JOHN: Now we’re motorin’ lads! Seamie would have been here tonight – if he wasn’t otherwise
engaged. Come on Mick, another song.
Mick: I’ll sing the one you gave me to put a tune to “Permanent Tear” although I don’t think it will
cheer us up Jack, it’s about some girl he met at a fair in Hampstead, and then she walked out on
JOHN: She never lived with me to walk out.
MICK: Here we go.
In the morning when waking, my heart is breaking; I realize I’m all alone; I am so lonely, there’s
just me only ever since you left our home.
My heart is broken, so I go to my local, and I’m drinking whiskey and beer, my friends they come
by and each of them try to dry up this permanent tear.
The band is playing, the dancers are swaying, but I don’t hear them at all, ‘because you’re not here,
and without you my dear, I could never walk tall.
I pick up my phone, I call her home, her mother says, she is not here, she has left you, she’s found
someone new, once more that permanent tear’
I’ve got a tear, a permanent tear ever since you said good bye, I’ve got a tear a permanent always
that tear in my eye.
To me you were so good, without you I’m no good, why did you go way? Now that you’re gone it’s
hard to go on, how can I get through the day?
I go to my bed, I lay down my head, but I can’t get any sleep, I stare at the ceiling, such a sad
feeling, once more I’m starting to weep.
The nights are much colder and I long to hold her, and oh how I wish she was here, and God knows
I miss her and I long to kiss her and dry up this permanent tear.
Outside it’s raining; inside I’m paining as I wonder where it went wrong, my mind says let go, my
hearts saying no, it won’t accept she has gone.
It just won’t believe it that she would deceive it, and throw away all of those years, but it’s no use
pretending, there’s no happy ending; I must live with this permanent tear.
JACK: Great, great Mick, she must have a left a bit of an impression on you John.31
JOHN: Young love Jack, so important one day, and forgotten the next, not like our civil War, still
not forgotten and hundredth anniversary coming up shortly I wonder what way will they
Jack: What way will they commemorate the civil war? It’s going to be awkward for whoever is in
power… I often wonder what kind of a country we would have had if the civil war never started, if
De Valera had accepted like the majority of the people did what Collin’s brought back? And
remember what Collins brought back was just a stepping stone, and if accepted, maybe with
ongoing negotiations we could have got thirty two counties
MICK: De Valera was right not to accept it, he wanted a thirty two county Republic, and he was
willing to fight for it.
JOHN: He was willing to fight for it, and he did, but was he fighting for a Republic or for his own
survival, remember when the people accepted in an election what Collins brought back…De Valera
was yesterdays man, and the big question, why didn’t De Valera go to England himself?
JACK: De Valera didn’t go to England, because he was of the opinion that nothing was to be
gained, and Collin’s would return empty handed, remember, Collins at this point in time was the
man of the people, De Valera was becoming insignificant, he needed to regain his popularity, he
hoped the people would look upon Collin’s as a failure.
MICK: Nonsense, he wanted thirty two counties, and he was willing to do all he could to get it.
JOHN: If that is so Mick, why when he eventually came to power, and remember he ran this
country for almost fifty years, why for that fifty years did he abandon the North and left the
nationalists at the mercy of the unionists, to be treated as dirt in their own country?
JOHN: Anyway lads, let’s get back to the poetry, music and song. Have you anything left, Jack?
JACK: As the actress said to the archbishop. How about this, It’s a chapter from CRICKLEWOOD
COWBOYS. And a girl called Tessa
‘Meet Tessa – my new partner’, said Chris as I entered the living room.
‘I already have’, I shouted. ‘She stole my bloody wallet’.
It was barely an hour since our first meeting. The venue had been the Banba Club, at the teadance, where hung-over Irishmen sobered up on a Sunday afternoon, waiting for the pubs to
re-open. Situated up an alleyway off the Kilburn High Road, it was a low-roofed shack of a
building, and had probably once seen service as stables. Some of the locals were of the
opinion that it still catered for animals.32
The afternoon had been a little more eventful than usual; apart from the removal of my wallet
and the mandatory couple of fights, The Sunshine Gang had paid one of their occasional
visits. They had, as usual, been repelled. But not before they had wedged a Mini in the
entrance, busted a doorman’s nose, and smashed the window to the ticket office. In the
fighting that had ensued, sheer numbers had driven them back into the street. They had
retreated, vowing revenge. I had landed a punch on a greasy head and had returned to the
mineral bar feeling pleased with myself.
