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 BEAUTIFUL OLDHAM


“Aw say, Jammy,” said Tim as he looked o’er th’ garden fence th’ other day, “what
s o this stir abeawt Beautiful Owdham?  Isn’t it fine enoof for folks neaw?”

“Aw’m feeart it isn’t, Tim,” aw replied.  “Theau sees Owdham folks are gettin’ a good deeol better off nor they wur when we wur lads, an’ as a consequence they want to show off.  It’s no use havin’ plenty o’ brass unless yo’ con show off.  But theau’s never said what they wanted doin’ at it.  Are they goin’ to have it whiteweshed, or are they goin’ to be moore stylish an’ have it painted an’ papper’t?”

“Theau thinks aw’m gammonin’, aw con see,” said Tim, “but aw’m not.  Aw con show it thee i’ th’ Owdham Chronicle.  They’ve started a society for makkin’ Owdham beautiful, an’ aw understond ’at they’re goin’ to start operations in a very short time.”

“Oh, aye!  An’ wheer are they beawn to start?  Will they begin i’ th’ middle an’ work reawnd, like a woman does wi’ her birm in a mugfull o’ fleaur, or will they start reawnd th’ edges an’ work to’ard th’ middle, like a new tangled mowin’ machine?  Aw should like to see it, Tim.  Aw’ve seen plenty o’ heauses beautified i’ my time, but aw’ve never seen a teawn beautified, unless it’s been on a special occasion same as Owdham’s Jubilee or th’ King’s Coronation.  But they’re noan goin’ to have colours up every day an’ fireworks goin’ up every neet, are they?”

“Nowe, nowe, Jammy.  Aw didn’t meeon that road.  Aw meant ’at they wur goin’ to beautify it permanently,” explained Tim.

“Oh,” aw said, “a sort of everlastin’ paint.  Eh, Tim?”

“Aw didn’t say so,” replied Tim.  “It seems to me ’at theau tak’s it as a joke, but it isn’t, Jammy.  Theau pokes fun at everlastin’ paint, but hasta never seen owt ’at’s been painted wi’ everlastin’ paint?  Look at th’ bonny blue sky above us, an’ watch thoose pratty cleauds stonnin’ like moniments again it.  Theau connot wesh th’ paint off, and theau connot mark it wi’ thy finger prints.  Theau’rt fond o’ grooin’ roses, Jammy.  Didta ever see a painted rose equal i’ colour to a garden rose, to say nowt abeawt th’ smell on it?  That’s what aw co th’ difference between heause paintin’ an’ garden paintin’.  One lasts for three or four ye’rs, th’ other lasts for ever.”

“That seawnds o very weel,” aw said, “but which sort are they goin’ to beautify Owdham wi?”

“Wi’ th’ garden paint, of course,” onswert Tim.  “They’re goin’ to encourage everybody to have a little fleawer garden, an’ thoose ’at connot have a garden, nother i’ th’ back nor th’ front, are recommended to have box gardens i’ their chamber windows.  It’s a good idea, isn’t it, Jammy?”

“Well, it’s a fleawery idea, as heaw it is,” aw said, “but whether it’ll bear ony fruit or not aw wouldn’t like to say.  Theau sees they’re very late i’ th’ fielt.  Aw reckon they’ll say ’at it’s better late nor never.  But it isn’t awlus so.  It’s no use strippin’ when th’ race is o’er, an’ there’s noane so mich advantage i’ bein’ late when th’ last tram has gone.”

“What doesta meeon, Jammy?”

