THIS is a book
that will keep summer in the house, even when there is a foot of
snow on the ground. There is sunshine on almost every page, for the
author had nothing else in his heart. He went along life's road
carefree as a bird, and singing his merry songs to cheer the weary
hearts of less happy wayfarers. Now he is dead, but his songs live,
and will live while men love joyous things. In this introduction, I
mean to tell the reader what kind of a man he was, what hailfellow
ways he had, and what pleasant paths of boon companionship we trod
together. I feel, that I owe it to his memory, for I do not expect
ever to look upon his like again. My concern is with the man, not
with his work. I leave that to the reviewers.
Sam Fitton, one of seven children, was born on the 30th of June,
1868, at Smallwood, near Congleton. About 1870, his parents removed
to Rochdale, and afterwards settled at High Crompton. He started to
work as a doffer, and when he became a piecer he began to show an
unusual talent for drawing. His caricatures of the workpeople and of
well known local men were sometimes done on the interior walls of
the mill and were not allowed to be destroyed when the rooms were
whitewashed. All this came to the ears of Mr. Abraham Clegg, and he
sent the little piecer to the Oldham School of Art and paid for his
tuition. While pursuing his art studies he came out as a dialect reciter and won several competitions. At one hall, he took the first
Prize for three years in succession. Then he turned to authorship
and published a few booklets, including a racy "Unofficial Guide to
He was one of the founders of the High Crompton Dramatic Society,
wrote the plays, painted the scenery, coached the players and took
the difficult parts. In the Autumn of 1911, he issued the first
number of, "The Crompton Chanticleer," a humorous monthly journal of
prose and verse that came almost entirely from his own pen. It
dragged on till April, 1912, and then ceased publication from lack
For years he was "Peter Pike," of The Cotton Factory Times, writing
and illustrating a weekly column of jest and good-humoured banter on
current events. He also wrote
dialect sketches to the same paper under the pen names of "Billy Bloggs," and " Sally Butterworth." His "Pancake Neet," "Village
Wedding," and many other playlets
are still performed in winter by Sunday School Dramatic Societies. As a member of the Oldham Dramatic Society, he often played the
first low comedy part. He was also a member of the Oldham Society of
Artists, and during his illness, sketched and painted in bed, till
he was too weak to hold either pen or brush.
As a public entertainer, he was for twenty-five years the delight of
Lancashire audiences. Few singers and reciters are authors, and his
concerts were out of the ordinary, as he rarely gave anything but
his own work, and he composed the tunes to his songs. He used to
say, "If I don't get an audience in three minutes, there is
something wrong with me." I have often seen people yawning with
weariness at some dreary concert item and then Sam burst on to the
"Aw con run a good way when Awm op to th' mark
Aw like apple puddin' but Aw dunnot like wark."
In a moment the room was ringing with laughter and he was held up
till it ceased. He had a remarkably mobile face and could make it
portray anything. His recitations were not only heard, they were
seen in his facial play. He used to amuse my folk by standing in
front of the mirror, and saying "Would you like to see Winston
Churchill?" "Yes." In a moment he would turn round and say "Here
he is." Then he would show us Lord Curzon, Admiral Beatty, and many
other notabilities. He had got their faces from the newspapers and
he changed from one to another in a few seconds.
He died on the 11th of June, 1923, and is buried in the cemetery at
High Crompton. His grave is marked by a small grass-covered stone
inscribed, S. F. No. 8249.
We knew each other when I lived on the hills in Saddleworth, and to
. . . . . "ere years had run
Like waters to the setting sun."
After the death of his first wife he lived in lodgings at Oldham,
and often came to my house at Waterhead, and called it coming home. He was then in poor health, and one night at a hillside inn called
"The Three Crowns," he said that he was weary of taking physic and I
must be his doctor. I assumed the professional manner, felt his
pulse, looked at his tongue and prescribed a strong tonic mixture of
moorland air, the smell of peat and heather, draughts of water where
it sparkled out of the brown earth, and a pot or two of ale at
bedtime. So in the long summer evenings, we went up the old farm
lanes to the hills, and wandered over field and moor till the sun
had reddened down into the smoke cloud of Lancashire. Then we called
at some lane-side inn and sat for an hour in the chimney comer
telling tales and learning each other's songs and tricks of mimicry. He "mended a cake at a meal," as farmers say of cattle, and often
said that I had saved his life. But it was not to me alone that he
owed thanks. It was the wind that blows from the Yorkshire moors
over the meadows in the haytime, that did much towards giving health
to his body and colour to his cheeks. It blows from the bracken in Wessenden, from the cloudberry on Isle of Skye moors and from the
heather below Far Wain Stones. There is the tang of the Pennine soil
and the savour of the open heaths in its breath, and to Sam, coming
from the smoky streets it was almost life itself.
He had no liking for long tramps over rough ground. I asked him to
climb to the Fairy Holes on Alderman moor. He replied by sending
eight witty verses to a newspaper,
here are two
So t'other day wi' good intent,
To roam those moorland wilds I went;
To sniff those breezes heaven-sent
'At Ammon likes to talk on;
But, Oh, mi legs, Oh dear o' me,
Th' owd hills were glorious I'll agree,
An' th' upland roads were good to see,
But bloomin' bad to walk on.
I cast mi een o'er Stanedge cut
I sized it up, an' scrat mi nut;
"Come Sam, be gam'," I muttered, but
I couldn't do it, drat it,
Mi heels began to warch an' brun
Mi wambly legs felt nearly done
An' as for climbin' Alderman
They warched wi' lookin' at it."
There were nights in the old inns when extempore rhymes flowed out
of him, as if he were brimming over with song and could not stem it. A stray word spoken by one of the company, would set him jingling in
On our way home from the hills we often called at the "Tiger Inn,"
at Austerlands, that was then a joy to see. In its old ale room
there was the peace and restfulness of ancient days. Time had gone
to sleep there and many years had passed and brought no change. The
walls were whitewashed, the floor stone-flagged and worn by the feet
of bygone villagers. There was an old case clock with its moon dial,
a corner cupboard, rush-bottomed chairs with spindled backs, an oak langsettle and on the breadstrings above the hearthstone hung crisp
leaves of oatcake. The inn was then kept by a woman now dead, and
the way in which she conducted it, is one of the sweetest memories
of the village. She would have no drunkenness, no swearing, no
gambling and no sneering at religion. She was ever glad to see Sam,
and he often stood on the hearthstone and sang and recited till men
were doubled up and holding their sides with laughter. They caught
the infection of his joyousness and were the happier from having
We agreed to write something about the "Tiger," and he wrote his
famous "Owd Case Clock," and I followed with "Lines to an Alehouse
Pot," afterwards printed in "The Sign of the Three Bonnie Lasses." One evening at my house he gave me his poem written with pencil and
said "Read that and tell me what you think about it." There were
so many erasures and corrections that after blundering through the
first verse I said "We'll go to the 'Tiger,' and you shall read it
to the company. There were a few villagers in the room and when he
had read it we were delighted and pressed for its publication. He
refused, but after I had worried him for weeks he got it printed in
sheet form and one thousand copies were sold. He could recite it far
better than anyone that I have ever heard. It is considered to be
his masterpiece in verse and has been so often broadcasted, that it
is now well known all over Lancashire. Its contrasts, its comedy
and tragedy, its laughter and tears, and the pinch of hard times are
so charmingly introduced that they do not jar one's feelings. Still
I think, there are other poems in this book that when they are
better known will challenge the popularity of the "Owd Case Clock."
He often called me a brother bard, but we were miles apart in what
appealed to us and formed the subject matter of our verse. I am not
stirred by the town or its people, but to Sam, they were an
unfailing source of inspiration. He loved the herded houses, the
life and bustle of the streets and the clatter of clogs. To him they
were everything, to me they are nothing. I used to quote Borrow's
gipsy and say, "There's the wind on the heath brother." There is no
poem or prose piece in this book that is descriptive of the
countryside or of country folk. He never sang of fields, or streams,
or woodlands or of the wild life that is in them. I had often
wondered why, and one evening we were wading knee-deep through the
heather on Highmoor, away to the south was Wharmton moor, white as
new-fallen snow with acres of cotton grass. "There, Sam," I said,
pointing over the green farmlands, "is something worth a bit of
"Not to me," he replied, "I never write about the country, I have
never felt its call."
Of all the songs that I have heard him sing as we tramped at night
by the quiet farms on the hill roads, there is one that remains an
unforgettable memory. It was a song of a lad from the north and in
the chorus Sam placed one hand to his mouth and made the music of
bagpipes. I have never understood how he produced the weird skirling
strains that seemed to belong to the wild glens of Argyllshire. Perhaps in some way the mystery and the darkness of the hills got
into his music. I only know it haunts me.
The "Royal Tiger" Inn, Austerlands, the scene of the "Owd Case Clock".
There is a story attached to his little poem, "To a Caged Lark".
Walking out one day he saw a lark in a cage outside a cottage door.
He sent his poem to a newspaper and when the owner of the lark read
it, he set the bird free. It is probable that other owners of
caged wild birds did the same.
When Sam Fitton comes into my thoughts it is not as a poet
and an artist, but first of all, as a most lovable man; a man that
people were ever glad to meet and loath to leave. In his
company they felt how good it was to be alive. An uplifting
cheerfulness runs through much of his verse. He is ever
reminding us of the old song, that says ―
"And joy is a cargo so easily stored
That he is a fool who takes sorrow aboard."
He was first and last a dialect writer and in that literary
medium his wit is the brightest and his humour the most whimsical.
In ordinary English he was a skylark with one wing tethered to the
ground, but in the dialect he soared wing-free and wild with
spontaneous song. His versatility was amazing, and I often
wondered if there were anything that he could not do. The gods
had over-loaded him with gifts. With fewer, he might have gone
farther, yet he went far enough to leave a rich legacy of prose and
verse to all lovers of Lancashire dialect literature.
He was a poet, prose writer, playwright, painter, cartoonist,
actor, mimic, and an inimitable entertainer. For all his
gifts, he was wise enough never to write upon subjects that he knew
little or nothing about, and never floundered out of his depth.
He had not far to go in quest of material, he found it by his own
doorstep among his neighbour folk, and their foibles and
characteristics are herein depicted with wonderful truth and
He was childless, yet had he been father of five children he
could scarcely have had more knowledge of their prattle and their
He was a master of dialogue, which he handled with singular
ease and naturalness, and his word pictures of Lancashire life and
character in the industrial areas will, I think, give him a high
literary place and an enduring fame.
The merry twinkle in his eyes and the laughter that played
round the corners of his mouth, led people to believe that he did
not know the meaning of adversity. But he did, and the pity of
it is that he died just when better days were in sight and he was
about to receive a well earned recognition as an author.
Outside one's own home folk, no greater loss can come to a
man than the death of a kindred spirit and boon companion. Six
years have gone, and even now, that is how I feel when I think of
Sam, and the happy Bohemian days we I spent together and of the
songs we sang at night on the lone highways and by the clear red
fires in old inn kitchens. I cannot think that it will be my
good luck to meet another man on life's road with such wit,
light-heartedness and charm of comradeship. It is ever so,
good days and good friends that are never replaced, and at last we
ourselves are swept away like withered leaves in autumn. Time
is ever taking the living in at one door and the dead out at
another. In our grey moods when our outlook seems drear as
winter, we feel that the southern poet was right, when he wrote ―
"What's the use to think or care,
Win or lose, hold or share?
What's the use to laugh or sing,
What's the good of anything?"
Yet, when the sad days come, and come they will, the surest way and
a short cut to laughter and the light heart will be to draw a chair
to the fireside and open this book. The author died all too
soon, but as the years hurry on he will, I am sure become dearer and
dearer to the hearts of Lancashire folk, and when this and many
generations are laid in the dust,
"The passer-by will hear him still,
The lad that sings on Crompton hill."
