October 19, 2008

Daft Laddies - Farming tales of North Tyne & Rede 50 years on by Clive Dalton & Don Clegg

Jack Beattie, Clive Dalton (the Daft Laddie in the group) and Ante Dagg,
Demesne Farm, Bellingham, 1953


“Ivrybody knaas that man!” Aye they did, and then you realise that so many of the folk who did indeed “knaa that” have long gone, and we former daft farm laddies are now the owld fogies we used to laugh at, mimic unmercifully and run rings aroond. It’s an awful shock to take 1950 from 2003 and see huw lang ago that waas. The 1950s are now ancient history, and we thowt aspects of farming life at that time were mebbe worth writin’ doon for posterity.

It’s great to look back on wor daft laddie days. “Daft farm laddies” were new recruits that when first employed knew nowt and regularly did daft things. If we ever had an idea or an opinion in wor heeds, then it was guaranteed te be daft in the view of the old hands on the farm. “Nee brains and big gobs” were our permanent afflictions!

But we learned a lot, and not just about the skills required to be a qualified farm worker worth his wages,- small though they seemed at the time. We also learned much about animal and human behaviour, as well as the Northumbrian tongue and vocabulary that has fast gone from the lips of present day young folk, who are unquestionably better edyecateed and far mair woorldy wise than we cud ivvor be.

But in today’s high tech world, young folk don’t want to work on the land or with livestock any more – and this is a world-wide trend of great concern to the industry, which after all fills folks’ bellies.

We hope you get a bit laff from wor scribblings, and maybe a few fond memories of past times and acquaintances in the North Tyne and Rede valleys that are so rich in Border history. If you find any omissions or errors please let us know.

Can we also make a plea - indeed beg you, that if you have any farming tales or experiences, that you contact the Bellingham Heritage Centre urgently, to discuss how to have them recorded for posterity. This, remember, is our Northumbrian history and, once it’s gone, it’s impossible to howk up from the caad clay o' the cemetery.

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