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Steptoe Novel "The End of An Error"... Chapter Two..

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Steptoe Novel "The End of An Error"... Chapter Two..

Postby PhilGlass » Tue May 22, 2012 2:28 pm

PART ONE CAN BE FOUND HERE.... viewtopic.php?f=7&t=860

The legal stuff: This is based on Characters created by Ray Galton and Alan Simpson. This was written by Phil Glass as a piece of fan fiction and provided free of charge and NOT for profit. All copyright of the novel text copyright Phil Glass - not to be used without permission. Any objections to the posting of this will be listened to and all laws of the united kingdom will be abided by... please do not redistribute without permission...

Here is Part Two...


As Harold lay awake that night staring at the ceiling, he couldn’t help but divert his mind to the fact that the damp patch looked just like the dog from “The Littlest Hobo”. But damp and the other five million problems with the house were the last thing Harold was worried about – if ever he should complain Albert would quickly remind him that the house had survived two world wars – as though the Steptoe’s hadn’t had enough bad luck!

The distraction was short lived as Harold shuffled in his bed – he lay fully clothed on top of what had once been a duvet, his hands behind his head. What exactly had happened that day, he thought. The old bird’s comment had prompted Harold to slam the door in her face and storm up the stairs to bed without saying a word. She had knocked again, but thankfully Albert’s laziness at answering it prevented the situation from getting any worse. In fact, Harold had no recollection of the hours that had passed, like the mind of someone who has been told of a great tragedy.

Harold’s knowledge of his mother was sketchy – made up from old family photographs and the tall tales his Dad often recounted whenever he wanted his own way. He would often throw his father’s memory-bashing back in his face, demanding that he remembered his mother and she was nothing like that, but the truth was, his memories of the five short years they had spent together had faded through the decades, and she had become as much a stranger to him as the next woman in the street. The Emily Steptoe he remembered was a creation of his own fantasy – one which he now began to doubt.

Taking a deep breath, he turned on to his side and stared at the picture of her that had graced his bedroom since his earliest memory – it had been Harold’s hope and inspiration through the years – whenever he was in trouble or lonely, he would often confide in her. The only times he had ever moved the photo from the board were when he was intimate with a woman in there – and both of those times he quickly put the photo back up afterward. The woman who stared back at him was nothing more than a stranger – but a stranger he loved with all of his heart.

Harold’s brain had been repeating to him that the old slapper who had called earlier could not possibly the same woman, but his heart which had longed for a mother for so long queried his rational thought and once more filled him with the kind of hope that had been so very distant in previous times.

One thing was clear – it couldn’t a scam – after all, they had nothing. The old fella had a few quid in fivers stashed away behind the cistern in the khazi, but that was the sum of their life together. The only thing they would get for the house would be a demolition order so at least their pittance was safe from any greedy old con woman. The woman’s eyes had been cold and shallow, not like the bright, wide eyes of the attractive and happy young lady who stared back at him from behind the dusty glass every night. He knew his reaction had been the wrong one, and that the old man’s reaction could have answered a lot of his questions, but it was too late. All he could do now was wonder...

With the desire to sleep as far from his mind as it could be, he got up from his bed and ventured down stairs. Placing is foot firmly on solid ground he froze – at the bottom of the door was a small gap he had been meaning to fix for a number of years – it let in the light, the cold, the mice and, so it would now seem, small pieces of paper like the one which had clearly been slipped through it. His hand shaking with nervous anticipation he bent down and picked it up. Returning upright – after giving a little groan as his increasingly aching bones – he stared at what had once made up a cigarette box, which had been folded. He already knew what message it contained but slid it casually in to his trouser pocket. He was aware that the moment he opens it and sees whatever contact number or address or message is contained, his whole life will turn upside down. Within a few seconds he found himself in the living room, stood by the optics on the wall that his old Dad so fondly helped himself to gin from.

“Ah sod it!” he said to himself and removed the optic from a large bottle that claimed to hold malt whisky – in fact, it held the dregs from and old bottle of gold watch that he had picked up from the rounds. He took the bottle to the table and sat down, before drinking as much as he could from the bottle, until it burned his throat. He knew it wasn’t the answer, nor would it help, but in that moment of action, it felt bloody good.

