It was a pleasant warm afternoon and Phyllis was sitting in the Rose Garden Tea Rooms ,enjoying a cup of tea and an illicit cream cake. She looked up at the rather large woman in front of her.
‘Well I’ll be blowed’, If it isn’t Phyllis Diller, fancy meeting you. I haven’t seen you since we were at Grubb Street Secondary together. Was I glad to see the back of that place? We used to call it Grubb Street Penitentiary.’
‘Do you mind if I join you. I’m dying for a cuppa.
Phyllis wasn’t particularly pleased but one had to be polite.
‘That would be nice dear. I wondered what happened to you. You left school before the end of term rather suddenly’
‘ Snotty nosed Miss Grainger caught me with young Freddie Faucet with me knickers down behind the bike shed We were both expelled. It weren’t really worth it. He was a bit of a wimp..’
‘Oh that was all a long time ago. I’m married with a family now.’
‘Oh that’s nice.’
‘Yes. We all get along very well together although I had a visit from that toffee-nosed social worker the other day. She said there had been reports.
‘She said we were, what’s the word I’m looking for?, dysfunctional’
‘That wasn’t a very nice thing to say.’
‘Well.. I guess you could say that as a family we are a bit dysfunctional. Yet, in our own way, we get by very well.’
‘I’m sure you do.’
‘We all depend on dad of course. He is the breadwinner.’
‘What does he do for a living?
‘I suppose you could say he’s in the financial property demolition business. Tunnelling mostly. We don’t see a lot of each other because he works more or less, permanent nights and he is going to bed when I am getting up.
He comes home in the morning covered in mud and with pains in his back from lifting heavy bars of metal and packing them into trolleys.
The heat from those lazar lance things is so great that he’s quite dehydrated and there are little holes in his overalls where the sparks have burned them.
The poor chap is too tired to do anything other than have a shower and crawl into bed to sleep.
Mind you, he does have the odd night off and then we make up for it. I’ve four children by him. Fred, Sharon, Elsie and I think, little Willy. We aren’t too certain whether Willy is really his because we have this arrangement.
One of the drawbacks of dad’s profession is that he does, from time to time, have to spend long periods away at Her Majesty’s pleasure as they say.
That’s where Andy comes in. Andy is dad’s best friend and dad trusts him to look after me while he is away. He is quite happy for Andy to share his home and, since space is so limited, his bed. ’A woman’s got her needs’ says he, ’When I can’t supply them, I’d rather Andy catered for them than any Tom, Dick or Harry.
So Andy obliges and I have three by him, Mike, Dwain and Lorraine. As I said before, possibly, Willie as well.. Dad was allowed home, to attend a funeral, so were not certain.
Of course we don’t all live at home. Fred and Mike have gone into partnership in the scrap metal business and own very nice, pads.
I used to worry about them clambering over those church roofs and risking being hit by a train when they were removing the signalling cable, but I’m pleased to say they are now so successful they can employ others to do the dirty work.
It was only natural that, when they were old enough, the girls would want to follow my footsteps and go on the game.
This concerned me because from my own experience I know the streets can be a dangerous place, so Dad, bless him, brought them their own place in the West End.. Very classy, they have the very best clientele, politicians, pillars of the church and the odd Judge. As every room is fitted with its own two way mirror and video camera, this proves very useful at times and supplements their income quite handsomely.
Sharon, as the eldest, is the Madam and the other girls can keep all they earn as there is no middle man. Dwain is something of a muscleman and acts as their protector. He has something of a short temper and I wouldn’t give much for the chances of anyone that got him wild. When he was last banged up, the other chap needed 148 stitches.
Which just leaves little Willy. He’s the youngest and a grand little lad, always a cheerful grin on his face.
I was so proud of him when he came home from school the other day. He had managed to get rid of all the packets of coke I’d given him by selling them to the other children. I had told him, ’Ask 50p a packet’ but he sold them for £1. ‘That’s 100% profit Ma, for me.’ He said as he pocketed his share. I had to laugh. A real chip off the old block.'
There was a short silence then
‘I really must be going. It was er nice talking to you.’
It’s been lovely talking to you dear. You must come round to tea. You know the house. It’s the one with the big gates` and the swimming pool. Dillington Hall.’
‘Dysfunctional? I think we function very well.