Thursday, 18 December 2014

Dummy's Party

Jennospot 127  "Dummy’s Birthday Party"

Yuletide is a time for merry-makin' an' parties. So come an' join some wunnerful authors fer an Online Virtual Party wiv a whole lot o' fun readin', an' a few giveaway prizes...!

That noice Helen Hollick, wot writes real excitin’ books about pirates an’ ovver ‘istorical stuff, loike wot ‘appened a long toime ago in 1066 f’rinstance, ‘as asked us ter write somefink about parties. Any’ow, in Widdlin’ton we ‘ave lots o’ ordin’ry parties, wiv cake an’ jelly an’ games an’ such, but there were one wot we ‘ad fer Mr Pierce, wot everybody calls “Dummy”, wot got stuck in moi mem’ry special loike. But Oi ain’t all that good about writin’ stuff down, so Oi asked moi friend Peter ter put down a few words about it. So ‘ere it is. ‘Ope yew loike it:
I was the last to arrive at Dummy's birthday party. Everyone was sitting stiffly around the table in the school shelter. Nobody was speaking.

I went straight up to Mr Pearce. His much-worn clothes were too tight round the waist and under the arms. He seemed ill at ease.

‘Happy birthday, Daniel,’ I said.

‘Arrgh, thank'ee kindly,’ he replied. He showed his misshapen teeth through a matted beard in what was more a grimace than a smile.

‘What's the matter Daniel? Aren't they looking after you properly?’

‘Reckon as 'ow it's more'n a little whiles since ol' Dan'l 'ad a party fer 'is birthday. Reckon as 'ow 'ee's roight thankful. There be a fine cake with candles wot Miss Winnifred gave and Miss Molly's biscuits an' all.’

‘You could look a bit happier about it,’ I said.

‘Reckon ol' Dan'l's leavin' Widdlington afore soon. 'Ee'll be roight sad ter be leavin' 'is friends.’

‘You're not leaving today at any rate, and you're not in the lockup,’ said Molly.

‘So cheer up,’ said Winnifred.

‘Have some beer,’ said Miss Hangar.

‘Don't moind if'n Oi do,’ said Daniel.

‘Everyone's saying it was Daniel who sabotaged the survey of the allotments,’ said Leta.

‘But it wasn't him!’ exclaimed Winnifred. ‘And Mr Trundle knows it.’

‘Unfortunately, people will gossip,’ said Miss Hangar.

‘We know it wasn't you, Daniel,’ I said. ‘And we're going to prove it absolutely, so that it doesn't depend just on the word of Winnifred. We've already got some clues.’

‘That's right,’ said Roy. ‘But we need you to help us.’

Dummy looked bewildered. ‘Clues?’ he said. ‘'Ow can ol' Daniel 'elp when the Parish is puttin' 'im off'n the allotments and sendin' 'im into a home?’

‘It hasn't happened yet,’ said Roy.

‘And we're going to make sure it doesn't happen,’ said Molly. ‘Miss Hangar's going to help us.’
‘Of course she's going to help us,’ said Jenno in her best BBC voice, ‘Aren't you Miss Hangar?’

‘I, er—’  said Miss Hangar.

‘She's on the Parish Council,’ I said. ‘And she and Mr Trundle will tell the others what the truth is. Won't you Miss Hangar?’

‘I er— that is— yes. I'll certainly tell them the truth about the sabotage when I know myself what the truth is.’

‘See Daniel?’ said Roy. ‘But there are some things we need to know. And only you can tell us.’

‘Ar—?’ questioned Daniel.

‘For instance,’ I said. ‘Did you buy those Wellington boots you promised yourself for your birthday?

‘Mr Hibberd were roight put out when ol' Dan'l asked 'im. 'Ee din't roightly know 'ow ter come out wi' it. It's the war, 'ee said. Anything wot were rubber was next ter impossible ter come by. 'Ee said as 'ow 'ee'd be roight pleased ter favour me, but that it weren't fer termorrer nor the day after. When 'ee 'ad some Wellingtons in 'ee'd be rememberin' a pair fer ol' Dan'l.’

‘You didn't buy any then?’ asked Roy.

‘Arrgh— just so.’

‘You don't possess any other rubber boots?’ asked Jenno primly.

