Saturday, 14 December 2013

Half-Past Five

Jennospot 111  Half-Past Five

Jus' recently a poem, wot were writ by PStJ, got mentioned on Facebook. It's a weird sort o' poem, an' it's a bit long, but it seems as 'ow some people reckon it's okay. If'n yew don't loike it there's no need ter go a-blamin' me, 'cos there ain't no accountin' fer stuff wot ovver people write. Any'ow 'ere it is:

         Half-Past Five

No time for dreams the time is now.
Eternal now that cannot change.
A frozen moment yet somehow
The sun moves on, familiar, strange.

In windy silence, tempest calm,
The trees stand still and shout their lives.
Around is light without alarm
And fearful joyfulness survives.

All sky-blue bright the dark is light
That gleams and glows in dark that grows
Subdues the form the day is night
And everything together flows

In symbiotic freedom fixed.
Together linked and yet apart
All individually mixed
Alone together, end and start.

The ploughman, on his tractor, dreams
Of half-past-five and then his beer.
The gulls wheel round and each one seems
A feasting, feathered buccaneer. 

Competing, squabbling, hovering still
While swooping in the static breeze.
They scream aloud with silent bill
And gleam between the glowing trees. 

As one they dive all aerobatic
Around the furrowing ploughman go.
A single creature singly static
So swiftly swirling and so slow. 

Then time itself takes up the theme
To tune its beat to ever now
And harmonize the ploughman's dream.
Plough on, plough on and ever plough. 

Time's furrow on the ploughman's brow
Is no more than a seagull's care
To furrow, burrow, know not how,
While time stands still on windy air. 

For time is wind and tree and bird
And ploughman dreaming of his beer
And seagull's scheming dreaming heard,
And hope and love and screeching fear. 

With screaming seagulls, gleaming trees
And dreaming ploughman in the sun.
All time stands still its vortices
Together flow and make all one. 

That battered tractor, rattling wreck–
While breaking up a ploughman's dream
And shaking up the ploughman's neck–
Is scarce a chariot supreme. 

Through integrality's one eye
Is seen the tractor's elegance.
It's like a cunning jewellery
All sparkling in its radiance. 

For each translucent element
In fine and stately motion, weaves
A linked and wondrous complement
Where each the other's dance achieves. 

Each dancing part proclaims a name
And where it came from, each one knows.
See each component part aflame;
Transforming fire on substance pose. 

So glance around no need to look
Where they from eggs the seagulls hatched.
The ploughman's life an open book
With all the details finely matched. 

Each seagull sees a squirming worm
Go worming through the teeming earth.
And teeming, scheming with the germ
Of ever-living, endless birth 

And death; in life's great library
Where every word, unchangeable,
Is fixed and evolutionary
In language clear, ineffable. 

And there beyond Andromeda
Unseen, the stars revolve and fade.
There see, celestial space joy-rider,
On time's eternal path remade. 

One finite leap to boundless space.
Where every book on every shelf
Is known to those who know the grace
The secret key to time and self. 

One transcendental ‘now’, astride
All individual competence
That brings awareness qualified
For complete being; deep, intense. 

For all is known and clear as glass.
And all revealed and nothing hid.
For all is linked, no thing can pass
A coherence so clear, limpid. 

Time flowing not yet ever there.
Time ploughing on and furrowing.
Time for a dream to be aware.
Time dreaming on a seagull's wing. 

All clocks converge, their treacly ticks
Suspend the bubbles in the beer.
It's half-past five – or is it six?
Is ‘now’ far off, or is it near?

Oi jus' thought Oi'd loike ter share it wiv yew, if'n yew've got the toime; wiv luv from Jenno.

If'n yew'd loike ter know more about PStJ (but Oi won't 'old it against yew if'n yew don't) yew could go, if'n yew want, ter:

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Makin' a Soapbox Cart

Moi soapbox cart is ready fer racin'

It ain't very difficult ter make a soap-box cart, provided yew've got a box an' some good wheels. The best kind 'ave got ball-bearings rather than ordin'ry plain bearings. Yew c'n sometimes get 'em off'n an old perambulator (Wot a lovely word! But Oi fink that in America it's wot they call a "baby carriage"). The underneath part is loke wot Molly 'as in the picture 'ere. My own cart, "Emmeline P", 'as got pram wheels too, wot come off my perambulator after my daft bruvver let it roll down the steps in front of ol' farmer Catchpole's tractor… The wheels were still okay though.

