Josef has faith. He’s an optimist. Events that would bring lesser men of his age to their knees don’t faze him. Partly because he’s already on his knees...but not quite on his arse if you get the difference. Something will turn up. He believes there is purpose in life despite its apparent chaos. On the rare occasions there is not chaos, he will go out of his way to create it.

At five o’clock he is broke. He needs some therapy, an intelligent conversation, someone to buy him a cider, share a joint, even put a meal in front of him. Eating has never been the same since he and Danger Mouse took on three travellers outside the Foundry last year. The new plate is so ill-fitting he prefers not to bother. A load of mither for nothing.

He goes to the bar on his crutch. ‘Borrow your phone Jim? out of credit’. Josef is faced with an array of choices but needs to plan his script. He can appeal to his daughter’s soft side if it’s at home today; call in a favour from Metal Mickey; or offer his body to Mad Moira if she’s particularly desperate.

The cab drops him outside Moira’s neat council house in a neat new cul-de-sac. The cabbie waits while he hobbles up the path to get Moira to pay the fare. She seems in a good mood, fortified by the bottle of port on the kitchen table, which Josef notes with approval is still half full. ‘Egg and chips Joey?’ She is in a good mood.

Josef settles to watch the Weakest Link. Naturally he detests Anne Robinson but some of her barbs are quite commendable. Moira has put a can of Foster’s in reach and for a few moments Josef feels himself slipping into “normality”.

‘Got any green Moi?’ A joint would set him up nicely. Moira has the kitchen television on so can’t hear him. This irritates Josef and knocks him out of his contentment zone. ‘Moira turn that fucking rubbish off and answer me’, he bellows. He doesn’t mean to be aggressive....just assertive.

‘For fuck’s sake Moira’ says Josef as he is leaving, ‘you need to go and see a doctor. You’re not fucking normal’. ‘You smell of pee’, she says. ‘Fuck off and don’t come back’. In the curious duality that characterises their lives, Moira stuffs a tenner in his track suit pocket.

As if on script who should be driving past the end of the street but Metal Mickey who’s just unloaded down the scrap yard and has thirty quid in his pocket. Not much for a day’s graft admittedly but then he’s not licensed. By the time they reach the Marlborough Josef has a big one going thanks to Mickey’s largesse.

As they sit drinking, the Meat Man, Tony Tea, and Chugger appear. It’s not known as Fraggle Rock for nothing. Chugger fishes a piece of paper from his pocket. ‘Here Joey what’s this about?’ Josef explains that this is an eviction notice and that tomorrow Chugger will be leaving his council flat with arrears of £7000. ‘That means you’ve not fucking paid them for three years’ he says incredulously. Chugger explains it’s not really his debt, it’s his brother Pat’s. The flat’s in his name and he’s done three of five inside. Chugger's keeping it warm. It is obvious that Pat will not be happy if he loses the flat, particularly as he lodged ten grand with Chugger precisely to avoid this happening.

Josef is again confronted again by the dilemma of choice. Go to Mickey's where there is no shortage of green. Unfortunately Mickey bores him shitless. He’s heard it all before. Setting up a miniature railway to take tourists around the crime scenes of Central Salford. He got his Dragon’s Den idea in Belfast. Don’t ask why.

The alternative is rum at Tony Tea’s. He docked in Kingston for two days at the age of 17. Of course he was busted and flown home for stashing kilos of ganja under his bunk. The Captain was not a tolerant man. TT has never been to sea since but can still secure the odd case of Appleton’s. And if desperate there’s always Morrison’s if Grumpy John’s on security. Josef doesn’t fancy a night of marinated memories.

The Meat Man’s not interested. At ten, the seventeen year old who is officially his lodger will finish work at MacDonald’s and turn up with a double Kingburger and fries for him which is just exquisite. Meat Man wonders how a fully qualified butcher can be addicted to such shit but in general he’s past caring.

Josef settles for a lift home from Metal Mickey. The flat he shares with Danger Mouse got him out of the hostel but there’s a bit too much coming and going for Josef. The iron gate on the front door creaks all night long, the raucous voices grind endlessly until morning. The place stinks of green. It’s everywhere. Under the settee. Behind the settee. On the settee. It does help to mask the smell from DM’s pit bull Dodger.

It’s only eleven but Josef has been out since one. When Mickey drops him outside the flat he is almost mellow. Josef staggers to within yards of the communal entrance. Searching for his keys his crutch buckles under him and he falls to the pavement. Three storeys above he can hear DM’s unrelenting YACK. Josef lies on his back a sickening pain creeping up his leg to music. It sounds like ‘Oops upside your head’. It’s his phone. He struggles to identify which pocket. It’s all so fucking irritating. The call has stopped but a beep announces a message. Propping himself on one arm he fiddles until it flashes. “Joey luv, where r u. Missing u. Cum rnd 4 a fuk. XXXX Moira.”

Josef lies back looking at the night sky. Something reminds him of Module A101 of his OU course, ‘Romantics and Realists in Modern Literature’..... how does it go? ’We are all in the gutter but some of us are looking at the stars’. He breathes in the cool night air, smiles and thinks ‘Eh Josef, you haven’t lost it yet boy’.