Black IS THE COLOUR #homelessness

TURN DOWN THE MUSIC I SAID TURN DOWN THE FUCKIN MUSIC. C’mon lads. Shush will ye? Actually I’m goin to turn the music off, turn it right fuckin off for a minute actually, right? Pass me the end o’ that joint Slev will ya, till I tell ye me story. I wanna tell ye this story, this story here, before we put on the next song cos I luv this song an I luv it cos of this ting, this stupid oul’ ting that happened to me donkey’s years’ ago in Lungdung. So listen up the lot o’ yis, will yis?

So I’m standin on me tod outside Victoria Cross train station sometime before Christmas in 1981. I know it was nineteen-eighty-one because there’s loads a fuckin republican stuff goin on. Marchin, riots, snipers, all that shite. The hunger strikes, remember? Bobby Sands an all that. I’m standin there just waitin for me bus to come along. I’d a few jars in me too. Wen don’t I? I’m standin there an next ting this wan sidles up besides me an says ‘are ya lookin for a trick luv’? Jaysus ya should o’ seen the state of her lads. Withered, fuckin ruined man, dats all I’ll say, fuckin shrivelled. She could of been twenty-five. She could of been fifty-five. An she still out there workin’ man. Fair play to her in one way, ya know what I mean? Anyways I didn’t want any trick so I just says ‘I don’t want any trick off ya luv’ Fuckin stoopid word for it it ain’t it? Trick me bollix. As if she was gonna whip out a deck of cards or a fuckin top hat with a rabbit in it.

So enannyways she gets the hump or doesn’t catch me right or watever an she’s scowlin at me an says ‘ya a fuckin queer or somethink a fuckin oirish fuckin queer ?’. ‘No’ I said, ‘take it feckin aisy’, I said. ‘Howld yar horses’, I said. ‘Didn’t mean to offend ya an what not.’ ‘Sometin fuckin wrong with me den, is it? Don’t like the look of me or somethink?’ she asks me. I can smell the ale off her now ya know, smell the rot. She’s like a rag-doll lads. Like sometin ya’d throw out in a skip golluvus. My heart’s goin out to her. Twould make ya fuckin weep to look at her. ‘Nothin wrong with ya love. Nothin atall’ . ‘Go on den’ says she. ‘What kind of trick ya into den?’. an I just says I wouldn’t disrespec ya luv. I don’t do tricks with no-one. I’ll talk to ya no problem, though. Why don’t we just have a little chat like?

An den she softens a bit an says ‘Go on talk to me den Oirish. I love that Oirish accent. Could listen to it all day, if i’d the fuckin time’. an I says to her d’ya mind if I go an get a cup of coffee luv? ‘Ah ya’re just walkin away from me now says she. Ya prick. Go on fuck off den, Oirish cunt’. I put me hands up to calm her an says I wouldn’t walk away from ya luv. I woudn’t walk away from ya. No way would I walk away from ya. Just a bit cold that’s all, a cup a coffee, warm our fuckin hands up at least. Get fuckin frostbite hangin around here. ‘Tell me about it’ says she ‘Tell me about it mate’.

So I skidaddled up to the cafe on the corner an I bought two coffees off an nice Indian chap an went back down to her an she’s waitin an den the two of us sat down on the footpath wiv our backs to the station wall an we started nattin together. Usual shite, family an origins, an future fuckin plans an all dat. An all the gawkers lookin at us walkin by. But I didn’t give a fuck about people gawkin an o’ course she didn’t. People gawkin at her all day long I suppose. What was her name now. I’m tryin to think of it. Julie I’ll call her. I’m not sure what it was but Julie will do. We all deserve a fuckin name at least don’t we, no matter how bad or badly off we are, even if it’s the wrong fuckin name? an I told her where I was from an she told me where she was from, Durham it was, coal land, ‘coal in the lungs an glue up the fuckin nose’ she says.

She told me that she was in Lungdung for years, said she didn’t care to remember how many. Said she’d wan daughter, almost a grown up, an she saw her occasionally. She was beautiful this little girl of hers, beautiful supposed to be. an I believed her, about her beautiful daughter, but she could have been makin dat up ya know, people do dat. I do it meself sometimes.

An after a while I asked her if I could put my arm around her . An she said ya go on, den. We were sharin a cigarette at the time an when I passed her the fag I threw my arm around her shoulder an I pulled her in a bit closer to me an it was a good idea because it was cold an dark now like it gets in the evenin times in winter in Lungdung. an den this feelin came over me an I wanted to sing. I just had to sing like. I had to sing to her. an I said do ya mind if i sing to ya? an she said ‘Not at all Oirish not atall. I’d like that. Sin me a song, den’. an I sang her this song lads an I’ll put it on the stereo now for ye after I give ye the first few lines. Are ye listening? Right. This is the song I sang for Julie the beaten oul sex worker outside Victoria station as I waited for the bus in the hungry dyin divilfilled year of 1981:

‘ Black is the colour of my true love’s hair,

Her lips are like some roses fair,

She had the sweetest smile an the gentlest hands,

an I Love the ground whereon she stands……….…”

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This piece is my contribution to the HOME BOYS HOME anthology