Champion !

James Hay Stories written in the dialect of County Durham.

Ivverybody knaas about the 1926 strike, but as fair as Aa'm consorned the one in 1921 wes a damned sight worse. By, yer bugger! It wes aaful, though. We had soup kitchens: fust time Aa'd ivver seen them.

The bairns suffered the worst. The union said we weren't ganna work for lower pay, but the' needn't have telt us nowt; the' wes nee bugger ganna work for less. Hell's bells! We couldn't live on what we were gettin.

Aall the men give stuff outa the gairdens an the women use ta mak soups an stews an scotch broth out of it. The local shopkeepers did weel, mind. The butchers use ta give us aall sorts o bacon bones an scrag end ter gan inter the pot. Aall the pitmen kept pigs an hens an aall sorts, so we didn't dee owwer bad really.

Aa worked like hell in the gairden an the allotment. We had the show at the club but Aa nivver put nowt in. Naw, there wes owwer much cheatin. Harry Cairns, for instance, use ta dee weel with he's vegetables. He had the biggest beetroots Aa've ivver seen, but man! look what he use ta dee.

"Jim," he says one day, "Aa'll tell yer the truth. Aa soaks them in yewrine."

"Yer dorty bugger!" Aa says. "Yewrine?"

"Aye," says Harry. "Aa soaks them in yewrine, strite out the grund closet. Aa soaks them for fotty-eyte hours an the' come up like footbaalls."

"Why Harry," Aa says, "yer nowt but a bloody cheater."

"Aye," says Harry, "but Aa wins the prizes. Mind, the yor afore last some bugger pinched them off the show bench. Aa wes stottin, but then Aa thowt: Aa hope the thievin bugger eats them."

Aye, Harry wes a character aall reet. Mind, while the strike wes on he killed three of he's pigs an give them ter the soup kitchen committee for nowt. Aye, he aalways had good pigs. Aa remember one day he had ten ter sell ter the butcher, but one o them just wouldn't get fat. Naw, it didn't matter what Harry did, he couldn't fatten the bugger up. So the day afore the butcher, Dennis Maitland, wes due ter caall, Harry says ter me, "Jim, gan down the club an get us two quarts o best beer."

So Aa tyeuk two quart jugs down ter aad Mattie Appleby's an got them filled. Aa tyeuk them back ter Harry an he got a howld o the pig's heed, oppened its mouth, an poured the bloody lot down its throat. Why the bugger wes rowlin about an belchin an fairtin. An yer knaa, by the next mornin that bloody pig wes the fattest o the lot. The butcher comes round an bowt them aall, an a couple o days later he comes round ter see Harry.

"Wes the pigs aall reet, Dennis?" says Harry.

"Aye, champion," says Dennis. "Aall except the biggest one. Yer knaa, when Aa put the knife inter it, it blew up like a balloon. Just like a bloody greet fairt, an went down ter nowt."

"Fancy that," says Harry

Ray Clark asserts his moral right to be recognised as the author of this text
Ray Clark 2000 / 2005

Stories from Paperless Writers. a new venture for amateur, unpublished writers, site by Jim Hollingsworth.