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Sweets for My Sweet
by Dave Powell

It’d been forty years or more since I last stood in this room, me old granddad’s bedroom.
He’ll not see that bed again, I thought, or the picture of New Brighton that hung on the wall, he’ll not see that again. The faded carpet on the floor, he’ll not walk on that again, and I looked over to Eric and gave a sigh.

It was good of Eric to come along and help sort out the stuff that needed packing up. It was good of Joyce too to have come to help. And help they’d been over all these years.
Good help, help when it was needed, help when me old granddad was stuck for ‘owt. Good neighbours they’d been, Eric and Joyce. The type of people who you can rely on, not at your door every five minutes mind, but there, there when it mattered.

“Sixty years he lived here me old granddad, Percy,” I said looking at ‘em both, seeing their sense of loss and wondering if it was greater than mine.

"I remember when he bought me “me” first bike and how he used to hold the saddle when I tried to ride it. And the day when I turned round and found his hand had gone, and me riding the bike proper for the first time, and the look on his face, full of pride.”

Joyce studied the old bed, the bed where he died.
“He was a good man, Percy“ she said with a look of fond longing, “we’ll miss ‘im a lot.” She stiffened, and with that resolution of the practical folk they were, said.
“We’ll pack his things for you old lad, you’ll ‘ave enough to do with running that business of yours, you‘ll ‘ave no time for this lot of doing, I‘m sure”

Aye, the business, that was me, all self. The business comes first, and I got me BMW that I’d always wanted. Never gave me old granddad a ride in it though, never thought, never cared. And now it was Eric and his Joyce doing what I should have been doing, mucking out.

I went over to the bed to stroke his pillow and accidentally kicked over the chamber pot that was put there to be handy, handy for the call in the middle of the night. I bent down to pick it up and as I did so saw his old sweet tin shoved under the bed. I picked it up and showed it to Eric and Joyce.

“His old sweet tin!” Joyce cried, "he’d never part with it, never. Took it with him everywhere. I even saw going to the outside lavvy with it tucked under his arm.”

“It’ll be full of money that will,” said Eric. “He was a canny old bird you know, your granddad. It’ll be full of fivers I bet you, open it up and ‘ave a look.”

I went over to the table and opened the lid. The tin was full and I counted it all out on top of that table. One thousand three hundred and thirty six, I counted. One thousand three hundred and thirty six photographs of naked homosexual men of various shapes and sizes. A members card for the Blue Boy Gay club in Birkenhead and three Werthers Originals.

The dirty old bastard!