Moi cart is named after that there Mrs Emmeline Pankhurst, wot chained 'erself ter railin's an' went ter prison, an' all, so's women c'd get ter vote in England. A right great lady she were, even though she weren't very big; loike me. She's got 'er statue in a little park roight by the railin's o' Parliament 'Ouse, near that woppin' great clock wot they call Big Ben, though roightly speakin' it's the bell wot sounds the hour wot is really Big Ben. Any'ow, moi cart's called Emmeline P; loike yew c'n see in the picture 'ere, an' nat’rally, it's the fastest cart in Widdlin'ton, even if it's me wot says so.

O' corse, yew're also goin' ter need a good wooden soap-box. Yew used ter be able ter get one from the local store; they were only too glad ter be rid of 'em. It's probably a bit 'arder ter get one these days, wot wiv the war, an' crises, an' modern packagin', an' all that sorta fing. Still an' all, yew c'n always make a box out of a plank or two; in which case, it's a good idea ter use somefink a bit thinker, 'cos, when all's said an' done, them usual soap-boxes are just a bit flimsy. They don't stay tergevver so well if yer cart 'appens ter turn over; wot ain't so rare.

A real important part of the cart, the long plank wot 'olds everyfink tergevver, is wot we call the "Spine". That's gotta be real thick, three-quarters of an inch at least. If it's any thinner, it'll be all springy, loike wot them big American cars are, an' then yew c'n get kinda seasick when it bounces up an' down over the bumps. Besides, it's gotta be solid enough ter take the 'ole at the front fer the steerin' bolt. If'n it's too thin, yew'll lose the front axle the very first toime yew ride down over a curbstone. See wot Oi mean?

When Peter an me made moi Emmeline P, Oi come along wiv a tin full o' nails, only Peter said that nails weren't no good fer makin' carts. Yew 'ave ter screw 'em, or better still, bolt 'em tergevver, 'cos nails work loose pretty quick. Oi pass the tip on. Yew don' 'ave ter thank me fer it, 'cos Oi didn't know it either at the toime. The best sort o' bolts, are them wiv a little square under the ‘ead. They call 'em "coach" bolts. Yew need ter fix 'em wiv a washer under the nut, ovverwise it 'urts the wood, an' then they come loose as quick as yew c'n say Akron Hill.

If'n yew use screws ter fix the box ter the spine, then it's best ter put some glue on as well. Then it won't never come apart. The wheels, complete wiv axle, yew c'n fix underneath wiv "U" bolts. Oi reckon as 'ow Oi don't 'ave ter describe wot a "U" bolt is, 'cos it looks exactly loike wot it's called. An' words that'd be useful fer everyfink, don't yew reckon?

One last fing: If'n yew can, troi ter get a real, proper, bushed pivot bolt ter fix the steerin' bar wiv. It'll give yer cart a roight solid directional (Oi loike that word!) feel. It c'n give yew a worfwhile advantage (yeah an even better word!) in a pushed start, or in an emergency. Besides, it don't work loose, neither.

Go well. 'Appy cartin'!

Wiv love from Jenno.

P.S .If'n yew'd loike more information about 'ow ter build a cart, yew could do worse'n ter look at Chapters 10 an' 11 o' "Gang Loyalty". It ain't 'xactly a text book but there's lot's o' useful information there wot p'raps yew'll find amusin'.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013


Jennospot 109  London

'Ave yew been ter London? Oi went there one toime wiv Peter by train when the Lions Avenue Lot got up their petition.
London's a real big place, yew c'd fit the whole o' moi village o' Widdlin'ton in one corner there an' yew wouldn't even notice it. An' cripes, all them people! Oi didn't even know there was so many people in all the world like wot yew find there. There's so many people, they 'ave ter 'ave trains wot run in tunnels under the ground, so as there's enough room in the streets, an' even then there's 'ardly enough room. Some of the stations under the ground have even got places where yew c'n sleep, but that's only because o' the war. It's safer down there from the bombs, see. Peter'n me 'ad a little kip down there durin' an air-raid, but it weren't noight time. It were mostly 'cos we was a bit tired after runnin' away from ticket collectors, an' traipsin' around tryin' ter see the the King an' the Prime Minister, an' all. Wot didn't work out loike wot yew might expect.

