Wednesday, March 26, 2008
One morning mi dad wasn't around so I went looking for him. I found him in the small room next to a big old brewers barrel and I said,
"what ya' up to dad?"
"What's in the barrel?"
"ey Dad, what ya gonna do with rats?"
"Watch and you'll find out."
Just then I 'erd this squeekin' noise and loud bangin' around in the barrel. He must have been a mind-reader 'cause right when I was gonna' reach out and take the lid off of the barrel, I 'erd mi Dad say,"And don't take the lid off that barrel. Just wait and watch."
I did. I waited for ages and ages and now't appeared. I was thinking of taking lid off 'a barrel but I dare'nt. So, I left and found summat else to amuse misen with.
That night, I couldn't get them rats out of mi 'ed. Next morning, when I got up, first thing I went into barn. Mi dad was looking in barrel and when he saw mi coming he put lid back on.
"What's up in barrel, Dad?"
"Now't and keep ya nose out 'a barrel!"
"Ya must be doing summat, Dad?"
"Am doin' now't, wait and see."
The barrel was very quiet. No noise. I was gonna' sit on barrel lid but I was a bit scared so instead I grabbed the milking stool and sat there with mi elbows on mi knees and mi 'ed in mi 'ands watchin'. All of a sudden they started squeekin'. It made me jump so much I nearly fell off 'a stool. I walked around barrel to see if I could peek through any of the cracks in the barrel but they were all too narrow,
This went on for what seemed weeks to me. Everyday, I'd go and sit in front of barrel and everyday they'd squeek. One day, I was sitting in front of barrel and mi dad come into barn.
"ey Dad, there's no sqeeking comin' out a' barrel today."
"Good, that's what I've bin waitin' for."
He goes up to barrel and lifts lid up a little bit and peeks inside."
I sez to him, "Why aren't rats squeekin' any more?"
"They're all gone except one."
"Where they all gone? They couldn't 'ave gotten out a' barrel." (Just in case he thought I looked inside and they all got out 'cept one.)
"Ya' want to look inside barrel?"
"Yeh!" even though I was a bit more scared by now.
"Come over 'ear and be careful."
He lifts lid on barrel and shines 'is torch inside. I looked in barrel and it made mi jump! Mi heart was banging away. In bottom of barrel I saw this great big, fat brown rat. He was as big as mi cat 'meatmeat." He had these big black eyes that were staring at me. My heart was banging even louder now!.
"Where are all the other rats gone? How'd they get out a' barrel?"
"They didn't get out boy. That one in there ate 'em all."
"Why'd he eat 'em all?"
"Cause he was hungry. He ate the weakest ones till they were all gone."
"But why'd he do that?"
"Cause now he's tasted rat meat. He likes it and he won't go and eat me week-old chicks."
Mi dad picked up barrel then with the lid on, so I followed him into barn where all hens were. He took barrel over to corner of barn and said, "Stand back!" I watched him tip barrel over and then this big, brown rat run out a' barrel and across floor and straight for the light shining under the big barn door.
"Dad! He's runnin' away! What now?"
"He'll be back. He's a cannibal rat now. He'll come back and attack all the smaller rats in barn soon as he gets hungry."
After that I looked for him every day but I never saw him for a long time.
One day, I sez to mi dad,"eh dad maybe the cannibal rat run away for good?"
"No, he's still living around barn somewhere."
"How d'ya know he is dad?"
"Cause there's hardly any rats livin' in barn now and I haven't found any half-eaten chicks for weeks."
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
Mi sister Sandra sez to me, "My tooths sore Richard and it's loose as well, but it won't come out."
"Which one is it?"
"This one at front."
"Let me have a look"
"No, you'll hurt it."
"I promise I wont. I just want to see it."
She opened her mouth to show me and I sez, "Which one is it?" She touched the one that was loose and I saw it wiggle.
"Pull it out.", I sez
"No, it's sore."
"Don't be a big baby."
(She must have been all of 4 - 1/2 years by then)
"I'm not a big baby, I'm grown up now."
"Then let me pull it out for ya."
"How ya gonna do it?"
"I'll get mi dads' pliers, that'll get it out fast."
"All right.", she sez, timidly.
When she saw me coming with mi dads' big rusty pliers she started crying again.
"Don't be a softy! It won't hurt a bit."
That made her cry even more. It also made her jump up and down in one spot. I knew she wasn't going to agree to this game so I had to use mi head and come up with something a bit more creative and less scary.
By this time I'd made up mi mind, 'that tooth is coming out somehow!' Now another brain wave.
"I know what we'll do and it won't hurt a bit."
I went into mi mums' sewing box and got out a bobbin of black cotton and put a slip knot in one end and tied 'tuther end to kitchen door.
"Is it going to hurt?", she sez
"No, I won't feel a thing.", I sez to her.
"Alright but if it hurts, you're not doing it!"
"Look here, you look in mums big mirror and put this slip knot over your loose tooth and when you've done that, I'll tie 'tuther end to kitchen door knob."
After that part of the operation was done I said to her, "Now you stand here and I'll push door open."
