The Recruit



James Hay Stories written in the dialect of County Durham.


Monda mornin Aa comes downstairs, an me fatha wes standin in front o the fire with he's back ti't. There wes nee fire on cause it wes that het, but Aa knew what wes the matter: aye, Aa could see the brown envelope in he's hand.

"Mornin, James," he says, aall stiff an stairchy like.

"Mornin, Fatha," Aa says.

"There's a letter for yer here, from the Government."

"From the Government?" Aa tried ter mak him think Aa knew nowt about it, but Aa could feel mesel gannin reed as a beetroot.

"Yes," he says. "OHMS it says. It says yer've ter report ter South Shields, ter the Durham Light Infantry depot."

"The Durham Light Infantry, Fatha? That's in the Army, isn't it?"

"Aa think so, son. An Aa aalso think yer've gone behint my back an JOINED the Army!" He wes stairtin ter get mad now, an he's voice stairted ter get louder. "Aye," he says, "Aa think yer've joined the Army behint my back. An Aa aalso think Jimmy Bell, Ramsay Russell an Tommy Brown've joined the Army behint their fathas' backs."

"Why Aa didn't want ter tell yer, Fatha, cause Aa knew yer'd get mad."

"Too true Aa'm mad! An so are yer marras' fathas an aall. What did yer think yer were deein?"

"It's the waar, Fatha. The Jarmans's inter Belgium an they'll be comin owwer here in a few weeks if we dee nowt. But we're aall gannin owwer there ter sort them out afore the' gerra chance. Jimmy Bell's fatha says it'll be aall owwer in a month or two. We'll defnally be back for Christmas at the latest."

"Aw aye? An what dis Jimmy Bell's fatha knaa about it?"

Aa didn't knaa what ter say.

"Yer mother's brokken-hairted about it aall. She thinks yer ganna get killed."

"Aw, Fatha, divvent worry about me. Why we hev ter gan. It's our duty ter gan. Yer waddn't want people ter say us lads wes cowards, would ye?"

By lad, Aa felt aaful about it, an me mother wes bubblin aall mornin. Me an me marras got the two o'clock train inter Durham an we aall sat in the carriage an said nowt for a lang time.

"D'yer think we've myed a mistake?" says Ramsay at last.

"Why naw," says Jimmy, but Aa could see he had a greet reed mairk on he's fyece where he's fatha had landed him one. We got ter Shields an we had ter stairt our trainin. There wes nee uniforms at forst. We settled in canny, but mind it wes haird work. About fower weeks later Aa got some leave, so Aa got mesel aall titivated up - me byeuts wes like two mirrors, man! - an Aa got mesel yem. Aa waalked in the back door an me mother an fatha wes stannin.

"Ee, Jim!" says the aad woman, an comes an gives us a cuddle.

"Let's hev a look at yer, then," says me fatha. He wes stannin with he's back ter the fire an he had he's hands behint he's back. Aa stood ter attention an he looks us up an down.

"Aye," he says. "Thank God we've got a navy."


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.