Any'ow, we saw some anti-aircraft guns in St James' park an' a barrage ballon by Bucking'am Palace. The best was visiting Emmeline Pankhurst; at any rate seein' 'er statue, wot is roight up against the fence o' the 'Ouses o' Parliament, so it weren't a complete waste o' toime. Did yew know that Emmeline Pankhurst were quite little? Oi wouldn't never 'ave thought it until Oi saw 'er statue, 'er bein' so important an' all…

Annuvver fing we did was ter visit the famous Tower Bridge. Yew know, that's the one wot lifts up in the middle so as ships c'n go through. It were just getting' dark when we got there, wot is the favourite toime fer air-raids ter start. An' one of 'em did. There were an air-raid warden there wot sent us down under the ruined church o' All Hallows by the Tower. We met a vicar there wot 'ad the name o' "Tubby", leastways, that's wot 'ee said we should call 'im. It were only afterwards that Oi learned that 'is real name were Clayton, wot is curious, 'cos it's also the name o' the village next after Widdlin'ton. Actually, Tubby were real famous, 'though we didn't know it at the toime, cos 'ee started up an organisation ter 'elp soldiers called TocH. (Yew c'n google that if'n yew want 'cos Oi ain't a-going ter say no more about it 'ere).
We didn't get bombed that noight, even though one came pretty close. Tubby only shrugged, 'cos 'ee said that wot wiv the church bein' bombed last year, it'd be real unlucky if'n it were 'it a second toime. 'Ee weren't wrong neither…
The next day we went back ter see the Prime Minister, wot lives near a big lump o' stone in the middle o' the street called the Cenotaph, only we 'ad ter run from there 'cos the perlice were after us by this toime. An' then 'oo would o' thought it, we finished up at the BBC wiv the famous radio programme, "In Town Tonight" (Yew c'n google that an' all, if'n yew want).
An that's about all Oi c'n tell yew 'ere about London (wot ain't bad fer jus' one visit, if'n yew ask me). If'n yew'd loike some more, yew c'd do worse'n ter take a dekko at

Luv from Jenno.


Saturday, 9 November 2013


Poppy Seller

Buy a poppy, lady?
A few pennies for a poppy?
Please give, just for a poppy.
Won't someone buy a poppy?
Some pennies for a poppy?
Buy a poppy, mister?
Just a poppy sir.

Poppies grow in upturned land 
Such as dug by bombshells. And
Fed by blood and bone manure
They bloom bright red. As pure
As spikes of crimson sun
Flowers fit for everyone...
Buy a poppy, lady?

Retail poppies, up for sale.
Poppies tell a wartime tale.
Poppies peeping where none grow
Hats, and buttonholes also
Buttonholes instead of eyes.
Button-eyed, a whole world cries...
A few pennies for a poppy?

Buttons trimmed with petals red;
Lacquered holdfast to the dead.
Button up and cry inside.
Batten down and seek to hide.
Poppy fields were blooming there
In the smoking, stinking air...
Please give, just for a poppy.

Scarlet petals, blood-like stains;
Black dark pit of stamen grains;
Poppies waving in the breeze;
Poppies writhing into wreaths.
Opium for a suffering few;
Drugged with poppies. Poppies new...
Won't someone buy a poppy?

Black death; red death; poppy bright.
Only death can stop the sight;
Poppy bright evoking blood;
Poppy shining from the mud.
Hope, despair, gut-wrenching fear;
Fleas, disease, and tin-can cheer...
Some pennies for a poppy?

Pretty poppy pepper-pot,
Blood-red petals now forgot,
Shake out far your hard black seeds;
Poppy flowers are not weeds.
Some saw carnage; poppies there.
Shake my can, and show you care...
Buy a poppy mister?

Just a poppy, sir.

