“You weren’t much for school,” said Lew.
“Out when I was fifteen.”
“Not much older than when I left school.”
“You didn’t want me to stay on,” I said, wanting to know why.
“Wasn’t like that in my day. I got this lovely job, I did, at a bank. On account of me being tall. They gave me a uniform, with a lovely thick overcoat. And all I had to do was stand outside. But Mum found me another job that paid sixpence more a week. So that was that. I had to give up my job at the bank and give back that overcoat, all for sixpence more a week.”
“You could’ve said no,” I said.
“No? Naaaw! Didn’t say ‘no’ in those days. What your mother told you to do, you did. Gawd help you if you didn’t.”
“I never did what you wanted me to.” I said.
“You passed that exam, you got in the print. You did what I wanted you to do.”
“I think I really wanted to stay on at school.”
“Well, you weren’t much for it. Told you at the time. You weren’t good at maths.”
“Not much cop at algebra. Physics. The teachers...they weren’t bothered.”
“Gawd’s truth! You should’ve seen the teacher we ‘ad. The headmaster tried to cane me once. I broke his cane for him. Got me expelled. But,” Lew said expansively, “I was leaving anyway—”