Thursday, 24 May 2007

Speaking Yorkshire

“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?”
“No”
“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....

14 comments:

bodran... said...

oh tattie you brought back memories, now i know why we have dinner and tea my yorkshire granny and grandad and 3 generations later we still use it, it drives my mates mad, when they lunch i dinner when they dinner i tea! A right smashin blog..xxx

UN PEU LOUFOQUE said...

Very very charming blog and very evocative of childhood..thanks tattie!

Inthemud said...

Lovely blog and you speak the language so well!!

Withy Brook said...

Thar't a raight great lass. I can't really write in Yorkshire though I spoke the lingo as it was right in the North, on the River Tees as a child. A lovely blog - thank you.

Pondside said...

I love your writing in this blog. Just a few words and I was in the room with the table set for two and felt your little-girl wonder. I hope you'll write more about this time of your life.

elizabethm said...

this was absolutely lovely. so glad you bunked off from your other work! more please.

Suffolkmum said...

What a great trip down memory lane. My family are from the north-east and it was always dinner for lunch and tea for dinner when I was a child, much to the amusement of my snotty London friends!
ps I am tring to persuade Mousie - though she's gone all coy - that the three of us should have a Suffolk meet-up one day in the summer (and I think Ruth F is Suffolk too?)

countrymousie said...

Tattie - have missed your wonderful writing.
Rather similar to you in lots of ways - no real real close girl friend since childhood. Let down badly and you never fully recover from that.
Loved the memories of brown everywhere. I come from a family of farmers when dinnertime is lunch, and teatime was 5.00 and not 4.00 and as far as I remember we didnt have supper - so all confusing when you grow up and move on.

countrymousie said...

Just saw Suffolkmum's comment - havent gone coy but rather pensive - dont want to ruin the illusions of what we have built up here - though I am sure it will be fine. Sometimes it is just far easier to pour out your writings to unknown bods. I expect I am being overly Suffolk, again!! Now would we meet for lunch or dinner or maybe supper perhaps!!

annakarenin said...

You remenisce very well intrigued to know what happened with Anna.

Grouse said...

This was lovely. I'm a yorkshire lass and you took me straight back there

Exmoorjane said...

Beautiful writing - loved the lozenged flooring....
Loved all of it really - reminded me of that bit at the beginning of The Secret Garden when the girl whose name escapes me first goes to Yorkshire.....
Please write more - there were hints in this of other stories, so many.....
jxx

Eden said...

Lovely memories, tattie. I could just picture it. Thanks for your kind comment and for the repeated hen offer.You are so kind.

Equus said...

My parents come from the north of England and moved down to Jersey over 40 years ago. When I started school I remember being teased for saying 'baaath' and 'paath' instead of 'barrth' and 'parrth' so I spent ages concentrating on speaking in a southern accent! Thank you for this blog.

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