“Aw meeon ’at they should have started fifty ye’rs sooner if they wanted to mak’ Owdham into a beautiful garden.  There isn’t reawm for it neaw.  As for thoose window-box gardens, aw dunnot mak’ mich on ’em, Tim.  Even if th’ wind doesn’t blow ’em down they’ll never be worth mich.  They awlus remind me o’ thoose tub-shrubberies ’at theau sees i’ th’ Market Place an’ at th’ side o’ th’ Teawn Hall.  They’re sich poor, delicate things ’at it looks a pity to keep ’em eawtside.  Aw suppose that’s why they have to keep takkin’ ’em to th’ hospital i’ th’ Park to recuperate, as they say.  Aw dunnot know, Tim, whether plants have feelin’s like brids or animals, but if they have aw think ’at it’s cruelty to starve ’em i’ tubs an’ boxes same as we do.  Theau’s yerd th’ parsons praych abeawt seed foin’ by th’ wayside or on rocks wheer there wur not mich earth, but theau never read it i’ th’ Owd Book wheer it said owt abeawt th’ seed droppin’ in a tub.”

“Then what abeawt th’ smooke?  Fleawers an’ facthry chimneys are noane very agreeable partners.  An’ hasta’ noticed heaw fast facthry chimneys are increasin’?  They’ll be moore plentiful nor daises soon.  An’ they keep comin’ n’ar to th’ Yealds Green every year.  Heaw doesta think we’st go on wi’ eawr gardens in a bit, Tim?”

“Oh, they’ll happen ha’ solv’d th’ smooke problem before then,” said Tim.

“Aw’ve seen it i’ th’ papper abeawt a patent havin’ been fun eawt to do witheawt smooke.”

“Oh, that’s an’ owd patent,” I assured him.

“Is it?” he ax’d. “Doesta know heaw it’s done?”

“Of course aw do,” aw said. “Do witheawt fires an’ yo’ll do away wi’ smooke.  That’s only gradely cure, Tim.


“Theau’rt not i’ favour of a beautiful Owdham, then?” retorted Tim.

”Oh, yigh, I am,” aw replied, “but aw want a warm hearthstone i’ th’ winter as weel as a beautiful garden i’ th’ summer.  Awd have as mony nice gardens as aw could, but as there’s so mony ‘at connot ha’ gardens ’at o aw’d try to mak’ eawr Park as attractive an’ as cheerful as possible.  Aw think it would be very nice, Tim, if some o’ these folks ’at have a pratty little Park o’ their own would alleaw it to be oppen to th’ public, say of a Sethurday an’ Sunday afternoon.  Aw’m sure th’ public would appreciate their kindness an’ would behave as Owdham folks should behave.”

“Then, Tim, if we could have a bit o’ music it would be grand.  Theaw knows what it is, Tim, to be eawt i’ th’ fields hearkenin’ th’ larks singin’ up i’ th’ air.  Aw think ’at it’s one o’ th’ grandest hymns o’ praise ’at ever aw yerd.  Neaw, theaw knows they have no larks i’ Owdham, nobbut thoose ’at are i’ cages, abeawt four inches square.  Larks dunnot sing up th’ side of a factory chimney.  But there’s bands o’ music!  Why shouldn’t they play beautiful music in eawr park o’ Sethurday an’ Sunday afternoons an’ neets?  They’ll do moore good nor lots o’ parsons’ sarmons.  Some folks may object to ’em playin’ on a Sunday an’ say ’at if onybody wants music on a Sunday they should go to Church for it.  Aw coe that selfishness, Tim, an’ th’ great parson Campbell says ‘at th’ biggest sin of the present day is selfishness.  Why shouldn’t bands play in Owdham Park on a Sunday?  They do it i’ London an’ they do it i’ Manchester.  Are brids silent on a Sunday unless they’re in a cage?”

“Sithee, Tim, aw’m ‘i’ favour o’ makin’ Owdham beautiful.  Aw’m i’ favour o’ makkin’ the lives of Owdham people beautiful.  If window gardens will put a bit o’ bloom i’ their hearts let ’em have ’em.  If a little garden will add a bit o’ pleasure to their daily toil an’ cause ’em to forget part o’ their troubles, help ’em to get it, an’ if a few strains o’ heavenly music will help people to live purer, nobler, an’ less selfish lives provide it for ’em whether it’s on a week-day or a Sunday.
 

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