It was barely three weeks after his dismal dismissal,
as the Tynemouth Under 10s Assistant Manager,
that Tony's wife Sandra finally parted with her patience.
Not that she was particularly aroused by the thought
of Tony commanding a clipboard,
in the Pin Point Recruitment Junior Football League,
but on learning of his departure from the club
it became immediately apparent to all:
to Tony, to Sandra, to their ten year old son,
their seven year old daughter and their neighbour's bastard dog,
that Tony could no longer fulfil the façade.
And on wearily turning the key,
to 7C Albion Falls,
an all consuming raging stench nigh on knocks him for six.
Now, he can be forgiven for mistaking,
amidst the coldness of the room,
having not yet used the heating
that the refrigerator was fully working:
but as the kitchen toyed with the reek of a corpse
and Tony tried not to gip,
his cottage cheese Cravendale served a relentless reminder
that perhaps he needed to lambast the landlord.
He can just about handle the Bassline binges that greet him from next door,
or the fact that the living room window won't open,
or the fact that the cigarette burns on the carpet are a welcome distraction from blood stains,
or even the bi-weekly visits from Bulgarian bailiffs chasing the previous tenant:
he can handle that.
But the landlord
to sort out the fridge.
After all, there was a full packet of dry cured ham in there
tainted beyond consumption:
£2.99's worth of Tesco's Finest abandoned in the bin.
Fuck that for a game of soldiers.
And he'd often bemoaned
the luxurious expense
from the Gold Card splurges
on Debenhams duvets,
duck egg blue dining tables,
and Cath Kidston "kitchenalia".
But as Tony pulls the threadbare rag
that barely covers his feet,
on a bed that feels like hardboard fused with rubble,
he shivers with the sense of the warmth he can catch
from a well-dressed well-loved semi-detached:
a transatlantic distance
from the life he used to know,
just five miles down the road.