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 ELECTIN’ THE MAYOR


Aw wur just goin’ past th’ Teawn Hall last Monday afternoon, when who should aw see comin’ saunterin’ deawn th’ steps but Sammy Saxon, o’ th’ Edge Lone.  He wur lookin’ hard at th’ floor an’ didn
t see me till aw knock’d again him.

“Hello, Sammy!” aw said, “hasta lost summat?”

He stared at me a bit an’ then blurted eawt, “Aye, I have, Jammy.”

“Well, an’ whatever is it, for theau looks very sarious abeawt it?”

“Aye, an’ it is sarious, Jammy,” he said, solemnly, “an’ th’ curious thing is ’at aw’ve never missed it till neaw.”

“But what is it?” I ax’d.

“An’ opportunity,” he onsert.

“Get off wi’ thee, mon,” aw said, nudgin’ him, an’ dunnot talk foolishly.  Everybody’s had an opportunity for one thing or another, at some time or other.”

“Aye, aw’ve no deawt they have,” agreed Sammy, “but some have used theirs, an’ aw’ve lost mine.”

“Never mind, Sammy, theau’rt noane th’ only one ’at’s done that.  Aw’ve yerd mony o’ one say ’at they’ve had th’ chance o’ makin’ theirsel’s rich, but they lost it.  But what’s to do wi’ thee, neaw?  Hasta been before th’ magistrates?”

“Aye, I have, Jammy, but not th’ same as theau’rt meeonin’.  Aw’ve had ’em booath at th’ front on me, an’ at th’ back on me, same as Tennyson said abeawt cannons.  But they’re very quiet.  Aw’ve been a watchin’ ’em elect a Chief Magistrate, mon.”

“Hasta, for sure?  Well, what next?

Aw reckon theau thinks ’at theau could ha’ managed it as weel as onybody else if they’d have ax’d thee?”

“Well, aw dar say aw could,” admitted Sammy, “judgin’ fro’ owt ’at aw seed.”

“Why, what wur it like ?” I inquired.

“Well, aw’ll tell thee, Jammy, bein’ as it’s thee.  When aw went in aw thowt ’at awd getten into th’ wrung reawm, for it looked as if it wur set eawt for a tayparty wheer th’ folks wur rationed eawt, one part for dinin’ an’ th’ other part for watchin’.  There wurnot reawm enoof for ’em o to sit at th’ tables.  Aw thowt there’d be sich a rush when they browt th’ tay things in.  There wur a chap playin’ a piano on th’ platform, an’ aw thowt he played it very nicely, but nob’dy seemed to tak mich notice. Aw dar say they wur o wonderin’ whether there’d be ony reawm left for ’em at th’ tables.

“In neaw there wur a bit of a commotion an’ some chaps coom in an’ sit ’em deawn at th’ tables, altho’ they hadn’t lined up for their tum.  Nob’dy said owt, heawever, an’ aw never cheep’d.  They soon filled th’ tables an’ waited for their rations.  But they never coom.  Then a felley coom in wearin’ a fur-lined cloak wi’ brass buttons on, an’ wi’ a big brass chain reawnd his neck ’at carried summat like a fancy ’larum clock at th’ end on it.  When he coom in o th’ folks stood up, an’ aw thowt he wur beawnt t’ give eawt th’ usual verse before they browt th’ tommy an’ th’ tay urns in.  But it wur a false alarm.  He coed of a chap wi’ a grey curly yed to read summat off a papper, an’ when he’d done he coed of another who hadn’t a grey, or curly yed, to read another papper.

“I ax’d a chap ’at sit next to me heaw soon they wur bringin’ th’ pots an’ knives an’ forks in, an’ he said at awd come’n to th’ wrung place.  They wur electin’ th’ Mayor theer, an’ not feedin’ him.  Aw fun it eawt then what a foo’ awd been makin’ o’ mysel’, but aw said nowt.  Aw sit an’ hearken’t as though awd known o abeawt it o th’ time.  Aw yerd him tell what a grand felley this new Mayor wur.  He’d never done owt wrung in his life, nobbut once, an’ that wur when he happen’t to get born i’ Yeywood i’stid of i’ Owdham.  Everybody seem’d to agree wi’ this, an’ it prompted one or two others to get up an’ say what they knew abeawt him.

“Of course they didn’t let th’ new Mayor yer o these tales ’at they towd abeawt him, or there met ha’ been trouble; but when they fotched him in they towd him heaw nice everybody had been, an’ heaw they o wanted him to tak’ th’ Mayor’s job on.  So he said if that wur so he’d try to oblige ’em.  Wi’ that they made no moore ado but strip th’ owd Mayor of his fur-lined cloak an’ chain, an’ put ’em on the  new Mayor.  An’ th’ retirin’ Mayoress pood her pratty chain off her neck an’ donn’d it on th’ new Mayoress’s neck, an’ everything wur sattled to th’ satisfaction of everybody.

“Then th’ new Mayor thank’d ’em for th’ honour they’d conferred on him, an’ said ’at he’d never really wanted that cloak, an’ he wur feeart ’at it wouldn’t fit him.  But they assured him that it would.  It wur made to fit onybody, lung or short, fat or slim.

“After that Councillor Tupman wur coed on to propose thanks to the retirin’ Mayor an’ Mayoress, an’ when aw yerd his name aw felt a bit startled, an’ aw look’d reawnd to see if his owd friends, Winkle an’ Snodgrass an’ good owd Pickwick wur wi’ him.  But aw wur disappointed.  They wur noane theer.  Aw could like to ha’ seen th’ owd craythurs, an’ aw dar’say they’d ha’ been welcome to moore folks nor me.

Statue of Joseph Howarth
Statue of the late Joseph Howarth

in Alexandra Park, Oldham

“Heawever, Ceawncillor Tupman did his job very weel, witheawt ’em, an’ one or two o’ th’ others back’d him up.  Aw wur only surprised, after o they’d said abeawt th’ good qualities of the retirin’ Mayor, ’at ‘they’d made up their minds to swap him.  But aw reckon ’at they have to give ’em o an opportunity, an’ it
s nobbut reet ’at they should.  That’s th’ opportunity ’at aw’ve missed, Jammy.”

Wi’ this, Sammy left me, but aw seed him again th’ day after an’ aw ax’d him if he’d getten o’er his disappointment.

“Oh! aye,” he said, “it’s o reet.  Aw towd th’ wife abeawt it when aw geet whoam, an’ hoo towd me to mak’ mysel’ comfortable an’ not bother my yed abeawt it.  Aw couldn’t forget it, heawever, an’ aw wurno’ lung before aw’re i’ th’ Teawn Hall again an’ they wur makin’ me into th’ mayor, an’ Pickwick, an’ Tupman, an’ Winkle, an’ Snodgrass wur theere, too.  A lot o’ th’ owd mayors an’ mayoresses wur theere to do honour‘ to th’ occasion.  After th’ business wur finished th’ tables wur pull’d deawn an’ th’ reawm cleared, an’ we began o’ dancin’.  An’ heaw we did dance, for sure!  Pickwick danced wi’ th’ mayoress, an’ th’ mayor danced wi’ Sam Weller’s wife.  Sam Weller danced wi’ th’ retirin’ mayoress, an’ th’ retirin’ mayor danced wi’ th’ owdest ex-mayoress ’at he could find oi’ th’ reawm.  Th’ piano player wur kept goin’, an’ aw dur say he’d ha’ been goin’ a good while lunger if eawr Em’ly hadn’t wakkent me an’ said ’at th’ baggin’ wur ready.” 
 

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