I call the following piece I dream of underwear. It was short-listed by the judges of write-invite.com and hence went into the ballot, along with two other pieces. All non-shortlisted entrants from that week’s competition are eligible to vote. It came third, which does not surprise me.
My own opinion of the write-invite entries that I have posted on here is that the best one is A Kick Up The Backside.
Do you see those lights on the horizon? I think that is the port of Hull drawing into view. Are you going to be staying there? Do you have family or friends there? Where did you come from? Bialystok? Where did I come from? I’d rather not say. It was a village in Poland, sure enough, but I’m never going back there. I am going to build a new home here, starting tomorrow. I am looking forward, now. I don’t want to dwell on the past and all its troubles.
I won’t be staying in Hull. My first destination is Leeds. I can’t wait to get to Leeds. They say it is a dirty place, but I don’t care as long as it is busy. I have been in touch with a man there. His name is Mr Barron. He owns clothing mills. He said he would give me a job. Am I sure he will take me on? What, because I am a Jew, you mean? Mr Barron is known for employing Jews as well as gentiles. You don’t believe me. That’s your business. I know where I am going, and I know what I am going to do when I get there.
I don’t know if I should bother telling you about it, since you seem convinced that they won’t give me a job and that the whole thing is a dream. But I will tell you, since I have nothing better to do other than stand in the cold wind at this rail and watch the docks emerge through the darkness.
I am going to sell clothing. What do you mean, ‘is that all?’ Isn’t that enough? I am not going to make clothing: I am just going to sell it. A business should either make things or sell them, and not try to do both. I am going to sell a lot of clothing. I have been reading about the British market and I don’t see any reason why, after a few years, my goods should not be in every household in the country. Yes, I said “every” household. You think I am crazy, don’t you? You don’t say it this time, but I can hear it in your voice.
I will start with underwear. The advantage with England is that it has a lot of suppliers. Mass-produced clothing was invented in England and a lot of companies make it. That means competition. Since I will be relying on Mr Barron to get me started, I will have to carry his goods as well, whatever they are, but it is an underwear supplier that I will be looking for. As soon as my stalls are doing well, I will try to make a deal with the supplier to sell everything he can make.
You yawn. What are you going to be doing, then, when you get to England? You aren’t sure. I think I can guess in that case what you will be doing. Nothing. “You will see what there is available.” I see. Let me tell you that the world is not like that. What you do has nothing to do with “what is available”. “What is available” is usually nothing. You have to make it happen. I am going to sell underwear whether anybody else (and I don’t mean my customers, of course) likes it or not.
I will conquer that market first, and then, if I have time, move into others. It is of the utmost importance to establish a reputation for pre-eminence in one market before… You are yawning again. Been a long day, has it? Yes, it has been a long day. I do find being on this ship tiring. It is not work that makes me tired: it is the absence of work.
That’s the dawn coming up.
What’s my name? I’m sorry. I should have mentioned that earlier. Most unlike me. Most people say I am quite forward when meeting new people. Marks. Michael Marks.