As I close this slight sketch, the October wind is blowing
through the grass on a grave in High Crompton Cemetery that may one
day become a place of pilgrimage.
DUE TO THE EDITORS
OF THE Oldham Chronicle
The Cotton Factory Times
dear; There's bin some change in
Eawr heause this week or two;
Wheer once there used to be a din
It's like a Sunday Schoo';
We never feight for apple pie,
We very seldom frap;
An' what d'ye think's the reason why?
Eawr Sarah's getten a chap.
Eawr fender shines just like a bell,
We'n had it silvered o'er;
An' th' cat appears to wesh itsel
Moor often than before;
Eawr little Nathan's wiped his nose,
Eawr Jimmy's brushed his cap;
An' o this fuss is just becose
Eawr Sarah's getten a chap,
He's one o' thoose young "nutty" men,
They sen he's brass an' o,
My mother's apron's allus clen,
For fear he gives a co;
We'n polished up th' dur knocker, too;
We'r swanky yo' con tell;
But Sarah says it winno do,
We'st ha' to have a bell.
We bowt a carpet t' other neet,
To wear it seems a sin;
My feyther has to wipe his feet
Before he dar' come in;
He never seems a-whoam someheaw,
He says he's noan on th' map;
He allus wears a collar neaw
Eawr Sarah's getten a chap.
We'n serviettes neaw when we dine;
A brand new bib for Ben;
Eawr Fanny's started talkin' fine,
Wi' lumps in neaw an' then,
Sin' Sarah geet her fancy beau
Hoo fairly cocks her chin;
Hoo has a bottom drawer an' o'
To keep her nick-nacks in.
Hoo's wantin' this, an' wantin' that,
Hoo thinks we're made o' brass;
Hoo goes to th' factory in her hat,
Hoo says ut it's moar class;
Hoo's bucked my feyther up shuzheaw,
He darno' wear a cap;
He gets his bacco chepper neaw
Eawr Sarah's getten a chap.
He comes o' courtin' every neet,
He fills eawr cat wi' dread;
He's sky-blue gaiters on his feet,
An' hair-oil on his yed;
He likes to swank abeawt an' strut
An talk abeawt his "biz";
He's "summat in an office," but
I don't know what it is!
His socks are crimson lined wi' blue,
I weesh he'd do a guy;
I weesh he'd pop the question, too,
Or pop his yallow tie.
My feyther darno' raise a row,
An' th' childer darno' scrap;
We feel to live i' lodgin's neaw
Eawr Sarah's getten a chap.
He's put eawr household in a whirl,
He's sich a howlin' swell;
I weesh he'd find another girl,
Or goo an' loose hissel;
Eawr parrot's gone an' cocked its toes,
Eawr roosters conno' flap;
We'er gooin daft an' o' becose
Eawr Sarah's getten a chap.
DOES anybody want a chap
For just a week or two?
Eawr heawse is like a bedlam, an'
I don't know wheer to goo.
Eawr Mary's started clennin' deawn,
An' when hoo gets it bad,
I feel just like a tiger, for
I get so ragin' mad.
It doesna' matter what I say,
Nor heaw I grunt an' groan,
I met as weel be silent for
I know hoo'll do her own.
Becose I towd her t'other day
Hoo'd made a mess o' th' place,
Hoo flipped some whitewesh in my e'e,
An' said: "Thee shut thy face,"
I conno' find a single thing
Hoo doesna care a fig;
I'm wearin' two odd stockins' neaw,
An' one's a lot too big.
I lost my jacket yesterday,
An' when I looked about,
I fun it in a dolly-tub
Hoo thowt it were a clout.
I lost my cap this mornin', but
I geet it back to-neet;
Some little lads were puncin' it
Abeawt i'th' t'other street.
Eawr Jimmy's smashed a picther frame,
'Twere awful yo'll agree,
He went an' put his foot through t'
"Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me."
There's mops an' buckets everywheer,
Yo conno' stir for lime,
But Mary looks as happy as
A saint, an' as sublime.
Hoo cooked a kipper for my tay
That werno' bad yo know
But when hoo coom to sarve it eawt,
Eawr cat had etten it o'.
Hoo's scrubbin' everything hoo sees,
An' moppin' neet an' day;
I conno find my road i' th' house
I'm like a waif an' stray.
Th' owd cat left whoam last Friday neet,
An' th' parrot sits an' swears;
I go to bed through t' window for
I conno' get upstairs.
There's rowls o' papper up an' deawn,
An' o' through little Jack
I went deawn t' street o' Monday wi'
A lump glued on my back.
Hoo's fun o' soarts o' lumber fro'
A bedpost to a nail;
I cornt tell heaw we'n getten it o',
It's like a jumble sale.
An' heaw hoo'll get it back again
Is moor nor I con tell;
I'll oather fotch an auctioneer,
Or goo an pop mysel'.
Hoo's slingin' whitewesh up an' deawn,
An' thinks it jolly fun;
I weesh some kindly neighbour 'ud
Adopt me till hoo's done.
When next hoo starts o' clennin' deawn
Hoo waint find me no moor;
I'st goo up in an aeryplaine
Or goo live deawn a sewer.
(Pen Picture of Lancashire Life as it used to be)
an' a middlin cowd mornin.
Hoooooooeeeeeee. Ohhoooeeeeeee Dunno be alarmed, I'm
nobbut tryin to imitate a mornin buzzer wi cowd type. OOh―――――,
EEeeeeeeeeeeeoooooooooo. Han yo getten me? Bang bang
bang bang bang bang bang! Bum bum bum bum bum bum bum! A
pause. Then a bit moor Hoooooooooeeeeeeee. Then another
spasm o Bang bang bang bang bang bang! Rat tat tat tat tat tat
tat tat tat tat! Bang bang!
"Hey up. Na then, theer. It's hawf past five."
Bum bum bum bum bum!
"Hello! All right." That's a woman's voice as a
rule. Aye, t' poor mother has to yer for o' th' family.
Rat tat tat ta dithery tat, rat ta tat ta dithery tat! Bang
"Oh reet, oh reet. I yer thi, mon. I'm comin."
Another pause an then "Bill! Bill! Dost yer?
Bill wakken!" Elbow an rib business "Bill!"
"Haw?" That's Bill tryin to say "What."
"Come on, lad. Th' knocker-up's bin."
"O reet, Oh heck. I'm wary this mornin."
"Tha should ha comd whoam sanner last neet, George Robert!"
"Come on, lad. Martha Lizzie! Serran!
Willie! John Thomas! Come on."
"Hel―――lo. I'b kubbid." Willie's cattahr does
bother him in a mornin sometimes. (Heaw the heck dun they
spell catarh? Never mind).
"George Robert, arto comin?"
"I yer yo, mon. What dun yo keep shoutin abeawt?
John Tommy, gerrup."
"Thee gerrup, I getten t'yed warch. An' beside, it's
By this time Bill, t' husband, is puttin his cowd trousers on
and doin his best to throttle a tuthri words he hasno fun i' th'
dictionary. I do believe he's put his reet leg deawn his left
trouser. Aye, he has. He rips an tears an says ―――― "??
! ! ! ―――― ? ? ―――― ! ! D; ? ―――― ," (All solutions to me
together wi postal order for a thousand pounds). His wife
laughs an that's better nor skrikin so soon on in a mornin. He
is a brute at'll stop a poor hard workin Lancashire mother fro
laughin, or any other mother for that matter. Let husbands get
vexed if they want. Let o thoose who hanno put ther reet leg
in ther left pant throw the first bowster. Accidents 'll
happen in t' best regulated families so soon on in a mornin,
especially when it's cowd an dark.
Poor Willie's fairly done up an terribly sleepy, an it were
nobbut th' neet before he were tellin his mother he'd like to be a
sailor lad an' sail the angry sea, or else a bobby an then he could
stop up o neet.
"Willie, come on, my love, get up. Eh, dear, it seems a
shame for young childer to get up so soon. Come on Willie,
that's a love."
"Ib kubbid buther, Booeeoo: I coddo fide by stockid."
"Bless thi lad, wheer did ta put thi stockin last neet?
Martha Lizzie, get up an help eawr Willie to find his stockin.
Eh dear. I'm some wary this mornin."
"Tha mun stop i bed a bit, an I'll bring thi a cup o tay up,"
said Bill. Bill's th' husband, or "yon of eawrs" as hoo coes
"Stop i bed eh? I favver stoppin i bed an o yon burn o
clooas to wesh. No fear! I mun get up or I'st neer ha
done. Serran! Martha Lizzie! Come on an shap!
It's gettin twenty to six oready, an see as that lad has summat warm
before he turns eawt. Thi lad's noan weel bi a greyt way."
Then there's a bit of scuffle an some skrikin fro th' back
"Mother! Eawr George Robert's pinched my jinnybant
"I hav'no. It's my own. I nobbut geet it o'
Setterday. Pinch one of eawr Serran's. Get a bit o tape
or else go wi thi stockin deawn. Gerroff wi thi."
"Gi us that garter. Booo:――― Mother! Give it
us." Then there's a scuffle at brings "yon of eawrs" to th'
bottom o th' stairs on which he knocks wi th' poker.
"Hey! I'm comin' up theer in a minute." That
settles em. They'n sin him come up before, an felt him too.
Feythers are useful in their place. If they winnor punce th'
place too hard. Some feythers forget they'n bin lads once.
"Come on Martha Lizzie. Get eawr Willie off. Cut
him a butty."
"I don't want a butty, mother. Give us a bit o that
curran cake. I'm noan bread an butter hungry this mornin.
Wheers my cap?" He conno find his cap nowheer. His
mother says he should mind wheer he puts it of a neet. By this
time th' kettle's beylin an there's a saup o tay made.
"Mother, yo hanno put my breakfast up. Yo'n put eawr
"Eh, bless us, I conno attend to yo o. Be sharp.
Reitch me that loaf. Will ta have a bit o that potted meyt?"
"Oh, heck. Yo hanno gan me no potted meyt."
"I know I havn't. I've put thee up a bit o that lamb we
had left from yesterday. Neaw come! Shap, o on yo!
Yo'll be lat. It's getten five minutes to six an, Willie, come
here. Let me put thee this muffler on. It's very cowd
this mornin, I can tell wi my rheumatics. Neaw, good mornin,
Willie, an see at tha eyts o thi breakfast." Hoo tees his
muffler on an kisses him nicely, "Good mornin my love, an do look
after that cowd. Tha't fair full of a cowd, I con see.
Kiss me again love, an good mornin." Martha Lizzie looks fed
"Good bordid, buther." Eh, th' poor lad has a cowd.
"Atchoo, buther, cod I have a dew jersey for t' footboo batch o
"I'll see. I darsay I'll beigh thi one. Good
mornin. Stick to his hond George Robert. It's happen a
bit slippy eawtside, an don't be so awkert."
George Robert: "Oh heck; put him a clen pinney on an' let him
stop awhoam an' play wi eawr Lizzie's dolly."
"Go on wi thi, an less lip. Tha were wor nor him when
tha were his age."
Bill, "yon of hers," tucks his clen overalls under his arm an
shaps for gooin. "Good mornin Bill, if tha'rt gooin. I
reckon tha's forgetten heaw to kiss me neaw same as thae used to do?
But goo on, it doesno matter."
Th' poor woman expects too mich. Bless my life, they'd
bin wed twenty-six year, an a husband's kisses winno last for ever.
Bill goes eawt laughin an saying summat abeawt him havin a cracked
lip or he would ha done. Eh, these owd wed fellies! Heaw
soon they forget at a woman's noan a chap. Hello, that's th'
six o'clock buzzer gooin neaw. Martha Lizzie's beawn to be
late. Hoo'll ha to run for it.
"Come, come Martha Lizzie! Tha'rt bown to get sacked.
Tha wants to come in a bit sooner of a neet astid o stonnin i'th
cowd, proppin th' heawse end up." Yo con guess by that at
Martha Lizzie's courtin. "My mother never would let me stap
eawt so lat of a neets."
