Tales of Mean Streets

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Boni and Liveright, 1921 - 251 pages
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User Review  - booksaplenty1949 - LibraryThing

A series of vignettes, most with little plot development, of the life of the lumpenproletariate in late 19thC London. Depressing as the stories are, Morrison has little sympathy for his characters ... Read full review

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Page 15 - At last Lizer ceased from going to the pickle factory, and could not even help Billy's mother at the mangle for long. This lasted for near a week, when Billy, rising at ten with a bad mouth, resolved to stand no nonsense, and demanded two shillings. "Two bob? Wot for?" Lizer asked. "Cos I want it. None o
Page 157 - I can make it up, with the insurance money, an' this, an' that. On'y I dunno about mutes. It's a expense." In the East End, when a woman has not enough money to buy a thing much desired, she does not say so in plain words; she says the thing is an "expense," or a "great expense." It means the same thing, but it sounds better. Mrs. Curtis had reckoned her resources, and found that mutes would be an "expense.
Page 159 - Mansell ordered port wine. Where is it?" Mrs. Curtis mumbled dolorously. "I tell you he must have it," he averred with unprofessional emphasis (his qualification was only a month old) . "The man can't take solid food, and his strength must be kept up somehow. Another day may make all the difference. Is it because you can't afford it?" "It's a expense— sich a expense, doctor," the old woman pleaded. "An" wot with 'arf-pints o" milk an'—" She grew inarticulate, and mumbled dismally. "But he must...
Page 156 - Ay, ay, well enough son to me," responded the old woman, a little peevishly; "an' I'll 'ave 'im put away decent, though there's on'y the Union for me after. I can do that, thank Gawd! "she added, meditatively, as chin on fist she stared into the thickening dark over the stairs. "When I lost my pore 'usband," said the gaunt woman, with a certain brightening, "I give 'im a 'ansome funeral.
Page ix - But who knows the East End? It is down through Cornhill and out beyond Leadenhall Street and Aldgate Pump, one will say : a shocking place, where he once went with a curate ; an evil plexus of slums that hide human creeping things ; where filthy men and women live on penn'orths of gin, where collars and clean shirts are decencies unknown, where every citizen wears a black eye, and none ever combs his hair.
Page xxiii - Existence dawns, and the doctor-watchman's door-knock resounds along the row of rectangular holes. Then a muffled cry announces that a small new being has come to trudge and sweat its way in the appointed groove. Later, the trotting of little feet and the school; the midday play hour, when love peeps even into this street; after that more trotting of little feet— strange little feet, new little feet— and the scrubbing, and the squalling, and the barren flower-pot; the end of the sooty day's work;...
Page 62 - ... for it. Perhaps he had suddenly gone mad. Before she married Simmons, Mrs. Simmons had been the widowed Mrs. Ford. Ford had got a berth as donkeyman on a tramp steamer, and that steamer had gone down with all hands off the Cape: a judgment, the widow woman feared, for long years of contumacy, which had culminated in the wickedness of taking to the sea, and taking to it as a donkeyman — an immeasurable fall for a capable engine-fitter. Twelve years as Mrs. Ford had left her still childless,...
Page 64 - ... tell the tale, she was at pains to impress the fact on Simmons's memory, and to set forth at length all the circumstances of his ungrateful selfishness. In the beginning she had always escorted him to the ready-made clothes shop, and had selected and paid for his clothes — for the reason that men are such perfect fools, and shopkeepers do as they like with them. But she presently improved on that. She found a man selling cheap remnants at a street corner, and straightway she conceived the idea...
Page 4 - ... adequately done. There is no other fair like Whit Monday's on Wanstead Flats. Here is a square mile and more of open land where you may howl at large; here is no danger of losing yourself as in Epping Forest; the public-houses are always with you; shows, shies, swings, merry-go-rounds, fried fish stalls, donkeys are packed closer than on Hampstead Heath; the ladies' tormentors are larger, and their contents smell worse than at any other fair.
Page 2 - Lizerunt consisted : long of perfunctory nods; but great things happened this especial Thursday evening, as Lizerunt, making for home, followed the fading red beyond the furthermost . end of Commercial Road. For Billy Chope, slouching in the opposite direction, lurched across the pavement as they met, and taking the nearer hand from his pocket, caught and twisted her arm, bumping her against the wall. "Garn," said Lizerunt, greatly pleased; "le

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