Sunday, 25 September 2011

Jennospot 35 A Job for Daniel

It's a while since Oi told yew anyfink about Dummy. Yew'd be 'ard put to it ter imagine as 'ow anybody would really want ter give 'im a proper job, but surprise, surprise, that's exac'ly wot 'appens in "Gang Spies". It turns out ter be real important too. This is 'ow Peter St John tells it, but Oi ain't goin' ter say anymore 'ere, 'cos the whole book is out on Amazon Kindle now:

"Sometimes I am happy to meet by chance, in the street, people I know: sometimes I'm not. This afternoon, I was extremely happy to encounter Dummy on the footbridge over the river.

He was coming from the direction of the railway. He was wearing a half-way respectable suit for a change, and his hair and his beard were less of a matted jungle than usual. I greeted him.

‘Hallo Daniel,’ ‘You're looking very smart and dapper today. Where are you off to in your Sunday best?’

‘Arrgh— don't 'ee make fun o' poor ol' Dan'l or 'ee'l be a-thinkin' ye ain't 'is fren' no more.’

‘Sorry Daniel. I didn’t mean it in fun. It's not often I see you dressed up so smartly.’

‘Arrgh— not since ol' Dan'l went ter the 'ospital fer 'is goitre. Heh, heh.’

‘That's right Daniel. So what's the occasion this time? Whatever it is, you're looking very chipper about it.’

‘Oi jus' come from a-talkin' with Mr Trundle at 'is 'ouse by the station. 'Im wot does the special constabulary. With 'im, an' with an army orficer all done up in khaki an' shiny leather belts. Arrgh— 'ee 'ad all them coloured ribbons across 'is chest’ too— loike 'ee'd fallen on 'is face in Harry Earthy's paint shop.’

‘What did they want Daniel? I hope you're not in trouble again.’

‘Eh, Peter lad— it weren't no trouble. They 'ad me come ter talk so's they could give me a job. Oi'm goin' ter join the army, in a manner o' speakin'.’

‘Oh Daniel— don't tell me you've joined up and that you're going away.’

‘Nay Peter lad. T'aint loikly they'd take ol' Dan'l in the proper army, what with his goitre an all. Besides, it's the young uns wot they be a-wantin'. Nay— they be a-wantin' ol' Dan'l fer the gardenin' and handyman work up at the Manor where Oi used ter work with my dad when Oi were jus' a nipper.’

‘You know the Manor then?’

‘Loike the inside o' moi shed up the allotments. Moi dad an' me, we did all them waterworks fer the fountains an' the ponds afore the Great War broke out. Arrgh— the army bloke with all them colours on 'is chest, were roight interested in that 'ee were. Said as 'ow they'd be needin' lots o' water and wanted all that sort o' thing put in order at the Manor.’

‘But what about your vegetable business, Daniel? How will you look after that and the Manor at the same time?’

Daniel put a finger alongside his nose and winked at me with his head on one side.

‘Arrgh, Peter lad— that's the best on it, see. They only wanted ol' Dan'l ter go ter the Manor three days a week. Loike that, 'ee'd 'ave toime fer the vegetables an' all.’

‘So you accepted the job.’

‘Well not at first Oi didn't. They said as 'ow they 'ad others wot they wanted ter talk to. They said as 'ow Oi 'ad ter agree ter certain conditions wot 'ad ter do with not divulgeratin' anythin' wot Oi saw or 'eard ter other people. The army bloke put a paper in front o' me an' 'ee said as 'ow, if'n  ol' Dan'l took the job, 'ee 'ad ter do wot was written on it.’

‘And could you do what was written?’

‘Heh, heh— it ain't ol' Dan'l wot needs ter be a-telling ye that 'ee can't read nor write. Aye, an' Mr Trundle be a-knowin' it an all.’

‘So what did you do?’

‘The army bloke— 'ee looked roight surprised when Oi told 'im. "You're an alphabet?” 'ee said. Well, lots o' people give all sorts o' noimes ter poor ol' Dan'l, but it were the very first toime that anyone called him an alphabet. Ol' Dan'l be a-reckonin' that by roights, 'ee be everythin' 'cept an alphabet. But the army bloke seemed roight chuffed over it. “You're the ideal candidate”, 'ee says. “You're hired”, 'ee says. An' 'ee an' Mr Trundle stood up and shook ol' Dan'l by the 'and.’

‘Let me shake your hand too, Daniel. Congratulations. When the WLA College came here, I thought that maybe, with your knowledge of vegetables, you’d get a job at The Old Vicarage. I never imagined the army would take you on at their new Rest Centre.’

‘Arrgh— wouldn't moi ol' dad be 'mazed. 'Ee were 'ead vegetable gardner up at the Manor. An now ol' Dan'l's 'ead of the 'ole bloomin' lot!’

‘When do you start Daniel?’

‘Termorrer morning, seven-thirty sharp.’

‘Goodluck Daniel. I'll be thinking of you especially tomorrow.’