© Peter St John

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Guy Fawkes

Guy Fawkes


The Lions Avenue Lot were gathered on the Meadow with their carts to collect kindling for the Guy Fawkes bonfire.

Six-year-old Wikky looked up into Peter's face. ‘What's Guy Fawkes?’ she asked. ‘Is it like garden forks?’

‘Guy Fawkes was a bad man who put a bomb under Parliament in London,’ he replied. ‘He was hung for it.’

‘Did the bomb make a big bang?’

‘No. It was discovered before it could be set off.’

‘Was he a German?’

‘No, he was English.’

‘Why did he put a bomb under Parliament then? Was he Hitler's spy?’

‘No he wasn't a spy, he was a catholic.’

‘What's a catholic?’

‘Somebody who goes to a Catholic church.’

‘D'you want to blow up Parliament?’

‘Why should I want to blow up Parliament?’

‘You go to church.’

‘But it's the village church.’

‘Isn't it the same?’

‘I don't think so.’

‘Did Guy Fawkes go to church?’

‘I suppose so.’

‘But you said he was bad.’

‘What's that got to do with it?’

Wikky's face began to pucker. ‘I don't want you to go to church any more.’

‘Why not, Wikky?’

‘You're not bad. I don't want you to be hung.’

‘It's all right, Wikky. This happened a long time ago.’

‘When my mother was little?’

‘A long time before that. A long, long time even before her mother was little.’

This was too difficult for Wikky to grasp. She began to cry.

‘Never mind, Wikky,’ I said consolingly. ‘It's just a story, like the big bad wolf. Here, get into my cart and I'll pull you.’

One behind the other, we went with our carts up the slope towards the Layers.


(Adapted from "Gang Warfare" chapter 12.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Things that Go Bump in the Night

Things that Go Bump in the Night
My senses were on full alert, but there was nothing to awaken them other than the mysterious noises of the countryside, the breathy night air, and the shifting moonlit sky. No house showed the smallest glimmer of light: the occupants were either in bed or their blackout was well in place.

I reached Gables Corner without mishap. The screech of an owl startled me. Owls are a bad omen. Other than that, nothing stirred. I turned myself into a spectre of the night and glided ahead, ready to freeze or flee at the slightest alarm.

From under the railway bridge I scanned the road across the water meadows to the footbridge. Was there someone lurking in the shifting shadows of the hedge? Of course not, I reassured myself. I slid silently along to the footbridge over the river, and crouched in the uncertain shelter of the parapet. The river gurgled ominously below.

The church spire was close now. It lanced through the torn clouds and stabbed awake my unavowed apprehension. I would have to go under its fang into the funereal graveyard. I began to regret my incautious boasting to Selena and my subsequent wager. Perhaps the shades of those buried there really do slither at night from their ghastly tombs in the lurking loom of moonlight.

I tiptoed to the graveyard gate. It was nearly invisible in the sombre shadow of two huge guardian yew trees. I must pass through the inky void between them. Should I run?

I crouched by the gate, trying to still the deafening tom-tom of my heart. Every woeful wraith beneath every baleful tombstone must hear it. My hand shook as I reached for the handle.

The latch flew up with a clack to waken the dead. I trembled. I could go no further. The emptiness between the yew trees was an evil, black barrier.

God lived in the church. God was my father. He loved me. I'd be safe in there.

This frail comfort got me through the gate. I sprinted for the porch. Gravel scattered under my feet to deter the waiting wraiths. The porch engulfed me in its gloom. I clutched a pillar of the inner door and hugged it, panting. Nothing had got me. But they were waiting— just waiting—

I slipped inside and leaned against the inner door. The church was cool, and quiet, and dark, and— spooky. My heart hammered. This was my father's house; I ought to feel safe. But I didn't feel safe; not safe at all. I felt terrifyingly alone. I didn't want to stay; so please help me, God!

Exactly how I did it, I don't know. I made no specific resolution to defy the demons. I began to walk slowly and deliberately to the centre aisle and then up to the chancel. There was just enough light from the moon flickering through the windows, to see my way between the black rows of pews.

I felt my way up the three chancel steps.

The familiar choir stalls gave some slight protection from the terrors of the dark. I collapsed trembling into Selena's seat, and listened intently.

