Seaside. (Prose)

A poem by John Hartley

Iverybody 'at is owt is awther just settin' off or just gettin' back throo th' spaws. Ther's nowt like th' sea breeze! But a chum o' mine says th' sea breeze is a fooil to Saltaire, but he cannot mak me believe it. Ther's nowt ever suits me as weel at Blackpool as to see a lot o' cheap trippers 'at's just com'd for a day - they mean to enjoy thersen. Yo can see that as sooin as iver th' train claps 'em daan, away they steer to have a luk at th' watter. Ther's th' fayther comes th' furst, wi' th' youngest child in his arms, an' one or two rayther bigger poolin' 'at his coit laps, an' just behund is his owd lass, puffin' and blowin' like a steam engine, her face as red as a rising sun, an' a basket ov her arm big enuff for a oyster hawker. At one corner on it yo con see a black bottle neck peepin' aat. At th' side on her walks th' owdest lass; an' isn't shoo doin' it grand for owt shoo knows! Luk what fine ribbons shoo has flyin' daan her back, an' a brass ring ov her finger, varry near big enuff to mak a dog's collar on, an' a cotton parasol 'at luks ivery bit as weel as a silk 'un; and yo con see as shoo tosses her heead first to one side an then to tother, 'at shoo defies awther yo or onybody else to tell 'at shoo's nobbut a calico wayver when shoo's at hooam. But they get aside o'th' watter at last. "Ha! what a wopper!" says one o'th' lads, as a wave comes rollin' ovver. "A'a! but that's a gurter!" says another. Then th' father an' th' mother puts th' young uns all in a row, an' tell 'em all to luk at th' sea - as if ther wor owt else to luk at i' Blackpool. But yo may see at th' owd lass isn't comfortable, for shoo keeps peepin' into her basket, an' at last shoo says, "Joa - aw believe sombdy's had ther fooit i'th' basket, for th' pasty's brusscn, an th' pot wi' th' mustard in is brockken all to bits." "Neer heed, if that's all, its noa war for being mix'd a bit; it's all to goa into one shop." As sooin as owt to ait is mentioned, th' childer's hungry in a minit-even th' lass' at's been peraidin' abaat an' couldn't fashion to stand aside ov her brothers an' sisters coss they wor soa short o' manners - draws a bit nearer th' mother's elbow. Daan they sit like a owd hen an' her chickens, an' dooant they put it aat o'th' seet? It means nowt if th' mustard an' th' pickled onions have getten on th' apple pasty or potted mait an' presarved tairts squeezed all into one - they're noan nasty nice; an' then th' bottle's passed raand: cold tea flavored wi rum, an sweetened, wol th' childer can hardly leave lawse when they've once getten hold. An' wol they're enjoyin' thersen this way, th' owd chap's blowin' his bacca, an' tak's a pool ivery nah and then at a little bottle, abaat th' size ov a prayer book, 'at he hugs in his side pocket. After this they mun have a sail i' one o'th' booats, an' in they get, tumellin' one over t'other, an' bargain wi' th' chap for a gooid haar. Th' owd chap pools his watch aat an mak's sure o'th' time when they start, an' away they goa like a burd. "Isn't it grand?" says furst one an' then another. But in a bit th' owd chap puts his pipe aat an' tak's another pool at th' little bottle, an' his wife's face grows a deeal leeter coloured, an' shoo axes him ha' long they've to goa yet? Aat comes th' watch, an' they're capt to find 'at they've nobbut been fifteen minutes, an' th' owdest lass lains ovver th' side, an' after coughin' a time or two begins to feed th' fish, an' th' little uns come to lig ther heeads o' ther mother's knees, but shoo tells 'em to sit o'th' seeat, for shoo connot bide to be bothered; then shoo tak's a fancy to luk ovver th' edge, an' ther's another meal for th' fish. Th' owd chap's detarmined to stand it aat, soa he shuts his e'en, an screws up his maath wol it's hardly as big as a thripny bit - then his watch comes aat agean, an' he sighs to find they've nobbut been one hauf ther time. Th' chaps i'th' boat see ha' matters stand, an' bring' em back as sooin as they con. Aat they get, an' th' brass is paid withaat a word; but th' owd woman shakes her heead an' says, "Niver noa moor! It's a dear doo! Sixpence a piece, an' all th' potted mait an' th' apple pasty wasted."

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