ONE Thursday afternoon Vera said: "Go up Ilkeston Road, Brian, and meet your dad. He'll be on his way back now from the dole- office. Tell 'im to get five Woodbines and bring 'all a pound o' fish for our suppers. Go on, run, he'll gi' you ha'penny if you see him." Brian gathered what brother was available, and did as he was told.
Vera had been glad to see the back of Seaton that morning. Hunched by the fireplace, sulking because he had no cigarettes and was out of work at thirty-five, he suddenly stood up and took his dole-cards from the cupboard. "I'll have a walk," was his way of putting it, "and call in at the dole-office on my way back."
So she was shut of him for an hour or two, free from black looks, and filthy talk if she dared give him a black look back. Day in and day out, from dole day to dole day, he sat by the empty fire-grate, fagless and witless, a rotter to everybody that got near him. It worn't his fault, that much she knew, but he could be better- tempered than he was. Sometimes he would get up from his black despair and send Brian to a wood-yard for a sack of waste, spend a