"Oh, would not hoo? I weren't theer to see. What
abeawt eawr Sarah theer? Hoo coom in hawf an heawr after me.
But I reckon it doesn't matter for her. Becose hoo's courtin a
Manager's lad yo letten her do what hoo likes."
"I shannot axe thee when I mun come whoam," says Sarah.
"I geet whoam as soon as I could. They had company an they
axed me to stop to my supper."
"Swank," says Martha Lizzie as hoo banged th' dur too beawt
sayin good mornin. The mother sighs, "Eh, dear, childer are a
"Come childer, do hurry up! Yo make me ill wi your
waywardness. Good mornin John Tommy, an do be sharp.
Hey! Wait a minute. Tha's forgetten thi tay an sugar.
Eh dear! I conna watch o on yo. What's up wi thee Jack?
Getten tooth warch? Dear, dear! Tee thi scarf up thi
ears an keep thi meawth shut, an hurry up. Good mornin, my
They're o gone neaw. Quietness reigns supreme, barrin a
pair o' slutterin' clogs whose owner hasn't time to fasten em.
"Eh, hom, yon's t' six o'clock buzzer. They'll get
sacked as sure as sure. I weesh I could get em to bed a bit
sanner,Well, I'll have a saup o tay and then I mun leet that beyler
feigher. I've a big wesh to-day. Women's wark's never
Two heawrs later hoo shouts lovinly fro t' bottom o' th'
stairs, "Cissie Ellen, come on love, an wakken eawr Joedy.
It's time I were gettin yo off to t' schoo. Joedy, come on my
love. Come on neaw, both on yo, an be sharp, then. I've
getten a bit o toffee for yo."
Who said "martyrs"? Gerroff!
How some poor women bear, to me's a mystery.
When writing of your heroines of history,
Pray tell in words of gold your page adorning,
Of this poor patient soul on Monday morning.
(Pen Picture of a Lancashire Home).
A Lancashire working-class living room;
combining also drawing-room, smoke-room, and bakery, and
incidentally conversation room and conservatory, not to mention its
other utilitarian uses. On this Wednesday morning it contains
at conglomeration of baking mugs, loaf tins, and other baking
utensils. It also contains one Mrs. Brella, with one child in
the cradle, one double chin, one smiling face, two fat arms, and a
cheery disposition. There is a fast-gated clock on the
mantelpiece that tells a utilitarian lie by proclaiming bare-facedly
that it is ten o'clock. It isn't. It is only 9-43.
There is also half a pair of pot dogs perched open-eyed at one end
of the same mantelpiece. The other half fell and broke its
neck some weeks before owing to Brella pere, or "yon of eawrs"
unseating it while looking for his ever-lasting pipe-wire, a
happening that caused "yon of eawrs" to say, "Thoose pot dogs were a
blooming nuisance," and left the remaining dog, like the last rose
of summer blooming alone. As the scene opens Mrs. Brella is
discovered with her plump arms covered up to the elbows with flour
and dough, or "doaf" as she calls it, and she is doing her best to
replace the covering over the child's bonny sleeping arms by series
of contortions of her nose, her elbows, and her foot. The
child is disturbed thereby somewhat, and gurgles something that
sounds like "Google googooshy," but which the doting mother
translates into "Mamma, I'se got the tummy ache," and she forthwith
begins gently to rock the "kather" with her foot and mumble a song
something about a baby on a tree top, which song may have some
connection with the Darwinian theory after all.
The door opens and a too-raucous voice enters saying, "Mornin',"
Mrs. Brella, I want to know if "Shhhh, sh," said Mrs. Brella
shaking her fist. "I've just getten it to sleep at last.
T' little thing seems a bit fretful."
"Oh' I'm sorry. I were just thinking 'at ―― hello,
you'r bakin, I see. Dun yo allus bake at Wednesday?"
"Nawe, not allus, but I thowt I'd bake a bit to-day.
Yon of eawrs wininot ha' bowt bread. I have to humour him, yo
known. Beside, I'd rayther have it mysel. I thowt I'd
mak a pottito pie, too, while I were agate. Yon of eawrs likes
pottito pie. I'll tell yo what; beef's a rare price, yet,
"I should think it is. It's time it coom deawn a bit.
Wages han comd deawn, an it's time a lot o other things coom deawn,
too. Mon, folks conno live."
"Thi connot. I know it taks me o my time to mak booath
"Booath ends meet, eh? I'm makin a flesh puddin for eawr Bill, an I
shanno try to mak booath ends meat. He'll ha plenty o pudd at booath
ends when I've done wi it. Fancy givin one an four for pie meyt. We
used to get it for sixpence when I were fust wed. An neaw they're
reckonin to blame it on t' foot-an-meawth disease."
"Foot an meawth my leg! I gan seven an six for a cock chicken o
Sunday 'at had no moor meyt on it than my feather boa. It were no
bigger nor a shuttle cock. I've sin mony a pigeon at could ha' gan
it a pound at a weighin sweep. Seven an six mind thi! That werno
caused bi th' foot and meawth disease were it? An look at thoose
eggs no bigger nor sparrow eggs an they cost me fivepence apice. Han they getten foot and meawth disease too."
"Nawe, I should think they'n getten th' maysles. They look'en
measley enough shuzheaw. I'll back eawr canary at laying bigger eggs
nor thoose. An then if we axe t' reason why, they say its on account
of t' price o corn an hen meyt. An look at price of corn. What's t'
reason it's so dar?"
"Eh, I dunno know, unless its getten th' foot and meawth disease
"I'll tell thi what it is, Mary. We're bein robbed o ends up. Everybody seems to be after gettin summat for nowt, while us poor,
honest, hard-worchin folks han to worch, an worch an―――"
"An get nowt for summat," interrupted the other as she banged the
oven door hard enough to call forth another fretful wail from the
cradle, "Bless me, I've gone an wakkent t' child wi my bangin. Well
love, come den, shhhby-bye, babby mine, bo bo bo bo," Another rock
with her foot and half a minute of feminine silence and the baby was
soundly sleeping once more, and possibly dreaming of the days when
she, too, would pour forth loquacious invective anent undersized
cock chickens and oversized profiteers.
"As I were sayin," Mrs. Brella continued, "what wi one thing an
another, an this that an' tother, an a lot of other things beside, a
body con never tell when a body's safe fro other bodies, an I think
its about time at there were awterations. These profiteers desarve
"They dun, Mary, they dun. Neaw look at price o bread to what it
used to be, I think some o these bakers want ――."
"Eh dear," yelled Mary. "I've gone an dreawned t' miller."
"Dreawnt t' miller has ta? Well dreawn t' baker while tha'rt at it."
"Eh, dear, there's a lot o awkert wark gooin on at present. Everybody seems to be gooin mad after brass."
"Ah, well, I reckon it's everybody for theirsel. It's quite
"I don't co it natural at o. Even t' cats an dogs know
when they're satisfied."
Just then a neighbour runs excitedly in at the back door.
"Missis Brella, be sharp. Yor cat's just run eawt at th' back dur wi
a lump o beef in its mouth."
Mrs. Brella was beside herself. Had she been beside the cat at that
moment I fear it would have lost at least two of its nine lives. Poor "yon of eawrs" would evidently have a 'tato pie in a literal
sense for his dinner that day. He would be too full for words, and
the cat would be too full for potatoes. It was a strange cat too a
barred one. Had the back door been barred also the family 'tato pie
would have gained by at least half a pound of nice pie meat, but
cats, like humans, are ever pleased to "take all" in this game of
Put and Take. Never mind, she said, he would have to make out with
currant bread, unless she ran across the way and brought him a "picklet
"Eh, dear," she said as she wiped a tear from her eye with her hand
and left a piece of dough hanging on her nose like an icicle, "I
should ha' no luck at o' but for bad luck, I weesh I could just get
beside o that cat." But she couldn't for, as I said before, "Mrs. Brella was beside herself." She longed to make a wakes of that
feline, but she didn't. She began to make the currant bread instead.
"An look at price o currans an o. We connot afford to mak gradely
stuff neaw-a-days. I allus mak what I co 'enchantment curran loaf'
neaw. And she began to stick the currants in about shouting distance
from each other. Her neighbour called it 'shouting bread' because,
as she said, "Th' currans are so far apart at they han to shout at
one another to be yerd."
"Aye, that's a very good name for it too, but I co it enchantment
bread becose distance lends enchantment tha knows. An I reckon
they'll ha to shout when they want to talk o'er th' current topics."
"Tha'rt gettin funny Mary, an I think Eh, hello! Who dosta co yon? He's some swank, isn't he?"
"Weah, tha knows him. Its Owd Annanias Doodleum's lad. His feyther
used to go to t' school when we did."
"Oh, aye. An heaw long has yon mon had a motor car?"
Oh, ever sin I bowt thoose shares in th' Diddleum Spinnin Company. His feyther's a director theer, tha knows, an I reckon he's gan his
lad a push up."
"Aye well, I reckon its nobbut natterable. Their own helps their
own. I weesh yon of eawrs had a feyther at were a director. By the
way, heaw are to gooin wi thoose
shares? I reckon tha'rt pilin up an owd stockin somewheer."
"Owd stockin? Aye, by go! I connot afford no new uns shuzheaw. I did
get a bit o divi once, but I've yerd they're bown to mak another
call o five shillin a share an if they dun I'st ha to sell up to pay
it I'm afraid."
"Willta for sure? Eh, I'm sorry. It's hard wark when a body's done
her best an comes off th' worst."
"It is. But I reckon if folks geet on by merit only, a lot o folks
ud soon ha better doins nor they han neaw."
"Aye, an a lot of other folks ud soon ha to swap their motor cars
for shanks ponies. I dunnot envy nobody, but I do like fair play. I
reckon business is business, an we'st ha to win an lose like
"I know. I con do wi business, but I detest dodgery. Of course, I
reckon things are bad, an poor folks are sufferin a lot on account
of t' war an what-not."
"Tha's said it what not. It's that what-not at's causin a lot o
trouble. It's noan o t' war. It's that what-not an etcettera an
other things beside fair play at's ruinin a lot on us. Everybody's wantin to get howd. Tha never catches folks givin nowt away neaw a
"Unless it's shares, an they conno gie thoose at time. It's awful."
"It is. Some folk han o t luck i t world. Look at Joe Coppall. He
hadn't a penny piece a bit sin, an his wife towd me tother day he'd
made three hundred pound wi jugglin wi shares this last two year. He
should ha bin weel off, but I darsay he's spent welly o on it i
"Hello, hushtl Here comes his wife. Talk o'er the
Mrs. Coppall rushes in with a face like a mixture of startled hare
and bogie-bogie. "Mrs. Brella! What dun yo think? Eawr Joe's had a
call o fifteen shillin' a share on thoose he had i th' Bunkum
Tiddley-wink Manufacturing Company. Eh hom, I dunno know wheer to
"Weah, yor Joe con pay om connot he?"
"Con he heck! Eawr Joe pay? Axe me summat yessier. Why he hasn't a
penny piece to bless hissel wi! Its sickenin! There's some feaw wark
gooin on somewheer! I weesh we'd neer had nowt to do wi their
"Oh, dear! It were o reet, I reckon, when he were makkin money! But
I think onybody at will gamble an play ony sort o' game owt to win
or lose like men."
"So do I," said the other, "but they owt to mak sure their playin a
game at's worth playin before they start. Fairation, that's the game
"Oh, it's o reet for you, Mrs. Brella, to talk like that. Yo'n lost
"Nawe, an I've won nowt noather. Hey eawt! I mun shap my dinner. It's everybody for theirsel neawadays, isn't it Mrs, Taylor?"
"It is. That's what t' cat said, shuzheaw. But I'm gooin."
"I think its a bloomin shame," yelled Mrs, Coppall.
