Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Girls Don't Play Cricket

Jennospot 9  Girls Don’t Play Cricket

It’s nearly the end of 2010, so Oi’m goin’ ter wish all of yew wot is so kind as ter follow moi blog, a very ‘appy New Year. And then, fer no good reason at all, Oi’m goin’ ter tell yew about the time when Peter ‘n me nearly ‘ad a good ole row. It were all because Oi’d borrowed ‘is cart wivvout askin’ ‘im first. ‘Ee were roight annoyed about it:

‘Cripes, yew didn't mind did yew?’ I said when he I tackled me in the schoolyard first thing on Monday morning.
‘What do you mean, "I didn't mind"? Of course I minded. How would you like it if I took Emmeline P without asking you?’
‘Yeah— well— yew wasn't using 'er. An' could yew see me waltzing up ter yer back door to ask yer, wiv yer aunt there an all?’
‘I was going to use her to go up to
Water Mill Lane
. What did you take her for anyway? You've got Emmeline P now.’
‘Yeah, but Oi'd just painted 'er 'adn't Oi? The paint was still wet. Besides, Oi'd given moi promise.’
‘What promise?’
‘Oi promised Oi'd show Heebie Jeebie cart racin'.’
‘What! Heebie Jeebie Phoebe from the post office? You took my Lightning to demonstrate cart racing to that horrible creep?’
‘She's in the Go-Getter Girls.’
‘I don't give a brass monkey's if she's in the Royal Marines. I detest her. And you had the blatant nerve to take my cart to show that detestable hellhag the things I've been showing you.’
‘Yeah, well— Oi've gotta get the GGG ready to challenge the boys ain't Oi? No need ter get yer garters in a twist about that. Thought yew was on moi soide.’
‘Now listen, Miss high-handed Jenno, and listen good. I don't want that foxy Phoebe anywhere near me or my cart. I've already had enough of her to last me a lifetime. She got me up before the magistrate last year.’
‘Oh yeah— Cripes, Oi'd forgotten about that.’
‘Well I haven't. So don't you ever take my cart again without asking.’
I was about to stalk off to drive home my point, when Golfball came up to me. ‘Duke, Braces an' me are gettin' up a cricket game against the wall. Want to join in?’
‘Yeah, Oi'll be in it,’ said Jenno at once.
‘I wasn't askin' you,’ said Golfball. ‘Girls don't play cricket.’
‘This one does,’ said Jenno. ‘An' cripes, Oi bet the GGG can beat yew stupid boys anyway.’
There exists an unwritten convention, that a bet of this kind represents a serious challenge. It cannot simply be ignored. Golfball knew this. Even so, he tried to get out of it. I believe he wanted to avoid humiliating Jenno. He gave her a chance to withdraw by repeating his last statement.
‘Girls don't play cricket.’
‘Wot's the matter? Scared we moight beat yer?’
‘No I just want a good game.’
‘Yew'll get a good game. 'Ow many on yer side?’
‘We're four with Peter. You're serious then Jenno?’
‘Cripes, we'll show you if we're serious.’
Golfball shrugged. ‘It's your funeral.’
‘Yew'd better watch out it ain't yours. Just give me five minutes to get my team together.’
Five minutes later, she was back with Winnifred, Molly and Selena. Jenno's team won the toss and elected to bowl. She tossed the ball to Winnifred.
Golfball was the first to bat. By the time the bell rang he had scored three runs. Winnifred was still bowling.

 (Gang Loyalty chapter 20)

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Liquorice Allsorts

Jennospot 8  Liquorice Allsorts

Funny ‘ow little fings c’n sometimes ‘ave really big effects. Yew’d never fink that a little bag o’ liquorice allsorts could start off a big war all around the village would yew. Still an’ all, that’s ‘ow it turned out in Widdlin’ton one time. Peter wrote it all down from the beginning ter the end. This is ‘ow it begun:

‘Did you see that?’ I asked Jenno as I held out the bag of liquorice allsorts.
‘See wot?’ she replied.
‘What Creepy just did.’
‘I din't see nuffin'. What'd 'ee do?’
‘Just being his usual foul self. He tried to grab my sweets but they are for you.’
‘Why yew givin' me sweets?’ asked Jenno, frowning suspiciously.
‘Just wanted to say thank you for helping me get my cart back.’
‘Oh that. That weren't nuffin',’ said Jenno modestly but her frown changed to a pleased look.
‘Well, it meant a lot to me.’
I was about to say more, when my shoulder was grabbed from behind and I was swung forcibly around to find myself facing the malevolent glare of Mrs Crawley.
‘Wot yew mean by attackin' my defenceless 'Arold, yew 'orrid little bastard,’ she yelled. ‘An' it ain't the first time neither. This time I'll see yew gets punished real an' proper.’
Creepy's mum had never liked me from the day I started at that school. That was the day of my first violent encounter with her beloved Harold; with him and his bullying friend Snaylor.
Mrs Crawley gave me a shake that rattled the eyes in my head and then let me go suddenly. It set me completely off balance. I tried to stand up straight but staggered and fell against her.
The next instant a thunderclap exploded in my left ear and when the echoes had died away, I found myself lying on the ground with my head ringing as though a bomb had just gone off. Mrs Crawley had clouted me on the ear! My head rang like after the orphanage had been hit in the London air-raid. After the bomb, it had taken days before the ringing stopped. I hoped it wouldn't take so long this time.
I dazedly watched her march into the school porch, towing Harold like a bobbing dinghy behind a full-rigged sailing ship. They seemed to be on course for the head teacher's study, or perhaps they were only going to the school dispensary to patch up Creepy's knees.
I looked up to find Jenno, standing over me. ‘Wot yew doin' down there?’ she asked. ‘Don't tell me yew fainted away from the sight o' Mrs Crawley?’
‘She hit me,’ I retorted, aggrieved.
‘Git away, yew're exageratin'— she wouldn' do that— be more'n wot 'er job's worf,’ said Jenno disbelievingly. ‘Yew just fell down on purpose.’ She giggled and turned to her brother. ‘Did yew see 'er 'it 'im?’ she asked.
‘I din't see 'er do nuffin',’ said Braces doubtfully. ‘She 'ad 'er back to me. Anyways, Oi was lookin' at Creepy. 'Is knees were proper bloody. Yew did good to knock 'im down. 'Ee's 'ad it comin' to 'im fer a long time, 'n no mistake.’
Braces reached down a hand to help me up.
‘But I didn't knock him down,’ I protested. ‘He tripped over his own feet. I had nothing to do with it.’
‘Serves 'im roight any'ow,’ said Braces, ‘'orrid little sneak.’
Jenno opened the bag of liquorice allsorts and held it towards me. ‘Wot kind do yew loike? Oi always eat the coconut ones first.’
I carefully avoided taking a coconut one. ‘I like the solid black ones best,’ I said, taking one of those.

