“Well tha's in Yorkshire now – d’tha kno’ how t’speak t’language?”
It was 1973 - the last dying days of the summer and I wouldn’t have known how to speak let alone understand half of what was going on but what I did know, was that I liked Jo.
Jo was the mother of Anna and Emma; Anna was six like me, and Emma a very grown up nine-year old. We had just moved. Dad had finally given in to Mum’s entreaties and at last we had a proper home not just a transient Army Quarter. In those days of eternal sunshine children roamed free to do as they pleased as long as they were home in time for tea.
I, of course called it supper but it was always tea in Yorkshire - never supper mind. Dinner, which I remembered as being a very grown up affair, now happened at lunch, sitting rooms were lounges or front rooms and dining rooms were unheard of!
I was blissfully confused; some forty years on as I write this, the memories crowd my mind and I am as confused now with remembering as I was then with understanding.
Suffice to say, in my roaming I found Anna and Anna found me. There was an instant bond and her betrayal eight years later still hurts. Despite everything that happened I have never had as true a friend as I had in her but I was naive and I grew up too slow.
So I return to that golden day, the end of a glorious golden day and I am with Anna and it is time for tea. I am lost and it is obvious and yet I am not scared. I suppose I was precocious and what Jo thought of me I have no idea, where she thought I came from with my Transatlantic twang and toplofty manners I do not know but I was welcomed that evening and brought into a large kitchen with brown and gold lino lozenged on the floor.
Then we turn and I am shown through a door into a sitting room of sorts and there is a dark oak dining table up abutting the pale cream anaglyptic wall. There are two chairs at either end, and two places laid for tea. The carpet is busy and everywhere is brown and I feel very comforted and comfortable. Jo laughing at my wonder takes my hand and asks where I come from gently putting the pieces together as her girls giggle and clamour to tell her before I can answer myself. They are as excited by their find as I am excited by mine.
I think she calls my Mum for I don’t remember getting home that night and I don’t remember being told off. The excitement, the joy of meeting Jo has never been marred.
How can I describe her? – She was quite simply beautiful. Junoesque my dears not like my Mum at all. Dark, tall, warm, soft with the most beautiful mane of cascading curls, like a gypsy. But Yorkshire, through and through. As they say up there she was a fine looking lass and Adrian was lucky to catch her - shame he drove her away.
Before I know it there is another place laid for me I don’t remember as such what we ate to begin with but I will never forget what we had for afters! Fruitcake and Wensleydale cheese.
I am sorry but Wallace and Grommit have nothing on me when it comes to Wensleydale!
It was then that Jo said: “Well tha's in Yorkshire now – d’tha kno’ how t’speak t’language?”
I glance at Anna, who covers her mouth to suppress her giggles and looks back at Jo.
“Dost kno’ what a lass is then?”
“Tis a girl and a Lad a boy.”
It was a riotous meal, a marvellous meal and I couldn’t tell you anything about what it tasted like, all I could say was that I had eyes for no one but Jo. In all my life no one had treated me like she did – an equal. It was a glorious secret from all grown-ups especially my parents.
“Nah then, lets see how well tha' learnin’: what does ‘Tin tin tin’ mean?”
There are more giggles from the girls and shouts of encouragement and hints and jokes and I am more baffled than before.
Jo just laughs and ruffles my hair.“Doan thee worry we’ll make a right Yurkshire lass of thee yet!”
And more than anything in the world at that moment do I want to belong, do I want to be a Yorkshire lass....