my legs give way an I as to sit down. An I wonder what the ell got into me, to do a thing like that.

But I'm not sorry. Oh no, I'm norra bit sorry. Cos he ad it comin, din he? He took advantage of me. He took advantage somethin rotten.

But er? Well ... I gotta tell you, I do feel sorry for er. Cos she looked quite nice, far as I could see any road. Yeh. Very nice. But I keeps thinkin about er ... the way she looked at me ... an ow she put er ands up over er face ...

But she ad to be warned. Cos I meanta say, a bloke who does a thing like that will do anythin, won' he? Well, won' he?


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