(Gang Warfare chapter 1)

Monday, 6 December 2010

Jennospot 7 - Winter Swim

Cripes, ain't it been cold lately? Yeah. Well Oi'm goin' ter give yew a cold story ter match wiv the wevver. It were when Peter St John took a little dip in the river in the winter, an' in 'is altergevver. If'n the truth were known, it were all about love. Amazin' wot love will do. Gives me the shivvers jus' ter think about it. Any'ow 'ere's the story in 'is own words:

I stripped right off and stood shivering on the bank. Better get it over as quickly as possible. I took a deep breath and plunged in. The initial shock of the cold water was terrible. I came up and gasped for breath.
I immediately duck-dived for the bottom but could see little under water; so I surfaced and swam for our branch attached to the barrel by the cord. I duck-dived again and followed the cord, pulling on it to help me down. Sure enough, there was our barrel brought up against a line of smooth boulders.
I swam along the line of boulders almost to the far bank and came up for air just against the bridge over the brook. There was nothing on the bottom other than our barrel and a waterlogged tree trunk. I climbed out of the water, up on to the bridge and immediately plunged from there back to the tree trunk where I had to come up again for air.
I used the cord once again to guide me back to the barrel. From there, I swam under water to where Roy was waiting. I clambered out shuddering from cold.
‘There's n-nothing,’ I gasped through chattering teeth. ‘Only our b-barrel and a t-t-tree-trunk. I'm p-perishing of c-cold. How d-do I get d-dry?’
Roy shrugged. ‘I haven't a towel,’ he said.
I tried flicking and rubbing the water off with my hands but it wasn't effective as a way of getting dry, so I grabbed my shirt and began towelling myself with it. My fingernails were blue.
The shirt didn't dry me very much but I pulled on my vest anyway. I was surprised how difficult it was to pull it on over my wet skin.
‘Winnie's coming back,’ said Roy. ‘She's pointing upstream— someone's coming from there.’
‘I d-d-don't c-care who's c-c-coming,’ I stuttered. ‘I'm g-getting d-dressed.’
I started to put on my underpants but had difficulty pulling them up over my wet shanks.
‘Hurry up,’ called Roy urgently. ‘Get behind the hedge. A man's coming— he'll see you.’
‘I d-d-don't c-c-care if it's the K-K-K-King himself. I'm f-f-f-freezing.’
‘There's one King across the river anyway— Winnifred King,’ smirked Roy.
‘D-d-damn that,’ I said, ‘I'm g-getting d-d-dressed.’
I struggled into my shirt, nearly tearing it in the process. It clung to my arms even worse than the underpants to my legs. I then laboured to put on my trousers.
‘Get behind the hedge quick,’ hissed Roy. ‘It's the vicar.’
‘Oh g-g-gawd,’ I groaned as I hopped towards the hedge, my pullover and jacket in my hand.
‘Too late,’ whispered Roy. ‘I think he's seen you. Winnie's going to meet him.’
‘Hello Vicar,’ we heard her say.
‘Why hello Winnifred. What are you doing here?’
‘Just thought I'd take a little walk.’
‘Me too. Who are those two boys on the other bank? I thought I recognised one of them.’
‘Boys?’ said Winnifred. ‘I saw three men in overalls. They were going towards Spruffton. I think they're mending the towpath— see the notice on the bridge. You can't go any further. Let's go back.’
‘I saw boys,’ insisted the vicar.
‘Oh, you mean Sydney Snaylor,’ said Winnifred, moving back upstream. ‘He lives over beyond the copse. Did you see all the berries there? They say that's a sign of a hard winter. Come along— I'll show you. Do you think we'll have a lot of snow this year?’
‘I don't know Sydney Snaylor,’ said the vicar giving one last glance towards where we were hiding. He allowed himself to be led away by Winnifred.
I put on my pullover and jacket. At least they were easier to get into than my other clothes. I picked up my socks, wrung them out and tried to pull them on over my shaking legs but without success. It wasn't until I rolled them down to the toe and then rolled them up again over my calves that I succeeded. They felt abominably cold and clammy. My feet were numb in my sodden shoes.
‘I told you he'd seen us.’ hissed Roy. ‘Winnie tried to distract him— but it was too late.’
‘If h-h-he t-t-tells m-my aunt it was m-m-me— I'll b-b-be in h-h-h-hot w-w-water. I j-j-just w-w-wish I w-w-were! I'm sh-shaking all over. I-I'm g-going b-back b-by the r-road. C-come on— l'let's r-r-run.’