James Hay Stories written in the dialect of County Durham.

Aa had this aaful gallowa caalled Spider when Aa was workin down the pit. Mind he wes a real little bugger. Neebody liked him cause he use ta kick an bite an bump yer with he’s heed when yer warn’t lookin - an sometimes when yer ware!

Anyway, there was one day Aa waalked inter the hosskeeper’s ter get Spider out an draa me whip. Neebody was allowed ter tak a gallowa without a whip, in case yer badly used them, like. In case yer hit them wi summing else, see.

Why Aa gets Spider out an puts he’s bridle on, an Aa aalways give him a couple o sugar bullets an’ an apple ter try an sweeten he’s temper. But this partickler day Aa’d fergetten the apple, an Spider was hevvin nyen on’t. He shoves he’s greet snout inter me jacket pocket an there was nee apple.

"Gan on," Aa says. "Aa’ve fergetten it. Aa’ll bring yer two termorrer."

Why the bad little bugger bares he’s teeth an deliberately taks a bite outa me showlda. By lad! It hort an aall! Why one o the deppities had left a shot stick lyin so Aa gets ahaad on’t an whacks it reet across the top of he’s leg. He squealed blue morder, an Jack Tate the hosskeeper come fleein out ter see what wes gannin on.

"What yer deein ter that gallowa?" yells Jack.

"He’s just bit me showlda," Aa says.

"Why yer shoulda cracked he’s airse wi yer whip, then. Mr Hairvey’ll hev a fit if he finds out yer’ve hit one of he’s pownies wirra shot stick."

"Aye," Aa says, "an that bloody gallowa’ll hev a fit if he bites me again, cause Aa’ll land me byeut reet up he’s breed basket!"

By, he wes a bad bugger, Spider. Mind, he could pull tubs when he put he’s mind te’it. He wes the strongest gallowa in the pit. Aa’ve seen him pull he’s aan load an another gallowa’s an aall. If ivver a gallowa brok down, or owt like that, the’ aalways sent fer me an Spider.

One day we were gannin alang the flat, an he just stopped.

"Howway, Spider!" Aa shouts. "What’s the marrer wi ye?"

But he just stood, so Aa thowt: "Reet, me lad!" So Aa gets me whip an Aa lays it across he’s airse. Nee effect. Jimmy Bell an he’s gallowa’s reet behint an here we were howldin the flat up.

"What’s the marrer, Jim?" shouts Jimmy.

"Spider winna move."

So Jimmy comes up. "Why man," he says, "he’s load’s ower hivvy. Gan on, drop the tubs off an tak him ter one side fer a rest."

Aa puts a chock in the back tub an gets down ter slacken Spider off. Next thing Aa knew, up comes he’s hint leg an catches us just above me right eye. Aa’ve still got the mairk now. Look. Aye, Jimmy had ter tak us back alang ter the shaft bottom an Aa had ter see the doctor. By, he wes a bad un, that Spider.

Not lang after that, though, Aa got rid on him. An mind, Aa felt sorry about it. Aa still divvent knaa how it happened, but we were pullin alang the flat, and he fell down, an the chain on the hairness wrapped round he’s front leg. The tubs rowled back an Aa purra chock in, but be the time Aa did that he’s foot wes cut an hingin off. Wharra mess!

Aa shouts alang fer somebody ter fetch the assistant hosskeeper, a lad caalled Mick Sams. Aa telt them what wes wrang, an ivverybody knew what wes ganna happen. Mind Aa felt sorry fer Spider, but there wes nowt Aa could dee. Aa knelt down an give him a stroke, an then Aa give him a sandwich outa me bait box, an he nuzzled inter me hand. Eeh, lad, Aa felt sorry for him.

Anyway, Mick comes alang wirra skullcap an a quarter hammer. There wes nee humane killers in them days. The skull cap had a spike in it, an yer use ta purrit on the front o the heed an belt it wirra hammer. The spike use ta gan inter the brain an kill them. Why Mick puts the cap on an belts it, an he missed! The daft bugger missed! The cap went ter one side an poked poor Spider’s eye out. Mind Aa felt sick.

"Sorry, Spider lad," says Mick.

"Howway, man, Mick," Aa says. "Hurry up an purrim outa he’s misery, steed o makkin things worse."

"Aye, we’ll try again, Jim. Howld on, Spider, lad. This’ll not tak lang."

So he puts the cap back on an finishes the job. Aye, for aall Spider wes a reet bad un, Aa still felt aaful about it. Aa wes in tears when Aa tyeuk he’s hairness back ter the hosskeeper. Aa’ve still got the shoe he kicked us in the eye with. That’s it hingin behint the back door.

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.