The dance that followed was a Siege of Ennis, and I found myself dragged into the mass of
gyrating bodies by Tessa. She stood out among the other dancers; tall and athletic- looking,
ash-blonde hair billowing out behind her as she jigged – inexpertly – to the music. I managed
to hang on to her for the following slow waltz, and discovered that it was her first time to an
Irish dance. Afterwards, she disappeared to wherever it is women go to when dances are
over. A few minutes later I discovered my wallet had disappeared too.
‘No hard feeling, Terry?’ She handed me back the wallet, a big grin on her face. ’It wasn’t
‘I know it wasn’t’. I extracted a fiver and handed it to Chris. ‘You proved your point’.
‘I told you she was good’. He laughed and clapped me on the back.
Chris’ pick -and-shovel days were over. His weekly ten-shilling accumulator on the ITV
Seven had finally come good: from his winnings he had purchased a new suit and shoes, and
became a pickpocket in the West End. Tessa was his latest assistant.
Tessa lit up a cigarette then offered them round. ‘Is that what you call a dance in Ireland?
Chris laughed. ‘It was a bit lively, I suppose’.
‘Who, exactly, is The Sunshine Gang?’ she asked
Larry raised his head from The Sporting Chronicle. ‘A bunch of bowsies from back yonder’.
Where yonder was he didn’t specify. ‘We had the right treatment for them in Ringsend’.
‘We Know. The ould Ringsend uppercut’, I chuckled, having heard it all before.
‘And what is a Ringsend uppercut?’ she asked
‘A good kick in the…’ Larry hesitated, ’what’s-its’.33
Chris nudged Tessa. ‘Larry used to run with them, didn’t you?’
‘From a distance, boy. Only from a distance’. He snorted. ‘They came over here to lick
Despite Larry’s low opinion of them, they had already acquired a reputation in the area, and
when fights broke out in the dancehalls and clubs they were usually in the thick of it.
The arrival of Tessa changed our lives quite a lot. I had never met anyone quite like her
before. She wasn’t the first liberated woman I had come in to contact with, but she was
different. Certainly different from the Irish girls you met at the dances in the Galtymore and
the 32 Club. Oh, you could shift them, but no matter how much drink you poured down their
gullets, all you were likely to get at the end of the night was a good feel. And sometimes not
even that. Getting your leg over meant putting a roof over their heads. Marriages might be
made in heaven but they were negotiated in dancehalls like the Galtymore.
They worked like beavers in the sweatshops of Kilburn and Cricklewood. At Smiths and
Walls, Heinz and Unigate, from eight till five, then hurried away to supplement their meagre
wages by doing evening shifts as usherettes and assemblers in the cinemas and factories.
Weekends they prowled the dancehalls looking for husbands – men who would be content
with a furtive fumble in the back of a Mini or Austin 1100, and who could be weaned off the
Guinness without too much fuss. Oh yes, behind every drunken Irishman was a sober Irish
Into this came Tessa like a breath of fresh air. Twiggy, Jean Shrimpton, songs of peace,
rioting students, she scorned all that. She was a materialist, out, as she put it, to screw the
world before it screwed her. There was no such thing as free love.
‘There’s a price for everything’, she said, ‘especially love’.
‘Why a pickpocket?’ I asked her one evening.
‘Why not? It’s better than a bleedin’ factory. I left school at fifteen, home at sixteen. I got
cheesed off being pawed by my dad – step-dad actually – and my mum couldn’t give a toss.
Too busy doing the amusement arcades by day and her bingo at night. My brother Ben was
nicking cars for a living – when he wasn’t inside. I just took off one day. I don’t think
anybody missed me’. 34
One afternoon she turned up at the flat, limping. She asked me to fetch some ice-cubes, and
then explained she had fallen down some steps on the Embankment.
