He was the black sheep of the family. But she dearly loved this youngest son of hers. The other boys were law-abiding, hardworking lads, but Andy was the opposite. He had even spent time in jail but now newly released. Andy promised her he was a new man. He wanted to get a job and go straight. While in prison, he had learned about gardening, market gardening. If only he could get a job in one, he could avoid his old cronies. The only problem was there was no call for the produce from a market garden here in this economically deprived area.
He went off to the pub, and when walking home, a couple of thugs attacked and badly beat him up. They left him lying in a ditch, and it was quite by chance an elderly man walking his dog came upon him. An ambulance was called, and they whisked him to A&E. After setting his leg in plaster and his arm in a sling, he was sent to the ward.
Poor Shirley was distraught when he hadn’t come home and phoned his brothers.
“Mum, he’s in hospital rather badly beaten up.”
The next day she was by his bed. “What happened, Andy? I know the police have been to see you. I don’t want any silly stories from you.”
“Mum, I don’t know what happened. It was dark, and they attacked me from behind.”
“Do you expect me to believe that? They were your old friends, weren’t they?”
“I don’t know who did this.”
She looked at him, her eyebrows creasing her forehead, head tipped on the side.
He said, “Would I lie to you?”
On discharge, she told him. “I’ve got you a job as a gardener at the Grange.”