"They're a lot of rogues, an I weesh they were o' in――"
"Hey eawt! Hey eawt! My loaves are brunnin."
The oven door banged, the fretful baby awoke with a cry, Mrs,
Coppall swore, the loaves looked black, the family cat sprang in a
corner, the door banged, the dinner buzzer buzzed, the picklet
yerrin fizzed, the potato-pie blew the steam off, the potatoes
looked brown, the beef looked sick, the clogs outside clattered,
Mrs. Brella bustled, "yon of eawrs" swore, etc., etc., and so on
that ended one half of the baking day.
TO A SILK
SEEING IT ON A
owd topper! What art doin' theer?
Tha once were indispensable an' needy;
Tha's lost thi bloom for ever neaw, I fear;
Tha'rt lookin' seedy.
When tha were in thi pomp an' feelin smart,
Tha little thowt tha'd later be i'th' cart!
Come, tell me, did thi mester look a gawk
When on his napper tha were gaily sportin?
An' did ta yer a lot o' sloppy talk
When he were courtin?
I'll bet he spread his feet when he were wed
If tha were nicely balanced on his yed.
But neaw he wouldna wear thi onyway;
I fancy he'd be feart o' Mrs. Grundy.
But tell me, did he wear thi every day,
Or nobbut Sunday?
I'll bet tha used to make a big to-do;
I fancy I can see thi in a pew.
Eh! heaw he loved to see thi glossy glare!
When th' sun were shinin' he were prone to praise thi'
An when he met a charmin' lady fair,
He used to raise thi.
Tha's often mixed wi' Lady de la Jones,
An' neaw they'n mixed thi up wi' rags an' bones!
Thi mester must appear to thee unkind,
I'll bet tha swelled wi' pride when he bespoke thi,
But neaw a bone sticks in thi gullet. Mind
It doesna choke thi.
Howd tight, or else they'll jowt thi off thi perch;
Tha'rt noan as safe as bein' in a church!
Tha'rt noan so very yessy, I con tell;
Tha allus were an awk'ard sort o' bonnet.
I used to wear a thing like thee misel,
But made nowt on it.
Thi owner happen thowt tha looked divine;
I allus felt at sort o' clown i' mine!
Thi silky face is wrinkled un an' feaw;
Tha'rt lookin' crushed, an' deawn tha's come a cropper;
But if tha'rt noan so very lively neaw,
Tha's bin a topper.
Tha'rt full o' wrinkles neaw tha'rt not i'th' swim,
Thi cup o' sorrow's full up to the brim.
When tha were younger, an' as breet as gowd,
Thi owner used to treat thi wi' compassion,
He wouldna recognise thi neaw tha'rt owd
An' eawt o' fashion.
I'll bet a penny, if he seed thi neaw,
He'd swear he'd never worn thitha'rt so feaw.
When he were showin' off o'er plainer men,
Did't' tell him tha were made o' rags an' papper?
An' if he geet swelled-yedded neaw an' then,
Did't' pinch his napper?
He brushed thi up wi' silk once, I suppose,
Tha's neaw a blackin'-rag beneath thi nose.
He's bowt a brand new topper neawan' eh!
Tha'd get thi rag eawt if tha seed him care it.
But, cheer up! Every topper has its day,
Tha'm grin an' bear it.
Tha met receive a gusset or a tuck,
An' shine againtha never knows thi luck.
Some hats are often doctored up, they sen,
Tha'll happen come across some other hatter,
An' if tha doesna rise an' shine again,
What does it matter?
Somebody has to get it in the neck;
We conno live for ever, con we heck!
gum, it's gone some cowd to-neet!
I think it's going wor'.
Come up, owd lass, an' warm thi feet;
An, Jammy, shut that dur!
An, come inside, monhas't no wit?
Thee goo eawt if tha dar.
That feigher dosna' draw a bit
Let's rake this bottom bar!
It's draughty, Jammy, stir thy feet,
An' fot' some moor coal,
Here, strike a match an' mak' a leet,
An' put that wood i' th' hole.
It's grooin' windy; heaw it moans,
"I'm cowd," it seems to say,
I feel it creepin' in my bones;
It's winter ony day.
Wheer's th' poker? Here, I'll mak' a glow,
An' then we'st tak' no harm,
I'll mak a cup o' tay an o',
To help to get us warm.
Ha' patience, then tha'st have a sup;
Hutch up an' brun thi toes,
It tak's a lot to warm us up;
We're gettin' owd, tha knows!
I feel reet wheezy on my chest;
But still we munno fret;
Cheer up, owd lass, we'll do eawr best:
We'st happen winter yet.
Let's try to live an' bear eawr yokes,
We'st both be warm in neaw;
We're better off nor lots o' folks
We han a whoam shuzheaw!
We'n done some teylin, thee an' me;
We'n had it rough. But come,
We winno growl shuzheaw o' be,
We're better off nor some!
Thank God we han a tuthri coals;
Let's pile 'em rayther heigher,
My heart fair aches for thoose poor souls
Who cornt afford a feigher!
There's Mrs. Jones next dur but one,
Hoo's short o' coal it's true,
What says to, mun we send eawr John
Wi' just a shool or two?
Just yer' thoose hail-stones heaw it blows!
Hello, here comes eawr Kate,
Eawr Harry's cooartin' now, tha knows,
I reckon he'll be late.
He had a muffler round his throat;
He winno tak' no harm,
He hasno' ta'en his overcoat,
But love 'ull keep him warm.
They'll get together, does ta' see,
An' hutch behind a wo'.
I know when I were cooartin' thee
I ne'er felt cowd at o'.
I love thi still, tha may suppose
But love grows cowd, they sen,
It wants a bit o' feigher, tha knows,
To warm it up again!
Well, never mind, we'n had eawr day;
We'n ne'er rued gettin' wed,
Come, lass, let's have a cup o' tay,
An' then we'll go to bed.
"IT'S COWD TO-NEET."
AN ATTRACTIVE RETREAT.
I'm livin' in a sayport, wheer
It's awlus breet an' shiney;
I keep a little boardin'-heawse
At Blackpool on the briney.
Come up an see, you'll quite agree,
It's natty, neat an' clever,
An' if yo'll spend a week wi' me
Yo'll want to stop for ever,
SO when yo'r sick
o' worchin', an' yo'r nerves are feelin' funny, pack yo'r bag an'
come to me, but don't forget yo'r money.
Nawe! yo' munno forget that, if I connot awlus mak' dacent
room for you, I con manage to find a corner for yo'r rhino i' yon
owd stockin' o' mine. Money's the root of all evil, they sen,
so yo' bring it to Blackpool an' improve yo'r morals. What's
th' good o' walkin' abeawt wi' fifty-one weeks' gooin'-off club
money i' yo'r pocket if it breeds badness. Bring yo'r root to
me, an I'll soon stop it fro' sproutin'. I con cure yo' o'
twelve-months' evilness in a week if I want.
But it's a takkin' little heawse is Sea View. One
cynical visitor said it should ha' bin coed Deceive You, as he
couldn't see th' say at o'; but that wer' becose a fat bobby wer'
stood wi' his back to th' corner o' th' window. We'n every
convenience; hot an' cowd wayter well we'n nobbut cowd really, but
yo' con soon get it warm wi' swearin' at it an' knockin' it abeawt
wi' bein' vexed; but it's a takkin little place, so is my missis; in
fact, some say 'at hoo's too takkin' for out, but, then, as I say,
it 'ud bi silly takkin nowt, wouldn't it?
Oh, but it is bonny! Trams pass th' door sometimes.
Ther' wer' one passed yesterday. Some hen farmers at Marton
'ad bowt it, an they wer' takkin' it whoam on a lurry. Ther
wer' a tram run off th' line t'other week, an turned deawn our
street; an', as luck would have it, ther' wer' one o' my visitors in
it, an' it chucked him eawt, an' he leet wi' a bang up agen eawr
door. When I went to look he wer' hangin' on th' door-knocker
wi' his braces.
"Hello!" I said, "I see tha's had a special tram."
"I have," he said. "But I conno' say as I like th' road
they chucken 'em eawt."
But some folk are so particler. Onyheaw, I gave th'
conductor tuppence, an' towd him to come deawn onytime when he
wanted a change an' he geet a bit off th' line.
But, beawt jestin', it's a conny little spot. Yo con
see Douglas of a clear day when yo'r i' th' Isle o' Man. Yo'
wouldn't believe it beawt yo' seed it; some folk winno' believe it
when they seen it. We believe i' havin' plenty o' air, an'
they getten it at eawr heawse especially i' th' sitting reawm, wheer
ther's a window brokken.
It's a treat to see 'em when it's a extra warm dey, feightin'
for that window, so's they con sit wi' the'r back to it.
There's a nice, leet-coloured draught blows deawn t' back o' the'r
neck, an' they fancy the'r havin an heawr's sail. I charge 'em
extra for sittin' theer.
An' then th' piano! It's a grand! I know it's a
grand, becose I yerd a musician say so t' other day. He'd bin
playin' a tuthri twiddley bits on it, an' when he'd done he shut it
up, an' I yerd him say to th' tother visitors:
"Hum! It's a grand piano that!"
I didna' like road 'at he said "Hum!" for o' that. It
is a piano, shuzheaw. It's bin as good as a little hen farm to
me. Yo' seen, one o' th' front legs is lose, an' some
youngster's sure to knock it fro' under afore th' week-end, then it
go's deawn on the'r bill, "Damage to piano, five shillings."
Then I shove it under ready for th' week after. It drops every
week durin' th' season, so yo' seen if th' piano's noan mich yed
abeawt it, it has a good understonin' an' that's bin worth summat to
But fancy! who ever knew a lodgin'-heawse piano at wer' i'
tune? I awlus tune mine misel.' I haveno' lived i'
Blackpool o' mi life beawt knowin' summat abeawt sharps an' flats.
Folk connot expect a full military band for two bob a neet' an'
extra's for cruet what they dunno' use.
We'n getten' a little
cheer for you to sit in;
It's very nice for t'
They come an' bring the'r knittin';
Or when it's bin a rainy
An' th' promenade's a puddle,
It's just the place for
They want to sit an' cuddle.
An' wi' should have a splendid view, if t' street wer'
noan so narrow,
An' but for t' tother heawses wi could see across to
Yo' know some folk are so particler. Ther' wer' a felly
coom an' stopped six weeks one day; an' he wer' awlus losin' summat;
he'd com'd for a rest, he said, so one day his wife coom o' seein'
heaw he wer' gooin' on.
"Oh!" he said, "I'm havin' a jolly time, lass,"
"Oh, arto?" hoo said. "Well! tha go's whoam wi' me
to-morn, so I'll goo an' pack thi bag up."
Hoo' coom runnin' deawnstairs in a minute or two after an'
"What hasto dun wi' thoose six shirts tha' browt wi thi?"
"I dunno," he said, "ther' up theer, I reckon," so he went up
o'lookin', an' in a bit he coom deawn.
"Eh, lass!" he said, "what doesta' think? I've getten'
'em o' on!"
An' me thinkin he'd getten steawt wi' good keep.
Ther' wer' a big fat woman coom once, an' hoo browt her two
childer wi' her, a lad an' a chilt. Hoo grumbled becose th'
bath wern't big enough. Yo' know I couldna pretend to measure
everybody for a bath. Well, wi had two baths really; they wer'
two bakin' mugs, so I towd her hoo must put one foot in each mug,
an' wesh a bit at once. Hoo didn't expect a swimmin' bath at
two-bob a neet, an' extra for blackin' boots' which they awlus did
thersel' wi' an owd rag an' a tin o' cobra.
That woman did carry on becose I wouldna' let her two childer
pluck th' fleawers i' th' back garden; we'd nobbut two, an' one o'
thoose wer' deeod, but t'other looked champion when t' sun wer'
shinin' on it. So I said they must rowl abeawt on th' lawn.