‘Stupid, really. I wasn’t watching where I was going and tripped over. I had the stuff Chris
passed to me in my bag. It could have been serious, I guess…’
‘Maybe it’s an omen’.
She laughed. ‘If you believe all that crap. My mum believes in black cats, not walking under
ladders, throwing salt over your left shoulder, all that stuff, and it hasn’t brought her much
luck. I believe you make your own’.
Her skirt had ridden up and I could see her knickers. Black, lacy affairs. Go on, something
kept telling me, she wouldn’t let you see the view if she didn’t want you to do something
about it. However, before I could act, the door opened and Chris walked in.
My drift into crime probably began with that incident, because next day I was standing in for
her as Chris’s assistant. And very boring it was too. I spent my time sauntering up and down
a stretch of Piccadilly while he searched for suitable victims. At the end of the day we had
acquired a purse with everything in it except money, a wallet containing five one pound
notes, a train ticket to Hemel Hempstead, and a photo of a nude woman with ‘I love you,
Dicko’ scrawled across it. Our other acquisition confirmed my suspicions that the English
were sex-mad; a gold-embossed cigarette case with ten French ticklers packed neatly inside.
We shared the condoms and pawned the case for eight quid. Not exactly a fortune for a day’s
work. Chris said there were better days, but I didn’t really fancy it. I was glad when Tessa
Since Jonjo’s death I hadn’t taken a pick or shovel in my hand. And I had no intention of
doing so. London was a goldmine, waiting to be exploited. Larry was right; it was a great
place for those with no intention of getting up in the morning. We began stealing on a small
scale, and found the Portobello market on a Saturday morning very obliging. It was
incredibly easy; hiding the gear in special pockets inside our long coats. Jeans and shirts
were the easiest to flog in the pubs we hawked them round. We extended our operations to
take in other markets; Petticoat Lane and Brick Lane, and found that shops like Burtons and
Colliers were just as obliging.
By now I had acquired Larry’s passion for the horses. Sometimes it seemed as if I was 35
stealing for William Hills or Terry Downes; come late afternoon, the money I’d made in the
morning had vanished behind the counter of a dingy betting shop in Willesden Lane or
Kilburn High Road. Other times we were rolling in it; like when Saucy Kit won the
Champion Hurdle and Fleet the One Thousand Guineas, and we had them doubled up to win
hundreds of pounds. We followed up on Royal Palace in the Two Thousand Guineas and The
It was Tessa who suggested the break in Brighton when she saw us counting our winnings
after the Derby. Larry wouldn’t come – he had bought a small van for fifty pounds and
wanted to practice his driving – so Chris, Tessa and myself headed off.
I still couldn’t figure Tessa out. For several months now she had graced us with her
presence, but she was as enigmatic as ever. One thing was clear though; she wasn’t Chris’s
girlfriend, merely his working partner. She was even vague about where she lived; over
Walthamstow way was the nearest I could pin her down to, and if Chris knew he wasn’t
saying. Sometimes we wouldn’t see her for a week or more, and apart from occasional
outingsto the pub with us, where she downed pints of lager without ever seeming to get
pissed; her social life was a total mystery. I badly wanted to get inside her knickers, and it
was frustrating watching her parade her talents round the flat when I couldn’t seem to get
close to her.
Brighton changed all that. We were like kids again at the seaside. We built sandcastles,
raced each other along the beach, and got sick on jellied eels. And even sicker on beer. We
had taken sleeping bags with us, sleeping huddled together beneath the promenade for the
first few nights. Then Chris met an old friend, and she dragged him off to the Isle of Wight
to some concert she had tickets for. I was fed up of sleeping on lumpy terrain, so I suggested
we book into a couple of hotel rooms that night.
.’Make it a double’, she replied.
Making love with her was like being aboard a runaway train. A hair-raising ride, constantly
picking up speed, gathering momentum. I wondered if we were ever going to stop. On and
on we rode, free-wheeling in places, generating sparks galore where the friction was fiercest.
Eventually, we coasted to a stop on an uphill section. Out of steam. Well, I was anyway. Her
body in repose was the nearest thing to a work of art I had ever seen. Long flanks perfectly
aligned, breasts sculpted out of the finest, palest clay; nostrils flared, lips slightly parted as 36
Sunrise found us on the beach again, watching the sun clamber over the horizon. I knew how
It was then that she asked me for a hundred pounds.
