She stood outside William Hill, pram in one hand, her back turned affectionately towards it as she gently and determinedly sucked on a cigarette, exhaling willfully downwind of her offspring. A beautiful, fat round face covered in freckles, a healthy moonish face, contorted into a grimace of enjoyment for her cigarette. A young man emerged shabbily from the betting shop and shrugged the words ‘number one is free’ at her without looking up from his phone, and sloped to the other side of the pedestrian street where he slunk against the wall, still thumbing. automatically at the screen. He glanced surreptitiousluy left and right from this vantage point, his pudgy pink digit tapping pointless texts from his unlimited SMS per month stash.
With number one now free (whatever number one was) the moon faced woman screamed a hoarse vowel across the street to some unseen third party whose instructions were concise and rudimentary, with the emphasis that they should be carried out without delay. She wasn’t necessarily Romany or Irish Gypsy but her demeanor like many of those of ex mining towns might be difficult to distinguish from such by anyone not familiar with the subtleties of class and bloodline in these parts. The arbitrary toddler in the pram, whose care was now the responsibility of some one who “needed to git a fookin move on”, was oblivious to the changeover in custody, and dozed on from behind polyester knitted lemon bonnet and matching cardigan. Number one had already been pumped with several rounds of pound coins by the time I had passed the door, and looked to be relinquishing its jackpot just as much as the William Hill would have hoped.