A death in Cornmarket

This is a surviving fragment of a short story written in 1992 and now lost.

“They get jealous even when you fart. That’s because they know you had something to eat earlier that day. I slept around with a youngish bag lady for a while. Cold comfort in a cardboard box it was…odd it was too…the cheeks of her arse were always cold. Went our ways though…she back to London for richer pickings around the West End, and because she thought she’d get pregnant bumming around with me…”. A sparkle erupted in Peter’s eyes as the pun referring to her chilly backside registered with his companions. “You don’t beg for money for johnnies when cider, baccy and bread’s a priority.”

Peter’s whimsical use of the phrase ‘slept around’, his redefining of temporary sexual relations with many into a casual relationship with one individual in many and different locations struck home with an effect bordering on the lyrical. The sad and even sordid conditions of his love life had a poetic ring to them which was not lost on his listeners. In a few months time he died in a doorway in Ship Street, beside Cornmarket, out behind ‘The Oxford Story’ premises. Just about sums it up that does really – the story of Oxford.







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