My thumping heart covered all other noise. I must find the envelope and get out of here. Fearfully, I switched on my torch and found the hymn book. There were two envelopes inside. One was marked, ‘Selena’; the other bore my name. I stuffed them into my pocket and prepared to flee.

There came a soft thump from the nave.

I switched off my torch and cowered, terrified, in my seat. My ears, like huge alert saucers, turned towards the sound. I heard a stealthy, horrifying shuffling. I became an icy block. I stopped breathing. The shuffling came closer. Something awful was coming. My heart stopped.

‘Peter?’ it whispered.

I died. It knew my name. Was it God calling me?

‘Peter?’ it whispered again. ‘B'ist thee?’

My heart restarted. I drew a deep shuddering breath as I recognised a friend. ‘Daniel?’ I murmured.

‘Aye lad— 'tis ol' Dan'l.’

‘Are you dead?’

‘Nay, Peter lad. Shine a bit o' light so's ol' Dan'l c'n see the steps.’

I switched on my torch. Daniel came up the steps, eased his bulk into the choir stalls, and sat beside me with a sigh.

‘What are you doing here, Daniel? I've never seen you in church before.’

‘Nay lad— the church bain't fer the loikes o' ol' Dan'l: all them fine folks in their fancy clothes. Better fer Dan'l when there bain't be nobody else around.’

‘You only come to church at night?’

‘Aye— at night.’

‘Aren't you afraid?’

‘Dan'l frighted? Frighted o' what, Peter lad?’

‘All those dead people in the graveyard.’

‘Dan'l bain't be frighted o' the dead. 'Ee be more frighted o' them wot's livin'. O' them wot'll turn 'im off'n the allotments an' outta 'is hut.’

‘Is that why you came to the church: to pray?’

‘Pray? Nay, Peter lad. Dan'l bain't be 'avin' the words. 'Ee don't rightly know 'ow to be a-prayin'.’

‘Why do you come to church then?’

‘Arrgh. It be roight peaceful in 'ere when there bain't be no other folks around. Ol' Dan'l c'n rake together 'is thinkin'— loike 'ee does the leaves, come autumn, afore they be burned up. An' loike when little lettuces come a-pokin' through the dirt.

‘An' there's that feller Jesus, wot they put up on the cross in the olden days. Arrgh— reckon as 'ow 'ee were worse off 'n ol' Dan'l.’

‘You think of all that, and then you feel better?’

‘Arrgh— reckon as 'ow we both be a-diggin' in the self-same patch.’

‘I reckon, Daniel.’

‘Didst come too ter rake up some leaves?’

‘Not exactly, Daniel— not exactly.’

I was tempted to tell him about the bet and the money for our project. But suppose we failed. It would be cruel to raise his hopes until we were more certain of success.

‘No need ter be a-tellin' ol' Dan'l. Heh, heh— loike my dad allus said: A seed is all secret 'till it shoots. Bain't it be so?’

‘Aye, Daniel— it be just so. Are you going home now?’

‘'Ome? Ol' Dan'l bain't roightly got no 'ome. Not now the allotments be a-goin'.’

‘Sorry, Daniel— I meant back to the lockup; or rather, your room above.’

‘Heh, heh— When Dan'l drinks a pint 'o beer, folks shake their 'eads, an' then tis one or t'other. Wicked ol' Dummy, they say. Don't faze ol' Dan'l overmuch. Then them wot shakes their 'eads when 'ee sings a bit in The Street, they comes in 'ere an' they drinks some wine an' they sings their sober 'eads off. They be good, straight an' narrer folks they be. Heh, heh— That don't faze ol' Dan'l none neither.’

‘Daniel, I need to be getting back. If my aunt finds out I'm not in bed, I'll be for the lockup too.’

‘Heh, heh— Loike ol' Dan'l said: we both be a-diggin' in the self-same patch.’

‘Yes, except you don't have an aunt to keep you on the straight and narrow.’

‘Ye bain't be wrong tha: ol' Dan'l's got the whole village agin 'im 'cept thee an' thy friends.’

‘Like Molly an' Winnifred?’

‘Aye, an' the others in thy gang.’

We moved towards the door. The church was calm and peaceful. The silver-black of the graveyard welcomed us. It was not in the least threatening. Why had I been so frightened before?

