Syrup in the till

Johnny didn’t find work and he and his mates had taken to breaking into shops. I found out only when he produced a massive tin of peaches from under the floorboards. My eyes lit up when I saw it. I think it was the biggest tin I’d ever seen. He laughed at the sight of my face. He laughed even more as he shared out the peaches, leaving me to sit and watch them eat.

Johnny’s comeuppance came soon after. A gang of them had broken into a shop called the Colonial Stores. They made a great mess, pouring syrup into the till and smashing eggs all over the walls before making off over the roof with all they could carry.

Johnny was unlucky, though, and fell through a skylight. His mates all ran away and the crash had alerted a policeman. Don went down to the police station and told us that the police had given Johnny a good hiding to try to make him tell them the names of his accomplices. He kept quiet, though, and eventually got six months in a correctional unit, a kind of Borstal, near Southport. It sums up the morality of the Tuebrook area that he was regarded as a kind of hero -- even by law-abiding people -- for not splitting on his mates.

Agreement had been reached by now in Toshy’s compensation claim. He had been awarded fifteen hundred pounds, which, to us, of course, was a massive sum. As he was only fifteen it was placed in trust. Some was supposed to pay for schooling but the rest was to be held until he had turned twenty-one. There was also a special proviso that, with Toshy’s permission, my mam could draw on the account if there was an important enough reason.

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