She was standing there looking at the door with her eyes wide open. Fear was all over her face.
"Don't look. Close your eyes and you won't feel a thing. It'll be out before you know it."
Soon as she closed her eyes, I opened kitchen door with a 'whoosh!' She gave a yelp and started to cry. When I examined the end of mi mums' cotton I found no tooth. The cotton had snapped right in the middle.
"You hurt me! I'm going to tell our mum on you when she gets home."
"Don't be a softie. I got another brain wave coming up."
After a lot of persuasion, by reminding her of all the sweets she could buy with the tanner (a sixpence...a nickle) from the fairies, she agreed to to my next brain wave. I went into the feed bins and I found some good strong string. It was thin enough to go around the tooth and strong enough not to break. 'This time.", I thought.
I knew she wouldn't agree to another go after this one so this one had to be it.
"Come over here and sit in mi dads' chair. Now, you put this slip knot over your front tooth, alright?"
She agreed. So far so good.
"What you gonna do with the other end? You're not going to tie it to kitchen door again?"
"No I got a better idea now. I'll make Dinah sit in front of you and we'll tie 'tuther end around her neck."
"Will it hurt?"
"Not a bit and Dinah will get to help. She'll have some fun too."
I called Dinah over. Over she came, wagging her tail, always willing to please she was.
"Now Dinah, you sit down here. That's a good girl."
After she sat down with her back to mi sister, I tied 'tuther end of string around her neck. Everything was all set.
"Now, listen to me Sandra. You hang on to arms of mi dads' chair and don't let go."
"Don't hurt me Richard or I'll tell mum on you!"
"Don't worry Sandra, you won't feel a thing. Alright Dinah, you stay there and don't move till I tell you."
Dinah was a well-trained dog and she loved being part of our games. Next, I slowly walked backwards till I reached the back wall.
"Come here Dinah, look what I got you lass!"
Dinah bounds forward. I showed her a dog biscuit. She loved 'em.
'PING!' out came tooth.
"Done it!", I yells with glee and pride.
"WAHHHHHHH!", goes mi sister as blood starts to trickle down her lip. "You said it wouldn't hurt. You promised it wouldn't hurt!"
"Well, It's out now. It won't hurt anymore."
The tooth was hanging by a bit 'a skin sticking out over the bottom of her lip. It was so loose she pulled it out her 'sen. From then on she didn't need my help.
Dinah was sat right in front of me waiting for her biscuit.
When mi mum got home and saw mi sister with a gap in her bottom teeth she asked what happened. After she heard the story from mi other sister, she gave me one of her looks, muttered under her breath and said to Sandra, "Bigger bloody fool you!"
That night the fairies came to get the tooth from under her pillow in exchange for a tanner.
"Richard, Richard!" mi mum yelled.
"Don't what me! Go down field to old Mrs. Wheelers' house and get me a carton of matches.
"What!" I said in horror.
"You heard me. I'm out of matches. Go down to old ladies house and get me some matches. Here's a shilling and mind you don't lose it on the way."
"I'm not going down there to her house, she's a witch!"
"Don't be bloody daft. There's no such thing as witches."
"There is mum. I've been reading about them in history books at school. They turn little boys into toadstools and little girls into frogs!"
"You daft bugger. Sometimes I'm sorry you learned to read. You're supposed to be getting more brains, not less."
Just then mi dad adds his two penneth, "If brains were gunpowder he wouldn't have enough to blow his hat off!"
"Here's the money. Now go and do as you're told.'
There was no getting out of it now so I begrudgingly took the shilling from mi mums hand.
I wasn't fond of having two sisters. A brother would have been much better to my way of thinking. Sometimes though, they came in handy on occasions such as these. Off to find mi sisters.
"Hey Sheila." I sez. "Do you want to come for a walk?"
"Oh, not far. Just down the field to Mrs. Wheelers house."
"Don't be daft! She's a witch. She'll eat me!"
Now I wish I hadn't teased them about Mrs. Wheeler coming in the dead of night to grab them from their beds. After pleading, emotional blackmail and every other ploy I could think of, she wasn't having a bar of it.
"No, I'm scared!" was her final answer.
I set off on the most dreaded journey of my young life.
'I'll never make it. She'll put me in the big cooking pot she keeps on her stove. Then, she'll eat me all up and no one will know. No more fun and games. I know, Dinah! Dinah, at least she'll come with me.
"Come on Dinah, let's go."
Off we go. At least Dinah loves me. Down the field we go, along the wallside to the far end of field, through snicket to a row of cottages. There were three cottages in all. Mrs. Matlocks' was on one end, an empty one in middle and old Mrs. Wheelers' place was on the end. The dark end! I had only to walk along the end side of her building now. It was a narrow walkway made of flagstones with a tall black-stone wall running alongside it.
'No escape there,'I thought.'Too high.'
On 'tuther side was a muck-middin. (a muck-middin is where the farmer piles up the cow dung when he shovels out his cow sheds.) Nine or ten feet deep of cow clap. No way out there.
Creeping along the narrow pathway I sez, "Come on Dinah, stay close."
