Benedict took Ingrid
on the underground train
to Charing Cross station
(he having paid the fare


from his 2/6d
pocket money)
she anxious about the journey
the darkness underground


the bright stations
and the speed
of the train

and once outside


she put her hands
over her eyes
and off again

makes my eyes go funny


she said
does that to them
bit like coming out

of the cinema


after a long film
he said
she had on

a fading blue dress


black plimsolls
and whitish socks
they came to the edge

of the kerb


and he looked both ways
ought to cross up there
by the zebra crossing

but heck


one's got
live dangerously

and he took her hand


and they ran across
the wide road
and she gripped

his hand tight


and her eyes were wide
and she looked
at the speeding traffic

taxis and buses


and cars and motorcycles
come on
he said

I'll show you where


my old man takes me
some Sundays
and so he walked her
along and into


Charing Cross Road
she still
gripping his hand tight
he talking about


the West End
and how sometimes
his old man lets him
go in the penny arcade


and on the machines
with their pinball machines
and other machines
where you can win back coins


and she listened
thinking about home
and her mother
nursing a bruised eye


after her father had hit her
in a fight last night
and how she herself
had hid under her blankets


in case he came
after her but he didn't
and this morning
he had gone off to work


and her big sister said
she was soon leaving home
with the greasy looking
bloke she was with


and her big brother
just sat there
stuffing himself
with Cornflakes


and sipping stewed tea
saying Ingrid looked
like some Belsen kid
and laughed


see that cinema
Benedict said
my old man takes me there
if a new film comes out


and he wants to see it
and he buys us 
ice creams or those
orange lollies you know


and she nodded
but she didn't
she seldom went
to the cinema


unless Benedict took her
and they walked by shops
and she looked in
the windows


and still griping his hand
she wondered how much
some of the dresses were
and the hats


just like her aunt wore
and then Benedict
took her
into Leicester Square


and into a milk bar
and ordered two glasses of milk
and biscuits from a jar
and they sat down


at a table by the window
and she viewed it all
wide eyed
sipping her milk


and nibbling her biscuit
and pretended
for that moment
that they were


on a special holiday
and could stay
at one of the big hotels
that Benedict


had shown her
and have breakfast in bed
and not have to worry
about her father's loud bellowing


or him coming
into her room
ill tempered wishing
to belt her one


or slap her backside
as she ran from the room
see that cinema?
Benedict said


pointing through the window 
my old man took me
there once and we saw
this famous actress


some one my old man liked
and Ingrid listened
taking it all in
watching him


his quiff of hair
and hazel eyes
and that smiling grin
and she looked out


to where he pointed
pushing away thoughts
of home
and her father's hand


and stare
pretending she
was on holiday
and didn't care.

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