Bedleg Fortune Chapter 3

Chapter three             Pimps                               (3441   01-10-08)

A couple of days later, James joined Ronnie again on the bridge outside the shed.  Neither spoke much, they watched as the wheels of a “4F” squealed on the distorted track as she collected the empty coal wagons from the coaling tower siding and replaced them with full wagons which would later be hoisted bodily high in the air until their contents were tipped into the concrete bunker above the tracks.  James’ ABC told him that 43977 had been built in 1911 and the class still ran to over seven hundred numbers listed in columns.  He had a fair number already underlined including number 43977.  She was an “oh-six-oh” which meant that she was a smaller version of the “super D” with six driving wheels instead of eight.  She fussed about for ages up and down the sidings with the coal wagons to the accompaniment of the metallic clinking of buffers.  A man with a pole hooked and unhooked the chain couplings between wagons. They watched intently from the bridge under which the locomotive sometimes ventured during the shunting process.  Without taking his eyes off proceedings below, Ronnie eventually spoke.

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Bedleg Fortune Chapter 2

Chapter two                  Lessons                (4668   05-09-06)

A couple of days later James stood on another bridge, this one about two miles south of where he lived.  The boys often used this bridge, which gave access to a farm, because it gave them a view of the “alps”.  Another railway line serving several of the collieries in the area crossed the main line nearby on an overbridge.  The gradient up to the bridge had been quite reasonable when built but all the surrounding land had sunk due to mining subsidence and for a short distance the gradient had increased over time to something near impossible for a standard type of railway. This line they called the “alps”.

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Bedleg Fortune Chapter 1

Chapter one.               Smoke                    (4025   28-06-06)

James Culver stood on a wooden beer crate leaning his arms on the top of the brick wall and watched intently.  Locals who might have seen him would not have taken much notice,  James often stood for hours on his beer crate, he had done it for the best part of a decade. When he started he had needed two beer crates.  One of the actors in the scene he observed, a man in blue overalls, heaved open the circular steel door and propped it open as far back as he could.  Using a T-handled shovel he removed about a dozen shovelfuls of black cindery material from within the smokebox and threw it to the ground below, where it joined the heaps of ash and cinders deposited earlier.  Clouds of fine white ash swirled into the air, caught by the fume laden breeze, drifting over towards James who saw it coming and squinted to avoid getting it in his eyes.  It swept over him, the road behind him and the garden of number 37 Henry Street which was where James Culver lived.

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Caveat Emptor

Ian Cockcroft    Dec 2012

I met him one evening in “The Horns”. The lounge bar was emptier than usual thanks to some preposterous television programme keeping people at home. Two men chatted and supped their beer in the corner they occupied most evenings. I sat alone and glanced up as someone entered. I almost guffawed out loud as the man turned to look around the room. His thinning golden-red hair made a visual counterpoint with a red beard trimmed to stubble length. He was short and of slight build wearing an eclectic selection of clothing, a tweed jacket of distinctly yellowish colour above maroon corduroy trousers below which were a pair of heavy brown shoes, polished to a fine shine.

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Our train’s brakes squealed one last time and we came to a halt. In the van with me were about thirty men reduced to contemplative silence by the sound of the fury raging outside. The wind wasn’t howling – it was shrieking and blasting our little train so violently that our thirty-odd ton van was rocking. The men were dressed, as I was – for battle. I had several jumpers on under my heavy overcoat and my head was swathed in cap and scarves leaving only my eyes uncovered. With heavy trousers and big boots my movements were restricted and clumsy. I broke the silence.

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Dr Kelly

Dr Kelly

Her hard-soled shoes clip-clopped, as she strode down the corridor, hardly noticed by the other staff, busy coming and going, focussed on their own tasks. The identity badge clipped to the lapel of her white coat swung in time with her step and the flexible tube of her stethoscope bumped against her upper chest to the same beat. Her first call would be “Old George” ensconced in his side ward, breathing out the last hours of a very long life. Nobody, from outside the hospital, ever came to see George, so he welcomed Dr Kelly’s daily visits which stood out among the blurred stream of faces that came to peer down at him each day. Dr Kelly made time to talk, knowing how important human contact was, even in a technology-led health service.

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