Confessions of a Wanker – Book 1, Chapter 2

Chapter 2

Based on a true story of a boy’s coming
of age in London’s East End



Chapter 2



Living in Two Worlds

Me best mate Dave lives four houses up on our side, and Danny Silver, who’s a bit of a wanker, lives opposite him.  Everyone knows everyone’s business in our six block neighborhood.  Dad says the war brought everyone together.  Me self I think it’s the mums chin-wagging their gossip over a pot of tea after their old men go off to work.

At thirteen Dave is the oldest of me mates.  Danny and Eddy are the same age as me, twelve.  We’ve all lived on Albany Road since we were born.  It’s a short street with terraced houses on both sides.  Dad says they’re two hundred years old.  They look the same as all the working class homes in the East End of London.  They are narrow two story brick houses, with a bay window, a front door next to your neighbor’s door, and slate roofs.  They have a black cast-iron coal stove in the living-room for cooking and heating.  There’s no bathroom and no hot water.  The toilet, or loo, faces out to the back yard, and is bloody freezing cold in winter.  I don’t know why but the door has a big gap at the top and the bottom.  I always sit on me hands to take a poop, and get out fast, with no thoughts of wanking.

Mum’s sister Aunt Jenny and her hubby George, who suffers with terrible gout, lives next door at number 34.  Their kids, are me cousins. Paul is thirteen, who is a right prat, and his sister, gorgeous Patricia, is fifteen.  Eddy’s family lives opposite.  Something I still can’t figure is how Eddy can be their cousin, but they tell me he’s not my cousin.

Dave is the oldest in our little gang and we think he knows everything.  He is tall with a long face and square chin, sort of like a movie star, but with a big nose.  All us other boys on Albany Road have blue eyes.  We think Dave is smarter because he has brown eyes – plus he tells us he’s smarter.  He always says, “If I don’t know it, it ain’t worth knowing.”

Danny’s dad is old and crotchety.  His younger mum, who me dad calls a tart, shows lots of cleavage.  She always stops, in full view of us boys, and lifts her skirt above her knees; looks back and straightens the line on her stocking.  Friday and Saturday nights his crippled old man stands out front and yells up the street, “Piss off ya trollop” as she heads for the pub.

Danny’s a loner and a misfit. Even though we think him a bit of a wanker, all us boys feel sorry for him, so we let him tag along.

Due to the shortage of teachers after the Second World War, students are herded through school with little concern for education.  Unbeknownst, to me, it is impossible to fail the Eleven Plus exam.  Kids who spell their names correctly, know the date, and answer most of the questions go on to the better schools to prepare for university.  The rest of us are sent to Markhouse Road Secondary Modern School, just a five minute walk from me house, and a meager four year preparation for the rest of me life.  For some unknown reason, me attitude during me first year at this mediocre medieval school is that of an onlooker watching a mere rehearsal.  During the first year’s final exam it hits me. Wills, you missed the main performance.  Mother, I swear I’ll study hard next term.

     Me and me mates think Cockney is real cool.  So I live in two worlds.  With my parents I speak proper English, and with me mates Cockney.  Some people think, or as  Cockneys say it ‘fink, the Cockney dialect is low class.  For us, it’s a badge of honor to drop our H’s and “ ‘ope people fink we’re Cockney.”

We are also proud of our tough walk, not that I would let my mum see it; she calls it a cocky Cockney swagger.  She say’s Cockneys are ruffians and low life who will never amount to anything.  So as not to upset her, I keep me Cockney gear at me mate, Dave’s house.  Wearing Cockney gear is like giving the finger to English class consciousness.  On Fridays, as soon as school lets out, I rush home, kiss me mum, and tell her I am going to Dave’s “House” to study.  In front of her, I always emphasize H words.  But then discard all my H’s on the way up our street.  Dave’s mom, who is a real Cockney, opens the front door. “ ’ello Alan, Dave’s in ‘is room waiting fa’ ya, listening to ‘is bloody awful music.” Her Cockney lilt is music to me ears.  His dad calls from the living room,

” ‘ello Alan, you two lay-abouts going up ‘ igh Street to ogle birds (girls)?”

“More than likely Mr. Kent, bird watching is me and Dave’s favorite pastime.”

As I climb the stairs I think, Dave is lucky ‘aving young Cockney parents.  Wills, I think, you was a mistake! 

