January 1, 2009

Tales From the Dales - by Dennis Chisholm

Tales from the Dales
By F.D. Chisholm

The Pentland Press Ltd (1977)
ISBN 1-85821-479-3

Weardale farm (photo Don Clegg)

Dennis Chisholm was born at Stapleton near Darlington in 1923. He was the second son of a farm worker and when his father died in 1934, he worked as a farm labourer before and during WW2. During the war he served in the Home Guard and after the war got married and with two daughters lived in Marton near Middlesborough.

Dennis’s tales of life on the farm, are a priceless historical record of all aspects of farming at that time – and especially of the people involved and their attitudes to employment and life in the Dales. He writes with the sincerity and wry humour of a true Dalesman. His Home Guard tales are hilarious – and it’s fortunate that Hitler t turned to the Russian front and didn’t cross ‘watta at Dunkirk and head for the North Riding of Yorkshire! Dennis and his mates would have had ‘im for’t breckus! Here’s some salutations he quotes to get troops movin':

  • How-ay men, get up, think of your country, there’s a war on, or doesn’t it bother you, just for once show willing!
  • Get up men, or do you want the day off to lig in bed, if you do just say and you can eft, so as you get up to milk fost!
  • You can’t mak brass wi liggin i’bed, if I were you lot, ar’d get up and man some, that’s if yoe eve owt about yer.
  • If Hitler gets here, you blokes won’t be ablt ti lig i’ bed of a morning, so mak the most of it now while I’m in charge, and think a bit about yer.

Then he has some more great philosophical quotes about making the most of each day:
  • By working faithfully eight hours a day, you may eventually get to be the boss and work twelve hours a day.
  • Give a difficult task to a lazy man, and he’ll find an easier way of doing it.
  • Things are that bad men, all I ever put by for a rainy day is a pair of dry beets, an you lot cudn’t care less.
  • When I was your age, my boots were niver cold, I could nivver lig i’ bed sa lang az you lot, I wadn’t want to anyway.
  • A wise man is ignorant of things that are not worth knowing.
  • It’s twenty past five, Broadwith’s men hve been up an hour, and you lot still liggin i’ bed.
  • By you do tak some shiftin ev a morning, you want my bed to lig on for a change.
  • If I were you lot, I’d tak me bed ti Croft’s an sleep on it there for the night, for what good you are on a morning, you won’t get up.
  • You lot want less food. Miss Hunter feeds you ower well, if you were hungry, you’d get up for breakfast, not lig i’ bed so long.
  • If a naked woman was running around outside, you lot wadn’t get up ti ev a look, so get up just for once men.
  • How-ay men, sun will soon be up, are your going to lig there till it burns your ee’s out?
  • By god men, I is bad this morning, if I live long eneeuf ar’ll likely dee, then you can call it a day farming here, you will soon be bankrupt
  • Furrows of repentance are plowed i’ youth, and sow’d wi t’ seeds o’ pleasure, but harvest ‘ez ti be reaped with a blunt sickle when yan’s back is bent and gitten past work.
  • He who does not rise early, never does a good day’s work.
  • A beggar can never be bankrupt.
  • A moneyless man goes fast through the market.
Dennis has an excellent glossary of some Dale’s dialect words.

Dennis lives at 50 Gunnergate Lane, Marton, Middlesborough, TS7-8JB

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