Of course, it's nobbut a little lawn, two or three sods 'at th'
misses rowls every mornin' wi' th' rowlin'-pin. It 'ud favver
a bowlin' green if th' grass wern't black.
"Well, they started o' rowlin. Of course, they couldna'
rowl above once an' a hawf a'piece afore they wer' i'th' slutch, an'
then th' woman wanted to blame me becose they'd dirtied the'r
I like to yer' these young couples best when they'r sit on th'
garden seat of a neet time; I yerd one young love-sick felly say to
his girl once.
"Tha knows that letter tha sent mi t' other day?"
"Aye, Joe! What abeawt it?"
"Well, I absolutely licked th' stamp, becose I knew tha'd
licked it wi' thi' lips."
"Eh! tha' silly un!" hoo said, "I didna' lick it at o'; I
rubbed it on eawr Carlo's weet nose, I awlus do so,"
Blackpool's a rare place for courters. Giddy Cupid's kept
very busy turnin' factory lasses into duchesses, an' big piecers
into promenade coppers-on, an' six-day millionaires, but, eh! bless
em! I do so like to see 'em ogle one another. They're o'
Venusus an Adonisus for one week eawt o' th' year shuzheaw.
They con pay as mony respects to one another as they like if they'll
pay my bill at th' time. So when yo'r feeln' yo' want to get
beawt yo'r dumps an' yo'r money, yo' mun ―
Come to Blackpool! Breezy Blackpool!
When yo'r after lodgin's, yo' mun come an' stop wi' me!
When yo'n had enough o' wark,
If yo' want to see a lark,
Come an' have a paddle in the deep blue sea.
OWD TIMES AN' THESE.
(A Lancashire Sketch).
(Grandad) is seen pottering about his frugally furnished kitchen. He
is an old retired cotton worker who lives by himself on the small,
though hard-earned, savings of a strenuous lifetime. Though poor, he
is an optimistic, convivial old codger, with health, wealth and
wisdom enough to enable him to enjoy his closing days as well as any
retired weaver of seventy-eight can do. Having just finished
chopping sufficient firewood to last him for a week, he lays by his
well-worn chopper and stretches himself.
Grandad: That'll last me for a bit shuzheaw. I mun keep warm so lung
as I'm on t' top of this bit o' dirt, for goodness knows heaw cowd
I'st be i th' next world. I reckon I'st ha to tak pot luck abeawt
that. I dunno think St. Peter has a greyt deel o black marks agen my
name i that owd book of his. They con put me wheer they'n a mind if
I'm just warm enough to be comfortable. Ooh my back! I'm noan quite
as swipper as I were when I wrastled owd Twister. Poor lad; he couldno put a strangle howd on a fourpenny rabbit at present. He's wor nor me. Never mind.
Then he begins to sing:
I used to go singing as blithe as the day,
When I were a bit of a lad.
I allus were glad when I had my own way
When I were a bit of a lad.
I geet what I wanted, or somewheer abeawt;
I geet lots o jam, when my mother were eawt;
An sometimes I geet sich a heck of a clout,
When I were a bit of a lad.
I spent o' my time at a bit of a schoo,
When I were a bit of a lad,
An one day I spent o my schoomoney too,
When I were a bit of a lad,
They taught me to read, an to reckon, an parse;
They talked abeawt Mercury, Venus, an Mars;
An when I were stupid they made me see stars,
When I were a bit of a lad.
I fell deep i love wi a girl in eawr street,
When I were a bit of a lad.
I took her a walkin one Seterday neet,
When I were a bit of a lad.
I said hoo were nice an I coed her a duck,
I gave her a ring an a penny for luck;
An then I kept rabbits an gave her the chuck,
When I were a bit of a lad.
I went in an orchard one day for a lark,
When I were a bit of a lad,
I geet amung th' apples an made weary wark,
When I were a bit of a lad.
Then th' owner coom up an he said wi a frown,
"I'll make thee sit up in a bit tha young clown,"
Then he made me sit up till I couldn't sit deawn,
When I were a bit of a lad.
I ripped my best trousers an thowt it were prime,
When I were a bit of a lad,
In fact I met say I'd a rippin good time,
When I were a bit of a lad.
One cowd frosty mornin I ran off fro t' schoo;
I tumbled i th' well an I went welly blue,
Then I geet a good hidin for getting weet throught,
When I were a bit of a lad,
I started o smoking a penny cigar,
When I were a bit of a lad.
But someheaw I think I were noan up to par,
When I were a bit of a lad.
I smoked till I felt dear o me, well I'm sure
My tummy went reawnd, and I crawled up o th' flure,
An then well, I connot remember no moor,
When I were a bit of a lad.
he tries to dance and resembles nothing so much as a hamstrung
cab-horse with a double touch of St. Vitus.
Grandad: Eh, it's no use trying to dance, Ben, my lad. Thy doancing
tackle's rayther to' stiff i' th' cranks. Thy game's sittin deawn
for th' remainder o thy days, or else takkin a tuthri drops o monkey
gland juice wi thi supper drink every neet. I weesh I could dance
like that little grandowter o mine. It's as good as a dayful o
spring sun to see her merry little een, an my owd heart goes up a
huntin th' larks cheerin trill when I yer her prattlin tongue
[There is a lively knock at the door.J Bigum, hoo's here.
Hoo never misses comin to see me every [His grand-daughter, Fanny,
enters, full of flapper-like exuberance. She is a girl of twenty or
thereabouts who talks fine.J
Fanny: Good morning, Grandy. How's the rheumatics this morning? Better, I hope. What can I do for you? What? Have you washed up
already? Well, well, you are a busy old I mean young Grandy.
What have you been doing?
Grandad: Oh, different things tha knows. Come an sit thi deawn. Eh,
I am some an glad to see thi. Ceawer deawn, lass. Ceawer thi deawn.
Fanny: You mean "sit down" Grandy. Why do you say "ceawer?"
Grandad: Becose I meeon "ceawer." "Sit," met suit yung uns, sich as
thee, but I'd raythey ha "ceawr." It sounds softer, an beside, it is
"ceawr," so na then.
Fanny: All right, old sport. I'll bet you were a caution when you
were a lad.
Grandad: Goo on wi thi bother! I were as good as ony other lad as
bad as mysel. I weesh tha'd ha lived i thoose owd-fashioned days,
Fanny. We used to co a spade a spade then.
Fanny: And what do you call it now Grandy a knife and fork?
Grandad: What I meeon to say is, we're livin in a day o make-believe
an sham neaw. A gentleman were a gentleman then.
Fanny: That's right, old bean.
Grandad: Owd bean? I'm not an owd bean. Tha'll be co'in me a
peighswad next. Do I favver an owd bean or summat?
Fanny: Oh no. You look more like a beetroot with whiskers on.
Grandad: For shame on thi! Co me a skallion an ha done wi
owt to respect thi superiors. I don't know what yo lasses are comin
Fanny: That's right, old cock. Ooh;
sorry! I mean, that's right, Grandy. You know I wouldn't
hurt a hair of your dear old head. [She strokes his grey hair.J
Grandad: It's very nice, Fanny, but I have no chocolate.
Fanny: Don't want any. Have a tab, Grandy? But see, I've brought you
some tobacco. Now then. I don't want your choc choc, thanks.
Grandad: It's very good on thi. Eh, but I weesh tha'd
ha lived i' thoose owd days when folks were better behaved nor they
Fanny: We are not all heathens now, Grandy.
Grandad: Don't yo weesh yo were? Heathens didno
used to wear corsets to show off their figures.
Fanny: No; they showed off their figures with no
clothes at all, but we don't do that.
Grandad: Not quite, but yo'r improvin. Yo soon
will do if Dame Fashion doesno mend her manners. Women o'
to-day han rayther too mich neck stickin' eawt. They'r stickin'
eawt all oer arms, legs, an necks. They favvern porcupines.
They're too artificial, Fanny.
Fanny: Well, the heathens used to paint their faces
Grandy. The new times are by far the best. Listen. I'll
recite you a bit I've written out of my head. [She recites.J
Oh give to me these modem times,
With things I love so well,
Where roads are full of motor cars
Grandad: An a gradely nasty smell.
Fanny: Doen't interrupt me. Where roads are full
of motor cars
Grandad: Be careful! Tha'rt at wrung side o th'
Fanny (impatiently): Oh, Grandy, do let me get on.
Grandad: O reet. Hasto thi sparkin plug i order?
Fanny: Oh, please Grandad. Where roads are full
Grandad: Be sharp an mind o gettin run oer.
Hurry up, lass. Sithee! There's an owd woman oer theer
wants to cross th' road. Hurry up, there's a bobby comin.
Fanny: Oh, do let me get on.
Grandad: I'm 'noan stoppin th. Tha's put th'
motor cars theer thisel. Shift em, or change thi gear, for thi
subject. Hasto put ony petrol in thi tank?
|Give me the good old iron horse,
With speed that's most terrific:
Its grace is grand, as o'er the land
Grandad: Its smell is petrolific.
Fanny: Order please! let me finish.
O'er hill and dale we scorch along,
To where the skies are bluer:
We leave behind the maddening throng
Grandad: An then run up a sewer.
Fanny: Oh, do stop it, Grandad.
Grandad: Hey! Stop that motor car! It's
beawt muzzle, an it hasn't getten a license. Sorry, Fanny.
|Give me the days of push and go,
Where cars and trams are horseless
|Aye, wheer a crazy horn they blow,
An run oer folks remorseless. Konk, konk.
Fanny: Oh, do please shut your konk.
Grandad: I shall do when that motor car
|No joys were in those good old days,
No pleasures to relax us:
No lamps to light the roads at night
Grandad: An no Lloyd George's taxes.
Fanny (stamping her foot): Do let me get
Grandad: Aye, we o want to get on, but we
conno. We're taxed too mich. ―
Thoose good owd days had good owd ways,
Some which I'd like to mention;
There were no strikes nor free-wheel bikes
Fanny (struttingly): And there was no old
Grandad: Hello, tha thinks tha's scored
|There were no trains in those slow days,
They'd no hygienic houses,
Those slow old folks had no new jokes ―
Grandad: An they'd no pneumonia blouses. ―
They didno paint their faces then,
They were allus strong an boney,
We were full o grace, an we went the pace, ―
Fanny: But you went on Shank's pony.
The modern girl is best by far,
She's livelier and plumper, ―
She jumps o'er hedges, jumps on cars, ―
Grandad: An sometimes through her jumper.
Tha knows, Fanny, it tha'd nobbut talk English ―
Fanny: Nobbut? There's no such word
as "nobbut" in the English language.
Grandad: It's nobbut a poor language then. I
like "nobbut." Only's nobbut a makeshift. I'd rayther ha
Fanny: There you go again.
Grandad: I nobbut spoke. I nobbut said "nobbut."
Fanny: Yes, and a vulgar word too.
Grandad: Nay, "nobbut's" nobbut one. Talk
gradely an say "Puddin."
Fanny: Your dialect is far too crude,
|It's far too many bumps in;
Give me the land where English reigns ―
Grandad: An folks talk fine wi lumps in. Oh,
Fanny, do talk gradely,
Fanny: Who says "gradely."
Grandad: O' gradely folks say "gradely." Tha
conno find a gradely word to equal it in thy superfine talk.
If tha'd nobbut say "gradely" astid o' "awfully nice," an' "nobbut"
astid o' "only," tha'd talk English.
Fanny: I think your dialect is simply awful.
Grandad: An I think talkin too fine is awfully simple;
so we're two apiece, so let us change t' subject an shap a bit of a
sis for t' baggin. So long as we're both gradely jannock an
han a bit o cake-brade on th' bread-fleyk, an a thible to stir up
eawr porritch we dunno need gawm whether we coen a kayther a cradle,
a feigher potter a poker, or lobscouse tato ash; so put th' door on
th' sneck an I'll put th' draw tin up an we'll shap a bit o dinner.
