The Gra.mophone, December, 1929
and then he would have to rub his threadbare sleeve across the glass.
It was such a jolly tune the thin man had put on. It made Bobbie want to skip about l ike that girl he had seen through the doorway of the "pub" in Venner's Court. A man with a barrel-organ had been playing outside the "pub" and Bobbie had watched the girl begin to sway. She had put her elbows into her sides and held her hands up, palms open, and moving in a jerky fashion. Her knees had kind of kept together and her rather high-heeled shoes shot out sideways like a "jumping jack" Bobbie had possessed when he was very small. Bobbie took a couple of steps, his sharp elbows dug firmly into the sides of his jacket, his knees together in faithful imitation of the girl in the t ight and shiny blue coat and skirt at the Venner's Court public house. Dip-up-dip-kick-dip-up-dip-kickQuite easy once you got the t ime right! A derisive hoot of laughter brought him unkindly to earth.
" Crikey ! What you doing, Bobbie Adams? You've got 'em badly, you 'ave, and no error!"
Bobbie stopped abruptly and looked up into the leering face of Jim Barry.
"What you call that step? St. Vitus? " Bobbie flushed guiltily. He was secretly afraid of Jim Barry who was five years his senior. Fourteen! Almost a man!
"Did you hear that record, Jim?" he asked eagerly. "It was such a jolly one. Sort of made you want to dance."
"Oh, dancing, were you! What was i t l ike? No-no---don't try and hum i t . You're too darned crazy about gramophones to my mind. Real potty about them, you are."
Bobbie felt snubbed but, nevertheless, he could not let an implied slight against the gramophone go unchallenged.
" And why not? " he demanded. "-Wouldn't you like to have a gramophone-of your very own, I mean? "
"ViThat, I? No! Not me. Father's bought a wireless set last week that 'ud beat all your old gramophones into a cocked hat."
"A wireless set?" Bobbie did not mean his que"stion to sound incredulous, but that Jim Barry's father, who lived in Bishop's Court and had always seemed no better off than his own father, should be able to afford a wireless set was somewhat of a wonder.
"A wireless set, I said," Jim's voice rose truculently. "D'you think I'm lying? "
"Oh, no, no, Jim. Of course I believe you; but I do wish father had enough money to buy a set-or a gramophone." .
The caressing way in which Bobbie's voice dropped over the last three words left no shadow of doubt as to which he would rather have. Perhaps there was some way of buying things that was unknown to him. Bobbie determined to sound his friend.
" But didn't i t cost an awfullot,Jim? I thought they were terrible expensive."
" And so they are," said Jim; then, leaning forward confidentially, he plucked at the lapel of Bobbie's jacket. "But I'll tell you how he managed i t if you l ike."
Bobbie assured him that he was all attention. "Well," began Jim, "you remember that father got run over 'bout a month ago and had his arm broke?" Bobbie had forgotten. Anyway he didn't see what that had to do with wireless sets. However he nodded his head wisely. -
"And you know that big white building at the corner of Ashton Street?"
Bobbie nodded again. "Well, father went there and signed a papera form to say that he'd had his arm broke and they paid him thirty pounds."
"Thirty pounds!" "Thirty, I said, Bob Adams, and don't repeat everything I say as if you didn't believe what I'm telling you."
" Oh, but I do, Jim, really I do. Only i t seemed such a lot of money~"
" It is a lot of money," said Jim, his interest in Bobbie beginning to wane now that he had imparted his news. "Enough to buy dozens of your old gramophones-Hi! Joe Stephens! Wait for me. I'm coming your way."
And Bobbie, left alone, once more turned his attention to Paterson's window, through which the thin, dark man could be seen winding up a gramophone and talking to a large lady in a fur coat with a small dog under her arm. Some people had all the luck, only, to be sure, i t must be very uncomfortable to have your arm broken like Mr. Barry, but if i t hadn't been broken there would have been no wireless set. Now, he'd have bought a gramophone~ if he'd had all that money to spend, and lots and lots of records, preferably those with the jolly l i t t le white dog on them.
That night in Bobbie's dreams l i t t le white dogs chased their tails madly and (surprising this for so staid a young man) the thin assistant with the horn-rimmed glasses danced a frenzied Charleston with the woman in the fur coat.
It was not until the following evening that the " Great Idea" presented itself to Bobbie. It came all in a flash as all the very best" great ideas " do~ and i ts coming quite took Bobbie's breath away.
His father had sent him out to buy an evening paper and, with the penny clutched t ightly in his grubby palm (he was afraid to trust his pockets~ which were almost as hole-riddled as his boots), hewas making his way across the road opposite the chemist's windows. It had been raining, and theway the lights blinked and glistened on the wet
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