Dinah sits down on the path and looks at me. "Let's go, come on, theres now't to be scared of!"
She lays down and looks up at me. "Come on Dinah, don't be daft. She won't eat ya. She doesn't like dogs, they're too tough."
Dinah wasn't budging. She also refused to be pulled. 'This is it. I'm on mi own now.' I thought.
Around the corner of her house I creep, not hardly breathing. Mi heart was banging so loud it was deafening me. The front door was half open so I tried to sneak a look around the door jam. It was no use. There was a thick, long black curtain blocking my view. 'Only one thing left to do now.'I thought. So, I knocked on the open door very quietly, hoping she wouldn't hear me. No answer. The thought flashed across mi mind. 'Leave now while you still can!' I considered it but I knew mi mum would give me a clout, call me stupid and send me back. (I'd done that once before.) I knocked a bit louder. No answer. There was only once course of action left open. I called out to her in my most feeble voice, "Mrs. Wheeler?" No answer. I made one step forward, took a big swallow and called again, "Mrs. Wheeler?" Nothing. Maybe I'm lucky and she's gone out or better still, maybe she's dead!" I decided to make one last shout as loud as I could.
"Who is it?" The reply came.
'Oh no! She's home!' I swallowed hard, "It's me, Richard."
"Come inside." She said.
'Oh God! Please no! Now I'm really done for.'
"Come inside." came the reply again.
This time my throat was so dry I couldn't swallow at all. Slowly, I reached out to touch the curtain. It was made of thick, black velvet and smelled funny. I grabbed the side nearest the far wall and pulled it back a couple of inches. Next, I peered behind the curtain with mi left eye. To my surprise, I couldn't see a thing! It was pitch dark.
"Mrs. Wheeler?" I said, not as loud this time.
Her voice came back, "Come in Richard. I'm not feeling too well today."
I pulled the black curtain to one side and stepped through it. When I let it go it closed behind me. It was dark so I stood there for, what seemed like, hours. Not a sound. I was starting to see different shades of black now. I walked slowly forwards, my left hand tracing the old plastered wall. The smell was getting thicker now as I neared, what looked like, an open doorway with no door. When I reached the doorway it was not quite as dark and I could see into her room. At the far end was an open door leading into kitchen. The curtains were drawn across the window. this window must have looked out onto our filed. To the side of kitchen door was a huge cabinet with cups and saucers on the top shelves. In the middle of the cabinet was a shelf with a porcelain vase on it and an old radio. down below were to large cupboards. On the joining wall was a fireplace with a dull fire going and a massive big cauldron pot. Steam was coming out of the top.
Just then, a voice said,"Come in lad. What do you want?" As my head jerked around, almost off its hinges, I saw her! There she was, in a long black dress done up to the neck. She was lying on an old brass poster bed, propped up on two white-looking pillows.
"What d'ya want lad? I'm not feeling well today."
I heard this squeaky voice say, "Mi mum sent me for a carton of matches."
"Go over to that kitchen cabinet. You'll find 'em in that bottom right-hand cabinet."
Oh no! This meant I had to turn my back on her! I was frozen with fear now.
"Go on." She sez."Hurry up lad!"
I slowly turned towards the cabinet and may way over to the cupboard. Slowly, I bent towards the cupboard door. My little fist was aching from squeezing the shilling. I reached out to touch the door handle. Just then, a black cat with green eyes run out from under kitchen cabinet! I had my first heart attack, on the spot! I'd already imagined her coming towards me with the meat chopper in her hand as my back was turned.
"AHHHHHH!" I let out a yell and spun around. To my surprise, she was still laid on bed. She was smiling at me as she said, "It's only my cat Tommy. He won't hurt ya."
I turned around quickly, pulling the door open. Inside there were lots of cartons of matches. I grabbed the first box, then closed the door and spun around fast as I could.
"How's ya mum getting on?" She said.
"Good, thank you."
She must have seen my clenched fist squeezing the shilling, so she sez "Leave money on top of cupboard, lad."
I reached out and put shilling on top of cupboard. Mi hand was so sweaty the shilling was stuck to mi palm. I had to put matches under mi arm to remove shilling from mi hand.
"Run along then." She said. "I'm tired now."
I didn't need any encouragement at all, as I headed for the doorway. I hit the passage at full speed, matches in hand. Straight through the black curtain I went, not bothering to part it from the wall.
As I hit daylight, Dinah was waiting for me. "Come on Dinah, we're off!" Down the passage way, round corner, along wall and straight up our field. Neck and neck we ran, Dinah and me, crashing through our farm-house door and into front room, Dinah still barking.
"What's up with you?" mi mum sez. "Can't you ever walk? Do you have to run everywhere, even in house?"
Mum looked down at Dinah and said, "What's he been up to Dinah? More mischief as usual?" Dinah never said a word. She just wagged her tail.
When I saw mi sisters, they said, "What happened Richard?"
"Now't, I wasn't scared a bit!"
From that time on I never teased them about the Matchbox Witch again. I could always think of some't else to tease 'em with!