Sunday, 23 September 2012

Moi Name

Jennospot 81  Moi Name

There's some people wot reckon as 'ow Jenno is a boy's name, an' they ain't all tergevver wrong, 'cos girls are usually called Jenna or Jenny. 'Corse moi name is really Jean, but not 'ardly anyone ever calls me that, 'cept my teacher at school. Even moi mum don't call me Jean 'cept when she's angry wiv me. Usually she calls me Jeanie, but when she says Jean, then Oi know Oi'm in trouble. Yew wanna know 'ow Oi got ter be called Jenno? Well Oi told Peter about one day when we 'ad started ter make moi soapbox racin' cart. Peter tells it loike this:

I decided to tackle Jenno at the milk break about the girls making carts. It wasn't difficult, as she was actually looking for me.

‘Hello,’ said Jenno. ‘Oi've got four of them mushroom bolts we need. They're about as long as moi middle finger. Will they do?’

‘That's fine. They're called coach bolts by the way.’

‘Why coach bolts? Shouldn't they be called cart bolts?’

‘I don't know why they're called coach bolts. They just are. Might as well ask why you're called Jenno when your name is Jean.’

‘Ev'ryone calls me Jenno.’

‘Is that a reason?’

‘Naw, cleverdick. It's 'cos Oi've got a cousin Jean, about moi age, wot used ter live in the same 'ouse as me. They called 'er Jeanie, and me Jenno so's we'd know who was who. So there. Why're yew called Peter, fer that matter? Oi don't see yew a-peterin' out all the toime.’

Jenno giggled.

‘It's in the Bible,’ I said.

‘Yew fink Oi'm iggerant? Peter was the guy wot said 'ee din't know Jesus when Jesus got inter trouble wiv the law. Foine sort o' friend 'ee was.’

‘He was a fisherman.’

‘So? Yew a-goin' in fer fishin'?’

‘His name means a rock.’

‘Cripes— yew'd better not go a-fallin' inter no water then.’

‘Oh, shut up Jenno. You're impossible.’

‘Yeah, an' moi name comes outta the Bible too. Peter 'ad a good friend wot was also a fisherman. 'Is name was John. An' that's where moi name Jean comes from. So sucks ter yew.’

An' that's it fer this week, wiv luv from Jenno

By the way, the story about moi name an' 'ow we built moi racin' cart, an' a whole lot of ovver good stuff, is in "Gang Loyalty": or

Monday, 17 September 2012

Moi First Cart Race

Jennospot 80 – Moi First Cart Race

Last week Oi told yew about the first lesson Oi ever 'ad in soapbox cart racin'. Terday, Oi'm goin' ter tell yew about moi very first cart race wot were between moi gang an’ that lot from Lions Avenue. It weren't moi most excitin’ race ‘cos there were ovvers later on wot were real 'eart-stoppers. Even so, it were pretty good. Peter were racing that day an' all, but oi beat 'im fair an' square 'cos 'ee come in last! The fing is, it were moi first real race ever, an' that makes it special fer me. We was racin' on the Zigzag wot is the track down inter the Mountain Glide. There's a narrer bit near the top wot makes fer some tricky manoeuvrin'.

The line-up at the start
Ev'rybody wanted ter be first inter the narrer part, so we took off at the start in a flurry of furious punting. But it was JJ, Roy an' Reenie, with their longer, stronger legs, wot got there first. Peter was close behind 'em, wiv Itchyprick an' Stinky alongside 'im. Winnie were just be'ind Peter, while Oi brought up the rear. Well, Oi were the smallest weren't Oi? Besides, it were moi first real race, so Oi were bein' sorta cautious loike.

Any'ow, we come round the first bend in the same order. Peter troid to force Itchyprick and Stinky ter the outside so as Winnie c'd come through on the inside, but they was a bit too far ahead fer this ter work.

On the next straight, wot is only moderately steep, it were only possible ter punt wiv a leg now and again to maintain speed. Winnie 'ad an advantage 'ere, 'cos 'er Blue Flash, wiv its big wheels, rolls easily over the rough places but Itchy an' Stinky saw 'er idea an' swerved from soide to soide ter stop 'er overtakin'.

As the second 'airpin came up Peter called: ‘On the inside Winnie.’ An' then 'ee reached forward an' grabbed the rear of Itchy's cart. 'Ee pulled it against 'is steerin' bar so as ter make 'em slide tergevver ter the outside of the turn. Winnie broadsided through the gap.

Peter let go of Itchy and punted hard to get ahead of 'im an' close the gap, but Oi slipped through be'ind Winnie as well.

Itchy said some words wot weren't at all perlite, an' then 'ee rammed Peter from behind wot made 'im slam inter the rocky wall on the left of the track. 'Ee spun round an' come ter a standstill. By the time 'ee got movin' again, ev'rybody else were well ahead, includin' me, but 'ee punted on towards the third hairpin even so.