"Gang Spies"  Chapter 4

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Jennospot 37 CHoo CHoo Sky Train

Oi warned yew Oi was goin' ter put it up on moi blog. So 'ere it is. ready or not. 'Ave yew ever 'ad a ride on one o' them little trains wot goes up an' down a mountain on clickety cogs? Peter St John's lucky 'cos 'ee lives near the mountains where they've got them sorta trains. Well wot Oi want ter say is, that even if'n yew ain't never been on a mountain train, it don't matter all that much, 'cos if'n yew open yer mind ter snowy peaks all around, an now read Peter's poem, loike wot 'ees goin' ter do on Saturday evenin', yew can feel a bit o' wot it's loike. 'Old on tight, 'ere we go:

CHoo-CHoo Sky Train

Chuffing upward from the plain

Skyward climbs the charm-like train;

Pinion tic tac on the rack.

Watch-like, clock-like, mounts the track;

Mountain goat with iron wheels;

Rounding bends with squeaks and squeals;

Tunnelling the buttress through:

Just another cheese to chew.

The valley seems a toy-town place

Seen from heaven's peer-down space.

Droll-doll chalets, sprinkled sparse,

Spick upon the cow-cud grass.

Tie by tie, the rails astride,

Ladder up the mountain side;

Thinly-lean, a two-pronged harrow,

Swissly-clean and spindly-narrow,

Parallel they never meet

Except... up in the sky, to greet

A Gruyère moon; looming there

In the crystal Swiss-wine air.

Or at the sun, join in one,

Fusing from a switchback run

On an undulating way.

Pop-stop eardrums feel the rise;

We ride together to the skies.

No more trees; they're left behind...

High, the wind is too unkind.

Squeezing on a freezing bridge;

Ease along a heart-stop ridge;

Where peaks in this vicinity

Point us to infinity.

Down below all nods and plods:

At Heaven's portal we are gods.

And god-like, one would higher go;

Higher than the peaks and snow.

But... down one must towards the dust,

In wonder-lusting train unjust.

Entrusting Hope to justify

The return ticket from the sky.

The single strand now splits in two;

Divides One into me and you.

Down we rumble, charnel bundle...

Mindful as we earthwards trundle

Of rapture; but euphoria fails...

Fading on descending rails.

Below the air is thick.

From "Offshoots 11" published by the Geneva Writers' Group

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Jennospot 36 New Asphalt

"Gang Spies 'as jus' come out on Amazon Kindle, so terday Oi'm goin' ter give yew a little bit from that cockeyed story.  Yew know all them wartime posters wot they put up warnin' everybody about spies? They've got slogans on 'em loike "careless talk costs lives" or "walls 'ave ears". An' then there's that Tommy Handley show on the wireless called ITMA, wot 'as Funf the spy. Well we reckoned as 'ow there was a whole nest o' spies in Widdlin'ton; so we set out ter troi ter catch 'em. Only it din't turn out exac'ly as 'ow we expected. Cripes, it were excitin' though, even if'n it did start sorta ordin'ry loike, wiv a cart race:

"I went down the garden to fetch my cart Lightning from under the shed.

As I started back towards Roy's house, I spotted Brian coming towards me. ‘What's up Peter?’ he asked.

‘They've finished the asphalt, down as far as the Avenue,’ I said. ‘I'm going up to the Layers with Roy to see what they've done.’

Roy came out of his gate towing Sprinter. ‘We're taking our carts to race back down. Want to join in?’

‘Great,’ said Brian. ‘I'll go and get Larkspur.’

Five minutes later we were trudging up Layers Lane towing our carts.

‘Let's call on Dismal,’ I proposed. ‘See if he can come out with his Droopy.’

We didn't need to call on him. He was already leaning over his gate staring into the Lane. He glanced up as we approached, and then went back to staring at the new asphalt.

‘Crumbs— it's all black,’ he grumbled.

‘What do you expect?’ said Roy.

‘It's asphalt,’ I said.

‘D'you want pink asphalt?’ asked Brian.

‘Never mind the colour: it stinks,’ said Dismal.

‘Not for long,’ I said.

‘I could smell it all night,’ said Dismal.

‘Didn't you sleep then?’ asked Roy.

‘I could smell it in my sleep. It stinks.’

‘So do you,’ said Brian pleasantly.

‘Then I'm not the only one.’

‘Shut up you two,’ said Roy. ‘It's too early for compliments. D'you want to come out racing with your Droopy?’

‘Stupid name for a cart,’ said Brian.

‘Not as stupid as Larkspur,’ retorted Dismal.

‘Larkspur can run rings around your Droopy, any old day,’ said Brian.

‘You think?’ said Dismal.

‘I know,’ said Brian.

‘Aw shut up big-head Brian,’ said Dismal.

‘Shut up both of you,’ said Roy. ‘Are you coming out or aren't you? We can race down the Mountain Glide and then we'll see who's got the best cart.’

‘Okay,’ said Dismal. ‘Hang on a tick and I'll be with you.’

"Gang Spies"  Chapter 4