To the Bobbies she’d give the names Molly Brand, Moll Prate, Maggie Gardener, according to her whim. But to us of the rookery she was always Madam Lighthouse – Light if she looked on you kindly.
It was Light who used the cabbies, the bill posters, the street sweepers and hawkers as her eyes and ears, gave protection in exchange for all they knew.
It was Light who warned us of fresh-faced beat coppers out for an easy collar, of gangs bringing their own toms and dippers into our patch. And when sober requests to move on were rebuffed, it was Madam Light’s boys who did what had to be done.
She shined bright, steady as Dover’s white cliffs, for twenty glorious years.
Until this morning.
She was found in her chair, boots on the grate, pipe hanging slack from her lips.
Light snuffed out.
Rookery – dense collection of houses, especially slums.
Bobbies/coppers – policemen (I would say ‘police officers’ but in the Victorian period in which this story is based, there were only male officers).
Toms – prostitutes.
Dippers – pickpockets.
Last month was Word Shamble’s fifth anniversary and this is my 1,000th blog post.
The blog has developed over time – I’ve tried humour, book-based posts, a serial and now mainly write flash fiction. I’ve had a lot of fun and ‘met’ a lot of lovely people – both in the UK and abroad.
Thanks to all who’ve read and commented over the last 1,000 posts, my WP family. Hope you can hang around for the next 1,000.