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

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