‘Where would ol' Dan'l be findin’ a shillin' or two fer rubber boots wot 'ee don't roightly need?’ replied Daniel.

‘The footprints aren't Daniel's,’ said Roy.

‘I never thought they were,’ said Winnifred.

‘Me neither,’ said Katy.

‘You are going to help then, Miss Hangar?’ said Jenno.

‘Yes Jenno, er— Jean,’ said Miss Hangar. ‘I'll do what I can; but you know, there's really very little I can do now concerning the allotments. The project is already approved and far advanced.

‘As for The Old Vicarage, it's a decision for the Church and the vicar. Any interference by the school would only arouse resentment. But I can certainly help Mr Pearce to learn to read and write. That way he could become independent of support from the Parish.’

‘And not go into a home!’ exclaimed Molly. She stuffed her knuckles into her mouth and looked horrified towards Daniel.

‘Don't ye be a-fazed none, Miss Molly,’ said Daniel gently. ‘Ol' Dan'l baint be deaf; 'ee knows roight well wot people say. 'Ee bain't be such a dummy as 'ow they think.’

An embarrassed silence fell. It was broken by Winnifred: ‘I think it's about time we lit the candles. Who's got some matches?’

‘I'll ask my mum,’ said Leta. ‘Wait a tic and I'll nip indoors and get some.’ She ran into the school caretaker's house and emerged a moment later rattling a box of matches. ‘We didn't know how many candles to put on, but in any case, Hibberd's store only had one box—it's the war you know—so we put them all on. There are twenty.’

‘Heh, heh,’ chuckled Daniel. ‘Roight kind ye be. Arrgh— but two-and-a-half boxes 'uld 'ave been more loike.’

‘Blow them all out in one go and you can make a wish,’ said Katy.

Daniel took a deep breath and blew. Twenty tiny flames disappeared to be replaced by twenty slender columns of smoke.

‘Make a wish,’ cried everyone.

‘But don't tell anyone until it comes true,’ cautioned Jenno.

Daniel shut his eyes; held them screwed tight and then opened them again.

‘Have you made a wish?’ asked Molly.

‘Aye,’ said Daniel.

‘And so have I,’ said Molly.


From "Gang Petition" Chapter 7

Thank yew fer joinin' in wiv our party. Oi 'ope yew liked moi bit. If'n yew like, yew c'n foller on now ter the next bit o' the fun... 

1. Helen Hollick : “You are Cordially Invited to a Ball” (plus a giveaway prize) -  

2. Alison Morton : "Saturnalia surprise - a winter party tale”  (plus a giveaway prize) -

3. Andrea Zuvich : No Christmas For You! The Holiday Under Cromwell -

4. Ann Swinfen : Christmas 1586 – Burbage’s Company of Players Celebrates -

5. Anna Belfrage :  All I want for Christmas (plus a giveaway prize)

6. Carol Cooper : How To Be A Party Animal -

7. Clare Flynn :  A German American Christmas -

8. Debbie Young :  Good Christmas Housekeeping (plus a giveaway prize)

9. Derek Birks :  The Lord of Misrule - A Medieval Christmas Recipe for Trouble -

10. Edward James : An Accidental Virgin and An Uninvited Guest - and - 

11. Fenella J. Miller : Christmas on the Home front (plus a giveaway prize) -

12. J. L. Oakley :  Christmas Time in the Mountains 1907 (plus a giveaway prize) -

13. Jude Knight : Christmas at Avery Hall in the Year of Our Lord 1804 -

14. Julian Stockwin: Join the Party -  
15Juliet Greenwood : Christmas 1914 on the Home Front (plus a giveaway) -
16. Lauren Johnson :  Farewell Advent, Christmas is come" - Early Tudor Festive Feasts -
17. Lucienne Boyce :  A Victory Celebration -
18. Nancy Bilyeau :  Christmas After the Priory (plus a giveaway prize) -
19. Nicola Moxey : The Feast of the Epiphany, 1182 -
20. Peter St John:  Dummy’s Birthday - Hi! Yew're already 'ere. So there ain't no link.
21. Regina Jeffers : Celebrating a Regency Christmas  (plus a giveaway prize) -
22. Richard Abbott : The Hunt – Feasting at Ugarit -
23. Saralee Etter : Christmas Pudding -- Part of the Christmas Feast -
24. Stephen Oram : Living in your dystopia: you need a festival of enhancement… (plus a giveaway prize) -
25. Suzanne Adair :The British Legion Parties Down for Yule 1780 (plus a giveaway prize) - 

26. Lindsay Downs: O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree -  (plus a giveaway prize)

Thank yew fer joinin' us. 'Ave yerself a real enjoyable Christmas, wiv luv from Jenno...!





