from street photography, by Astrid Sutton

The Rent Collector

He’ll usually go on a Friday, as you’ve got more chance of getting the money on payday. But sometimes they’re out to spend it already. Mondays, they’re in, it’s wash-day. But the money might’ve already gone down the dogs or the boozer.

He lights a fag, draws out the book. The Old Bag’s at home and having a good laugh. Coat on over overall. Win on the dogs, rent in the book.


Crimped hair, eyebrows drawn in, red lipstick, nose powdered. Face on. A smell of mothballs over a portly chest.  Fur tickling a double chin. Ada. She’ll show that Vi, when they meet for tea. She’s just spent 1/6d on new knicker elastic and bought 6d worth of toffee. Now she’s ready for anything.


Teenage view from a Stretch

“Fancy Chloe choosing The Lion King for her birthday party! Tragic!

You can get 12 in these. The cream seats are cool – not like those girls at the front. They are s-oooo lame! Pity the bar isn’t stocked. Let’s grab a quick look at Piccadilly Circus. If only we could take this on to Top Shop. That’d be really cool!!”


The ground is cold, but not trench-wet. His wooden leg’s exposed, his coat exploded in holes around the shoulder, pride overcome by need. She, straight-nosed, straight-laced, fox-furred and pearled, does not want to engage. Farm St Church awaits, she cannot confess to denying him money. He feels the cool gift of duty in the coin. The man behind passes, his business more pressing than the need of others.


The bunting is flapping across the street. Nell and Alf’s Austin Seven is parked on the corner. The smell of ham and baking cakes wafts out of windows.

Bit of bother assembling the trestles, but soon they’ll be sorted out. There’ll be ham salad, pork pies, trifle and coffee and walnut cake. There’ll be beer and port-and –lemon, and the whole street will be out to celebrate.

About claire collison

Writer, photographer, creative facilitator, and breast cancer survivor, I am currently Artist in Residence at the Women's Art Library (WAL) My first novel was a finalist in the Dundee Book Prize, and my short stories and poetry have appeared in print and online. In 2015 I was awarded second place in the inaugural Resurgence Prize, the world's first eco poetry competition, judged by Sir Andrew Motion, Alice Oswald, and Jo Shapcott. This blog began as a space for words generated on my walking/writing workshops at the Mary Ward centre in Bloomsbury - Writing the City (WTC). WTC has since grown to include many other venues, including the Museum of Broken Relationships, the Barbican, the River Rom, Southwark Woods, Aylesbury Estate, and most recently, as part of Walking Women festival, An Intimate Tour of Breasts. I have worked with Kettle's Yard, Cambridge, as the recipient of the first Max Reinhardt Literacy Award, designing teaching resources; and for The Photographers' Gallery, helping school children develop visual literacy as part of 'Seeing More Things'. If you would like me to design a workshop or walk for you, please be in touch!
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