Looking around, Harold suddenly had a revelation – he had missed it through all these years, he had been blind – for only in that moment did he accept that other than the one Harold himself kept by his bed, there were no photos of his mother anywhere in the house. To any visitors who kept away from Harold’s bed – which was practically all of them – Emily Steptoe had never lived.

Filled with a barrier of anger, Harold spent the rest of the night turning out every drawer and cupboard in the house looking for any momento, photograph or any memory of his mother who Albert claimed to have loved dearly. His angry but reserved searching took him the best part of the night, becoming more and more desperate at every turn. Upstairs, the older man was snoring, oblivious to the actions down below.

Early mornings were no longer part of the older Steptoe’s regime – in the past he had been used to the early daybreak calls from the roosters that belonged to the house next door, but a regular treatment of a hot oven, a sack of muddy spuds and a good helping of gravy-steptoe-style had long ended that little problem. It was Harold who rose at the break of dawn to give the horse a kick and get it to share the wooden shafts of the knackered old cart with the woodworm which feasted on it. But as the clock struck eleven, the white haired old man – his head and stomach reaping the drunken antics of the previous night – stumbled down the stairs.

Albert’s morning routine was never changed – first, to the khazi for a nice long clear out. Then, to take in the milk, always removing the gold top and checking the milkman had not extracted some sort of revenge for the time Albert had played a somewhat sardonic joke on him by filling the empties with a little more than anyone would have bargained for, and then, in to the kitchen to make a nice cup of tea. Yet when he barged his way in to the room made up of four damp ridden walls, he discovered a full tea pot on the stove, and something warming in the oven, which was usually only used for drying their socks. Whatever was going on, something wasn’t right...

But for Harold, his morning was not so routine – he had not slept and had risen from his pit earlier than usual. He had forgotten about the good kicking the old horse had delivered to him for waking her early, and had done a sufficient amount of totting already. Of course he had collected nothing but crap, but some things never change.

In the lounge, Harold was sat in his usual chair, dressed in his best suit – or at least something that had at some point been someone’s best suit – and mumbling incoherently to Charlie and his friend as Albert yawned his way in, clutching a nice warm cooked breakfast. He placed it down on the table and sat. As the plate hit the wooden surface, Harold turned and rose.

“Good morning Dear Father”, he said. Albert was filled with horror. Something was very wrong. “What a joyous morning we are faced with.”

“Why aren’t you out on the cart? And since when do you make the breakfast” the older man scowled, biting hard in to an overcooked sausage, failing to thank his child for such a thoughtful deed.

“Father, dear father, I have done all that. Should you partake to venture in to the yard you will witness a full Lionel. Plus, I have prepared for you a pot of Rosy Lea – extra strong of course – as well as cooking you your favourite breakfast of double egg, six rashers of bacon, three sausages, baked beans, fried mushrooms and bread and butter.”

“Makes a change I suppose” Albert said.

“A change? Gawd, you have that every morning mate, don’t think I don’t know – I see the butcher’s misses...”

Albert smiled dirtily, “Yeah?”

“Not like that! But I know it’s only me who has to suffer cheese and fag ash sandwiches, you do alright mate, I’m no fool.”

“Alright, well what’s all this in aid of then?” Albert replied.

Harold’s game plan was working: “You mean you don’t know?” he asked, knowing fine well that the reasons for this special treatment he was making up to check his pater’s reaction.

“It’s not... it’s not me birthday is it?”

“You know when your birthday is! Blimey, last year you put an announcement in the sweet shop window just so I’d see it.”

“Well what then?” said Albert, a mouth full of bean juice soaked bread. “Where are you going to say you’re moving to this time?”

“I’m not moving anywhere.”

“Are you ill?” the old man mumbled, displaying his bread and beans tumbling around his mouth like a shirt in a washing machine.

“I’m not ill”, Harold answered, deliberately refusing to divulge any more information than he needed to.

Albert dropped his sausage. “Am... am I ill?”

“Not to my knowledge.”

Albert gave up – He wasn’t in the mood for his son’s silly games. Instead, he folded another piece of bread, rammed it in to the joke of his egg, swilled it around his beans and shovelled it down his old throat like food was on rations. “Hey, this is nice. Ain’t you having none?”, he asked.

