We pull up outside a dismal looking house and knock on the door. It is answered almost immediately by an incredibly handsome man. He looks like Yul Brynner, with hair. He invites us in and I am astonished by the poverty of his home. There is nothing in the living room at all except a tatty old armchair and an ashtray. He sits in the chair and lights up. He gives me a smile, my young heart flutters. Gloria asks him what he is doing for Christmas. “Nowt” he says, blowing his smoke out into the room. Gloria gently tries to suggest a few other options, the Bervie Rd Social Club, The Miners Welfare?
He looks at me, lots of eye contact. “Do you want to know what my mum used to do to me every Christmas? Every Christmas she would bring me down here in the morning and there would be lots of presents under the tree – everything I wanted would be there. Then she would say, “see that son. That’s what you would have got if you had been a good boy.” Then she would take it all away and throw it in the bin out the back. That was my Christmas, every year. When she died I threw all her stuff away.”
He is gazing at the floor now, long legs crossed, swinging his foot back and forth. “Are you ready for your injection?” Gloria asks gently, he nods and they go upstairs. I stand in his living room, desolate, considering my Christmases, imagining his.