The Songwriter Chapter 5 Part 2
The Songwriter – A Novel by Paul McCann
Chapter Five -EMOTIONS OF A CITY
I was grateful for the small change in my pocket because it was all I had left . I made my way to St Pauls and withdrew twenty pounds from the Electronic Cash Machine at the National Westminster Bank . I went into a cafe called The Rising Sun and ordered some bacon and eggs for late lunch . By the time I finished eating it was time to make tracks for Dalston and keep my appointment with Maria .
I needed some extra money so I went back to the bank to make another withdrawal but I was left feeling angry after the electronic cash machine swallowed my card . The bank was closed and I was left at a loss . Being Friday didn’t help as I was faced with a weekend with no money . I was almost going to ring Linda at her flat but thought I better not . With only ten pounds ready cash on me I decided to walk back to Dalston . I really had no idea where I was so I began to walk along Fleet Street . It was rush hour and I got caught up in a head on battle of the pavements . I was amazed how many people actually tried to knock you off your feet . It was a big effort to remain upright .
A car pulled up beside me and to my surprise it was Maria in the passenger seat .
“ Hey Paul , get in .”
I got into the back seat and within minutes we where far away from the stampede . Maria introduced me to her husband driving the car and I was invited back to their flat for some dinner .
The kindness offered to me by Maria and her family was in a nutshell , Christianity in action .After dinner we all left the flat and went to church .We arrived in good time to the Bible Way Church there at Three Threes lane . The church was part of the Good Shepherd Mission in Bethnal Green .
The silent echo’s inside the church building began to disappear as the community began to fill the seats in the church .
A small music ministry took up one corner and they needed no books or amplification . Their only instruments where tambourines and a very old keyboard , but what they did have was soul .
The sound was alive and full . I had never before heard such worship and as the entire congregation joined in , well what praise was offered up . Over the years I had been involved with Charismatic renewal in the Catholic Church as well as the conservative hymnal praise . I had been part of youth groups in Sydney with the Catholic Church where praise and worship where free forms of expression with God . I had been with church choirs that could sing but man , these West Indian brothers and sisters from Bethnal Green well they could really swing . For the introduction to the service we lifted our hands high above our heads , our voices where many but the praise was one .We shook the rafters and rattled the floorboards . We danced and we sang . Oh what a joy it was . The good minister Reverend Harry Mc Farland spoke when the time was right and we all listened to the word . It was electric and everyone was charged with Gods message . As I looked around at the sea of faces I noticed for the first time that I was one of two who had white skin . It also dawned on me that I was probably the only Catholic in the building .
It was encouraging to find no barrier was present and a genuine smile welcomed me into the community .Reverend Harry spoke of the rich person who gave a small portion of his wealth to the church in contrast to a very poor person who gave a penny but that penny was all the wealth that person possessed . At this moment a collection plate was passed around . I put a ten pound note on the plate and that was everything I had . Somehow I knew I would find an answer to prayer .
The service ended and Reverend Harry came over to me . He shook my hand and I went on to tell him a few things about myself . When he heard I had no place to stay and no money he asked some of the people in the church community for help . The church was almost empty and only a handful of people where left . I was approached by Reverend Harry who introduced me to Doris Telford . With a heart as big as Bethnal Green Doris offered me her family home until I was ready to leave . That evening I sat with her and her two teenage children in the comfort of their family home which was a small council flat near Hackney . Doris was middle aged and stood five feet tall .
Her face glowed with kindness and her eyes showed a great depth of character . The first week with the Telfords was like heaven on Earth ., There was always a pot on the stove with red kidney beans , rice and broth . I never met Mr Telford , and nobody ever spoke of him , so I never bothered asking too many questions .
One morning Doris asked me if I could do a few little jobs for her and her daughter Patricia who I was brought around to meet the same day . Doris had some groceries to buy and so she left me with Patricia who went in and lay down in bed . She called me and asked me to sit down beside her . I did as she asked and listened to her as she rambled on about the most far fetched things . I was lost in a one way conversation that meant nothing to me at all . Eventually she stopped talking and pointed to the ceiling and walls .
“ Could you paint this red , and yellow . I want to show you something “ She said .
She reached under the bed and pulled a large tubular container that encased a huge wallpaper mural of a sunset on some exotic island .
“ I want this poster on that wall ” She said .
“ No problem . So have you any wallpaper paste ?” I asked .
“What ” She seemed a little unsure about what I said .
I explained to her that in order to get her mural on the wall that it would have to be pasted .
“ How much does paste cost ?” She asked .
“ Well , its not just paste . You will also need turps to wash out the paint brushes . ”
She asked me to pass over her handbag from the dresser . From her purse she handed me twenty pounds and said ,
“ Is that enough to cover the cost of your materials ?” I nodded that it would be .
"I'll leave now " I said .
“ Would you mind leaving the room , I need to get dressed .
She slowly pushed the blankets from her and sat up .
Before I even got to the landing by the staircase she came out from the bedroom and asked me to take a look at her bathroom wall .
“I want this tiled , is it a hard job to do ?”
“ Not too hard . Have you got all the materials ?”
” I asked almost knowing that she hadn’t .
From underneath a wooden box that she used as a step to get into the bath Patricia produced a small box of white tiles .
“Here you are “ She replied .
“Where is the grout and cement ?” I asked .
Her face went bright red .
“You mean I am going to need other products to put these tiles up on the wall ?”
“Of course you do ” I replied .
“ Well in that case I guess you will have to use up all that twenty pounds I gave you ” She sounded anxious and a little angry .
I looked at the twenty pounds more than once .
She went very quiet and then uttered ,
“Is twenty pounds enough ?”
“‘I don’t really think so ” came my reply .
“Well try and stretch it out . I don't get paid this week .
I have to go to work now . Can you come back this evening and get started on these jobs ?”
I nodded with a slight sigh and said ,
“ Well I suppose I’ll have to buy the things I need to get the job done .”
Patricia showed me to the door and said ,
“ I’m sorry to push you out but I’m late for work , so I’ll see you later then , ok ”
From the other side of a closing door I replied ,
“ Yea , sure . I’ll see you later. ”
I walked around Hackney for a while looking for a paint and paper store . I had to be careful with the tight budget I had for the job . I knew it was going to be difficult but thought if I bought the smallest quantities I could maybe I would just scrape it in . After shopping around I finally had purchased what I needed to get the job done .
I went to Doris’s place but nobody was home , so back to Patricas I went and sat outside her door waiting for her to come home . I had fallen asleep by the time Patricia got home .
She shook me . Patrica had two little children hanging from each arm , and as she introduced me to them they both smiled at me without fear . They where no more than five years old . I followed them into the flat and went straight to work . I painted the ceiling white and around various carvings of flowers on the ceiling I spent time and hand painted each flower a different colour . I had been so busy painting that had Patricia not have said good night , I might have kept painting the ceiling until the morning light . The flat grew quiet and the sound of snoring came from the children’s bedroom . After I made up the wallpaper paste I started to unroll the paper mural of that sunset on a beach . It came in three sections . I started in the middle and by the time the picture was up Patricia and her family where rising out of bed . As she came into the room . I stood back and smiled at the nights work I had done Patricia walked around like a chief inspector , pointing here and there , murmuring this and that .
Finally she spoke ,
“I don’t like it ”
“ What ?” I replied .
End Of Part 2
link to part 3