“Ive had mine” Harold said quietly. “Anyway, I made it for you!”.

“Who is she?” Albert asked casually. Whenever his child was happy it was always either the beginning of another failed attempt to leave, a good bit of business, or a new bit of crumpet he had yet to be rejected by. And on occasion, all three.

For a brief second Harold thought the game was up. He breathed deeply, then took a chance: “Who’s who Dad?”

“The bit of crumpet you’ve knocked up. Dirty little sod.”

Harold was flustered. “I can’t win. Last night I was an iron hoof, this morning I’m producing little bastards! Make your mind up! Anyway, it’s not like that.” He stood and walked to the seat opposite Albert, who moved his plate aside in case Harold wanted to steal a sneaky sausage. Harold sat and put his hand on his Dad’s. “I just wanted to do a nice deed for you, that’s all. I think it’s time we put our differences aside and got to know each other better.”

A stunned Albert didn’t know what to say. Taking everything in, his brain slowly began to work. “Harold, I’m frightened...” he said with sincerity. Harold removed his hand.

“All I’m saying, dear Dad, is that at our time of life we’re too old for all this arguing and fighting. I think it’s time we became closer. Get to appreciate each other...” he turned his eyes and stared into his Dad’s bloodshot whites, “be sure there are no secrets we have from each other.” His eyes burned in to Albert’s.

Albert swallowed hard, but there was nothing in his mouth.

“Well?” Harold asked. “Are there any secrets?”

Albert raised his eyebrows and looked away, feigning an innocent look the best he could. Harold’s eyes remained where they were as he began drumming the fingers of his right hand on the mahogany table top. Albert remained silent, Harold drummed louder and louder.

Eventually the old man returned Harold’s gaze – To Harold there was an innocent puppy dog staring back at him, a poor old man who could do no wrong. Harold moved his face closer in to his Dad’s, and the puppy dog retreated. Albert hung his head and spoke softly:

“I’ll clean it up!”

“I knew it!” Harold shouted standing up! “All these years and – clean what up?”

“The bog” Albert replied without thinking.

“I’m not talking about the bog I’m talking about –“ He stopped. The most unimaginable thoughts filled his head. “What have you done in the bog?” he asked, knowing he would rather not hear the answer.

“Oh nothing” Albert said cringing, “Just don’t go in there for a while.”

“I won’t... And if I do I won’t touch that hundred quid in fivers you’ve got hidden away!”

Albert threw back his chair, jumped to his feat and pointed his bean soaked knife at Harold. “I knew it!” He shouted, “well you can shove your bacon and your eggs up where the sun don’t shine because you’re not getting a penny of it!”

Harold laughed, “Dad I –“

“If I find there’s any missing, I’ll give you the back of my hand!” Albert waved the knife nervously. Although Albert no longer possessed the physical strength to extract any kind of infliction upon his son, Harold still remembered times from his childhood where the old man, usually under the influence of a stiff drink, could be quite fast and loose with his hand, and any other thing he could find suitable for beating. But this is something they never talked about, just like the dark frightening nights Harold would spend alone locked in the tiny smelly cupboard under the stairs.

“Sit down and finish your breakfast.” Harold growled.

Keeping his eyes on Harold, Albert sat and placed the knife down. He was finished with his fry up – one false move and Harold could take his money. Albert was taking no chances.

“I’m not sitting here playing your silly games all day”, Albert said, much calmer than before. “Either tell me what’s going on go back out on the rounds, you don’t half get on my bristols you do.”

“Alright, don’t get off your nut!” Harold said, checking his watch. Albert’s suspicious grew deeper as his son got up and fired him a knowing smile. For the first time in a long while, Albert had no idea what his son was up to. He’d always been able to second guess him with a certain degree of accuracy, but Albert learned his lesson seven years earlier when Harold tricked the old man in to taking a trip to Switzerland so Harold could go for a dirty weekend with a bit of crumpet. It was while on the night ferry that it had dawned on Albert that his son had, for only the second time in his life, gotten the best of him. He may have had a nice Christmas holiday paid for by his son, but losing out had gotten to him. Ever since then, Albert thought on his toes, questioning everything his son did, thinking the worst of everything he did. Albert now knew he was up to something – Harold was rarely this nice to him, and any attempt Albert was making to annoy him were failing. Something was wrong – deeply wrong. “I’ll get back out there... after all, “ he continued slowly, “I wouldn’t want to let the family down – I’d want my mum to be proud of me!”.

