Deef !

James Hay Stories written in the dialect of County Durham.

By lad, it wes a proper waar that one! D'ye knaa there wes mair killed in one battle than the was in the whole o the Second Waar? Neebody's got nee idea what it wes like. Naw, yer had ter be there, man. Alf Barnes, yer grandmother's uncle, wes there, but he use ta get my back up, lad! When he come yem after it wes aall owwer he use ta say, "Aw, Aa wes nivver frightened. Aa got narvous sometimes, but Aa wes nivver frightened. It wes nee good bein frightened."

So one day Aa says tiv im, "Alf," Aa says, "anybody who says he wesn't frightened is either a bloody liar or he's nivver been in nee proper fightin." That shut the bugger up.

Man, Aa remember when Alf use ta come yem on leave. We use ta get leave at yem ivvery se often. Why, when it wes time fer Alf ter gan back, he use ta get he's kit an ivverything an mairch down the station. an aall the kids use ta foller yer down an shout, "Aall the best!" an, "Get stuck inter them Kaisers, mind!"

Anyway, the' would aall gan down with Alf an he wad mairch down like a bloody hero. He use ta show he's warrant an gan onter the platform, but when the train come he use ta say, "Aa'm not gannin", an tak the gee an waalk back yem. Ivvery bloody time!

Aye, an ivvery bloody time Tegger Wilson, the bobby, use ta hev ter come round an haal Alf back an put him on the train when he wes reported overdue. Aye, ivvery bloody time! An he wes the one that wasn't frightened!

Mind, he wasn't as bad as Jackie Dodds. Jackie couldn't stand the noise in France. The guns use ta drive him crackers. Why one time he come yem an he'd had enyeugh. He went ter the store butcher's an got some liver an he ate it raa. Raa liver! Hell's delight!

Anyway, he reported sick: said he wes coughin blood an bits o lung up. He kidded aad Doctor Brown, even, an he wes nee mug. So Doctor Brown sent him inter Durham ter the hospital, an he even saw a specialist. but the specialist found out what wes really the matter an sent him back ter France. The' reckon he got the worst jobs the' could find for him; give him a hell of a time.

But next time he come back he tried agyen. This time he said he wes deef. Aye, he fooled ivverybody this time: aall the doctors an aall the specialists. He wes a hell of a actor. Anyway, the' were just about aall convinced the guns had sent him deef an he went in front of an Army Board ter get discharged.

The' tried ivverything, tried ter trick him an prove he wasn't deef, but Jackie beat them aall. He didn't even show nowt when the officer said, "Well, Dodds, you're discharged as from now." The' were aall lookin ter see if he smiled or owt, he telt us later. By, the' were sly buggers, but not as sly as Jackie.

Anyway, he wes just gannin out o the room when one o the officers shouts, "Oh, close the door on your way out, Dodds!" an yer bugger! Jackie fell for it. Aall that time an he had ter faall for that reet at the last minute. Poor bugger!

Why, the' haaled him back an sent him ter the roughest part o the line. He ended up at Passchendaele. Got killed, poor lad. Yer can see he's name on the Waar Memorial.

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.