Wednesday, 8 October 2014

A Soft Thump from the Nave

Oi ain't posted nuffink fer while, so ter try ter make up fer it, 'ere's somefink wot is a bit longer'n usual. It's fer 'Alloween, so it's just a bit creepy. It's moi friend Peter wot tells the story. Ter win a bet wiv sneaky, sly Selena, 'ee 'ad ter sneak out o' bed an' then go inter the church at night wivvout shinin' 'is torch. This is 'ow it were. Oi 'ope yew loike it...

A Soft Thump from the Nave

My senses were on full alert, but there was nothing to sense other than the mysterious noises of the countryside, the breathy night air, and the shifting moonlit sky. No house showed the smallest glimmer of light: the occupants were either in bed or their blackout was well in place.
I reached Gables Corner without mishap. An owl screeched. I jumped and then shivered. Owls are a bad omen.
Nothing was stirring down the dark road; but was Mr Trundle on guard duty by his house or on the high station platform? I turned myself into a spectre of the night and glided ahead with precaution, ready to freeze or flee at the slightest alarm.
From the deep blackness under the railway bridge I scanned the road across the river meadows to the footbridge. Could someone be lurking in the shifting shadows of the hedge? Of course not, I reassured myself. But I should keep to the shadows myself to avoid being seen.
I slid silently along to the footbridge over the river, and crouched in the uncertain shelter of the parapet. The river gurgled ominously below.
The church spire was close now. It lanced through the torn clouds and stabbed awake my unavowed apprehension. I would soon have to go under its fang into the funereal graveyard.
I began to regret my incautious boasting to Selena. Perhaps the shades of those buried there really do slither at night from their ghastly tombs in the lurking loom of moonlight. Even so, I couldn't back down now.
I gathered my wavering resolution and tiptoed to the graveyard's lych gate. It was nearly invisible in the sombre shadow of two huge guardian yew trees. I must pass through the inky void between them. Should I run?
The lych gate was closed. I crouched by it trying to still the deafening tom-tom of my heartbeat. Every woeful wraith beneath every baleful tombstone must hear it.
I reached for the handle of the gate. My hand shook. The latch flew up with a clack to waken the dead. I trembled, but could not advance. The emptiness between the yew trees was an evil, black barrier.
God lived in the church, I told myself. God was my father. He loved me. I'd be safe in there.
This comforting thought got me through the gate, and I sprinted for the porch. Gravel scattered from my feet to deter the waiting wraiths. The porch engulfed me in its gloom. I clutched a pillar of the inner door and hugged it, panting. Nothing had got me— yet. But they were waiting— just waiting—
I slipped inside the inner door and leaned against it. The church was cool, and quiet, and dark, and— spooky. My heart hammered. No—I tried to reassure myself—this was my father's house. I was safe in here. The trouble was— I didn't feel safe; not safe at all. I felt terrifyingly alone. I didn't want to stay. So please— help me, God!
Exactly how I did it, I don't know. I made no specific resolution to defy the demons. I began to walk slowly and deliberately to the centre aisle and then up to the chancel. There was just enough light from the moon flickering through the windows, to see my way between the black rows of pews.
I felt my way up the three chancel steps. The familiar choir stalls gave some slight protection from the terrors of the dark. I collapsed, trembling, into Selena's seat, and listened intently.
My thumping heart covered all other noise. I must find Selena's envelope and get out of here as fast as possible. Fearfully, I switched on my torch and found the hymn book. Surprise: there were two envelopes inside. One of them was marked, ‘Selena’; the other bore my name. I stuffed them into my pocket and prepared to flee.
There came a soft thump from the nave.
