What's new with Janey
05 December 2007

Working Class Leeds

I love Leeds, I am here for a week performing comedy at Jongleurs and the place is awesome. Very cosmopolitan, sassy and certainly a jewel in the north, but and I say BUT very hesitantly.

If you want to catch a glimpse of the working class, real Northerners, the Alan Bates type characters who are the solid bread and butter pudding of these people, you hang out at the outdoor side of Leeds Market.

There is a shoddy mish mash of stalls selling cheap stretchy pants, misaligned underwear and Knick-Knack-a- roonys, the likes of what people like me would balk at. Plastic clocks painted in cheap gold varnish, retarded looking Georgian ladies parading as figurines made of plaster of Paris and painted with colours than you can lick off.

There is a concrete parapet where the ‘interesting people’ hang out. I always make an effort to be there and watch them, not out of any perverse voyeurism, but because they are genuinely fascinating.

I sat down on one of the many metal benches that line the concrete shelter with my polystyrene cup of searing hot tea and sipped away happily. Sat beside me was a huge fat woman, she was wearing a tent like pink cotton coat and had a bright floral scarf tied around her big head and it knotted beneath one of her many chins.

At her leg was a huge multi coloured nylon bag that was bulging at the seams.

“It’s a pissing carry on this Christmas shopping isn’t it? I mean I ordered a side table out of Argos two months ago and they told me it was out of stock, so this lady called me and told me they would send a pissing cheque I said ‘A pissing cheque? That no good to me my young lady, I aint got the money to go into town to cash the pissing cheque’ then I got into town and pissing Argos told me the bloody table was now in stock and they were delivering that pissing day!” her words came out in a torrent.

I made apologetic noises and sipped my boiling tea; she carried on “Have you seen these?”

She bent down into her big bag and pulled out what I assumed was a tarpaulin, she unfolded the material and I recognised that they were in fact a big pair of black Lycra knickers. She pulled them to full stretch and I gawped and gasped “Oh my God they are the biggest knickers I have ever seen”

“Yeah they will fit my pissing big arse” she giggled.

“Or a ship” I added. She laughed a throaty laugh and we sat chatting some more.

Then along at the next bench I watched what I can only assume was a family of seven people of various ages and sizes.

All but one of the group was sitting down. I assumed this was the mother. She was a giant woman, her thighs spread over the entire bench and her girth took up the whole space. She had on a blue coat and a blue dress, her bare mottled legs were massive and her ankles were bulging. I couldn’t stop staring at her feet.

These feet were firmly strapped down by the industrially thick brown leather straps of her sandals, the density of which could hold down a big top carnival tent or secure ships to a harbour midst a squalling storm. Swollen burgeoning flesh popped through the spaces between the leather, like water balloons being squeezed between toddler’s fingers. Her fat ankles spilled over on their own flesh and doubled up as the leg met the foot. I wondered how she managed to walk.

Surrounding her was the family. There were prams with squealing babies and toddlers who ran around the group.

I genuinely had trouble trying to work out who were the men and which were the women. The entire group had short ‘bingo’ haircuts and they all had a big blotch of bleach apparently combed through the hair. Like someone had found a big tub of peroxide and they had experimented on each other and all enjoyed and celebrated the results!

Yellow-white short spiky hair was everywhere. They all had smallish heads, no necks and their bodies just got bigger and rounder as your eye went down, like Weebles, no distinguishable waists, hips or boobs…just rounded people with yellow-ish hair. All dressed in grey, black and blue sports wear.

Though I assume none of them were joggers or sprinters.

This was a sexless look and it was very popular, even the young teenager amongst them was dressed in this acrylic nightmare with yellow-ish hair. No one had dared to stray from the fashion, I looked at the babies in the numerous prams and wondered how long it would be before the peroxide would be slapped on its wee head!

The group was loud with laughter, they chased each other around, they smoked, they swore loudly and they were affectionate with babies. Then they all moved off. I watched the big fat mother struggle to get off the bench and waddle off towards the bus stop near the market.

I finished my tea, stubbed out my cigarette and headed off to the flat I am staying in here in Leeds.

Leeds is full if amazing characters and I love it._