I leave the house in my jogging bottoms and hoody. It’s the not so early morning in spring and I’m headed up to the corner shop for a loaf of bread and bacon, you know the stuff that says with added water on the packet like it’s something to be proud of, because it’s Saturday and when you live on your own, you’ve got to give yourself little rewards for making it to another weekend. Couples get to lie in together with hangovers but, when you’re on your own, the bed just doesn’t stay warm and a bacon sandwich on buttered white bread is a home remedy that feels like it’s been unconsciously passed down through the ages.
My neighbour’s already outside, sweeping up the mess. She’s composed when she apologises about last night and I quickly tell her that it’s alright and lie to her that I didn’t even hear anything, Was there a scene, what scene? She’s a nice lady and I don’t want to hurt her feelings but I saw the whole thing. She’d had her fella round again, one of those sorts that everyone knows isn’t made for a relationship but who somehow always seems to have a girlfriend. He came round drunk and I don’t know the ins and outs of it all but from the screams I worked out that he’d been accusing her of sleeping around. After a while of bashing around next door, she took it out to the street where she hurled pots from the garden at him that shattered on the road when they missed and made a dull thud when they hit him. One skimmed past his head and put a big dent in the passenger door of his car. He got into the car, wound down the window, shouted his last dues about her being crazy and drove off with an angry, drunken skid.
While I was watching with a lump hammer in my hand, I had to convince myself that I was doing it in case he hit her, otherwise I’d catch myself looking away. My adrenaline was pumping thinking about it, there was nothing I wanted less than to intervene but my thumping heart was preparing me for the occasion. She’d been knocked about by another bad egg before, I heard it through the walls and because it took me by surprise, I didn’t do anything; I just listened. I didn’t dare move in case she could tell that I was there… not doing anything. It was a night of shame. This time I was ready with my lump hammer in my hand but, as I said, he took the pots that were flung at him and headed off. Then I watched her cry on the street. I hadn’t expected this while I sat there with the most caveman of tools in my hands. How could a man with a lump hammer and a beating heart full of adrenaline ever go and comfort someone? Again, I was unprepared.
Walking back from the shop, she was emptying her dustpan into the bin. I asked her if she wanted a bacon sandwich and smiled. She nodded and said yeah, alright, bring it round and I’ll get the teas on. I cooked it so it was nice and crispy and brought it round to hers with a bottle of red and a bottle of brown so’s to not make assumptions. We sat on her garden in the cool air with soft bacon sandwiches and piping tea while her rabbit hopped about, exploring the bushes. She didn’t want sauce, said she just liked to taste the bacon.
Jim Gibson grew-up in the feral plains of an ex-mining village, Newstead. In the shadow of Lord Byron’s grandeur, he was part of a hand-to-mouth existence that was (and is) ignored by the media. Editor and co-founder of Hi Vis Press. Twitter: @jimmmmmbo