I switched off my torch and cowered, terrified, in my seat. My ears, like huge alert saucers, turned towards the sound. I heard a stealthy, horrifying shuffling. I became an icy block. I stopped breathing. The shuffling came closer. My heart stopped. Something awful was coming for me.
‘Peter?’ it whispered.
I died. It knew my name. Was it God calling me?
‘Peter?’ it whispered again. ‘B'ist thee?’
My heart restarted. I drew a deep shuddering breath. ‘Daniel?’ I murmured.
‘Aye lad— 'tis Dan'l.’
‘Are you dead?’
‘Nay, Peter lad. Shine a bit o' light so's ol' Dan'l c'n see the steps.’
I switched on my torch. Daniel came up the steps, eased into the choir stalls, and sat beside me with a sigh.
‘What are you doing here, Daniel? I've never seen you in church before.’
‘Nay lad— the church bain't fer the loikes o' ol' Dan'l: all them fine folks in their fancy clothes. Better fer Dan'l when there bain't be nobody else around.’
‘You only come to church at night?’
‘Aye— at night.’
‘Aren't you afraid?’
‘Dan'l frighted? Frighted o' what, Peter lad?’
‘All those dead people in the graveyard.’
‘Dan'l bain't be frighted o' the dead. 'Ee be more frighted o' them wot's livin'. O' them wot'll turn 'im off'n the allotments an' outta 'is hut.’
‘Is that why you came to the church: to pray?’
‘Pray? Nay, Peter lad. Dan'l bain't be 'avin' the words. 'Ee don't rightly know 'ow to be a-prayin'.’
‘Why do you come to church then?’
‘Arrgh. It be roight peaceful in 'ere when there bain't be no other folks around. Ol' Dan'l c'n rake together 'is thinkin'— loike 'ee does the leaves, come autumn, afore they be burned up. An' loike when little lettuces come a-pokin' through the dirt.
‘An' there's that feller Jesus, wot they put up on the cross in the olden days. Arrgh— reckon as 'ow 'ee were worse off 'n ol' Dan'l.’
‘You think of all that, and then you feel better?’
‘Arrgh— reckon as 'ow we both be a-diggin' in the self-same patch.’
‘I reckon, Daniel.’
‘Didst come too ter rake up some leaves?’
‘Not exactly, Daniel— not exactly.’
I was temped to tell him about the bet and the money for our projected telephone call. But suppose we failed. It would be cruel to raise his hopes until we were more certain of success.
‘No need ter be a-tellin' ol' Dan'l. Heh, heh— loike my dad allus said: A seed is all secret 'till it shoots. Bain't it be so?’
‘Aye, Daniel— it be just so. Are you going home now?’
‘'Ome? Ol' Dan'l bain't roightly got no 'ome. Not now the allotments be a-goin'.’
‘Sorry, Daniel— I meant back to the lockup; or rather, your room above.’
‘Heh, heh— When Dan'l drinks a pint 'o beer, folks shake their 'eads, an' then tis one or t'other. Wicked ol' Dummy they say. Don't faze ol' Dan'l overmuch. Then them wot shakes their 'eads when 'ee sings a bit in The Street, they comes in 'ere an' they drinks some wine an' they sings their sober 'eads off. They be good, straight an' narrer folks they be. Heh, heh— That don't faze ol' Dan'l none neither.’
‘Daniel, I need to be getting back. If my aunt finds out I'm not in bed, I'll be for the lockup too.’
‘Heh, heh— Loike ol' Dan'l said: we both be a-diggin' in the self-same patch.’
‘Yes, except you don't have an aunt to keep you on the straight and narrow.’
‘Ye bain't be wrong tha: ol' Dan'l's got the whole village agin 'im 'cept thee an' thy friends.’
‘Like Molly an' Winnifred?’
‘Aye, an' the others in thy gang.’
We moved towards the door. The church was calm and peaceful. The silver-black of the graveyard welcomed us. It was not in the least threatening. Why had I been so frightened before?

An extract from “Gang Petition” Chapter 11

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Lucky Shootin' Stars

Jennospot 121 Lucky Shootin' Stars

It's real lucky when yew see a shootin' star, 'cos that means yew c'n make a wish. Yew c'n do it jus' loike in the song "When You Wish Upon a Star". It's important ter remember that, jus' loike wiv fairy godmovvers, yew're only allowed three wishes per noight, 'cos yew mustn't be greedy. Yew gotta leave a few wishes fer ovver people.

