The Toshers of North Shore

 It is a truth, universally deplored by inhabitants, that a body in Linrodeth needs at least a penny each day to be able to survive. Yet there is one group that can survive on merely half of this. Despised by street urchins, avoided by mudlarks and pitied by guttersnipes, the scrounging toshers of the North Shore rubbish tips are the lowest of the low.

The den

Rubbish; some throwaway notes...

 Linrodeth's citizens sort their household waste into roughly three categories. The smelliest is politely termed "night soil" and either goes into cess pits or is removed each dawn by local farmers (who pay a fee to each wardmoot for the privilege of doing their 'manor'). Waste food, if completely inedible, goes into the compost heaps or gutters for pigs and urchins to rootle through. Everything else is put out in the back yard or alley for removal once a week. This carting away is done by Scavengers officially appointed and employed by the Witanmoot. These folk get first pick at any re-useable items, and a pretty good living they can make from it too. The rest of the garbage is dumped into the edge of the North Shore marshes on a traditional rota. There it sinks, decays, or becomes landfill well out of sight and smell of respectable citizens.

 By far the bulk of household waste consists of ash from the vast amount of wood burned for heating and cooking each day in the city. In amongst the ash or dust may be found nuggets of partially burned wood, candle stubs, rags of cloth, broken pottery, bones, metal shards, bits of rope, leather oddments and all sorts of discarded items useful to the terminally poor. Freshly tipped dust is always combed through by the most destitute, usually the very young and the very old, who are known as "toshers". Their stink is indescribably bad, and they are avoided by all other folk. Their home is generally a burrow within the decaying tip, a place warm and relatively undisturbed once the danger of spring flooding has passed.

girl with bucket

Street Glossary:

Tosh: garbage in an advanced state of decay
Mudlark: tidal tosher
Nip: cutpurse
Hoist: thief
Slam: grab & run/distraction
Cadge: beggar
Scrounge: to find/liberate
Coster: stall seller
Caller: basket seller
Charlie: law enforcer of any type
Gaff: a show/crude entertainment
Stew: an inn of sorts
Pit: animal baiting arena
Manor: a neighbourhood
Boss: the hub of the manor, usually hard
Cosher: enforcement for the boss
Bunse: a sort of franchise
Dosh: actual coinage
Mark: the next victim

Street Style:

 "Rags are worn by the children as long as they can hold, or can be tied or pinned together, and when they drop off from continued wear, from dirt, and from the ravages of vermin, the child sets its wits to find more. A tunic will be worn by one of these wretched urchins until it falls asunder, and many have no tunics. The girls are on the whole less ragged than the boys, but the most disgusting part of their person is in their foul and matted hair which looks as if it would defy sponge, comb and brush to purify it. Urchins go unshod in all seasons, although the deepest snow may cause them to fashion a crude type of clog or patten."