Beckett steers Posh William to a table at the back of the room, deliberately seeking out a couple of his slightly less dodgy acquaintances. Paul and Simon, the actors, or so they claim. When, that is, they aren’t being painters and decorators or doing a spot of furniture removal, ordered or not. Despite the fact that they claim to be actors and are almost always in each other’s company, they are somehow not homosexual, a fact that baffles ninety nine percent of the Palace’s rude boys. Every now and then, one of them goes up West for an audition.
“Don’t forget your kneepads girls!” the rude boys quip.
Even rarer, are the occasions when one of them gets work as an extra in a film. As in, “I was the thirty-seventh soldier from the left and for a good two seconds I was standing directly behind Richard Burton’s head during that close-up. Made that scene I did.”
Paul, over the last couple of months seems to have developed a bit of a hard drugs problem, mostly a taste that has in short order become a need, for speed balls.
As Beckett introduces Posh William to Paul and Simon, he notes that Paul is definitely starting to look a bit the worse for wear. He further notes that neither of them seem to have paint under the fingernails or in the hair. A potentially useful observation, that. Means they’re most likely skint.
“I’ll get ‘em in lads.” Beckett says, cheerful as a day trip to Blackpool. “Come along William old chap and give us a hand would you.”
Back at the table, Posh William sucks up Tennents Brain Death and Beckett, Simon, and Paul’s banter in equal measure. You can tell he thinks he’s being terribly daring just being in a place like The Palace. Which is a tad truer than he knows.
At one point Beckett catches a nod from Simon in Posh William’s direction followed by a quizzical look, but Beckett fends it with a couple of taps of a knowing thumb to the side of his nose. Before too long Posh William announces that he has to
go for a slash and asks where the bogs are, albeit using somewhat more refined terminology.
“They’re out in the back yard.” Beckett says, “And watch out for the pit bulls,” and as Posh William climbs to his feet, Beckett adds into his pint, “And the poofters.”
“The what?” Posh William asks, nervously.
“I said,” Beckett smiles up at him nastily, “when you get back it’s your shout. And don't look so fuckin’ worried. If you ain’t back in ten minutes I’ll come looking for you. I ain’t gonna wait all night for me next bleedin’ pint am I.”
Once Posh William has rubber-legged his way out of the back door, Simon wants to know,
“What the fuck’s your game Beckett? Who is that snooty little toss pot?”
“You should see his sister.” Beckett says, deliberately avoiding answering. Make the losers wait. “Right tidy little piece she is.”
“What are you up to?” Paul asks.
“I reckon I’m in there. You know how these posh tarts likes a bit of rough.” Beckett says.
“Yeah, well that’s you to a fuckin’ tee innit.” Simon grins.
“Just jealous, you cheeky git.” Beckett grins right back.
“Come on Beckett,” Paul insists, “tell us before the little nonce gets back.”
Beckett keeps them dangling a few seconds longer then shrugs and asks, “You ever read any Dickens?”
“Stone me.” Beckett tuts, shaking his head, “And you two arseholes reckon you’re gonna be actors. Never heard of old Charlie Dickens. Oliver bleedin’ Twist and that, innit.”
“Oh, oh yeah.” Simon says hesitantly, “I think I seen one of his films once. On the telly like. Did Christmas stuff didn’t he? Shit like that.”
“Yeah.” Beckett sighs, “That sorta thing. Bit long-winded like, was old Dickens, but he had a few useful ideas. ‘Specially when it came to a bit of thievin’, he did.”
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