Sunday, 13 September 2015

A Man Called Joe.

My childhood was replete with men called Joe who had fallen on hard times one way or another. There was a tramp called Joe who used to walk around the streets where we lived, and my mother would always give him a piece of cake and a cup of tea when he arrived at our front gate (which he naturally made a habit if doing.) And then there were the sad stories she used to tell me of woefully benighted fictional characters called Joe.

I remember there was one called Old Joe, Lost in the Snow, and another about a man who had to get to Birmingham where his poor old mother was bedridden and about to expire. He was called Joe, too. But he had no money for the train fare, and by the time he’d walked to the hospital, his mother was gone. I didn’t like that. I had no problem with Joe the tramp finishing his tea and cake when I was getting home from school, but arriving at the hospital too late to say cheerio to your poor old mother, well…

‘Change the ending.’


‘Change the ending. It’s too sad.’

‘Oh, all right. Some kind person lent Joe the train fare, and when he got to Birmingham his mother was much better.’


She used to tell me another one called The Wig, the Wag and the Little Yellow Bag, about gypsies who kidnapped children and roasted them for dinner. That one was pretty surreal, not least because there was nobody called Joe in it.

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