     Me parents are older, and don’t have a clue about teenagers.  I smile hearing Bill Haley’s Rock Around the Clock through the door.  Bursting through the door, I kick off me leather school shoes, tear off me navy school blazer with the school crest on the pocket, and remove the noose they call the old school tie.  With relief I kick off me gray short trousers, which label me a child.  In me Cockney “gear,” blue twill work trousers and the black pullover, I feel older.  Lying on his bed, already dressed the same, Dave watches me as I strut around him like a bantam cock.

“Ya such a wanker.” He says, as he jumps up, and opens the door. “Time to ‘ang out on street corners, and check out the birds.” He says, running down the stairs, and out the front door.

Outside of school, and church, our whole world revolves around the High Street. There are hundreds of stores, on both sides, all the way up the mile-and-a-half-long street.  On market days the road is closed to traffic and becomes cram-packed with stands, known as bargain stalls.  These are loaded with everything from clothes to china, to gold fish and cute puppy dogs.  Push carts known as barrows are laden with fruit, flowers, or cockles, mussels, and fish.  The barrow boys or costermongers, as some people call them, are all real Cockneys, and we hang on their every word.  For us boys, the walk up and down High Street is sheer heaven, or as we say ‘eaven.  We find it almost impossible to pass a store window without stopping to comb our hair in the reflection.   We always stop at Lou Rose, the one tailor shop that has a pair of America blue jeans in their window.  Dave says, “they’ll never ever sell ‘um ‘cos they cost more than a bleeding suit.  These ‘ere jeans came all the way from America.  They’re the same as them worn by movie stars, the likes of James Dean, and rock and roll groups.  You’ve all seen the pictures on me bedroom wall.”  Every Friday all four of us made a bee line for Lou Rose, just to look at the jeans in envy.

A few months ago we all followed Dave up High Street to Joe’s half price stall, where he shows us blue work trousers, which when he rolled up the bottoms looked like jeans. “Now, as we’re all mates.” Dave said, “I need ya to cough up ya money so I can get the first pair.  Then every week each of ya can filch money from ya mum’s handbag and by months end all you wankers will ‘ave Cockney gear.”  We all empty our pockets into Dave’s hands, and he buys the blue work trousers.  Then he disappears into the public toilet, which we call the bog, and comes out wearing them with a tight black wool pullover.  “So what do ya ‘fink, gang?”

“Dave, where did ya get the new black wooly.” I ask.

“Sort of slipped into the bag with the jeans didn’t it?  When I pointed out the bird with the big tits across High Street, Joe turned around to look.”

“Dave, you’re our ‘ero, a true wanker.” Danny says.

By months end we all had our Cockney outfits.  For me the wooly itches like crazy. “Don’t be a bloody sissy!” Dave says, “It’s “in”, and remember, we’re tough Cockneys.”

In actuality, our town is a good sixty minute bus ride to Cheapside, and the famous Bow Church, where to be a real Cockney you have to be born within the sound of its bells.

Me mum enrolls me at Smiths Dance Academy to learn to ballroom dance.  Me partner is a very tall, older woman of about thirty, who has rotten teeth and bad breath.  I get the basic step but have trouble with the turns, so she lifts me up at every corner and puts me down, and we dance on.  I live in fear that me mates will find out I am taking ballroom dancing lessons.

Dave tells us that Rock and Roll will change the world, and us 50’s kids will do things our parents’ generation never even thought of doing.

“Can you picture,” he asks “ ya dad sticking ‘is tongue half way down ya mum’s throat, or shagging ‘er down an ally?”

The thought makes me sick.  I think, I know me mum would never let me dad do that.

Dave teaches us boys how to comb our hair in the latest styles with Brylcream hair grease.  He has sideburns, and combs his jet-black hair into a DA, (ducks ass) with a “Tony Curtis” rolling over to touch the center of his forehead.  Dave is “real cool.”

Dave is the only boy in his second year class who wears long trousers.  This was prompted by a note sent home to his mother from the girls’ gym teacher, Miss Babcock.  It informed Mrs. Kent that Dave’s manhood had outgrown the length of his short trousers, and that it was causing a major distraction to the girls in her gym class.