(Adapted from "Gang Petition" chapter 11.


Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Gang America

Jennospot 106  Gang America

Aw cripes, 'ee's at it again: P St J is preparin' ter write anuvver book. Well that's orroight Oi suppose, 'cos 'ee said as 'ow Oi c'd be in it, but wiv 'im it's jus' loike all them ovver boys; they say one fing an' then they go off an' do somefink quite diff'rent.

Still an' all, 'ee's made a start on a plot outline. But Oi don't know as 'ow 'ee really needs one o' them plot fings. Loike Oi always tell 'im: why not write it jus' the way it 'appens, 'cos Oi c'n always remind 'im if'n 'ee gets somefink wrong. Trouble is 'ee's real pig-'eaded when it comes ter advice, 'cos 'ee reckons as 'ow 'ee knows best; but 'ee don't never listen. 'Ee goes rushin' at ev'ryfink, but then in the finish 'ee always 'as ter ask an' then put fings roight afterwards so's it comes out true. Dunno why 'ee can't listen ter me in the first place; it'd save us all a whole lot o' work.

Any'ow, 'ee's says as 'ow 'ee's goin' ter write about the American invasion of Widdlin'ton (wot is the village where Oi live). Now don't yew go runnin' away wiv the wrong idea. Oi say it's an invasion, an' so it is, 'cos 'ere they come wiv great big aeroplanes, build an airbase, and are takin' over most ev'ryfink wot is in Widdlin'ton. All that 'as some real roistering' repercussions, Oi c'n tell yew. Only it's a friendly invasion loike (though sometimes yew wouldn't fink it) not loike the 'orrible one wot we was always expectin' from 'Itler an' 'is Nazi thugs, only it ain't 'appened yet.

Any'ow, Oi'm gettin' off the point, wot is that wiv all these American Army Air Force chaps around the place, in their super smooth uniforms, it upsets a whole lot o' apple carts, an' it upsets our soapbox cart racin' an' all. Us kids 'ave got a real ol' battle on our 'ands over it, an' the adults don't seem able ter see our point o' view, wot wiv the war an' ev'ryfink.

The only one wot seems ter be able ter see 'ow it is wiv our problem is a real noice American airman wiv an 'appy black face, only nobody 'cept us seems ter take much notice of 'im, even though 'ee 'as got a ribbon on 'is chest. 'Ee don't go up a-flyin' over Germany neither, wot also makes a diff'rence, Oi suppose.

Any'ow, PStJ is goin' ter write it all down, but it'll take a real long toime, 'ee says; so maybe the war will be over by then. Oi 'ope so, 'cos it ain't noice when yew see them shiny new bombers come back from raidin' Germany wiv big 'oles in 'em. An' lots of 'em don't never ever come back at all…

Yeah, it's sad, an' it makes yew fink real big thoughts, even when yew don't want to…

But it don't do no good ter get too upset 'cos "Gang America", is goin' ter be about a real big gang, even if'n it makes problems fer our little one. So don't worry too much; yew c'n leave the worryin' ter PStJ.

Luv from Jenno.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013


Jennospot 105  Barfrooms

'Ave yew got a barfroom?

We ain't got one neither, loike most of them wot live in Widdlin'ton village, but some of 'em 'ave got piped water so's they don't 'ave ter go ter the well no more.

We didn't never 'ave no well, 'cos our 'ouse is new compared wiv them up The Street, but then The Street is real old, loike the church, but the church is even older.

My 'ouse were built around the toime wot the railway come, 'cos they 'ad ter 'ave some place fer the people ter live wot 'ad jobs in the works up Pepper Mill Lane out towards Clayton. That were afore Oi were born o' corse, 'cos them works ain't a-workin' no more. They left some good places in the soide of the valley though, loike the Clay Pit, an' the Mountain Glide where we race our soapbox carts.

Any'ow, that ain't got nuffink ter do wiv barfrooms, 'cept when yew get a bit mucky from fallin' off yer cart. When that 'appens (or even when it don't) an' moi mum stops fussin', Oi 'ave ter 'ave a good wash all over. So Oi go outside ter fetch the big tin barf wot's 'anging on the wall by the shed an' bring it in ter the kitchen. Moi mum takes the big kettle an' several of our biggest cookin' pots; she fills 'em wiv water, an' puts 'em on the stove ter 'eat up.

