Chapter 17 - Selling up
When you have nothing, everything appears lost, when you have something there is always something worth living for. It was such a mindset that Jane adopted, she might lose the house they had worked so hard for. But as long as she had her children then she would cope and there was always the possibility that Albert might one day come back.
She might struggle to keep body and soul together, but vowed to herself, that she would never lose hope. The bank swiftly acted on their instructions. A buyer could not initially be found for the house and so they repossessed the house. She knew that this was happening and that a repossession order had been granted. But the reality of receiving this and knowing that within the week she and her boys had to vacate the property and would be in the street, if they could find nothing. She knew that this moment would come and hastily prepared. However hard she tried though, she could find no help.
She had the baby and the boys and hardly any money. No one wanted to take them, the grandparents only had enough room for one of the boys, she began selling her possessions, anything that she had. She sold items to the people in the surrounding streets who had heard of her distress, even Albert’s watch and shirt studs went. As the day grew closer when the police and bailiff would come to turn them out on the street, she became increasingly more desperate.
On the final day she sold all the possessions which they could not carry, to a house clearer. He turned up a shabby looking middle-aged man with his business partner a slightly younger but equally shabby man with his large removal cart, pulled by two enormous working horses. Him and his partner walked round the house looking at all the items. They scratched their chins and tutted and talked to each other loudly.
‘Is there any tick on any of it missus?’
‘No - it’s all paid off, no credit on any of it. My husband was dead set against that, he would only buy something if he had saved the cash money, here are the receipts in this tin.’ She handed him the tin and he quickly perused them with a sharp keen eye, apparently paying no attention to them but totalling each item in his head as he flicked through them with his keen professional eye, he definitely was not a novice at this game.
‘No one wants this sort of stuff now,’ then the other interjected.
‘There’s no market for it,’ then the first one again.
‘Look at that piano, well who wants that these days, we might sell the wood to a cabinet maker, to make something out of it, it’ll probably cost us more to take it away, it would be less bother to put it on a bonfire.’ After a suitable length of time brow beating an already downtrodden and despondent Jane, they decided on a take it or leave it price. if you consider the total cost of the contents of their home over the years had cost them several hundred pounds, the offer was for not more than ten.
‘Can’t you make it a little bit more, the piano alone cost more than that?’ She addressed the men, knowing how callous they were.
This was the usual point where these two gentlemen’s rehearsed script went into its usual over drive their look could have been mistaken for constipation such was the look of pain on their faces. They stared at each other for a second and then the older of the two spoke for them both.
‘There’s no market for most of this, we’ll be lucky to break even, well another two pounds, but we’ll want the clothes and the baby cot and things.’ She agreed, another forty shillings was better than nothing and it would keep them fed for a while longer. She and the boys would only take the clothes they were wearing and what they could carry. They knew this wouldn’t be much and so one of the richest local businessmen in the town counted out the money from a roll in his pocket. The removal of these few notes did not even appear to alter its size.
‘Now missus, you get what you’re keeping and put it to one side and, we’ll start getting rid of some of the big things for you.’ They made it sound as if they were doing her a favour, but in reality, they were ensuring that all the high profit items were moved from the house to their yard in the first trip. It would not be the first time where they had returned to find all the items they had left on their first trip either sold to a second party or the neighbours having been in and been in the process of walking down the street with a table that they had just purchased as part of the lot only an hour previous.
Expert packers these men were thorough, and every cranny was used to pack down to the smallest item, coat hooks and other small fittings were removed until the house was a bare shell. They left nothing, from the backyard forward which could make them a penny. It was like a pack of hyenas stripping a carcass. Throughout this period Jane and the boys kept out of the way in the kitchen, Ted cried when he saw his favourite toy a pull along wooden black and white dog being removed from the house and held his arms out for it, she comforted him and lied by saying don’t worry you’ll get it back soon. Once the men had left, she stood in the kitchen with the boys and the few meagre possessions which they now owned. Matt held her hand for a moment.
‘It’ll be alright ma’, we’ll be alright.′ It shook her out of her thoughts, she smiled weakly as she looked at him.
‘Course we will son, it’s just another adventure; your dad will be proud of you.’ She hadn’t had the heart to tell them yet but, the grandparents would only be able to help them for a couple of weeks and after that she had no idea where they would go.
They slept in their house for the final time that night on the floor, it was hollow and echoed to every noise. She tried to make light of it, by pretending that they were camping. The only light was from the candles and the few pieces of coal that were left burning in the grate. She thought of the times when she had been to the coal merchants for her usual order of half a ton of coal to be delivered and what a good customer she had been.
Tomorrow morning would be the last time she would clean out the clinker and ashes out of the hearth. She had managed to keep a dustpan and brush and a couple of cloths and some sunlight soap. They might throw her out on the street, but she wouldn’t have them say that she had left a dirty house.