Miss Babcock is a beautiful young woman in her mid-twenties who always wears shorts.  All us boys gave her ten on a ten-scale.  Eddy is crazy for her, and gave her a twenty.  Eddy and Danny are like chalk and cheese.  Eddy’s dad, who was a officer in the army, marches him to the barbershop for a short-back-and-sides every couple of weeks.  He has almost white blonde hair, what there is of it, and there is never a hair out of place.  He has to call his dad sir, and we are sure he would be court marshaled if he ever answered him back.  Eddy has three brothers and two sisters, all much older than him.  Even though he sits at the back of the class with me and Danny, we ain’t real close mates.  His dad won’t let him out to play much, and he’s always doing chores or reading.  I’m still confused, me cousin Paul says Eddy ain’t me cousin, but he’s Paul’s cousin?  It must be true as Eddy never tells me no personal stuff, like cousins do.

Today our science master was taken ill, so Miss Babcock comes into our class and says she’s our substitute teacher.  Fortunately, this voluptuous gym teacher knows nothing about science, and agrees to read us a story.  Me, Eddy, and Danny, are sitting in the back of the room and are going nuts over her short shorts, and bulging white cotton shirt.  Frantically I wave me hand in the air,  ” ‘cuse me, Miss.  Me and me mates can’t ‘ear ya from way back ‘ere.  Can we come up front and sit on the floor?”

She agrees and we position ourselves in front of her with our eyes bulging.  The direct view up the leg of her shorts, into the dark unknown, more than compensates for her poor reading abilities.  At the bell, we rush to find Dave and tell him what we had seen… or, should I say what we hope he’ll believe we’ve seen.  In actuality, by squinting hard I almost saw her underwear.  Well, at least I thought I almost did.  The memory of Miss Babcock is great every day for three or four wanks!


End of Chapter 2

By Alan Wills

Select all writings of  Alan Wills

Select biography of  Alan Wills

Confessions of a Wanker – Book 1, Chapter 1

by Alan Wills

Based on a true story of a boy’s coming
of age in London’s East End

Wanker: British Slang
1.  An endearing term between mates
2. A Con-Man or Jerk
3. Masturbator

 This auto-biographical novel is shockingly explicit, very real, and filled with humor. Readers will pass through the tough Cockney East End of pub fights, cons, dead end jobs, and revisit the 50’s & 60’s and the early days of Rock and Roll.

The story opens with the vicar’s sermon decrying self-abuse. At eleven Alan knows he is speaking directly to him.  He and his four mates are inseparable, and emulate Cockneys, by speaking rhyming slang. You will relate to teenage embarrassment, rebellion, and sexual naiveté. This only child is abandoned at fifteen by his parents. Learn how Alan is forced to become self-sufficient, working in outdoor markets, including London’s famous Petticoat Lane. The costermongers and barrow-boys add color and charm as they con the English public, and tourists alike.

We follow Alan’s determination in many different businesses, and discover he was an inexperienced jerk, or wanker, and we live his guilt and justification.  He does become business smart, but is an absolute novice in matters of love and sex.  His big con shows the inner workings of a wanker, or con-man’s mind.  It also demonstrates the entanglement, financially and ethically, that leads this young man to leave all his mates and England on his wedding day, with The Mob and the police hot on his heels.   Enjoy! 

Confessions of a Wanker is an easy read, as it unfolds in short chapter of connecting short stories. Although funny and light hearted, there are many lessons to be learned from his life, which he refers to as the College of Hard Knocks.

Just for fun, at the end of the book there is an appendix:

Cockney East End Street Language and Rhyming Slang with translations into ordinary everyday English.

Your comments are welcome


Chapter 1

After the War

     “Ga-Aw-D” the vicar’s three-syllable word always gets me attention.  I’m looking up at his stern face high above me in his pulpit.  His double chins hide most of his white clerical collar.  My eyes are glued on his worn black suit straining against his plumpness, and his huge mouth filled with big teeth.  I think. This monster could eat a small kid.

“Ga-Aw-D wants you to refrain from self-abuse,” he demands, pointing his outstretched finger directly at me.

My mind questions.  Self-abuseWills, is ‘e talking about wanking?

No, self-abuse sounds painful and wanking is a release; like floating up to ‘eaven.

“Ga-Aw-D knows when you abuse yourself!” he bellows. “You will go to a fiery hell!”

