Out Rage – taster…

 

The Foundry

Alf squinted at a seaside picture post card which was pinned to a partition in the secretary’s office. He saw sand, sand he knew ran through one’s fingers, not the everyday moulding sand he was used to, but sand with individuality; sand that warmed the skin, sand that brushed off easily, sand that, as yet, he had never dug his hands in, holiday sand, beach sand, sand that was never destined to experience the searing heat of a pour, unproductive sand, leisurely sand. Alf longed to see the sea and feel the wind in his matted hair- to breathe in ozone which permeated coastal air. He wanted to eat fish and chips, smell fish chips and vinegar, while walking along the sea front. But above all, he wanted to share this experience with his wife and kids.

Time and optimism was draining away from Alf. He guessed next year would see him once again condemned to poverty- next year he would continue to scratch about in the foundry, and maybe the year after that. Meanwhile his wife was looking older, sicker and his children were becoming accustomed to paucity, they harboured no ambition, the best he could do, he thought, was to introduce his sons to the hardship of foundry work, a poor inheritance, a poor inheritance indeed. His daughter, such a nimble and bright creature, was she destined for the blacking shop? If he played his cards right, if he could persuade a foreman to take her as an office apprentice, if only, if only.

His eyes fell from the post card. “Come in”, said Mr Aldridge, Alf took his cap off, and acting from an instruction from the Director, sat down. The office had an aroma of beeswax; pictures of the founder and past directors hung proudly from an oak panelled wall. Alf felt humble, he had visited the office once previously, when he was offered a job some ten years ago.

Mr Aldridge carried on staring at some paperwork scattered before him over his half eyes glasses. This was a deliberate tactic to underline his authority. Alf sat crossed legged, cap on knee, waiting, waiting servile and beaten. “We have to let you go”, said Mr Aldridge.” Sales are down, we must make economies”.

Alf repeated in his head, “We must make economies” Alf couldn’t make anymore economies. Alf accepted the small brown wage packet in his left hand, in his right hand he imagined he could feel grains of beach sand slipping through his fingers, his hope, like the sand in an hour glass, drained from his soul, and left Alf without the will to turn the hour glass through one hundred and eighty degrees. Alf was finished.

Mist swirled from a worker’s nose as he lethargically walked along a cobble stone road; early one winter’s morning. He was picture-framed by tall red bricked factory buildings to his left and right. The sky sagged expectant. It threatened snow, its colour, ashen. The man, hands firmly tucked into his pockets, his shoulders rounded, and his coat giving away the Charlie on his back, plodded toward the foundry gates.

He listened to a familiar sound – growing louder from behind him, of horse’s hooves, beating time to a gritty mechanical grating of cart wheels. The cart bore sand, casting sand; delivered and offloaded from steam engine 49430, which…

Copyright Steve Jones 2012©