It was like a blow to the head for Albert. In those few seconds between Harold speaking and Albert working out what his son meant, there was a deadly, deafening silence like there had never been before. Albert couldn’t bare to look at Harold.

“What makes you say that?” Albert asked.

Harold smirked. “Finish your breakfast!”.

With that, he marched out of room and out in to the yard. Albert remained seated, listening, and not until the usual confirmation of Harold’s departure – the sound of the horse kicking him in the goolies followed by a string of expletives from Harold – did Albert dare move.

In the hall he picked up the telephone receiver and was glad to hear a dial tone – they obviously have a few more days yet until they get cut off, he thought – and he dialled a familiar number. After just a few rings, the caller answered.

“Hello, Vicar...” Albert said in to the phone... “It’s Albert Steptoe. I need your help – I think the time has come, I think he knows the truth!” He paused and glanced down at the box he had so proudly purchased from Randy Ron a few days prior. “Oh, and I’ve got those magazines I promised you...”

Travelling down the Goldhawk Road always put a lump in the rag and bone man’s throat: it had changed so much during the years. Out were the small independent traders, and in were the big multinational stores, and worse still, the antiques shop, which Harold believed gave his customers a false sense of value on their junk. But try telling that to the kind old dear who had her family airlooms for sale – a rather gulliable Harold always fell for the bait, having discarded the fifty years of warnings from his more worldly old man.

But right now he couldn’t care less. If someone stopped him with the deal of a lifetime he’d take it, after all they had to eat, but business was not the main item on the agenda. For the day had moved toward ‘any other business’ and there was one piece of business Harold needed to settle.

Totting the streets of Shepherd’s Bush most of his life had given Harold a knowledge of the area, but it was Delilah who seemed to auto-pilot herself the right way as Harold headed toward the address that had been scribbled down on the tatty old cigarette case he had picked up earlier. Half of him wanted to march in to the place and corner the silly old cow and tell her to leave him alone, the other half called out to him in the soft, elegant voice he had given his mother. The Emily he loved was sure to win over the Emily he was becoming to imagine.

The cart itself had seen many refurbishments over the years. Harold and Albert sat on upturned beer crates that had been covered by a large plank of wood stuck down by some rather unfriendly looking nails. The sides of the cart bore the company name “Steptoe and Son” in faded yellow letters against a blue background. Every decade or so Harold would ‘do it up’. In his last attempt he fitted an old 8 track tape player he acquired, of course, ‘off the rounds’ and attached a pair of speakers to the front shafts. Delilah never took so kindly to his choice of music and often bolted if a song of the wrong genre entered her listening space. It was all powered, like her now compulsory lights, by a second hand car battery hidden beneath the crates, and like all of Harold’s bright idea, is was removed almost as soon as it had been installed.

He ‘parked’ the horse outside the said address – it made no difference, she wouldn’t be there when he returned. No doubt she would have her equine head in a neighbours hedge, munching on its natural goodness, or have been leaving parcels of fresh quality fertiliser in the street for the budding gardeners to pick up... or for the local scaly-wags to kick at each other.

When Harold looked up, the sky seemed to disappear. Shadowing everything within its path was a twenty two floor tower block. He remembered moments from his totting ‘career’ when these blocks had been fruitful to him – posh old poofters paying him a fiver to shift a piano and sexy young au-pair girl who... well, that one didn’t end so well. But now the councils had taken charge of them and Mrs. Thatcher had told the nation what she really thought of it... even the graffiti was mis-spelled: “jonny woz eyoh” it read, the phonetical merits of it completely alien to the somewhat under educated artist. ‘Must be a northerner’ Harold though as he made his way in to the building. He’d heard of the north, apparently they had electricity there now.

As it turned out, flat 131 which Harold sought was floor 13, flat 1, though he never really cottoned on to the cryptic clue. What a shithole. For the first time in his life Harold felt privileged.

