AFTER a tea of sausages and beans he raced upstairs to get changed. "Tek yer bleddy sweat," the old man called, when his workboots bashing on the wooden stairs caused the wireless to crackle.
Trousers and jacket hung on a chair-back: a suit his mother had got second-hand for six bob up Alfreton Road, utility blue with faint pin-stripes, shining at joints and not a turn-up in sight. But a suit was a suit and there was a tie and white shirt to make him spruce after a day mixing alum and flour at the shit-smelling pastebins--and five bob in his pocket out of the two pound wage- packet he'd given up downstairs. Stripping off boots and overalls, he whistled a wild jig set to the lyrics of a carefree Friday. The double bed under the window he shared with Arthur and Fred, though he as the eldest had charge of the room. In one corner was a cupboard holding his books, a hundred and thirty-seven, with a list of titles and authors pinned inside, and LONG LIVE STALIN AND RUSSIA chalked up in Russian on the back of the other door--