He met Lydia
in Harper Road
near the newspaper shop
the one that had


the Rob Roy book
in the window
which he was planning to buy
with his pocket money


she looked unhappy
carrying a shopping bag
in her thin hand
where you off to?


Benedict asked
got to go home
with this
she said


lifting the bag
where you going?
she asked
seeing him carrying


his toy rifle
and wearing
his cowboy hat
going to fight


at the O.K. Corral
only it won't be
ok when I get there
he said smiling


O.K. Corral?
she said
where's that?
he pointed to a bomb site


across the road
near the doctor's surgery
she said


who else is there?
a couple of other kids
he said
why don't you come along?


got to take
this shopping home
and besides Mum's


in a state
what with my big sister
not coming home
until the early hours


and my dad having a row
and punch up
in the Square last night
with that man


on the 2nd balcony
can't remember his name
and Mum and him
having a row


and me trying to sleep
and Hemmy
my brother
putting an earwig


in my bed
making me scream
and Mum bellowing at me
for screaming


she stopped
and wiped her eyes
on the hem of her dress
Benedict put his arm


around her thin shoulders
I'll get your brother
for that the git
he said


she said nothing
but sniffed
he took
the shopping bag


from her hand
and said
I'll walk you home
and after


we can come back
and have a penny drink
and lolly
in the Penny shop


what about the O.K.Corral fight?
she said
o that can wait
he said


they'll fight
amongst themselves
she nodded


and they walked back
and crossed
Rockingham Street
and into the Square


and he said
what does your sister do
until the early hours?
God knows


Lydia said
Mum says she's a prostitute
or something
I don't know


if it's a special
sort of job
or something
but it makes Mum annoyed


and Dad said
to leave her alone
as she's doing her bit
to keep dirty men occupied 


Benedict shrugged his shoulders
and hugged Lydia closer
so how about
that penny drink and lolly?


she nodded and sniffed 
and I forgot to tell you
Benedict said
I saw this


Daniel Boone film
the other day
up in Camberwell Green
in some flea pit


of a cinema
but it was good
and he had a rifle
but older looking


than mine
she sniffed
but looked at him


a weak smile
on her face
you should have come
he said


maybe next time I will
she said sadly
sure you will
he said


and they reached
her flat door
and she said
thank you


and he gave her
back the shopping bag
and she kissed his cheek
and went in


and he looked around 
to make sure
none of the boys about
had seen the kiss


as he had
a reputation to maintain
and kissing
or being kissed


by a girl
was maybe deemed
as a bit cissy
but none had


and he walked over
to the pram sheds
and sat on the roof
until maybe


she reappeared
happier not less so
as he thought
and feared.

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