New Year's Parties (Prose)

A poem by John Hartley

Its net oft at aw have mich to do wi' parties. Th' fact is aw'm wed, an' young fowk dooant want me, becoss they say aw've made my markets, an' wed fowk dooant oft ax me becoss aw suppose aw dooant oft ax them. But this month last year aw did get a invite to a doo, an' aw went. Aw'st net forget in a hurry what a fidget my owd woman gate into. Shoo brushed me daan aboon a duzzen times, an' turned me raand like a rooastin jack to see ha aw luk'd, woll aw wor as mazy as a wheel heead, an' th' childer luk'd up i' my face two or three times afoor they could believe it wor me. Aw heeard awr Abram telling Betty 'at "he believed his fayther wor gooin to get kursen'd or summat." "Ho eeah! why what are they baan to call him?" shoo says. "Nay, aw dooant know, but my mother's been callin' him 'gaumless,' happen that's it."

Gaumless enuff aw thowt, an' after rubbin' my hat raand wi' a weet sponge (woll th' wife declared it wor as hansum as a Japan tea caddy), aw set off. Aw seized howd o'th' nob when aw gate to th' door, an' aw gave a gooid pawse, same as aw do at hooam, A fine young gentleman oppen'd it, an' after starin' at me for two or three minits, he said, "Walk in, sur." Aw doff'd my hat an' did soa; an' he! what a smell! "By gow, lad," aw said, "its enuff to mak my maath watter is this, ther's nowt awm fonder on nor onions, an' aw con smell ther's some cookin' - they'll be frying some liver, aw dar say. Are ta th' maister's lad?" aw axed. "Noa, sur," he said; "a'wm th' waiter." "Why tha needn't wait o' me," aw said, "aw'll luk after mysel." "Come this way, sur." he said, "aw'll introduce yo'. What name shall aw say, sur?" "Does ta think aw am not known?" aw says; "nah aw'll tell thi what it is: if tha keeps diddlin after me like tha has done sin' aw come in, as if tha thowt aw wanted to stail summat, awst just twist thi neck raand." Th' maister heeard me tawkin, an' coom to shake hands wi' me, smilin' all ovver his face delightedly. He hook'd his arm i' mine, an' walked me into a grand raam full o' ladies an' waiters (aw made 'em aat to be waiters coss they wor dressed like him 'at stood at th' door.) "This is my old friend, the Almenack maker," he said, an' they all gate up an' sat daan agean. When aw luk'd raand aw thowt, "Aw'm in for it this time," for aw could mak it aat to be nowt but a meetin' to kursen a lot o' childer', an' varry likely they wanted me to stand godfayther for 'em. Aw saw noa babbies ony-where, but then aw'd heeard fowk tell abaat th' quality havin' weet nurses for ther bairns, an' aw made it aat 'at thease must be um, on accaant o'th' way they wor dressed, for they wor all i' white, an' ther's nowt easier weshed, an' aw thowt to mysen, "Aw'll tell my owd woman to have her gaon made i' th' same pattern when shoo's ony more to suckle, for it must save a deal o' trouble, an' be for ivver better nor havin' a lot o' hooks an' eyes botherin' abaat th' child's face." But thear aw sat, an' as noabody said owt to me, aw said nowt to noabody. In a bit ivery body began pairin' off, an' th' maister says, "Come, my friend, you must take a lady to dinner," an' a reight grand young woman coom an' tuk howd o' mi arm, an' we follow'd aat i' prussesshun, like they do at a burrin. When we gate into th' next raam aw fan aat mi mistak abaat all th' chaps being waiters, for they sat daan to th' table same as th' maister an' me, soa aw thowt varry likely they wor locals, or summat i'th' missionary line. Aw niver saw as mich stuff to ait i' all my life, except in a cook shop. "Shall I pass you a little soup," said th' maister? "Noa, thank yo," aw said, "aw weshed me afoor aw coom." "Not soap, my good friend, I mean soup," he said. "Oh! broth, is it? Aw did'nt know what yo ment. Eeah, aw'll tak a soop o' broth, if yo please, an' a bit o' suet dumplin,' if yo have a bit." When aw said soa, a lot began a cough in', the same as if they'd a boan i' ther throit, an' th' maister oppened sich a shop 'at aw thowt th' top ov his heead had come off, but aw reckoned to tak noa noatice an' aw worked away wi my gapin' stick woll th' maister axed me ha aw liked my ox tail soup. "Dun yo call this ox tail soup," aw said, an' aw beld up a caah tooith ommust big enuff to mak a knife heft. Aw thowt it war a gooid joak, but noabody else seem'd to see it, an' th' mistress ordered th' waiter to tak it away instantum.

When we'd all etten woll we' wor om most brussen they browt a lot o' black bottles wi' silver necks in, an' we'd all a glass o' some sooart o' pop. By th' heart an' it wor pop too. "Dun yo mak this yoursen, mistress?" aw axed. "By gingo, this licks awr traitle drink into fits, yo mun give me th' resait, if yo have it." "This is shampane, sur," shoo said. "Aw dooant care whether it's sham or not, it's as gooid as owt o'th' sooart aw've tasted, aw'll thank you for another drop," "Help yourself, my friend," said th' maister, an aw did, aboon a bit, but ha long aw wor at it or ha monny bottles aw emptied aw niver knew, for some ha aw fell asleep, an' when aw wakken'd aw wor at hooam, an' my owd wornan wor callin aat, "Are ta baan'ta get up, yond's th' last whew."

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