Wednesday 24 December 2014

Day 24: The Tramp by Anne Wilson

This year is called nineteen hundred and fifty, and two things have happened; I was seven and, as well, I had my photograph taken at school. Mummy bought four, one for our mantelpiece, one for Nana and Grampy, one for Grandma and Grandad, and a spare one.
There’s a gap in my front teeth, I’ve got things Mummy says are freckles; what are they? Why are they there? I don’t like my hair plaited. For special occasions, Mummy makes loops with my plaits and ties them behind my ears with ribbons. I hate that, it feels silly.
Daddy said I looked very grown up but I don’t want to look grown up because it’s nearly Christmas and grown-ups don’t get very many presents off Father Christmas. If I look very grown up I might not get any. I’m trying not to look grown up because I think he can see me because Mummy says he always knows if I’ve been good. How does he know?
Christmas is nearly here and I feel really worried that Father Christmas might not come.
On a Saturday I go with Mummy, to the market for the Big Shop. We go every week, but one week I had to stay with Nana because Mummy had some secret shopping to do but I don’t know why she wouldn’t take me because I wouldn’t tell anyone.
On the way to market Mummy always gives a whole packet of cigarettes to a funny-looking man called The Tramp. Sometimes he’s called The Tramp and sometimes Mummy calls him The Poor Soul when Daddy asks if she gave him the cigarettes. Cigarettes and matches are very dangerous and I’m not allowed to touch them, but I know where they are; they’re on the mantelpiece behind the clock.
The cigarettes make The Tramp smile and nod his head; he always nods his head a lot but I don’t know what he says because of his beard. I can’t remember seeing him smoking but I think it would be too difficult with his crutch because he has to keep it under his arm all the time. Sometimes when he talks, he coughs, then he has to get his handkerchief out of his pocket and that’s all a bit difficult.
The Tramp stands on a step, in a very high doorway in front of a very big, heavy door at the back of where the Co-Op Savings Bank is. He looks funny, dressed in old grey clothes, with his big, bushy beard and he has a crutch with lots of material wrapped round it like bandages. You’d think the bandages would be on him, not the crutch. They always look as if they need washing. I don’t know if you iron bandages.
He wears a row of medals pinned to his jacket, which makes him look dressed up but his clothes are dirty. I think he must spill his dinner a bit, down his jacket, and if he’s dressed up, why doesn’t he wear his best shoes instead of his slippers? He’s got a big scarf as well and some raggy gloves with no fingers on the ends. I think he smells funny and his beard needs combing; it’s going a bit yellow but I don’t know why. I never say anything to him, but I think he smiles at me a bit.

About the author:
Anne grew up on the west coast of Britain, also living on the Balearic island of Mallorca. She was employed to deliver the Government initiative of Additional Literacy Support in schools while gaining a BA in linguistics and creative writing. Her short fiction appears in a number of anthologies and her first novel Here Be Dragons: A Tale of Mortals, Myths and Mystery is available in print and e-format.


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