When they're good an' 'ot, she calls me an' moi bruvver ter come inter the kitchen an' get undressed, only moi bruvver goes first 'cos 'ee's a year older than wot Oi am. Oi reckon as 'ow that ain't altergevver fair 'cos Oi ought ter 'ave first go sometoimes. But it ain't no good me complainin' too much, 'cos moi mum don't take no notice. Mum pours the 'ot water inter the tin barf but it's too small ter sit down in now, so we 'ave ter stand up so's she c'n soap us all over, scrub us down wiv a rough bit o' cloth, an' then rinse off the suds.

Loike Oi said, moi bruvver goes first, an' cripes, the water ain't 'alf dirty sometimes, by the toime 'ee's finished wiv it.

The best is Mondays when it's a school 'oliday, 'cos then we c'n wash in the copper laundry tub, when mum'as finished doin' the clothes, 'cos you c'n sit on the edge of the copper an' put yer feet in the water. It's noice an' warm too wiv the fire underneath an' all. It ain't no good on schooldays though, 'cos by the toime we get 'ome, mum 'as finished the laundry an' its all 'angin' on the line outside. If'n it's rainin' on a Monday, an' yew've got big stuff ter wash, loike bed sheets, well yew jus' 'ave ter wait till the wevver improves. Yew 'ave ter wait a long toime sometimes, in the winter.

Peter's lucky, 'cos 'ee lives in one o' them new posh 'ouses up Lions Avenue. Bungalows they call 'em, an' they got barfrooms wiv a geyser wot goes by gas. Must be noice ter be able ter 'ave a barf any ol' toime wot yew loike, but Peter ain't so 'appy about it. 'Ee 'as ter 'ave 'is barf on Saturday evenin' so's 'ee's all noice an' clean ter go ter church next day. The fing 'is, it's 'is aunt wot takes 'er barf a-fore 'im. She's a real stickler fer doin' things real correct, an' yew're only supposed ter 'ave three inches o' water so's we c'n win the war by savin' gas, an' that at the deep end an' all. She's got a special depth gauge 'angin' by the geyser so she c'n make sure she's obeyin' the regulation.

So Peter 'as ter take 'is barf after 'is aunt, in three inches of gray, second-'and water wot's nearly cold. Cripes, it ain't much fun.

 Winnie, wot lives in an old 'ouse up The Street, 'as got a barfroom. It were put in by 'er dad in the junk room at the top o' the stairs. That were jus' before the war, when the electricity came. The water gets 'eated by a posh electric system wot 'angs on the wall. Winnie says she takes a barf real often wiv proper perfumed soap an' not the carbolic kind. P'raps that's why she always smells so noice.

P'raps one day after the war we c'n 'ave a proper barfroom too. Maybe Peter'll 'elp me bring the geyser in…

If'n yew want ter know more about Peter an' Winnie's barfrooms, yew could read "Gang Territory", but only if'n yew've got a barfroom yerself, 'cos Oi wouldn't want ter make yew envious; wot is a sin.

Luv from Jenno.

Monday, 23 September 2013

Evacuees, Pigs and Castles

Jennospot 104  Evacuees, Pigs and Castles

 Leighton Buzzard ain't a real big place. Leastways, that's wot Peter says, 'cos Oi ain't never been there. But it ain't all that small neither, 'cos its got an animal market, an abattoir fer pigs, an' the Grand Union Canal at the bottom of the High Street. Oi know all that 'cos Peter 'as seen 'em.

Did yew know that Peter, wot come ter moi village o' Widdlin'ton in October 1940, is an evacuee? Well cripes, 'ee is, 'cos the orphanage in London where 'ee were when the war broke out, got 'it by a bomb. 'Ee don't loike much ter tell about it, but 'ee told me, 'cos the garden of 'is 'ouse backs on ter mine, down where the chickens are. That's where we talk; only don't tell nobody, 'cos it's secret, see.