WATCHING THE WEDDING.
The Villagers Enjoy One of Their Little Excitements.
TRULY one half of
the world would be surprised to learn how the other half seeks its
enjoyment. Our smoky village situate amid the cotton mills of
Lancashire has little in the way of recreation during the course of
its work-a-day week. No fine ladies and gentlemen on
well-groomed hunters, plus a picturesque pack of hounds, ever grace
its sombre precincts. The only society functions or Royal
processions it is conversant with are those reproduced on the sheet
of the little kinema a couple of miles away. Barring the usual
morning gossips and an occasional tune on a discordant piano-organ,
a wedding at the little smoke-stained church is the only
entertainment our hard-working villagers receive unless it be a
funeral. I cannot understand why our villagers delight in
watching these latter sad ceremonials, but they do. Verily
human nature in some places is strange. I can excuse them for
desiring to know the style and colour of the bride's dress, the
state of her health, and the colour of her complexion, etc., for
that, no matter in whatever state of society, is woman's weakness
or shall I call it her curiosity? Of course I needn't tell you
that women comprise the greater portion of the spectators at our
village weddings. Long before the happy event takes place the
most curious portion of our villagers have known, about it.
But it is on the morning of the actual ceremony that curiosity and
excitement hang on tenter-hooks. Leaving their homes, and
often their children, to fend for themselves, our stay-at-home
female populace throw their shawls over their shoulders and hurry,
sometimes breathlessly, to the church gates to await the interested
couples as they emerge from the hired taxis. Oh, yes, poor
people manage to afford taxis somehow. Come and lean over the
church wall with me and listen to the remarks, often made in the
"Be Sharp, Serran. They're comin, they're comin.
I wouldn't ha missed this wedding for th' world. Eh' sithee.
Here's th' bride. Isn't hoo bonny?"
"Hoo is. I like her dress. I'll bet yon dress has
cost a bonny penny."
"I don't think so. Hoo's made it hersel, they sen.
It's nice, shuzheaw. I like her hat an o. Bless her!
Wheer are they gooin to live? Has ta yeard?"
"They're goin a livin wi her mother. They sen they
conno' get a house. I dunno know wheer they're goin' to put 'em
o'. They'n a house full o' ready."
"Its sickenin isn't it? Folks han to live somewheer, an
I reckon couples han to get wed sometime or else th' world ud stop.
They conno goo on courtin for regular. I reckon human folks
are noan like cats an dogs."
"Some are an some aren't Mary Allis. There's some on em
live cat an dog lives, shuzheaw. It ud pay a lot o couples
better if they kept courtin' for regular."
"Nay; give th' divorce courts a chance. If folks never
geet wed a lot o magistrates ud ha to goo on th' unemployment books.
An what abeawt th' poor parsons? They want to live tha knows."
"I reckon they dun. I wonder if they'll drop th' price
o their weddin fee neaw th' price of living has come deawn."
"Why? Has th' price o livin come deawn or summat?"
chimed in Missis Quivver, a woman with a houseful of children and a
larderful of space. "I know one thing. If it go's ony
heigher I'st ha to dig for worms an turn my childer eawt to grass,
if it hasn't o bin brunt up. It's us women who han to goo a
shoppin as knows whether th' cost o' livin' has come deawn or not.
It's o' bunkum."
"Aye. Thoose newspapers try to mak us believe owt, but
they conno mak us fat wi thin paragraphs, nor keep us warm wi cowd
print. Look at th' price of beef. That's thick enough
isn't it? An they coen this liberty."
"O there's plenty o liberty in th' lond at present, Mary.
Tha'rt a pessimist. There's ony amount of profiteers about yet
wi plenty of liberty to fleece us. I wonder they dunno lock a
tuthri on em up."
"Hear, hear. They'd jolly soon lock us up if we were to
steyl a loaf."
"Eh, that reminds me. I've left my loaves ith' oon.
I weesh they'd be sharp an come eawt. I want to see em."
"I'st ha to goo in a bit too. I've left yon of eawrs
weshin eawr little Jimmy oal o'er an pillin th' potatoes. I
towd him he mun mak' th' beds an o, for I don't believe i speylin a
husband for want o wark. I con humour him."
"For shame on thi. I reckon tha towd him tha'd love,
honour an obey him when yo geet wed. I believe i both pooin
one road. It pays best i th' long run."
"Oh, aye. Thy husband's an angel wi fithers on, Ann
"He's noan henpecked, shuzheaw. Henpecked husbands han
a habit o turnin round later on in life. Then th' fun starts."
"Shut up, both on yo. It's a weddin, noan a row.
If folks geet wed becose they loved one another astid o gettin wed
just to put their bit o money together there'd be a lot moor
pleasure an fewer divorces ith' world."
"Eh, heck! Tha should ha bin a parson. Did tha
get wed for love?"
"I did. An onybody who gets wed for owt else desarves
to be miserable o their life. That's what I say. A
life's happiness doesn't end when courtin stops, when there's ony
love abeawt. A gradely happy couple ull goo on courtin for
ever. Gettin wed for money alone is an insult to th' wedding
"Oh dear! Yer yo at th' little turtle dove talkin!
I reckoned to get wed for love, but my husband's noan a saint by a
"Nawe, but it's thy own faut if he isn't. Tha wants to
use moor tact, moor ――"
The Sentence is broken by the sound of jubilant voices near
the church door.
"Hurray! "Weesh yo mich happiness." "Wheer's that
confetti?" Be sharp. Goo on. Give em some moor."―
"Cheer up Sarah." "Weesh yo mich happiness."
"Eh, bless her. Isn't hoo nice? See yo, look at
thoose little childer. Look at thoose flowers. Eh,
sithee, sithee, her fayther an mother. Poor owd sowl.
Hoo'll miss that lass of hers. An' Joe. Watch him smile.
He's o reet, is Joe."
"Is he?" said Mrs. Pessimist with a sneer. "That's o yo
known. He's no better than he owt to be. It o depends
heaw he turns eawt."
"Gerroff wi yo. Don't measure a peck eawt o yor own
seck. Weesh thi much happiness, Joe. That's it.
Give him some confetti."
The crowd laughs, cheers, yells congratulations, and smothers
the happy couple in good wishes and tons of confetti. Sunshine
and joy is in the air, that is marred only by the still small voice
of the soulless pessimist who will insist on snarling, "Oh, aye.
It's o reet, but they're noan o weddin days."
Poor, pitiable creature. And thrice happy couple.
EH dear, I'm
welly off my chump!
I scrub, an' wesh, an' darn;
Eawr childer han a holiday,
An th' heawse is like a barn.
Yo talk abeawt a home sweet home!
My peace is flown away;
I have to live i' Bedlam for
A fortnit an' a day.
They're in an' eawt fro morn to neet,
I met weel look so seawer;
They're wantin pennies every day,
An' butties every heawer.
They'n worn my Sunday carpet eawt
Wi' runnin' up an' deawn;
Eawr Polly broke a jug to-day,
An' Jimmy broke his creawn.
They'n nobbut bin a-whoam a week,
But, bless me, heaw they grow;
An' talk o' childish innocence,
The devil's in 'em o.
They'n smashed a brand new dolly tub,
An' o' my clooas pegs;
They'n rattled th' paint off th' parlour door,
An' th' skin off th' table legs.
They started pooin th' picters deawn,
One neet when I were eawt,
Eawr Tum geet th' "Rock of Ages," an'
He gave eawr Joe a clout,
Eawr Bill, who has a biggish meawth
He's allus in disgrace
Set off cowfin t' other day,
An' went reet black i' th' face.
He'd swallowed th' babby's dummy-tit
Wi rawngin wi eawr Bet;
We'n gan him tons of physic, but
We hanno fun it yet.
Eawr Jack's a plester on his nose,
An' th' beggar looks a treat;
He'd pood his tongue eawt to a lad
Who lives i' Stoney-street.
Eawr Bobby's bin i' bed o day,
Poor lad, he does look hurt,
He went o bathin' yesterday,
An' some'dy stole his shirt.
They're o so full o dirt an grime,
I'st never get 'em clen;
I'st ha' to scrape 'em when it's time
To go t' schoo again.
Eawr Tommy says he winno goo,
That lad's a wary wight.
He's had his thumb i' th' mangle, an'
He swears he conno write.
I sat me deawn o Wednesday neet,
An' th' parson's wife were theer,
I hope hoo didno yer me swear
They'd put a pin i' th' cheear.
I'd lock 'em up i' th' schoo for good
If I could ha' my will;
I'd see they had another clause
I' th' Education Bill.
I've clouted 'em an' slapped 'em till
My honds an' arms are sore;
I'st fancy I'm i' Paradise
When th' holidays are o'er.
They're like a lot o lunatics,
They'n getten eawt of hond;
But yet, I wouldno part wi 'em
For o there is i' th' lond.
TO A FLY
EH! neaw tha's
gone an' done it!
Tha'rt in a sticky mess for sure!
Tha's done some buzzin' far an' near;
Tha's bin a rogue, but neaw I fear
steyl no moor.
Tha should ha' bin more careful,
For neaw tha never knows thi luck!
Tha's caused some trouble tha'll allow!
Tha's takken liberties ― but neaw
Eh, fly, tha's bin a terror;
When in mi' cheer I've tried to doze
Bi th' hob-end of a winter's neet,
Tha's crope in eawt o' th' wind an' sleet,
An' often browt thi dirty feet
An' warmed 'em
on mi nose.
Tha's groped abeawt i' places
'At hadna' sich a pleasant smell ―
Na', stop thi buzzin' an' be good,
I conna save thi if I would;
Tha shouldna root abeawt i' mud;
Tha's done it
Thee goo on wi' thi poatin,
But nob'dy seems to care a rap;
Tha'rt same as us: we smile an' wink,
An' work an' dodge for meyt an' drink;
When we're i' th' sun we little think
we'st be i' th' trap.
Get deed, then tha'll be quiet,
Tha'll do no harm then onyway!
I knew a fly bi leet misled
'At flew i' th' gas an' brunt its yed,
But it did harm when it were de'd
in mi tay!
By gum tha'rt fairly stickin'!
An' yet it welly sarves thi reet;
I've sin thi try to wesh thi shirt,
But other times I've felt quite hurt;
Heaw oft hast com'd in eawt o' th' dirt
wiped thi feet?
We're towd we owt to starve thi!
An' yet I conno' tell thi why;
If we mun live we'st want some corn,
It isno' eawr fawt we were born;
Men allus looked on thee wi' scorn,
"Kill that fly!"
Tha allus were a nuisance,
A tantalizin', buzzin bore!
Yo'r o a set o' thieves, uncle'n,
Yo' flies are good for nowt they sen;
The better deeds o' flies an' men
We'n lots o' human bein's,
Who're quite as big a pest as thee!
They suck their brothers through and
They're terrorsan' to tell thi true
I rayther think there's one or two
think mich o' me!
Get forrad wi' thi deein'!
There's once apiece for thee an' me;
Too often in this worldly state
We see eawr fawts a bit too late!
We winno' growl an' rail at Fate;
"It had to be!"
We o' han' cherished things no doubt,
We somehow feel we cornt do 'bowt,
Some furniture we value heigh,
We'n things 'at money couldna' beigh.
I have an owd case-clock a' whoam
I wouldna' sell for ony sum;
It stood i' th' corner, so I'm towd
When first I coom to live i'th' fowd;
It stons theer yet, an' neet an' day
It measures time an' ticks away
Its cheery dial seems to say:
"Let's laugh to while the time away,"
An' though it hasno' changed its chime
It's sin some changes in its time;
It's gazed on o our household crew,
It's watched 'em come, it's watched 'em goo.
When little Jack were ta'en one day
It watched us side his things away,
An' when our tears began to flow
It said "Cheer up, Time heals, I know;
It's like a sentinel i' th' nook;
Th' owd lad con read me like a book,
An when I've had an extra glass
It seems to know, it does bi' th' Mass!
