A continuation of "A Way Of Life" - Visit my port for parts 1,2,3,4 and 5
|THE GOOD OLD DAYS - PART I - ERROL
Shirley had given birth to a soft caramel piece of heaven about three hours ago. Both she and Errol had agreed - Diane would be her name. A heavy tear may have rolled down the right cheek of Errol’s face as he cradled the perfect little head. Behind squints, huge hazelnut eyes glimpsed at their new world. From ear to ear, he smiled only as a new father would. His two gold front teeth lit up the small private room the hospital staff had kindly allotted the new mum and dad. Exhausted almost as much as Shirley, he handed the wonderment back to his wife. Kissing her forehead ‘We hit the jackpot baby gal’ Words were not required. They spent the time just enjoying. Any minute now, numerous relatives would burst through the door to give their congratulations and ransack the golden moment. For now, an ever so slight bubbling breath rhythmically filled the silent space. Little hands clenched and tiny feet curled. Another heavy tear may have rolled.
Labour had been fairly respectful, allowing for only six hours of white hot pain and knuckle whitening fun. If the end prize had not been from beyond this world, Shirley would quite easily have throttled the life out of Errol. They had been sat in front of the television some distant seven hours ago watching Dallas (JR had been up to no good again!) and her waters had broken smack bang in the middle of yet another tense boardroom moment. Errol took control and panicked like a school girl. Say one wrong word to him and he would go toe to toe with a forty stone lion, his wife about to drop his first born on the living room carpet and he turned to Strawberry Blancmange. ‘What do we do Shirl?’ A composed exterior belied her internal panic, Shirley gave instruction ‘Get the overnight bag hun’ He did. ‘Turn everything off and let’s go!’ Only just breaking the speed limit in his Volvo 343 (His model had not yet had the privilege of its first facelift) and the pair arrived at King’s College hospital with time to spare. Seven or so hours later, Diane had entered their world.
On cue, their serene moment was gate crashed by cooing, smiling and enthusiastic well wishers. Her next door neighbour Sandra offered ‘Shirl, she’s beautiful!’ A newly acquired auntie Mary said ‘She’s the spit of you Shirl’. Dougie, Mary’s other half patted Errol on the back as if he had been the brains behind the situation ‘Well done son!’ The proud father acknowledged Shirley’s input ‘She did all the work Doug, I just watched’ Honest and true, Errol squeezed Shirley’s hand. Dougie, ever innocently tactful ‘Yeah but still, know what I mean’. The whole room laughed. Bless him. Dougie was thick as two planks but his heart had been cast in solid gold. ‘I know what you mean Doug’ Mary playfully slapped Dougie on the arm ‘What are you like?’ Incredulous and flinching, Dougie laughed ‘What?’ Another hour and a half was spent mesmerised at the new addition to the Taylor family before Errol had the courage to pluck up and suggest that it may be time to wet the babies head. Looking at the picture postcard family before him, all tightly huddled over Diane’s minuscule fluffy bundle Floyd thought back to the day he had arrived in England and had moored at Tilbury docks some thirty years before.
He and many others had set sail from Jamaica aboard The SS Empire Windrush. June 22nd 1948, a fourteen year old little boy he had only been. Tilbury smoked and coughed as he and the hundreds of other passengers alighted onto English soil. Errol’s father Patrick and his mother ‘Mrs Martin’ as folks politely called her had made the decision a month or so before to send their one and only son on a voyage that would ultimately change both the face of Britain and the life of a young Errol. The infamous voyage had originally been chartered for the return of serviceman who had been residing in the Caribbean and were due some leave. If it were not for the recruitment drive during World War II ‘Windrush’ may not have taken place at all. Somebody had decided somewhere that the floodgates were officially open in England and for the rather extortionate price of £28, emigration was now possible. Errol’s family had begged and borrowed for that sum and he now found himself standing alone amidst the excited heaving throng. Black faces and bright smiles could not believe their luck. A chance for jobs, a chance of a new start and most importantly a fresh chance at this game of life, euphoria snubbed the choking smog. As the sun burned away the pollution, Errol looked at the papers his father had given him and remembered his father’s instruction ‘Don’t lose this son. Auntie Ethel will be waiting for you in a place called London’. The papers instructed him to make his way to a place called ‘Streatham’ which was somewhere south of this London. His ‘Auntie’ Ethel would be expecting him at about 3.00pm that afternoon. Auntie Ethel wasn’t his real Aunt; she was a sweet warm lady his father had met during the war and they had both promised on one bomb free sunny day that if they could do anything to help each other someday, they would, one human being to another in times of this dread.