I’m eleven and a half, standing with three other scouts as the color guard in front of the whole bloody congregation wearing me neatly pressed tan scout uniform with merit badges on both sleeves.  I grip the flagpole tightly with both hands, trying to hide behind it.  The Boy Scout law rings in me ears,  A Boy Scout is clean of mind and deed.

Everywhere I look I sense God, in this massive white stone St. Saviors Church, this Sunday morning.  The ‘oly Ghost reads me dirty mind with a thousand piercing eyes.

Me mother has eyes that can see though solid brick walls and around corners.  She says God knows and sees everything.  Funny, many times I totally forget about Him being around.  Ironically, I never think of God while hiding in our outside loo, even though I’m making one more attempt at floating up to heaven.  The age-old horror stories of “Wankers Doom,”: hair growing from the palm of me hand, has not deterred me.  But “Ga-Aw-D WANTS YOU TO REFRAIN” keeps rattling around in me brain

I close me eyes and try to escape the vicar’s harsh words.  Me mind flashes back through time and I see meself at a World War II bomb-site with me older cousins.  I’m a happy little blonde, blue-eyed, six year old boy, rummaging through the personal stuff strewn throughout the blitzed homes.  I find a small suitcase covered in dust and fill it with my new found treasures.  Torn faces in broken picture frames, lifeless dolls with severed arms and legs, and other previously valued possessions of departed owners.  I find one rubber shoe, a Plimsoll, and dig with a bent knife in the dirt to find it’s mate.  I take off me black leather shoes with the holes in the bottom, that makes me feet wet when I jump in puddles.  The dirty white rubber shoes are too big, but Patricia me cousin says I’ll grow into them.  She says I can keep the Plimsolls and little suitcase as the boy who owned them is in heaven.

Holding the flagpole, I think, when the suitcase was me most prized possessionIn my bedroom I use to talk into the suitcase to the boy in heaven.  I was never alone again.

A moment later my eyes spring open and my head jolts back as I realize the human suffering those bombsite playgrounds represent.  The overpowering stench of decay returns to me nose and throat, I gag on the memory.  I cling to the flagpole to regain balance.

The vicar drones on and on and my eyes close again.  I see the train bringing me and me mummy home from being evacuated in Liverpool.  I’m five.  It stops with a loud hiss of steam.  A man opens the carriage door.  He sort of looks like the picture that mummy kept next to our bed, but with more lines.  I’m a little scared of this stranger.  He lifts me down to the platform and says how big I got.  I don’t feel big, looking up at huge people all around me.  I’m afraid I’ll be stepped on.  He throws his arms around me mummy.  They hug, and she cries. I think, I hate him for making her cry.  Then they kiss. Yuk!  Each takes one of my hands as we walk down the platform.  They talk about stuff; London bombing, his job as air raid warden, missing each other, and terrible things that happened to some evacuated kids.  I touch the toy knife sharpening man in me jacket pocket, and remember how happy we were staying with the old couple, who I called Uncle Bob and Aunt Mary.  I go to show Daddy the toy, but change me mind.  I keep look up at them but they just look at each other.

Wills,  ‘e don’t even know ya ‘ere.

You’re right! I like Uncle Bob better, I think, and not just because he gave me the toy.  I wish we’d never come back to London.

The vicar’s monotone voice reminds me of the drone of the German rockets that flew over London during the war.  The big difference being, once the vicar stops talking we can all head back to the Scout room for biscuits and lemonade.

Me mind flashes back to 1943, I was three.  The air-raid siren wails and my mommy scoops me up and carries me to the dark, damp, air-raid shelter, underground in our back yard.  When I wake-up I can’t see I have white stuff in me eyes.  She says not to pick at it and calls it apses, as she washes it away.  She tells me the loud noise in the sky was from German rockets, called doodlebugs, and that if the noise stops we have to get under the bed quick. Many nights in the shelter we hear the engine stop and under the bed we’d go.  It’s a fun game.  She’d always hold me tight in her arms and prays to God that we’ll be spared.  When we hear the explosion, mommy cries, saying the Doodlebug had blown-up nearby, and Londoners had perished in the flames.  She always asks God to save their souls.

I hold the flagpole tight and think, God, will I ever be free of these memories of the war?

