“God must have been smiling on me” said JOHN CLARK, 51, “I shouldn’t be alive!” His neighbour listened to the good looking man from next door, but it wasn’t his story she wanted. It was his wife’s which intrigued her.
Mister Clarke, all round handy-man, salt of the Tower Hamlets earth, His father of same name, Master Carpenter like Joseph, but son, Master of no-one but his wife Thomasine. That’s what he said!
It would take two days to fix those floor boards to carry her weight and baggage of rags she collected for Rosemary Lane market. He bursts through the front door like a boy, with a prize grin. That Jewish woman from next door was back again. Never mind for now, Johnny had a clay pipe to show her, a gift for a quick unloading job down Wapping dock.
Thomasine Clark took the clay pipe and inspected it. She passed it to her neighbour, “I’d rather you pass me the coin you earned”. John’s silence made her turn her head and look at him. “So where’s the money, don’t tell me you did another favour?
“Fuckin’ hopeless idiot” she shouted, “What are we going to live on?”
“Trust Me” he said, taking the pipe back, seating himself at the head of the table and laying down a pouch, lifting the lid, to reveal a soft, rich,musty tobacco.
John puffed on his latest pipe, scratched his balls, watched his wife and the Jewish widow from next door at the small kitchen table, cutting up Dandelions. What were they babbling on about?
“Who would want to read about a poor ignorant, woman who played a drum for a cause which everybody would rather forget?”
Why would she let people know how few words she had in her empty skull.
“Most days I am at a loss for words!” the 50 year old ex-souldier insisted, can’t write,
wrong sex, a rebel, a sinner according to the Church, a witch to others.”
John went to the tea chest next to their mattress to retrieve a broadsheet of
“The Famous Woman Drummer” once sung in every tavern across the land! he almost sang with pride.
“We sung this in all the taverns when Billy was a titch. It was our Season of fame!”, he nudged at his Mrs. “we could earn a few coins doing it again!”
John spoke to the Jewess, “I played the tin whistle and Tomasine played the drum – we made a good team, didn’t we – we could again”.