Going, soft

Simon Goss
6 min readMay 13, 2024
Pig via BeFunky © Simon Goss MA 2022

They came from upper and lower. Overcoated moths, attracted by the single bare bulb in the window of the corrugated zinc shed that served as the village betting shop. It stood as a little beacon of vice in the otherwise grey, straight-laced, Church-and-Chapel-led community. It was one of the few places men could gather for a chat and a smoke without having to buy a drink.

The clientele, mostly retired, began drifting in from the early winter gloom as soon as the shop opened its wire-barred door. Old before their time, they had much in common - false teeth, bad chests, and a low expectation of a long life, due to the paucity and hardship of their lives to date. But they always made an effort, wearing sharply creased slacks, vests under their shirts, pullovers, often a tie. They took pride in shining their shoes, and wore scarves and flat caps against the gloomy Brynamman perma-chill.

They also had another thing in common, hope. Hope of a big pay day, the day their luck would change, the day everything would be ok again. That’s why they were there. They’d have increased their chances if they’d bet more than the few new pence they could afford, but that didn't matter to them. They used up their luck on small stakes, that, apart from prolonging the hope, returned only enough to allow them to lose another day.