George and the Padlock
George and the Padlock
George and the Padlock
A rolling stone.
He's never really going to feel great about himself ever again...not really. Well...nobody else is going to feel good about him really...so why would he feel good about himself? Nobody cares about him as he makes his way along Lower Fant Road...against the flow of the traffic...on the one-way street. Not that the traffic-flow is relevant...in the legal sense of this little anecdote...because he is on foot...à pied...as they say in France.
Shanks Pony...as they say in Lower Fant Road.
To be more precise...he's not walking...he's limping.
George is getting on a bit...not quite an elderly relic...but still getting on a bit.
Poor old George...a vagrant....in Maidstone.
He thinks of old times as he passes the houses on the corner of Lower Fant Road and Bower Street as they gleam with luminous family vibrancy on the inside and glower with cautious 'Keep Out' signs and padlocks on the outside. He passes a gate with a big-headed unwarranted padlock that guards an alleyway that nobody really wants to enter anyway
The walls of the houses separate two worlds...one of warmth and intimacy..and one of a hostile province in which George resides. He's okay though...just making his way to the place he knows...the little sleeping quarters he has found in recent times.
He remembers that he once lived in a house...a home that buzzed with clattering conversation and laughter with new things happening every day.
New sounds: The smash of a cheap obscenely-coloured plastic service-station football against the 6ft high panelled fence with 10-year anti-rot warranty in the muddy back garden. The henceforth click and swoosh of the Hotpoint Twin-Tub in action against muddy trousers and claggy socks.
New smells: Dulux Mint Macaroon wafting from the bathroom as it dries. Calming, reassuring and increasingly popular within the plebeian modern interior...and the Jeyes Fluid rising up from the gurgling outside drain below the kitchen window. Memories are made of dis...infectant.
All in the past though...now that George is living on the streets.
Well...strictly not true. Not exactly on the streets. He knows a place. There aren't many places left now that haven't been built on...especially round George's way..the Fant area..heading down towards the river. Nice places...granted...but none for George.
These places are for Darren...23 years old...GSOH...works at See-Through Double-Glazing in town and spends all his wages on Jägermeister and Red Bull and butterfly-cut chicken from Nandos at the weekend.
These affordable box-like apartments are for Mary-Jane...35...pewter-scratcher at Etch-It Trophy Supply Shop...likes Candy Crush and always plays the 'nervous one' in her local am-dram productions.
They don't know eachother...Darren and Mary-Jane. They don't actually exist. They are purely unmitigated examples of two little insignificant cogs in the wheel of a world within the realms of a story about a poor unfortunate vagrant residing in the county-town administrative headquarters of our county...Kent.
It's doubtful that George will ever reside in a building...a proper homely building...ever again.
He approaches the pub...The Cooper's Cask...as he gets close to the corner of the block. He thinks about crossing the road to avoid the posse of smokers sucking on their items which seriously damage their health and the health of those around them..but he glances up at the top of the houses..and sees the rainbow.
He is momentarily distracted by the colours..his mind focuses on the circumhorizontal arc and the droplets of water around him..and he forges ahead...forgetting to cross over the grimy dotted white lines.
He forgets to cross over..to be on the safe side...literally.
Too late...by the time he has thought about crossing he is already almost amongst the smokers. He braces himself for abuse...ready for the customary cheap shot from the urban revellers in nicoteenastic camaraderie. He awaits the onslaught of random digs to remind him that he is the scruffy character that he has so evidently become...but they ignore him. He passes by..and they ignore him. This is the new depth of insignificance to which he has slipped.
Poor old George
Not even worth a spot of derision these days
Oh well...nearly there...almost at the place he knows.
A plastic carrier billows across the road in front of him as he heads down the hill...past Florence Road...past Prospect Place...down the hill.
The plastic bag swirls round and follows him like a ghost flapping at his heels as he negotiates the glinting broken Kronenbourg 1664 glass and as he continues towards the river.
George's nose is running...he isn't feeling so good...it's a cold damp evening...and one of his eyes is weeping too...but he reaches his little haven. It's a small half-built garden structure...quite old really...but half-built anyway. It's probably an abandoned garden project started by a man with more money than sense...given up through boredom and abandonment so typical of these non-commital times. A summer-house type project...perhaps a structural venture began as a gift for the loving lady who's been rumbled giving her love to someone else. Who knows? Did the husband come home to find his wife conjoined to the joiner...leading to severance of holy matrimony...and subsequent dissolution of aforementioned summer-house in the husband's winter of discontent?
It's George's home now...for the time being...until the wife apologises...or until the husband sells up...or until George gasps his final breath. Whichever comes first.
Nobody really cares anyway. Nobody's going to take notice of George as he slopes off to the eternal kingdom...tonight or any other night.
George tries to wipe the gunk from his eye as he settles down on the pile of sodden cardboard boxes between the Motorcycle Monthly magazines and the Peerless #2 Printing Press from 1964 (minus the flywheel and rollers 3 and 4)
Despite being elderly...and homeless....and down on his luck...and despite having no real sign of a future...George bears no malice to the outside world. He has nothing...but he desires nothing. There's no sign of retribution in his weeping eyes. He has a love for the outside world and a healthy appreciation of nature in it's broadest sense.
George is brave...dishevelled and scruffy...almost in a cute comical way...but he is still dignified and independent and free of any hate for the outside world.
I'll always try to be as dignified as George...I will forever aspire to his almost aristocratic attitude in the face of homelessness and uncertainty.
George has seen more pain than most. He has been kicked, beaten and laughed at. He has been teased, abused and ignored. Being ignored is a hard hurdle for him to leap...but he has seen worse.
In his mind he still sees the death of his brothers and sisters....all those years ago. He still hears the confused and devastating sounds of the incident...as he scrabbled his way out of the bag...as the padlock slipped...as the bag hit the water down by the boatyard.
As his siblings drowned.
Because that's what some bastards do to kittens.
George wipes his weeping eye with his dampened soggy little paw...and he curls up to sleep for another night xxx
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