After the bomb, all them kids wot were in the orphanage, 'cept fer them wot was killed or injured, lived first-off in a convent wiv some nuns. But nuns an' kids are loike coffee an' bananas; they don't mix too good tergevver. So they was soon sent off as evacuees ter different places. Peter was sent off loike a parcel, in the guard's van of a train ter Leighton Buzzard. 'Ee 'ad a label tied around 'is neck addressed ter the Billetin' Officer, an' 'ee 'ad a paper bag wiv a bun an' 'alf a bar o' chocolate. 'Ee didn't 'ave no ovver luggage ter speak of, 'cept a three-legged piggy bank wiv tuppence in it, an' a pocket knife wiv a slightly bent blade.

In the guard's van of the train were a whole lot of ovver parcels, though 'ee were the only one wot 'ad legs. Any'ow, 'ee tried ter straighten the blade of 'is knife in a crack in one the parcels, but the guard weren't too 'appy about that, an' stopped 'im. So the blade stayed bent.

There was a real lot o' confusion most ev'rywhere because of the war, an' when 'ee got ter Leighton Buzzard, nobody didn't really know wot ter do wiv 'im at first. So 'ee ate 'is bun an' chocolate, afore sleepin' the night on a bench in the station waitin' room. The next mornin', nobody still didn't come fer 'im, so 'ee broke the piggy bank an' bought a sandwich fer 'is breakfast at the station buffet.

Then the Billetin' Oficer, come fer 'im. She were a short lady, wiv a short temper. Peter reckons as 'ow she were a bit short on a few ovver fings an' all. Any'ow, she shoved 'im, temp'ry loike, in the 'ouse of a couple of real old people of about forty-five. They was all roight, but their 'ouse backed on ter the abattoir fer pigs, an' the squealin' wot went on from there were somefink terrible. From the upstairs winder, Peter could see wot was goin' on. It certainly weren't all roight. 'Ee still don't loike ter talk about it

Any'ow, the next day, the short, short lady come round fer 'im, an' off they went ter the Town Hall wot were at the top end of the market place. It were market day fer animals, an' the pens were full o' sheep, an' cows, an' pigs, an' such. Peter went over ter 'ave a look.

There were a pen wiv lots o' pigs in it. The fact is, it were so full o' pigs, that yew couldn't of got anuvver one in if'n yew tried, not even a little'un; not even wiv a shoe'orn. There was some men looking at the pigs an' a-pokin' at 'em wiv sticks. The pigs was so tight squeezed in that they couldn't move away. They jus' squealed. The men laughed. Peter were standin' there, all morose loike, by the gate of the pen, near the latch. 'Ee reckoned as 'ow 'ee could straigten the blade of 'is pocket knife by workin' it gently under the latch. So 'ee got the knife out, opened it, an' pushed it under the latch. Wot 'ee didn't expect were that the latch would spring open, an' wiv it, the gate. That's wot 'ee makes out, any'ow.

Well, them pigs didn't wait ter be asked twice, they jus rushed out o' there, like as 'ow they were were the Gadarine swine wot Jesus put all them demons into. But they didn't jump over no cliff, loike in Saint Marks Gospel, 'cos there weren't one. They jus' went rushin' down through the market towards the canal, knockin' people over, an' upsettin' the stands.

Peter didn't stay much longer in Leighton Buzzard after that. They put 'im on a train goin' ter Launceston, an' yew can't get much further away from Leighton Buzzard than that wivvout fallin' inter the Atlantic ocean. P'raps they 'oped 'ee'd go over the cliff loike them pigs in the Bible.

Peter ain't never told me wot 'ee done in Launceston; 'ee didn't jump over no cliff any'ow. 'Ee got evacuated ter Widdlinton in the finish, wot is a real long way from Launceston. Hmm, Oi ain't never thought of that before…

If'n yew want ter know more about wot 'appened then in Widdlin'ton, yew could read the "gang" books. If'n yew want, that is.

Luv from Jenno.

PS. Peter says as 'ow there's a real noice castle at Launceston up on a steep 'ill. Oi didn't say nuffink about it before 'cos it don't roightly fit inter the story. But Debbie Brown an the English History Fiction Authors 'ave got a fing about castles, an' so Oi jus' thought yew'd loike ter know…