THEER’ AN’ GETTIN’ THEER
“Eh, what grand music for sure,” eawr Emma Whispered to me. “Aw’m rar’en glad aw coom.”
“So am I,” aw said. “This feels like a bit o’ th’ New Religion.”
“What’s that?” hoo axed.
“We’,” aw said, “hasta never yerd on it? Th’ Owd Religion, theau knows, wur for takkin’ everybody, wilta, shalta, straight to heaven. Th’ New Religion is for bringin’ a bit of heaven into the hearts of men an’ wimen deawn below here, so’s we con be havin’ a bit to goo on wi’.”
“Aye, an’ it’s a very sensible religion, too,” hoo said, “an’ it’s a great pity ’at they didno bring it eawt sooner.”
We wur at th’ Yelds Green Owd Sing. We’d been mony a time before, but someheaw things seemed a bit different this time. Whether it wur on acceawnt o’ th’ war or not aw connot say. Happen it wur. Th’ war’s awthert a lot o’ things, hasn’t it ? Aye, an’ it’ll awther a lot moore afore its o’er, see if it doesno. It’ll be like Owd Ned o’ Bill’s when he coom whoam mad drunk. He said he’d awther things, an’ he did. He set to an’ he broke o th’ pots an’ furniture, an’ when he coom sober he had to set to work for fresh.
But, as aw wur sa-yin’, things looked a bit different. I’ th’ fust place we used to walk to Yelds Green. Eh, aye, we’ve walked theer some oft, an’ not awlus to th’ Owd Sing. But it wur th’ Owd Song after o. It wur sung ages afore aw sung it, an’ it’ll be sung ages after aw’ve gone a singin’ it somewheer else. Aye, when that song is ﬁnished there’ll be noather wars nor rumours o’ wars. Everything will be ﬁnished. Eawr Emma says hoo doesno want it to be ﬁnished yet. Hoo likes to yer it. Hoo says ’at there’s nowt sweeter.
Well, we didn’t walk o th’ road this time. We did th’ part o’ th’ journey on a tramcar. Neaw, there isn’t mich poetry or romance on a tramcar, is there? Yo’ connot warble a love song theer so weel. Aw remember once seein’ a weddin’ party in America set off on a tram-car. Thur wur a lot o’ rice an’ confetti knockin’ abeawt, an’ everybody else i’ th’ car geet a share on it, but thur wur no poetry nor romance abeawt it. Awd sooner see a country weddin’ wi’ ‘a little procession an’ lots o’ childer runnin’ abeawt an’ spreadin’ ﬂeawers for th’ bride to walk on, nor aw would a tram-car weddin’ wi’ th’ car stoppin’ at every stage, an’ lettin’ folks throw owd shoon in an’ catch someb’dy at th’ side o’ th’ yed at doesn’t belong to th’ weddin’ at o. Just fancy a weddin’ stoppin’ at every stage for fresh passengers or droppin’ some ’at didn’t seem to tak’ ony interest i’ sich like proceedin’s.
Well, it wur th’ same o’ Sunday, but th’ tramcar wur a great convenience to thoose ’at couldn’t get off their pins as weel as they used to do.
We walked through Chadderton Park, but that wur different too to what it used to be. It’s full o’ huts at present wheer soldiers slept ‘at wur i’ training for this war. They’re o empty neaw, an’ aw dar’say ’at lots o’ thoose ’at slept in ’em are sleepin’ their long sleep i’ th’ Dardanelles or i’ France. They’ve done their bit, but it’s a lump to’ards what some are prepared to do.
We just had a look at Chadderton Hall as we passed. Th’ owd singers had gone fro’ theer, too, an’ th’ place thereof would know ‘em no more. Aw wonder what Sir Watts Horton would ha’ thowt if he could ha’ seen visitors to th’ hall being registered through a turnstile?
