The day the scallywag backed the lot…the whole kit and caboodle…on the Aga Khan’s horse, Blenheim in the ’36 Epsom Derby would herald a change of his fortunes. Whether for the better or not only time would tell. Regardless, that his horse came in at long odds, 18/1 if the truth be told, saved his bacon for the baby metaphorically speaking really did need new shoes. For a wheeler dealer who had lost everything after Wall Street had crashed including a toffee nosed wife and a ‘hardly home enough to recall what he looked like’ child – she and sprogling had run off with a Genghis Khan lookalike – a day had arrived that at long last held some promise.
31,500 Guineas, albeit converted into high denomination £100 notes was a lot of spondoolies and following a good few annoyingly repetitive (to those around him) champagne toasts to jockey Harry Wragg he headed back to the dubious sanctuary of the West End. Soho to be precise. On the tipsy side of sane his preference was, as ever a familiar old back alleyway rather than the ‘look but don’t touch’ Windmill Theatre he could now afford to patronize.
Her two up, two down terraced cesspit within such a passageway with a tatty postcard affixed to what could arguably be termed a front door (it had been kicked in that many times) read, “Large Chest for Sale” and it felt like the closest thing to home he had these days. In truth the gal domiciled within had much more than that for sale! Whatever he regularly enjoyed the comfort of her debatable charms and found the wicked revelry they shared ‘cheap at half the price’ – that is when he could afford it and right now he was positively lashed up.
“Well Harry if I were Mae West I’d have something to say about that there bulge in your skyrocket.” So said the largish yet well-formed ‘almost’ mutton dressed as lamb brama stood before him taking time out from picking her teeth with a cocktail stick in the shell shocked decaying hallway.
“I’ve had a bit of a result as it happens luv…you know I won’t have to ask for credit or pay in instalments anymore…besides I’ve come to make an honest woman out of you.”
“Have you though but! Tell me why I’d want to be an honest woman?”
“Don’t muck about luv…look I’ve had a windfall…took a punt on a rank outsider and it won…my ship has come in luv.”
“Are you pissed only you look pissed and sound pissed to me?”
“I cannot tell a lie more than a few sherbets have passed my lips this day…but I’m telling you the God’s honest truth.”
“How much then?”
When he told her the quantum of his winnings she put the back of her hand to her forehead, whispered in true theatrical style that she felt faint and promptly parked her arse on a chair.
“I think I need some water…how much…tell me again so it sinks in.”
“Water! I think we can do better than Adam’s ale don’t you…it’s off down the pub for us luv…put your best togs on girl.”
Much later that night as the landlord rang the bell signalling drinking up time the now well-oiled mawkish couple reflected upon his earlier proposal of marriage.
“Tell me then Harry why oh why would you want to marry an old Tom like me?”
“I’ll tell you why all right…because you’re not a stuck up posh tart…because you’ve got a heart of gold…and I don’t want to be just one of your punters no more…that’s why. I’ll buy us a mansion by the seaside and we’ll live like King and Queen.”
“What about me regulars…I mean I don’t like letting them down…especially the vicar…oh and the Lord Mayor.”
“Fuck the vicar and the Lord Mayor luv…you’ll never have to be on the game again…I’ve got all the shekels we’ll ever need.”
With that Harry dropped down upon one knee in an attempt to conduct a formal proposal only to feel the wet slap of the landlord’s slops laden bar towel on the back of his neck as he reminded them both it was, at this juncture formally closing time and that they should take of their leave forthwith. Harry protestations as to the merit of his quest fell on deaf ears. Still, on the way home Harry observed it would perhaps have been proper to propose after he had purchased an engagement ring and, importantly when sober in the cold light of day. He concluded that in the global plan of things the proprietor of the boozer had done them a favour.
Next morning, a Sunday that would not see a church visit, two hungover aging juveniles shared toast, black pudding and kisses for breakfast.
“So then luv if I pop up the jewellers in the AM to buy you a gold ring and propose proper like will you say ‘yes’? I’ve got to go out tomorrow anyway to put my little pile of beer vouchers in the bank.”
“Reckon I will as it happens.”
“Blinding luv…absolutely blinding news…I mean all this time we’ve been seeing each other…I must have been one of your best, most loyal customers ever. By the way, seeing as how we’re tying the knot you best tell us you’re name…I don’t think I ever caught it?”
At this point Maud kicked Harry in the bollocks dropping him like a sack of spuds. A girl, even a working girl has her pride!