That clock's both human an' divine;
One neet I geet a bit o'er th' line;
It chuckled, as it winked one e'e:
"Tha's had a drop to' mich I see,"
It hiccupped, "Well tha art a foo";
The beggar seemed to wobble too:
MY OWD CASE CLOCK
When little Bill were born, th' owd clock
Seemed fain to have one moor to th' flock,
But while it smiled it little knew
His mother wouldna' live it through;
It watched 'em lay her in her shroud
An' somehow didna' tick so loud;
It seemed to say: "There's trouble here,
They'n lost their main-spring, too, I fear;
I'll howd my noise till th' trouble's o'er."
But now it ticks on as before:
It's sin some marlocks in its time,
When I were young an' in my prime
It watched me courtin' eawr Nell;
It seed us kiss, but winno' tell;
It seed me smile on th' weddin' morn,
An' swell wi' pride when th' first were born;
It's sin o' th' childer in their pomp;
It's watched 'em laugh, an' sing an' romp,
An' when I've joined 'em in their play
It's said "I'm fain I'm wick to-day
Alas! there coom a time when trade
Were bad an' I felt much afraid
I'd ha' to sell my dear owd clock
To pay for corn to feed my flock.
I felt distracted. Things grew worse,
An' when a chap's an empty purse
An' hawf-a-dozen meawths to feed,
If he's a heart it's bound to bleed,
I sowd th' owd couch to buy 'em bread,
An' th' owd case-clock looked on an' said:
I axed th' owd clock: "What mun I do?
I welly think tha'll ha' to goo;
I'm loth to part wi' thee, owd lad,
But th' ehilder starve, an' times are bad,
Say shall I sell thee, too, owd friend,
Or does ta think 'at times ull mend?
I know tha'd raise a pound or two,
So mun we part? Come, tell me true."
I welly thowt it shook its yed; ,
lt seemed to frown on me an' said:
I didna' sell th' owd clock at o'.
For times improved. It seemed to know.
It's like a dog, for wark or play,
It knows quite every word I say.
When times are good it looks so glad;
Its dial drops when times are bad.
Then, like a sage, it ticks an' sings,
Remindin' me 'at time has wings;
An' when I've gone to God knows wheer,
Th' owd clock ull still be tickin' theer:
FEELING in want
of a pick-me-up the other evening (and who of us in these
knock-me-down days doesn't?) I strolled into one of those places of
refreshment sometimes spoken of as "dens of infamy," "cheering
hostels, and er public houses, to partake, of a glass of of
the particular beverage I was most desiring. Not that I was
really, thirsty, but, well. You have heard the story of the
two jovial men who called in a teetotal tavern in mistake for the
kind of tavern that is sometimes well, not quite as teetotal as
some would have it be. They entered brusquely, and sat down.
"Bring us two bottles of beer, will you Missie?" said one.
"I'm sorry," said the lady in charge, "this is a teetotal
place. You can have two glasses of good herb-beer if you
The two men rose to go.
"Nawe, it doesn't matter," said one. "We're not thirsty
really; we nobbut wanted a drink."
The man's state of feelings will never be understood I fear
by those who look not on the wine when it is cheering.
I was in that very state of feelings when I asked for er
what I later got. Rightly or wrongly, an artificial people,
suffering from the hump brought on by an artificial world, requires
Were everybody always to drink the same kind of beverage, the
world's reformers would soon die of vexation of spirit; and the
poster-artists would have to take to designing tin trumpets.
In the words of Mighself,
Let those who will, drink slop and swill,
That keep the spirits low;
But give to me a foaming gill,
Where breezy faces glow.
The room I went in was crowded with a goodly and motley
company of more or less working men; all talking and singing.
I mean that class of working men who work with their coats, and
sometimes their vests off. A gathering of the clans with
soiled hands and knotted muscles; a goodly lump of backbone of the
world's progress, so to speak. Humble and rough, but very
happy. The cares and anxieties of a post-war reconstruction
laid very lightly on them at that moment, in spite of their thin
purses, and the high priced thin beer. They were not drunk,
Sir Poppanoround don't judge! They were merely intoxicated
with the exuberance of their own blessed optimism; so long as they
paid their way, had good health and the price of a pint or two they
cared not how many beans made five; nor who had Constantinople.
They were all talking and singing, and more especially, arguing; and
the subject on the oilcloth (they had no carpet) was songs, ancient
and modem. No, sir, pigeon flying is not the only topic in
"Yo con o say what yon a mind," one was saying, as he knocked
for another pint to loosen his tongue a bit. "But th' owd
songs are th' best ony day."
"Hear, hear," from one half, and "Are they heck" from the
"What is there nicer than 'Annie Laurie?' Why, it's
like tracle in yor meawth when yor singin it. "An for bo-o-onny
A-a-ni-ie Lauriee, I-i-d lay-ay me deawn, an d-ee." Eh, lads,
that's best song i' o'th' world, bar noan."
"Goo on; sing it for us, Joe! Sing it through, if tha
knows it. Order, chaps."
"Ne'er mind it; let Billy here sing us "Bubbles"; that's a
"Oh, that's owd, mon. 'Bubbles' has brasted lung sin.
Give us 'The Long, Long Trail,' that's a good un."
"Nawe; it's too lung. Sing us 'Annie Laurie,' Joe, goo
on, brast off."
"A'wll gi yo' th' second verse:
"Her brow is like the snowdrift, '
Her neck is like the swan,
And her face "
"Here, hawf a minute," broke in a cynical customer in the
corner, "I co that silly. 'Her brow is like the snow-drift.'
Whoever seed a woman wi' a brow like a snowdrift? Why it ud be
enough to starve her yure to th' deeoth. I shouldno' like a
girl o mine to ha' a brow like a snowdrift! Why, it 'ud be
rheumatic when hoo put her yed on my shoother, an "
"Sherrup, John Harry, tha doesn't understond, mon. It
meons her brow was nice an' white an' delicate, like a snowdrift,
tha knows. Th' poet were nobbut speykin' figuratively like."
"Well, then, why couldn't he say her brow was like a pound o'
flour, or a bucket o' whitewash? I co it bad simile.
"Sherrup an' let him get forrad wi' his song, 'her brow were
like a snowdrift,' owt abeawt thee. Thart enough to mak' her
blush wi' shame for thi."
"Blush, eh?" repeated ]ohn Harry. "Why, a wornan wi' a
brow like a snowdrift darn't blush: There'd be a gradely fizzle, if
her warm blushes coom i' contact wi' her snowdrifty brow. Why;
there'd be an explosion big enough to knock her face off, or blow
her ears round th' back of her neck. There's no reason in it I
tell thi. Then 'her neck was like the swan.' Hoo had a
neck had that lass, shuzheaw. A neck like a swan would stick
too far through her jumper to look nice. Look what a lung neck
a swan has, mon. Why a woman like that 'ud be able to lace her
shoon wi' her teeth. An hoo'd need no step-ladder to see what
time it were. Hoo'd be able to look through th' fanleet to
watch folks go to th' church of a Sunday. If her neck were
like swan ―――."
"Sherrup tha awkert beggar. It's nobbut a song.
He doesno meeon her neck was really an' truly like a swan ―――."
"Weah, what did he say it for then? I think these
writers are ――."
The rest was drowned by a robust, red-faced man in the corner
bursting forth with a double forte basso profundo, with the old
A starry night for a ramble
Through the fleawery dell;
Through the beesh an' bramble,
Kiss, but never tell.
They agreed that was a good song, but that the present singer
wasn't good enough to give it as good a rendering as "Owd Pee," a
deceased member of their corner, was wont to do.
"What han yo' to sing, George?" This to an old man who
sat dozing by the fire. He stretched himself up a bit, then
"Eh, lads, yo' known nowt; yo' known nowt. We could
sing when I were a lot younger; an gradely songs, too, some stingo
in 'em. Eh, dear, I've forgetten 'em o. Aye, I've
forgetten 'em o. Yigh! I know one, nobbut one." He
Butchers' lads are bonny, bonnylads,
Eawr butchers' lads are bonny,
They'll weigh up beef an' chet like a thief,
An' that's as good as ony.
"Go-lad, owd George; encore, encore. By gum, lads,
that's rich, 'they'll weigh up beef, an' chet like a thief.'
Ha, ha, ha, ha."
It was some joke really. The only dissentient voice
came from the local butcher, who roared:
"I co that an insult: It's noan true. I'll mak' him
apologise, or ――."
"Sherrup, mon, it's nobbut a song. He doesno' meon nowt
wrung, dun yo' George?"
"Not him. That song were written scores o' years sin,
when some butchers did do as he says. He doesno' meon modern
butchers, does he heck."
"Not him, butchers o' to-day are o gradely gentlemen, any o
reet; just yo' axe 'em. Order; order; I'll tell yo' what's a
good song: 'Glorious Devon.'"
"Glorious my leg. Why conno somedy write a song abeawt
good owd Lancashire, what dun yo' say, mester?"
Then I got up to sing as follows:
They talk about their bonny shires,
And love to sing their praises;
They talk about their feathered choirs,
Their buttercups and daisies:
Their men may act like gentlemen,
Their maidens may be maidly;
But give to me old Lancashire,
The land that's always gradely.
The land that's always gradely.
Dorsetshire and Devonshire may have their eerie
Yorkshire has its moorland hills and Derbyshire its
Every shire may aye aspire to praises most sublime;
But Lancashire's the only place that's gradely all the
In Lancashire we lead the way,
We neither beg nor borrow:
And what our yeomen say to-day
The world will say to-morrow:
We're striving hard as gradely folk
To elevate our shire:
And those who say we end in smoke,
Have never felt our fire.
Have never felt our fire.
We've lots of jokes, and gradely tales;
We've lots of smiling faces;
We also have our hills and dales,
And scores of pratty places:
Our gradely beauty, fair and grand,
There's nought on earth surpasses,
We envy no one in the land,
While we've our bonny lasses.
While we've our bonny lasses.
"Champion, champion: that's a gradely song, one of eawr own.
Han yo' getten music to that, owd mon?
"Not yet," I told them, "but later, some kind composer might
come along and put me a gradely tune to it. Good night,
TRULY there is "nowt
funnier nor folk." Some folks wear tall hats on the seventh day, and
nine-penny caps on the remaining six. Some folks go to church for
comfort, while others stay away for a like reason. Some folks wear
low shoes to keep their feet cool, while others wear spats because
well, because they do; that's all I know about ankle cuffs. Mind
you, I haven't a word to say against spats, not knowing them to
speak to, so to speak, but I cannot refrain from uttering a few
admonishments to Billy Picker for deigning to affect I should say
wear a monocle.
A monocle is all right in its place, if the happy wearer can keep it
in its place. I have known nice gentlemen ere this wearing monocles
that have been the cynosure of all eyes, so wonderfully have they
clung to their master. No doubt it is quite easy for some faces to
become closely acquainted with them. They grow on one, so to speak. Monocles are good servants, but bad masters. They leave the "pupil"
too abruptly at times. I never could get one of the darned things to
stick; on account of my hard face p'raps. The high-brows are best
for keeping them in position.
The first time I tried to wear a one-eyed window in my face I nearly
dislocated my orbicularis muscle, and I bent my left eyebrow so
badly that I had to wear it in splints for the best part of some
time. Believe me: keeping a monocle wedged between your eyebrow and
your cheek takes a lot of doing, without the aid of wires, glue, or
any kind of face-scaffolding. A bit of stamp paper is no use,
especially when it rains or you are given to facial perspiration. Monocles are errant and useless accessories at the best. They ought
to be locked up for staring about without any visible means of
Previous to my preliminary attempts to balance one of the
contraptions in my eye, I took a small course of facial gymnastics
to loosen, and otherwise strengthen, the muscles in my left optical
neighbourhood. I stood before a mirror three hours a day
wagging my cheek and eyebrow making enough crows-feet and wrinkles
to fill a map of the Wigan Archipelago. I massaged, contorted,
and wriggled my face about so much that the neighbours began to tell
each other I had the St. Vitus dance. Then it wouldn't stick
in. I tried auto-suggestion a la M. Coue, but it didn't have
any. I stuck the thing under my eyebrow and pucker up my cheek
all the while, and more than thirty times saying "It's sticking in;
it's sticking in; its sticking in," etc.