‘It’s for my mum. To stop the bailiffs givin’ her the heave-ho. Dad’s done a runner again and
Ben’s in the nick…’
‘It’s a lot of dosh, I said’.
She shrugged. ‘It’s only money, Terry. Bits of paper. Easy come, easy go. Besides, you’ll
only lose it all again. You always do’. She rubbed a hand along the inside of my thigh.
‘Think of it as a long-term investment’.
I couldn’t figure out what she was offering me; love, friendship, or merely the use of her
body. Whatever it was, I wanted it. I gave her the hundred quid. When we got back to
London Bridge she kissed me goodbye and said she would see me soon.
‘Where’s Tessa?’ Larry asked when he saw me on my own.
‘You guess is as good as mine. She borrowed some money then took off’.
He looked at me in a peculiar fashion. ‘She borrowed some off me too. Before ye left. For
her brother’s bail, she said’.
I gave him a highly selective version of our exploits, omitting any reference to our steamy
session in the hotel. That was our secret. Something to be savoured in moments of solitude.
Not an item to be tossed casually into the conversation as if it were about a football match or
a horse race. Some of the girls we tangled with were fair game, but this was something
Besides, I had seen the way Larry looked at her. Chris turned up later in the evening
complaining of a wasted journey.
‘’She was on the rags. All I got was a couple of hand jobs. I could have done that myself.
Besides, she got me there under false pretences. Said Bob Dylan was goin’ to be playing…’
‘And he wasn’t?’37
‘Naw. It was that fucking Donovan…’ He began to sing. ‘They call me mellow yellow…
what a wanker’.
He didn’t seem surprised to hear about the money. ‘Did she say what for?’
For her mother…or brother’. Larry gave him the details.
Chris laughed. ‘Not her brother. She hasn’t got one. Least, not called Ben’.
‘How come you know so much about her all of a sudden?’ I said, annoyed now that I had
ever mentioned the money.
He shrugged. ‘Little things I picked up. You can’t spend time with people and not learn
something. Human nature, isn’t it?’ He grinned. ‘I suppose I‘d better start looking for a new
As Jack finishes his story a blond-haired, statuesque woman appears in the doorway.
Neither of them sees her for a moment, and then both of them do together.
JACK: Ah, Theresa, there you are. Everybody, this is my wife, Theresa.
JOHN: (still bemused) Tess…Tessa…Theresa….Is, ah…your wife!
JACK: Theresa, this is John.
Silence for a moment.
JOHN: Delighted to meet you Theresa, haven’t we met before someplace?
THERESA: No…No, I… I don’t think so.
MICK: Ah now John, I’m sure if you met Theresa before, you would have a permanent
memory of her, wouldn’t you?
JOHN: Yes…yes Mick you’re right, of course I would, and I might have even have penned a
poem about her, Tess…Theresa, tell me why you didn’t turn up…
Maggie interrupts John.
MAGGIE: Time now please, time now, everyone please, drink up or the guards will be in on 38
top of us, okay. JOHN? Not now, leave it, leave it for another time
JOHN: Another time Maggie? Ah…shure you’re right. The fella that made time made
enough of it. But you don’t expect us to leave our pints? Would you mind if we finish them
off with a toast and a song?
MAGGIE: Yes John that would be good, a toast and a song.
John: Right lads a toast, to new friends, and old friends, and to friends who may have
forgotten us, and to the next generation, and a Government for all the people, not just for
some of the people
JACK: Right Mick give us a blast of The Parting Glass.
Of all the money that e’er I had
I’ve spent it in good company
And all the harm that e’er I’ve done
Alas it was to none but me
And all I’ve done for want of wit
To memory now I can’t recall
So fill to me the parting glass
Good night and joy be with you all
Of all the comrades that e’er I had
They are sorry for my going away
And all the sweethearts that e’er I had
They would wish me one more day to stay
But since it falls unto my lot
That I should rise and you should not
I’ll gently rise and I’ll softly call
Good night and joy be with you all
Good night and joy be with you all