Join date: Jun 13, 2022


Again he was shaking his head. His eyes, screwed up tightly now, were lost in the discoloured puffed flesh.

She sat back and stared at him in deep sadness. She couldn’t understand it. She knew he wasn’t himself yet, but that he wouldn’t make an effort to go and see John George, and him shut up in that place well, she just couldn’t understand it.

When he looked at her again and saw the expression on her face, he said through clenched teeth, ‘Don’t keep on, Janie. I’m sorry but . . . but I can’t. You know I’ve always had a horror of them places, You know how I can’t stand being shut in, the doors and things. I’d be feared of making a fool of meself. You know?’

The last two words were a plea and although in a small way she understood his fear of being shut in, she thought that he might have tried to overcome it for this once, just to see John George and ease his plight.

She said softly, ‘Somebody should go; he’s got nobody, nobody in the world.’

He muttered something now and she said, ‘What?’

‘You go.’

‘Me! On me own, all that way? I’ve never been in a train in me life, and never on the ferry alone, I haven’t.’

‘Take one of them with you.’ He motioned his head towards the scullery. And now she nodded at him and said, ‘Aye, yes, I could do that. I’ll ask them.’ She stared at him a full minute before she rose from the chair and went into the scullery.

Both Lizzie and Ruth turned towards her and waited for her to speak. She looked from one to the other and said, ‘He won’t, I mean he can’t come up to Durham with me to see John George, he doesn’t feel up to it . . . not yet. If it had been later. But . . . but it’s early days you know.’ She nodded at them, then added, ‘Would one of you?’

Ruth looked at her sadly and said, ‘I couldn’t, lass, I couldn’t leave the house an’ him an’ them all to see to. Now Lizzie here—’

‘What! me? God Almighty! Ruth, me go to Durham! I’ve never been as far as Shields Market in ten years. As for going on a train I wouldn’t trust me life in one of ’em. And another thing, lass.’ Her voice dropped. ‘I haven’t got the proper clothes for a journey.’

‘They’re all right, Lizzie, the ones you’ve got. There’s your good shawl. You could put it round your shoulders. An’ Ruth would lend you her bonnet, wouldn’t you, Ruth?’

‘Oh, she could have me bonnet, and me coat an’ all, but it wouldn’t fit her. But go on, it’ll do you good.’ She was nodding at Lizzie now. ‘You’ve hardly been across the doors except to the hospital—’ she paused but didn’t add, ‘since you came from over the water’ but said ‘in years. It’s an awful place to have to be goin’ to but the journey would be like a holiday for you.’



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