As he wrapped his knuckles against the door in a firm but fair knock, he could actually see dust emanate from it. He waited and then knocked again. The removal of the bolts and security equipment on the other side of the door sounded like lock up time at Wormwood Scrubs. Then it all died down and the door slid open.

Even though he was partial to a cigarette himself, a huge cloud of smoke which hit him in the face made him wretch. As the cloud slowly dissolved, there she was, the rotting old bag from the night before. Harold surprised himself with his reaction and his unexpected aggression.

“I’ve just come round to say leave my family alone. We don’t have anything, and if we did we’d stick together. If I see you hanging round again I’ll send -“

The woman sniggered. “Harold, you always did stick up for the old sod.” Their eyes never left each others. “Why don’t you come in?”. She stepped back. Harold felt his heart drop to the floor: stepping inside the flat could be the biggest moment of his life.

After a moment, he stepped forward and the woman slammed the door behind him...


Reverend Arthur Cakebread often found his visits to 26 Oil Drum Lane to be rather interesting – usually he was on a scavenge hunt, looking for old trinkets and possible antiques for sale for their many jumble sales, or for monetary contributions to the upkeep of the church. And the Steptoes were two of his many victims. But today his visit had been for other reasons – had he actually had to do some work?

His hair was silver and he was always perfectly attired. He found it hard to understand the Steptoe way of life, and often witnessed many an argument between them, but he also knew his place. Today had been a day that he and Steptoe Snr. Had been expecting for over four decades – the Vicar had been involved with the original “leaving” of Emily Steptoe, and he had expected Harold to find out the truth much sooner, but then Harold wasn’t the brightest junk man in the world.

As guest of honour, the Vicar sat in Albert’s usual seat, safe in the knowledge that his box of “research material” was safely locked up in the boot of his car. The Vicar sat alone, silently disapproving of the home as Albert entered and threw a plate down on to the table.

“ ‘Ere Vicar, get that down you!” Albert said, looking down at the plate which held two very large rugged white things. The Vicar had assumed them to be some form of sandwich, though they looked like nothing he had seen before. On the plus side, he had been looking for some bricks to help build his new patio and when he felt the “bread” he knew these solid little wedges would be perfect for it. He graciously took one of the things, smiled, then placed it back down.

“Mr. Steptoe”, he said, “I think it would be best if you were here alone when your Son when he returns.”

Albert pulled out a chair and sat. “Cobblers. He’ll listen to you, he won’t listen to me, I’m just his old Dad.”

“There is no bond greater than that of a Father and son” the Vicar responded, one of his many phrases of wisdom. Albert scowled.

“The only Bond he’s ever cared about has a license to kill and wants to get his end away with that Moneypenny tart” he said, grinning.

Reverend Cakebread was confused – the reference had passed him by. “Well my door is always open Mr. Steptoe, should you need solace, the wisdom of Christ our Lord is at your door”.

“Is it?” Albert asked without enthusiasm. “He should know”.

“I don’t understand” the Vicar said.

“Well look at him and his old man. Cor blimey, I thought me and ‘Arold had it rough. His mum gets knocked up by some out of work carpenter only to find out she’s been messing around with another fella.”

“I don’t think you –“

“Bleedin’ hippy”, Albert continued with conviction, not even noticing the Vicar’s failed attempt to defend his maker. “I’d love to see him come down here these days. Get a bleedin’ haircut, that’s what we’d tell him. Mind you, he’d fit in well here, all the other Arabs!”

Reverend Cakebread nodded. “Shepherd’s Bush has become an area of diversity” he said.

“Diversity?” Albert said loudly, in a high pitch, “ain’t no diversity mate. We’re the only two whities round here.”

“Mr. Steptoe!”, the Vicar snapped, forgetting that he was the guest, “that kind of attitude shall not be tolerated in my parish... and anyway, we all know Christ was Amercian!”

Albert was shocked. He was stating it as it was, and any form of offence had escaped him. There was no real malice in his words, after all, the Arabs were his best customers. A short uneasy silence followed. Albert picked up one of the wedges and took a bite – as he pulled it away from his mouth his rotten old false teeth came away from his mouth, firmly wedged in to his butty.

