Nine-year old Junior Jones discovers the dump for the first time, and its crowning glory -the heap of discarded fridges etc
Right about now I reckoned Ralph would be stamping out his mission-from-god, daily crowd clearing path up Richmond Hill, holding up his precious object like a piece of the true cross. London has its ways, and some of those ways - the less trodden, the hidden and meandering - are now mine: and so I weaved my own way down.
On a good day I know, I'm not the full ticket; on a bad day I don't know my arse from my elbow. So I've been told, and so it is written; it must be true. I've learnt to live with it after a fashion, and I can tie my own shoelaces and count to ten, but for the sake of my head I stay off the maindrag. I was on a downward curve about then anyway, drifting like litter down side streets and alleyways, slipping into the empty, unused spaces, the long-untouched deserted houses; cracks in the city, cracks in between. London was a scary place for me.
Back in the time when my world had unravelled and my life spun away, I was taken to a building, all battleship grey and electric lights, to be fixed up, measured, watcheded and labelled. And in there was Ralph: unapproachable Ralph, the Mad Maori, furious angry and dangerous. He was tough guy big, a natural born lump, they came in mob-handed when Ralph fetched up, kept him by the security door and braced themselves for violence. He could scare people shitless with just a look, pin them to the spot with his energy, but when he rolled up on the wrong side of the door he looked over his new domain and just smiled at his keepers. He dwarfed them all.