rag and bone man - quotes and descriptions to inspire creative writing
The grey mood of the rag and bone man is matched only by the sky. The clouds are the same dark grey as the tabloid sheets that lie in the gutters, ink smudged and encrusted with the filth of the street. His voice calls huskily into the barely lit day for rag, for bone, for metal. Though the dawn chorus is still being sung, it is the sound of the wooden cart wheels over the cobblestones and the clashing of his wares that makes the most noise. His face is gaunt, lined and haggard before his time - a life lived in the sun on the most meagre and poor food takes its toll. The rag and bone man himself is all rags over jutting bones with no fat to keep him warm.
The curve of the rag and bone man's spine was like a drooped flower when his cloth sac was full and worse when it was empty. A light bag usually meant a light supper and already he was deteriorating faster than the shoes on his feet. It took all the strength he had to call out for the cast off's of the town and keep one foot moving in front of the other. All that was left of this once well-to-do man was the fading twinkle in his dark eyes - a dying gleam of hope that his life would get better.
The rag and bone man walked the streets, appearing to live each day like the rest of the Londoners, but in truth he was living just one day over and over. As he walked he imagined himself finely dressed in clean cottons with his bride walking down the aisle in her best sunday dress. No matter what the weather was he felt the sun of his wedding day and the softness of Eliza's skin as she'd taken his hand. Why the good Lord had seen fit to take so early, and his child too, he would never know. But like the smog hid the rooftops and chimneys, his lingering love hid his pains.
The rag and bone man moaned as he left the lodgings that kept old bone grubbers like him; one more rung down and he'd be in the gutters that ran with sewage. The wind cut through his clothes as if they weren't even there, so thin and worn were they. In his hand was an old stick with a metal point at one end for sorting through the rags that were thrown out. In minutes enough November drizzle clung to his skin to form a cold sheen and stick his greying hair to his gaunt features.
The rag and bone man cowered in the mist that rolled over the docks. Meeting the merchant here meant the stench of his clothes was part carried away by the saline breeze and part over-powered by the fish haul. Whatever "treasures" he had found the buyer would pay almost nothing. They knew full well the price of the cheapest room & board and would pay no more. Once the haul of cast-out materials was off loaded he would limp through the streets, cold coins clasped tightly in his fingers. Already he had the shakes, his head light and limbs empty. Though the lodgings fare was poor, there was no more he could hope for - cold nights and thin food until his body gave out.
In that city there was no honour among the rag and bone men, should one fall injured in the street another would pick through his wares and take everything of value. They were the lowest, nowhere lower but the grave. Their leathery feet beat the filthy street and their coarse voices echoed down the narrow streets. Should a rag-and-bone man find an item of unusual value he was supposed to turn it in, though more likely than not he'd make a run for the merchant and prey no other would discover his luck on the way.
Under the grey blanket of smog the scavengers had already begun. The rag-and-bone men turned over the filthy rags hoping to find something that still held a scrap of worth. From sun up to near sun down they moved over the streets, shadow-like and grim. Their world was apart from the classes they had fallen from, and so they stalked like spectres, a band of the soon-to-be departed.
The rag-and-bone man sat on his cart, his body slouching, head nodding to the rhythm of his horse's hooves on the cracked tarmac. Though he kept the old fashioned name, he wanted neither rag nor bone. The money was in scrap metal and he'd only take what he could turn a pretty penny on. The old dears smiled to see him approach and talking to them often yielded more business. He was a relic of a by-gone era, a dying breed and he had every intention of exploiting the lingering sentiment.
The rag and bone man was once the finest cobbler in town. Almost unrecognizable to his former customers, he fought against his arthritic joints and the rapidly diminishing cartilage in his hip. When his fingers could no longer make fine shoes, the downward spiral had begun. Of all the rag-men, the grubbers, he wore the finest boots - a pair he had hidden before the bailiffs of the court had come to collect. Though layered thickly in street muck they kept his feet warm and dry, a luxury quite unknown to the others in the lodge. Day and night they were on his feet to stop another from selling them to the fat merchant by the dock.
Under the relentless London rain the rag and bone man's jacket had come to weigh more than his creaking skeleton. The only words that passed his withered lips were his call for wares; his depression being so thick that he had not the will to converse. Not a soul had a thing to say to such a lowly pauper other than the merchant who only gave him the meanest coin and barked at him to "Take it and leave." The street rose to meet his feet, his wet sack hanging almost empty on his back. If lady luck didn't favour him today there would be no meal at all...