It wasn't. It was dropping out. I tried fixing it
in with seccotine one day, and no doubt it would have remain there
all that day had I not, in walking down the street got a great
shocking surprise. In a cottage window staring me in the face
was the announcement, "This House to Let." My face
fell, my eyebrows raised, and the monocle came jingling to the
ground, taking with it sundry bits of skin and flesh from the
neighbourhood of my left eye. It was no use; I was no born
monocle-holder. I gave up the idea, and the monocle, to a
nutty acquaintance of mine, in exchange for a pair of black socks.
I should have liked to have worn that monocle; it seemed to
suit me. I have what one may call a monocle face; aristocratic
face so to speak. Not that I have one eye more defective in
vision than the other, but it gave me such an air ofofwell, what
you may call it, you know. It is a strange thing to me that
none but the elite of life suffer from this one-eyed defect.
You never see poor or humbly dressed fellows wearing eye-glasses or
Hence my surprise and amusement when I met Billy Picker the
other morning, with one of these single aids to good vision stuck in
his left eye. The sight was really incongruously unique, for
you know, Billy is only a common sort of weaver chap. The
sight was laughable in the extreme. Fancy seeing a
roughly-dressed, unshorn weaver, muffler round his throat,
antiquarian pulled on one side, and day pipe in his mouth, wearing a
"What dost rekon tha'rt laughing at?" he asked as he observed
the corners of my mouth hook themselves behind my ears.
I replied, "Pardon me, Billy, but well, you know, the
window! What's the joke?"
"There's no joke kickin' abeawt as I know on; has't never sin
a weighver wi' a monocle in his 'ee before?"
"No I haven't," I replied, trying to keep myself from
bursting. "I have seen smart well-dressed people, and society
folks wearing them, but never a poor man before."
He gave a humorously cynical smile and said, "Tha hasn't?
Then, that's the joke. I've as mich reet to wear a one-eyed
pair o' spects as onybody else if I'll pay for it, haven't I?
I'm jolly glad I've nobbut one 'ee 'at's neer-seeted. Tha con
laugh, but I'm bown to stick to it if I con. It taks a bit
o' howdin' in I'll tell thi; especially in these excitin' times.
There's so mony eye-openers knockin' abeawt 'at I've a job to keep
it in. If I see owt funny I laugh, an it's sure to drop eawt.
I welly leet it fo' when I seed thee comin'. I con howd it in
best when I'm proper vexed like, or in a rage, an' as I'm nearly
allus vexed at one thing an' another, I keep it in verry weel.
Does it suit me?" And he cocked his head on one side and
teapotted his arm as if about to make a speech on the window-tax.
On asking his reason for wearing such an incongruous piece of
apparel with his workaday attire he replied humorously, "Well, an'
why shouldn't I? I connot afford a gradely pair o' specs; I'm
nobbut workin' hawf-time, so I'm nobbut havin' hawf-glasses, an it
suits me better nor some folks, as I'm nobbut near seeted i' one 'ee.
An' another thing," he pursued, "These are democratic days wi' a
vengeance. If th' upper ten con sport monocles, why shouldno'
we? Eh, mon, it maks a felley feel a different chap wi' one o'
these in his 'ee. It's so elevatin'. Why, a gill o'
bitter looks like a quart, an' an ounce o' bacco favvers a say-sarpent
wi' a jockey on its back. It's an outward an' visible sign of
inward an' intellectual respectability is a monocle. I weesh
I'd worn one when I were a lad. Then that plate o' smo-'porridge
I used to have 'ud ha' looked like a seven-course dinner. I
used to think a monocle were simply o' my eye. But howd thi
hushed; it's made a mon o' me. Why, a little hawpenny tart
looks like a bumpin' 'tato-pie, when I view it through this window
in my 'ee. When I fix it on a weighver in her simple clogs an'
shawl, hoo looks like a gradely marchioness bi th' mass. An'
th' cottage 'at I live in looks just like a marble hall, when I see
it through this little piece o' glass. Why, sin I geet this
monocle I'm londed, there's no deawt. They seem to think I'm
better off nor some. An th' way they bow an' scrape to me
whenever I goo eawt! I met ha' bowt a factory, bi gum! A
monocle's far better nor a common pair of specs. It's won th'
heart o' mony a simple lass. An talk a'beawt attraction!
Yo' should see 'em breyk their necks to see Lord Billy Pickens bit
o' glass. It's marvellous heaw one o' these improves yor
shinin' hour. It magnifies yor wages an' yor ale. Why,
hawf a pound o' sausage neaw looks like a sack o' flour; an' a
single penny herrin' seems a whale. An' when I look at th'
misses, why hoo looks just like a queen. An' neaw hoo never
says I look a goat. Why, th' butter 'at we're eytin' doesno'
favver margarine. An' a bloomin' gasbill's like a ten pound
note. I weesh I'd had it sooner, for I think it's quite 'au
fait.' It fairly elevates a chap shuzheaw. I dunno'
think tha'd find me kissin' shuttles every day. I'd ha' bin a
bloomin' manager bi neaw. So just thee stop thi laughin', for
I'm serious, dost ta see? An if tha wants to feel a gradely
mon, thee goo an' beigh a monocle an shove it in thi 'ee: an' get a
bit o' notice while tha con. Life's o' reet if tha looks at it
through a glass; it o' depends on th' point o' view. Good
mornin', an never judge a chap wi' his windows, they're noan allus
dirty becose tha conno see through 'em."
Verily, there's nowt funnier nor folk.
HE sat opposite
me in the third-class compartment bound for Nearport-on-the-Cheep.
Though his homespun demeanour and sartorial plainness told he was
but a common factory worker from Lancashire, he looked as joyous and
complacent as a newly rich man travelling luxurious First in a
voyage round the world. In spite of the fact that he had with
him a sickly, nervy wife, half-a-dozen romping inquisitive children
of both sexes, and a hefty boil on his neck, he looked as content as
a king and as happy as a sandboy. He was one of those rare
beings who bless God, drink hearty and trust the Government.
It was plain to see that the Bolshevik movement had neither soured
his heart nor grazed his funny-bone. I was as pleased to
converse with him as he was delighted to call me "owd mon."
Were every working man as content as he they wouldn't raise my very
mildest invective were they to call me Methuselah.
"You're going to have nice weather for your holidays," I
"I hope so, owd mon. It's bin weet enough o latetly
wheer I come from, but I knew it 'ud be fine when we went off.
It allus is, owd mon."
He smilingly rubbed his twist and resumed: "It'll do th' wife
a bit o' good. Hoo's a bit run down, an a change is what hoo
wants. An th' childer Jimmy, sit thee down an' let that
strap alone. Come away fro' that window. Tha'll get thi
finger fast, an then tha'll skrike.These childer plague her life
out, owd mon. They're devils, but they're bonny devils, for o
that. They're a lot o ―――"
A nudge from his wife's elbow brought him to abrupt silence,
so I ventured: "What do you think about this fabric glove
controversy, and Tariff Reform, and the cotton trade generally?"
He lit a match and smiled. "Eh; I ne'er bother my yed
about sich things, owd mon. I allus reckon to put thrust i'
thoose chaps up theer ut know moor nor me. I mind who I vote
for at election times. I think hard, make my mark, then trust
to luck. I'm a workin' chap; noan a bloomin' encyclopedia."
"Yes, yes, but human nature is strange and selfish at times,
and not always fit to be trusted. How then?"
"Shut thi een an' trust to luck. That's what I say, owd
mon. Th' game o' life is like gettin' wed. We connot
help it. Sometimes we draw a blank an sometimes we cop a bad
shillin' or a big family. I'm noan grumblin', owd mon.
We con change a bad shillin' ony time if we're cute enough, an as
for large families, they come in handy for fotching yor slippers an
puttin' mustard plasters on yer chest when yo' get owd.
Childer are o reet if they'll Neaw Bob, let eawr Willie alone or
I'll bat thi earhole as I were sayin', if we were o perfect we
shouldno' be able to put eawr jackets on. Eawr wings 'ud be i'
th' road. Nawe; it doesno do to be so good, or else th'
parsons an policemen 'ud be eawt o' wark. If poor folks had no
vices, there'd be nowt for th' reformers to do, unless its reformin'
th' House o' Lords. Let us be a bit thick yedded at times.
It's no good worryin' for if th' House o' Lords needs reforming heaw
are we gooin on? We'n o a bit o' devil in us, owd mon, an we
owt to Joe put that spade down. Tha'll be hurtin' eawr
Lizzie. As I were sayin' it's t' Wakes, owd mon, an I'm bown to
enjoy misel as far as a chap con do 'ut has his wife wi' him."
"It 'ud be a bad job for thee if I werno' comin' wi' thi,"
interjected that lady, "or tha'd get locked up before we coom back."
"Enjoyment is quite right and very necessary," I pursued,
"but don't you think it's a man's duty to study the political and
economical affairs of the nation to which he belongs?"
"Oh, aye. I yerd that tale when my feyther were a young
felly; but I fun it eawt at we con study an' barge till we're blue,
but things goo on as usual. There's allus bin a lot o' red an'
blue talk an' humbug ever sin my gronfeyther cut his first tooth.
There's cleverer folks nor me i' th' world, an' if they conno'
settle things, heaw am I gooin' on? What's the remedy?"
"It's education that's wanted," I suggested.
"Education? Why, bless my soul, there's bin enough
education i' this world to ha' made us o i' little angels.
Nawe, owd mon, it's unselfishness 'at's wanted. Yo' conno' mak'
a chap good wi' Act o' Parliament. Parliament con mak' a chap
be good when it's lookin' that's o. Why Parliament itsel'
wants watching at times. We o like what we like better nor
thoose things we don't like. We o Jammy, give o'er pinchin'
those biscuits. Ax thi mother for one if tha wants one Nawe,
we'n to o do as weel as we con, an' better if we known heaw.
Th' law's o reet, but it conno' do everything. It con shut
pubs up in a mornin', but it conno stop me fro havin' a little drop
in a bottle i' my pocket, con it? Will ta have a sup, owd mon?"
I thanked him kindly, but I didn't care for spirits so soon
in a morning. Besides, he hadn't a glass, and I don't like
drinking out of a bottle.
"I allus reckon to have a drop o' this wi' me when I goo off,
just for t' sake o' th' wife theer, but I like to test it first to
see if it hasn't gone flat." (He took another sip.) "I think it's
o reet." (Another sip.) "I'll just taste." (Another.) "Aye,
it's quite fresh, yet. I'll just have a nip missel to show
there's no ill-feelin'. Ha patience, Mary; it'll be thy turn
next if tha's luck an I dunno let my elbow slip."
He handed the bottle to his wife, who rather shame-facedly
drank a wee drappie and brightened up accordingly. Evil to
them who evil drink, but pop is goodness, I too, must have got the
holiday spirit. I resumed: "The human race is a queer
assembly, and don't you think "
"Nawe, I don't think at o at least when on my holidays.
Never mind th' human race, owd mon. What's bown to win th' big
race next week? Let's talk abeawt gradely gamblin'. We
con happen win an odd bob or two. I'm bown to let th' human
race look after itsel' for a week at least, owd mon, an if tha wants
to be exercisin' thi political exuberance while I'm away, try to
drop th' price o' beef an bacon; an if tha's ony time left, set
abeawt th' House o' Lords. I'm on my holidays."
I gave it up. But, bet on me, Lancashire's all right.