“Oh gawd!” he exclaimed, his mouth empty of teeth, his speech slightly impaired. Without any level of embarrassment, he peeled the gnashers from the bread, blew away any debris, and placed them back in his mouth. “Cor Blimey,” he continued, “I think I’d better toast these...”

As Albert collected up the wedges, the Vicar stopped him. “Really, that is not necessary on my account.” He said kindly. Then the front door was heard slamming shut. A few seconds later Harold Steptoe could be heard.

“You devious little...” the voice rang out, but stopped as Harold found himself in the living room staring at the Vicar who smiled uncomfortably. “Good evening Reverend” Harold said, clutching at his shirt like a naughty school boy. He turned and looked at Albert and fired a piercing angry look at him. Noticing this, the Vicar stood.

“I really think it is time for me to leave, you have been most hospitable as usual, Mr. Steptoe” he said and stood up, heading for the door. A desparate Albert ran to him, clutching on to the Vicar’s arm.

“Please stay... he’ll wallop me he will if you’re not here!”

“I’m sure that’s an exaggeration” the Vicar said reassuringly, only to notice the look of hate in Harold’s eyes.

The older man pleaded. “Please stay, have a drop of gold watch...”

“The Vicar is leaving” Harold said and Albert let go.

The guest took a moment to think, but convinced himself that in all the time he had known little Mr. Steptoe he had never seen a violent or nasty streak in him. He just smiled: “I’ll bid thee fare-de-well” he said and stepped out.

Harold slowly moved forward in to the living room, forcing Albert to walk backwards, almost tripping up on various pieces of junk until he crashed in to the big stuffed bear who had lived near the window since the day they moved in. The bear rocked, unsteady on its base and Albert glanced up, wondering if this is how he was going to die – death by bear crushing. But as the bear settled, he knew it was something else that would see him off: death by seriously pissed off son!

“What would you like for your tea?” Albert asked quietly, knowing deep down that his attempt at a diversion from the obvious subject would be to no avail.

“We had a little visitor last night Daddy-o”

“Oh Gawd!”

“No, not God, it would have been less of a sodding surprise if it had been!”, Harold scowled – as he opened his mouth to continue, Albert held up his hand.

“I know what’s been going on – and I can explain”, Albert said. Harold’s eyes piereced in to him. “Please?” the old man asked. Harold had never heard him speak like that before – so soft, so scared. The old man’s eyes were glossing.

For the first time, Harold was seeing a new side of his old man. This was not the fake heartache he’d often wail in order to get his way, or even the kind of upset he had seen his Dad go through when he found out The Skinner’s Arms had put up the price of Gin. This was a child staring back at him – a eighty something year old child. It was the moments like these when Harold resented loving the nasty old git – but he did. Harold turned away.

Albert sensed his chance of freedom and shuffled slowly over to his usual chair, still warm from the Vicar’s behind. He pulled the chair out from under the table but before he could take action to sit he felt himself almost fall in to it. He sat staring out of the window, as Harold stood by the door, staring out of that.

“Your Mother’s dead ‘Arold” Albert said softly.

Harold snapped: “Then who the bloody hell’s that?!”

Albert swallowed hard and it hurt. “She is dead Harold, but I’d like you to sit down I have something to show you.” He waited, and then looked up at his son. “Sit down ‘Arold”.

Harold kicked the wall and then took a seat next to his Dad – the anger had softened some how – it was no longer a violent anger, just a painful one. In almost perfect synchronisation, as Harold sat, Albert stood and went to the side wall. Harold watched over him, trying to work out if this was another of his little games – and if it was, Harold wasn’t going to scream and shout – he had done that in the past and it had never made an impact – instead he would just walk out of the yard and not stop walking. He knew he would never return. But the doubt was drowned by the intrigue as he watched his Dad open the glass front of the grandfather clock which had stopped working many years ago. As Harold twisted to see, Albert casually pulled off the pendulum and removed a panel from the inside top of the clock.

Harold muttered to himself: “What on earth is he doing?”. And as Albert pulled down the panel, a bunch of old newspapers fell to the bottom of the clock. “ ‘Ere!” Harold exclaimed much louder than he had intended to.