Dougie smashed his reverie ‘What was that about wetting the babies head El?’ Snapping back to the moment in hand, Errol once again suggested and reinforced his original idea that it was indeed time to wet the babies head. Looking at his wife with a gold tinted cheesy grin ‘Baby, is that ok with you?’ How could Shirley resist such a smile? Her cheeks still crimson, she wiped away a sweaty black fringe ‘Give me a kiss you!’ The others moved to make way for Errol’s lips ‘Your amazing baby gal!’ Their lips met. Diane had been a long time coming, almost ten years in the making. Looking at his handiwork he planted just a hint of his full lips onto the softest skin he had ever tasted and whispered ‘Welcome to our world darling’ Lightly tapping a finger on Diane’s tiny nose he looked at his worn out wife for her approval of his request. It was given ‘Don’t be out all bloody night!’ Dougie looked at Mary for his pass ‘You too Doug, go easy’ Sandra met her partners Mark’s expectant eyes ‘You too love!’ Once the girls had given the all clear the men smiled and laughed in unison ‘We will!’ Cuddles and lips came from the new mum, Sandra, Julie the midwife and Tracy. The men left the cooing women and headed for the lift. It was all back to Errol and Shirley’s place in Kennington for celebration, lager, joints and grooming.
Dougie and Mark didn’t partake in the smoking of big fat joints from the fine bit of grass Errol had acquired days earlier. By the end of the evening Errol had made it his plan to get the other two to have a good smoke and cut loose. Passing around three cans of Red Stripe, Errol put some tunes on. ‘All Along The Watchtower’ by Jimi Hendrix set the scene. Sharing in the light of Errol’s newfound fatherhood the three men sang to the lyrics ‘All Along the…’ After wrapping up several solitary fat joints and consuming too many cans of Red Stripe, two drunk and one stoned proud men were sufficiently high and drunk enough to call a cab. The Old Kent Road beckoned. Ten minutes later a beat up cab arrived and they were off. ‘Gin Palace please mate!’ The cab driver wanted money upfront. A £5 note was slapped into his paranoid sweaty hand. ‘Put the radio on my good man’ Dougie slurred. With a dial twiddle ‘My Girl’ by ‘Madness’ filled the cab as they drove through the humid busy streets of a summery South London. Twelve minutes later they were falling out of the cab and making their way to a packed bar. Dougie managed to capture some seating. Three cans of Colt 45 were purchased and then conveyed via the drunken arms of Mark back to the captured chairs. Errol had made his way past the bar directly to the toilets for a quick blast on one of the joints he had made earlier. It was only 9.00pm and he was smashed already.
Dubbing the half smoked joint out with his asbestos thumb and index finger, Errol unlocked the private cubicle and squeezed his way past and through two pissed patrons toward one of the smudged mirrored sinks. His tired dark brown eyes stared back, the view slightly fluffy due to the excellent weed Monty had given him those few days earlier. Checking himself out, Errol’s smiled a golden toothed smile. Forty two and he was a dad! Not quite believing the day’s events he washed his hands and squeezed his way back past the two drunken div’s and made his way through the rammed pub, back to the doting and rosy cheeked faces of Mark and Dougie.
There is much more. If you want to read on, please review and I will post Part 7
Thanks for reading!