Friday, March 11, 2016

Wadya Know (1949)

A Short Story from the July 1949 issue of the Socialist Standard

Apologies to Damon Runyon

At eleven-o-clock last Friday evening I am sitting in Fifty’s snack bar on Piccadilly Circus and we are consuming coffee. It is very bad coffee in Fifty’s bar and we are only consuming this coffee because we have nothing much else on. “We” I say, because I have company—Flutter. Flutter is feeling sociable and offers gaspers to a dame across the counter, speaking to her as follows:

"Say, when this joint closes up. maybe we can help wash-up. eh?"

Well the dame looks very surprised at this and says that in this Fifty place they have special geezers for washing up. “What’s more," she says. “these washing-up geezers is dirt cheap and what's Flutter want to lower himself for anyway?”

Flutter is very incensed at this and I am rubbering in to save any argument. I say “How is Charlie.” I says.

“Charlie!" shrills this dame. “Oos ee?" “Why” I says, “Charlie Fifty who owns this joint and maybe a million. You mean you never see him?” She signifies that she never clapped eyes on this Fifty fellow ever.

Well this is the second shock we are receiving that evening. First these special geezers who spend their natural washing-up dishes. And then the guy who is owning the joint never shows up to run the business—selling lousy coffee to me and Flutter and the other city guys who can’t go any place else.

By now Flutter is speaking bitter things on the subject of guys who have nothing to do but own milk bars and watch their blood pressure. I am thinking that there's millions who does jobs for Charlie Fifty and maybe he has special geezers to watch his blood pressure and doesn’t do that himself either on account of he is too busy owning his milk bars. I am grumbling about all this to Flutter maybe 100 per cent, and he speaks loudly as follows:

“Yeah—we gets lousy coffee and no-good grub, these geezers she speaks about washes-up all their naturals and this Sixty-man he’s no benefit to anybody anyway.”

At this point we are being pushed off our stools by an Admiral or maybe a Commodore who is saying.

“Cumom—dosin hup!” This makes me wonder if he does this all his life too.

The worst jolt comes when I am trying to board the last street-car to Horrorway. The attendant is elbowing me and some other citizens off this car into the gutter. He is accompanying his actions with suitable words like this: “This ’ere vehicle’s run for the Company’s benefit! Not yours!” So we are left quite mortified at our nerve. How are we to know the car is full of shareholders? Then we think maybe this attendant guy only shoots us a line. Who ever sees a bus-full of shareholders and they wouldn’t live in Horrorway nohow. As I only says to Flutter, I says this is a very perplexing world . . .
D. R. Onion.

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