Down the entry, past the nappies, the old shit and the piss-stained gay pornography, there’s first of all a faint smell of death. There are low walls, kicked down in parts, kids in nappies running around. In one of the yards a Sikh fella holding down a chicken. He takes off its head with an axe while the body, naturally, runs around the yard spraying out small spots of blood. The children are delighted. Despite the death, it is all somehow removed from death on this bright and significant morning.
Tapping at the window there’s Mad Tony and he’s dancing, if that’s the right word, to the music from our front room: Bad Company’s Feel Like Makin’ Love. His sister, Angela, says that my dad plays rubbish music. Strange music, she says. She eases Tony away even though I tell her it’s fine for him to continue pressing his big ugly retarded face against the glass of our window. The spittle, the slime, it’s fine.
Early 1973, Spidey has lost his mask and is forced to steal a replacement from a fancy dress shop that specialises in superhero costumes. Thwipp and he pulls it through the skylight. Of course, this mask being a mere novelty, it doesn’t have the ingenious white plastic sheets that cover his real mask’s eyeholes. For the duration of his battles with Doctor Octopus and Hammerhead we are witness to Peter’s baby blues, staring through.
Rummaging through the sack of clothes to get to the bottom, to remove the small pieces of lead that were put there to increase the weight so they’d get a few pence more, maybe an extra quid, for this sack of clothes. He chides the kids, ticks them off with relative good humour, the sort of thing he used to do himself when he was their age but tailed with a warning: make sure that this first time is the only time. His eyes brighten when he spies the folding white stick, fingers it and offers the boy two pounds for it. Yes, says the boy, glad of the money and, of course, unaware of the stick’s antique and Edwardian status.