JJ, Reenie an' Roy, still close tergevver at the front, rounded the bend in that order. Stinky an' Winnie were a few yards behind 'em, an' Oi were on their 'eels. Winnie troid to pass on the inside but Stinky moved ter block 'er. This left room on the outside fer me ter overtake Winnie.

Winnie's Blue Flash didn't 'ave no advantage on the flattenin' slope after the turn, so wivvout any change in the runnin', ev'rybody punted on ter the finish.

Peter's Lightning is a good cart, so 'ee gained a bit on Itchy through the final turn, but couldn't catch 'im before the line.

We all grouped, pantin', around the finish. The judges were busy wiv their calculations.

‘Result of the first race,’ announced Dismal finally. ‘JJ first with one point.’

All of us from the Mob cheered. Peter's Lotters clapped politely.

‘Second Reenie, with two points.’

This toime the Lotters cheered.

‘The others, in order of arrival are: Roy, three points; Stinky, four points; Jenno, five points; Winnifred, six points; Itchyprick, seven points.’

‘And last, but not the least of the Lot,’ continued Dismal imperturbably, ‘Peter; eight points.’

‘That gives a total of nineteen points for the Lions Avenue Lot and seventeen points for the Pepper Mill Mob. I therefore declare the Mob, winners of the first race.’

Not bad fer moi first race, don't yew fink…?

(Adapted from "Gang Rivalry" Chapter 8: )

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Soapbox Brakin'

Jennospot 79 Soapbox Brakin'


Soapbox racin' in Widdlin'ton ain't loike 'ow they do it in America. We don't usually race down a smooth road in painted lanes loike wot the Americans do; we race where we can, an' mostly zig-zaggin' on steep gravel. Our carts ain't got no brakes neither, wot means yew gotta do sharp slidin' turns ter stop. When Peter showed me 'ow ter do it wiv my new cart, wot is called "Emmeline P", we 'ad ter do it in secret at the Clay Pit, 'cos our gangs ain't supposed ter fraternise. This is 'ow it were:

Peter got ter the Clay Pit first. So 'ee sat down in 'is cart "Lightning" to fink about wot to teach me about cart racing.

We're both small; wot is a disadvantage when it comes to puntin' 'cos yew gotta 'ave long strong legs ter be good at that. On the ovver 'and, when yew're already goin' fast down'ill an' yew can't punt no more, small size gives yew less wind resistance, 'specially if'n yew hug closely ter yer cart. That way, wiv the weight kept low, yew c'n manoeuvre better wivvout turnin' over on the bends. Yew c'n slide round bends by goin' broadside and then quickly straightenin' up again. If'n yew don't straighten' up then yew c'n stop by slidin' sideways.

The gravelly track down from the Clay Pit is good fer broadsidin'. An' so while Peter was waitin' fer me ter arrive, 'ee decided ter practice.

'Ee set off at a run and leapt aboard Lightning just as Oi were a-comin' round the bend up ter where 'ee was. Well, 'ee swung Lightning inter a broadside, balancin' 'er wiv the steering bar, inter a slide terwards me.

Cripes, Oi weren't 'alf startled, an' Oi nearly jumped away as 'ee come broadside on. 'Ee stopped in a cloud of dust just a couple of feet from me.

‘If'n yew fink yew c'n scare me loike that,' Oi laughed, ‘yew c'n jus' fink again.’

‘Sorry Jenno. I didn't see you coming,’ 'Ee said.

Oi continued ter laugh.

‘O' 'corse yew did. Yew done it a-purpose.’

He got off Lightning and stood up. ‘Jenno, believe me— I didn't know you were there.’

Oi stopped laughin'.

‘Cripes— yew're serious! It were pretty good any'ow. Would yew teach me 'ow ter stop loike that?’

‘It's not difficult,’ 'ee said. ‘You just have to get a feel for the steering and how to keep your weight low and balanced from side to side as the cart turns.’ ('Ee always talks posh loike that yew know.) ‘Come on— let's go back up the track a bit. We'll start with simple turns. Find out how your new cart handles before we try anything more difficult.’

‘Emmeline P's goin' ter 'andle real good, don't yew worry.’

‘How can you be so sure? You've never ridden her.’

‘She's exac'ly loike Lightnin' fer size an' wheels an' all; so she'll 'andle jus' the same.’

‘You're probably right, Jenno, but let's make sure— we don't want any accidents.’

Any'ow, that's 'ow Oi 'ad moi first soap-box cart lesson. After that, we 'ad a race down ter the Iron Bridge wot crosses the river. But then, cripes, that's when the catastrophe 'appened! But if'n yew wanna know more about that, yew'd better read Chapter 16 o' "Gang Loyalty".