Casually, but slowly, Albert picked up the stash of hidden papers and returned to his seat.

“I know you’ve been to see someone”, Albert said, “that’s why the Vicar was here – he wasn’t on the scrounge for once. He knew what to do. ‘Time for the truth, Albert’ he said. So ‘ere y’are...” He pushed the surprisingly well preserved papers across the table.

For the first time in his life, Harold actually felt his heart stop. “I don’t –“

“Just read.” Albert said. “You can read can’t you?”.

Harold felt his heart start up again, and could feel every thud it made inside of him. He picked up the first paper and read aloud the first sentence he saw: “Knicker Snatcher loose in Shepherd’s Bush – Police have called him the Five Inch Flasher!”

“Not that!” Albert screamed in a pitch so high that Dogs started barking across the street.

“Well what then?”

Albert stabbed his finger vigorously at an article below the headline. Harold read: “Local woman arrested in connection with bank raid...”

The old man could no longer bare to look at his son. “We couldn’t bear the shame – a wife and a mother in prison, in those days...”

As a bewildered Harold scanned the other local rags, the story progressed from arrest, to trial, to sentencing.

“We were hard up...”

“We’re always hard up!”

“We were even harder up than usual,” Albert said with shame. “She went out to work at the local bank – as a teller girl – stamped a few bloke’s cards by all accounts if you know what I mean –“ Albert continued - interrupted only briefly by a scowl from Harold – “and she and a friend hatched a plan. Oh they got away with the loot until one of the wicked old mares got caught and made a deal: Got herself an easy sentence while your mother and the rest of them suffered.”

“You’re telling me my Mum robbed a bank?”, Harold said.

“Not all of it, just a few of the safe deposit boxes.” Albert replied.

“That is the most ridiculous, corny, far-fetched, outrageous crock of Barry White I have ever heard!” Harold said. “You’re beginning to lose it mate!”.

“It’s not Barry White, it’s not!” Albert said, becoming upset.

“Alright”, said Harold, “Calm down! So,” he went on, going along with the ride to see where it would end, “she stole. I imagine we were starving. She had no choice... then how come we’re borassic lint all the time?”.

“She didn’t take any money. The others birds did but she ended up with something else”

Harold’s sarcasm gene kicked in to full gear: “She didn’t take any money!”

“No, that’s right!”

“I wondered why the attic was full of little pens on chains! So that’s where they came from!”

Albert stood. “Take this seriously! You wanted to know the truth! I’m telling you the truth!” Albert couldn’t control his face going red and his eyes filling with tears. His mouth exploded open and made a rather peculiar sound, followed by a gentle sob. Harold had seen his Dad cry before, but this was something else – the old man had broken down. Albert felt his way down to the chair and put his head to the table.

For Harold, the whole room began to rotate – his body felt heavy, his mind processing a thousand different thoughts. His fifty-odd years had taught him that his Father was indeed a gifted liar, but this was something else – the old man rarely showed true heart felt weakness. Harold felt a tingling in his lips. He raised a hand and waved his index finger.

“But you said she was dead...” Harold said, struggling to get the words out. “Just now, you said she was definitely dead.”

“She died in 1964, in prison.” Albert said looking up.

“Nineteen sixty – “ the anger returned. Harold’s voice became low and his face tightened. “Nineteen sixty four?”.

“Yeah. You see, she was never actually convicted of the robbery – she simply refused to tell them anything about it – ‘contempt of court’ they called it, and said they’d keep her there until she spoke about it – you see, it wasn’t money they found in the boxes, well, some of the others did, but your mother, she found something else, some photographs, incriminating they were, but she refused to speak. Whoever it was, she wanted to protect them from something. Most people would have used them for blackmail, but not her, oh no, not your Mother ‘Arold, she was a moral and righteous woman. Whoever, or whatever, she was protecting was worth sitting in jail for for all those years.”

“They don’t hold you for that long!”

“They do if you know the right secrets” Albert said, reaffirming his son’s attention.


“Yeah. Whatever she knew was dynamite and I think they knew all along, they just needed her to say where she had hidden the evidence. Of course, while she’s inside it was hard for her to spread it around.”

