The Ghost of Albert Warner

Albert Warner watches the frozen veg rattle by.  

The noise is immense; green, white, orange shining  

rocks bouncing and jostling on dimpled shining steel. 

Albert perches on a stool, elbows fat against the 

inspection table, his whole huge body vibrating. A  

blue plastic scoop is always held softly in his huge soft  

hand.  

 

It falls, wavers above the veg, its battered edges and smooth 

sides slide against the shining rocks, his grip firms and  

for moments it vibrates with him until 

he relaxes again and its fall starts over. 

 

He has a ready smile for all who walk by, whether they  

stop or not, whether they acknowledge him or not. He  

has white hair tucked into a blue hairnet beneath white  

plastic bump hat above red face, white stubble and blue collar  

jagging from white overallsBlack boots. Hands red and  

white like bloodied butler’s gloves. A jumbled pile of   

football strips waiting for the wash, numbers lost in the  

folds but soon up. 

 

A welder in his day, Albert Warner is heavy now, at am,  

slumped against that table. On those long nights his smile  

slips and he’s nothing to say. Florets and slices batter past,  

loud enough to wake the dead, and no one hears him anyway. 

 

He shares his time with skinnier versions of himself until  

machines can see what isn’t green among the peas. Violent  

hisses of jets fire stones and droppings. Albert has his back  

to the machine and watches the brassicas and the carrots,  

Banquo’s fingers passing over them like a fairground mystic. 

 

When roused he will roar like an old walrus, scoops and  

shovels thrown at younger men who think themselves older,  

wiser, better. The clatter of plastic on steps, a few seconds of  

noise above the noise, white stubble on chins shaking with 

hot, furious life. 

 

When they take away his stool within a week he is laughed at,  

laid out, beached on the factory floor. His skinny counterparts  

take up his scoop and rest their chicken-bone fists  

on the inspection table. 

Contact

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Or find Alistair Wilkinson @algy04 on twitter.

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