We next passed through Chadderton Fowt. It looks a bonny place as yo’ approach it fro’ th’ Ho’ Farm. Eawr Emma said it would mak’ a pretty picture for a photographer, an’ it would. Aw remember it when nearly every heause had its loom-heause an’ o its inhabitants wur handloom wayvers. It hasn’t awthert mich in appearance, but o’ th’ hond-looms have done. Th’ heauses are a bit owd-fashioned, but they mak’ a nice background to th’ brook as it wanders quietly deawn th’ valley. Th’ owd wooden bridge is theer yet, but it’s noan th’ same as aw knew when aw wur a lad. It’s been rebuilt mony a time, becose sometimes when there’s been an extra ﬂood it’s been weshed away. But it o looks same as it did years an’ years ago. It wur ﬁttin’ ’at it should have an owd sing in its memory.
We walked up th’ broo to th’ Primitive Methodist Chapel, wheer th’ sing wur being held. Th’ chapel wur nearly full when we geet theer, altho’ we wur theer very soon. But yo’ han to be soon to get in. Everybody i’ th’ village goes to th’ sing, an’ nearly everybody i’ th’ village is a singer. It wur grand to see owd wimen, young wimen, an’ girls i’ th’ choir. Aye, an’ owd men, young men, an’ lads wur theer, too. Thur wur a band o’ ﬁddles to help ’em, an’ a piano and an organ ’at wur blown i’ th’ owd style by a lad ’at wur wipin’ th’ sweat off his face durin’ th’ sarvice just as lads did i’ th’ owden times. An’ when th’ parson coom in he wur i’ th’ owd style too, for he’d a chain reawnd his neck so’s he could be pood back if he awsed to go toofast. But he didn’t need it. He behaved hissel’ very weel, an’ he spoke very nicely. He towd us abeawt th’ owd camp meetin’s an’ abeawt owd hymns an’ hymn writers. Eawr Emma said ’at it wur grand, an’ it wur.
They said ’at he wur th’ Mayor o’ Owdham, an’ th’ Corporation had lant him to th’ Yelds Green folks for th’ occasion. Aw wur towd, on th’ quiet, ’at he wurno for goin’ unless they’d alleaw th’ Mayoress to go wi’ him. So th’ Corporation gan her leave of absence too, as they didn’t want ta have ony bother. Of course hoo had to have her chain on, so’s hoo couldn’t go too far away. Her part wur to help ’em wi’ th’ singin’, an’ they sang like a lark wi’ havin’ th’ Mayoress o’ Owdham to encourage ’em. Yo’ should ha’ yerd ’em sing th’ Hallelujah Chorus. Eh, heaw they o did work, for sure. It took th’ conductor o his time to keep ’em level. Th’ singers wur tryin’ to keep up wi’ th’ ﬁddlers an’ th’ ﬁddlers wur tryin’ to keep up wi’ th’ singers. Th’ pianist an’ th’ organist wur runnin’ a neck an’ neck race, while th’ lad i’ th’ corner wur silently blowin’ wi’ one hont an’ wipin’ th’ sweat off his face wi’ th’ other. He did his part weel, but nob’dy seemed to notice him.
We sang another hymn an’ then a chap i’ livery coom an’ took th’ chains off th’ Mayor an’ th’ Mayoress an’ leet ’em loce. We o ﬁled eawt into th’ fresh air an’ th’ fust thing we seed wur a hondsome motor car which had com’n to fotch th’ Mayor an’ th’ Mayoress whoam.
Eawr Emma nuged me. “Doesta see that, Jammy? A new motor car at an owd sing!”
“Aye, it’s like a bit of a contrast” aw said. “But it’s quite as strange to see a motor car amung a lot o’ loom-heauses. Hond-loom wayvin’ an’ motor drivin’ dunnot seem to harmonise so weel.”
We stood watchin’ while it drove off. “Aw wouldn’t ha’ cared whether it wur th’ new style or th’ owd style if they’d ha’ ta’en me whoam in it,” hoo said.
There wur nowt for it nobbut walkin. That wur th’ owd style.