“I was five years old!” Harold said. “You told me she was dead when she wasn’t and I was five years old!”.

Albert shook his head. “No, ‘Arold. I just told you mummy had gone away. You’d been to Sunday school that week – she was a Sunday school teacher before working in the bank you know – and you just sort of... assumed she’d been taken by the angels. Then when she did pass away I thought it was best you never found out.”

Harold took a deep breath. This was too much information to take in. Half of him felt betrayed and used, the other half felt his old Paeter was stringing him along. There was just one thing that did not make sense: “Then who’s the old biddy who turned up here then?” he asked.

“Be damned if I know”, Albert said, “but I’d love to meet her and find out!”.

Harold placed both hands on the table and pushed himself up, the chair legs screeching on the floor. Was this the calm before the storm, Albert thought. “Get your coat”, Harold said...

Last edited by PhilGlass on Tue May 22, 2012 3:26 pm, edited 6 times in total.
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Re: Stepte Novel "The End of An Error"... Part Two..

Postby PhilGlass » Tue May 22, 2012 2:32 pm

P.S. Excuse any grammar / spelling and my abuse of the use of commas!
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Re: Steptoe Novel "The End of An Error"... Chapter Two..

Postby stephen68 » Tue May 22, 2012 6:30 pm

Fantastic read Phil well done
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Re: Steptoe Novel "The End of An Error"... Chapter Two..

Postby Dirty Old Yank » Wed May 30, 2012 11:55 am

"Research material"? :shock: the dirty devil.
Well done Phil!! Some very funny bits there.
Hope you're enjoying writing this as much as we are reading it :)
Just one bit I'm having difficulty with, "fried mushrooms".
Toadstools for breakfast? Ugh!
A more effective weight loss technique could scarcely be imagined (shudder).
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Re: Steptoe Novel "The End of An Error"... Chapter Two..

Postby PhilGlass » Wed May 30, 2012 3:03 pm

Mushrooms are an essential part of the full english breakfast. Along with black pudding and tomatoes in my house!! Seriously, gotta have mushrooms!!

I'm glad you liked it, I was worried the story was becoming a little far fetched. There's more to come, and a few more twists in the tale!!
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Re: Steptoe Novel "The End of An Error"... Chapter Two..

Postby Dirty Old Yank » Wed May 30, 2012 3:28 pm

PhilGlass wrote:Seriously, gotta have mushrooms!!

There's a term for that ye know: aversion therapy.
I'm well on the way to losing an unwanted stone just thinking about it! :o
Last edited by Dirty Old Yank on Wed May 30, 2012 10:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Steptoe Novel "The End of An Error"... Chapter Two..

Postby PhilGlass » Wed May 30, 2012 5:49 pm

Maybe it's an english thing, all the fry-up places round here do mushrooms with it!! I guess it's like you Americans with 'grits', I wouldnt even know what they are, but I've heard it said.
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Re: Steptoe Novel "The End of An Error"... Chapter Two..

Postby stephen68 » Wed May 30, 2012 8:56 pm

Had a fried mushroom & bacon sanry for dinner, fried in a little oil and a knob of butter mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm lol
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Re: Steptoe Novel "The End of An Error"... Chapter Two..

Postby Dirty Old Yank » Wed May 30, 2012 10:04 pm

PhilGlass wrote:...I guess it's like you Americans with 'grits', I wouldnt even know what they are, but I've heard it said.

I dunno what they are either, but I've seen the movie.
True Grits :roll:
Was just kidding mate, I'm not a mycophobe, just don't care for the flavour. yuk lol
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Re: Steptoe Novel "The End of An Error"... Chapter Two..

Postby PhilGlass » Thu May 31, 2012 7:56 pm

Dirty Old Yank wrote:
PhilGlass wrote:...I guess it's like you Americans with 'grits', I wouldnt even know what they are, but I've heard it said.

I dunno what they are either, but I've seen the movie.
True Grits :roll:
Was just kidding mate, I'm not a mycophobe, just don't care for the flavour. yuk lol

As long as there's black pudding I'm happy...

I love a sausage and baked bean sandwich too!! Quite an art to be able to make it so none of the beans fall out or that it doesn't go soggy, but I can!!!!
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