I look around the church at all the neighborhood people dressed in their Sunday best. There are many more women than men.  Mum said, countless husbands and sons didn’t return from the war.  I feel sad as I see the little old ladies with rounded shoulders and hunched backs sitting alone, who still dress in black and never smile.  God I ‘ate war!

Every Sunday the vicar says a prayer for their dearly departed.  Then, I smile at the younger women who wear blue eye shadow and tight sweaters that show pointy breasts.  I watch as some of them flick their hair back, or cough to gain the attention of the few single men in the congregation.  I say a silent prayer, God, please! No more wars! Plus help our fifties generation bring happiness back to England.

Wills, it seems like bleeding ‘ours that we’ve been standing ‘ere ‘olding this bloody flagpole. I think, shift from foot to foot.  Once again I feel the weight of the war memories pushing down me shoulders and me eyelids feel heavy.  I open me eyes real wide and try to empty me mind of war.  Like a shuffled deck of cards me mind stops on the school exam that I took a few days ago.  Have you ever noticed the questions they ask on school exams pertain to information that you’d swear had never been covered in class?  This was definitely the case with me “Eleven Plus” which determines the type of senior school that you attend.

Looking at the exam paper in utter disbelief, I was petrified for most of the first hour. Then it hit me.  Wills, The bleeding school board has obviously devised questions guaranteed to eliminate the likes of us. 

     Your right! What would me Dad’s hero, Field Marshal Montgomery, do?

In Dad’s war stories he says Monty distrusted the obvious, and out-thought his enemy.

Me eyes become slits as I think hard about the exam.  Then I feel a smug smile spread across me face, as I know what I must do.  Wills, Ignore the bloody questions, and check the answers in systematic order.  A cunning teacher would start easy, with ‘free yes answers to sucker ya in.  Then slip in a no, then ‘free more yeses, one more no and so on.

     That’s the answer! Monty would be proud of me, deciphering this sneaky plan.

     I quickly apply me theory, marking the first three questions with a yes, then one no, then the next three yes and another no.  I smile; it feels very good being this confident.  I quickly finish the exam and I’m one of the first to leave the room.  I wait outside in the drab green hall, displaying our school crest Circa 1902, feeling smug.  A couple of classmates, “A” students, who we call book-worms, walk out of the exam.  On checking me three-yes-to-one-no theory with their answers, it becomes obvious that I could be busted all the way back to kindergarten.  Looking down at me shoes I wonder how to break this news to me mother?  I hear a familiar voice. I look up and see Danny.

Today as always, Danny’s clothes look as though he has slept in them.  One sock up the other down around his ankle, his shoes are a combination of scuffs and mud, his dull mousy brown hair sticks up in all directions.  Danny’s face is a bombsite of acne and pock marks, which he continually scratches with his filthy fingernails.

“ ’ow d’ya do then, Alan?”

“Not so good Danny!” I admit.

“Sitting in the bloody back of the class, that was our downfall me old mate.”

“’ow’s that, Danny?”

“Well, information travels on sound waves, don’t it?”

Knowing Danny once built a crystal radio set, I feel safe in agreeing with him.

“Sure does!”

“So then it makes sense that some info. ‘as long-waves and some ‘as short-waves.”

“Ya, that sounds right to me, Danny!”

“I’m sure Alan, like me, ya noticed that the exam was filled with bloody short-wave length questions?  So, as the information never reached us at the back of the bloody class.  ‘ow could we be expected to know the bloody answers?”

It made perfectly good sense to me.  However, on my return home, my mother is less receptive to Danny’s theory.  She keeps asking embarrassing questions, like, “which questions didn’t you understand?”  Then she says the typical mother things, “God helps those that help themselves, you know?  It’s all up to you, Alan!  I’m just trying to help!”

Wills, ‘ow’s she going to ‘elp ya? I think, as she’s talking. For Christ sake she can’t even understand Danny’s ‘feory of long wave and short waves.

     “See mum, Danny’s  theory is the exam was filled with short wave questions that never reach the back of the room, where me and Danny sit.”

“That’s quite enough, Alan!” she interrupts “Go to your room without dinner.  Wait up there until your father gets home and see if he buys your story of Danny’s waves.  Personally, I reckon you are in for a good hiding!”

End of Chapter 1

By Alan Wills

Select all writings of  Alan Wills

Select biography of  Alan Wills