Moi bruvver, Braces, reckons as 'ow all that ain't no more'n mushy fairytale stuff. 'Ee reckons as 'ow the only real shooting stars are them cowboys in the films, loike Gene Autry and Roy Rogers, wot they show once a month in the Parish Hall. Yeah, well Oi loike them an' all, 'specially when they vault on ter their super 'orses, ter go an' shoot up them bad guys in the black 'ats. Trouble is, moi bruvver's a bit loike Peter, wot ain't got no romance in 'is soul. An' that's why 'ee don't believe much in wishes.

Still an' all, Oi sometimes catch Peter outside on a clear noight a-starin' up at the sky, an' when Oi ask 'im wot 'ee's a-starin' at, 'ee jus' says as 'ow 'ee's only lookin'. Oi reckon wot 'ee's really doin' is makin' a wish, all secret loike, jus' fer 'imself…

Any'ow, yew gotta keep yer wishes secret, at least until they 'appen, 'cos if'n yew don't, then they won't come true. An' even if'n they do, it's jus' by 'appenstance. Yew don't 'ave ter believe me if'n yew don't want; but if'n yew want yer wishes ter work, yew mustn't tell nobody; not even yer best friend.

An' that ain't all. There's somefink else wot's real important. It ain't no good jus' wishin', even if'n yew see a thousand o' them shootin' stars, 'cos if'n yew jus’ make a wish, an' then wait fer the stars ter do ev'ryfink else ter make it come true, it ain't likely ter work. No, yew gotta do yer best ter 'elp makin' yer wish work out. Take it from me…

Last noight Oi saw some shootin' stars, an' Oi made three wishes. Oi ain't tellin' yew wot the first one is, not yet, any'ow; okay? When it comes true, Oi'll let yew know

The second wish is fer moi free e-books, "Jenno's Widdlin'ton", "Jenno's Widdlin'ton II", “Just Jenno” an’ “Jenno’s Facebook”: ( , an’

Moi third wish is fer Peter St John's website: ( Cripes, wouldn't 'ee laugh if'n 'ee knew wot it were…

They come wiv a good wish fer yew, an’ wiv luv from Jenno.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Gang Warfare

Jennospot 120 Gang Warfare

There are four gangs in moi village o' Widdlin'ton, an' there’s anuvver real rough one at the edge of town nearby. Some of the kids from that last one come ter moi school wot c’n make fings a bit difficult at toimes.

Any’ow, because of these different gangs, each one wot n’as it’s own rules about girls joinin’ ‘em, there were a kind o’ war started. There’s even some wot say as ow it were all moi fault jus’ because Oi got a soapbox cart wot is named after Emmeline Pankhurst, wot is a calumny ‘cos Oi didn’t ‘ave nuffink ter do wiv it wotsoever; well, ardly nuffink any’ow.

If’n yew want proof o’ that, yew c’d do worse than read wot Peter St John wrote about it. It’s in abook called “Gang Warfare” an’ it’s jus’ come out all new in paperback from SilverWood books. Oi know it’s true, ‘cos it were me wot told PStJ all about it. Even so , I ‘ad ter keep correctin’ im ovverwise ‘ee’d ‘ave gone all off the rails wiv the specially dramatic bits, loike the firewood ambush, the battle wiv Mrs Jay, the barney at the Spitfire drive, and the big air-raid.

Any'ow, “Gang Warfare” is out an' rampagin' around. Leastways, if'n it ain't rampagin', it jolly well ought ter be, 'cos it ain't ev'ry day when yew get a whole lot o' village gangs fightin’ tergevver under one cover, so ter speak. Cripes, there's enough rough stuff goin' on where they're separated inter their diff'rent territories, never moind when they're squashed tergevver in a little book. Not only that, it’s me on the cover, wot ought ter be worf somefink at any rate. There’s lots of ovver coloured pictures an all.

An cripes, ‘ow c’n it be moi fault if some of the people in the village don't get along. People are jus' loike that: They're perfec'ly able not ter loike one anovver fer no good reason at all. But when yew fink that in Widdlin'ton there are lots o' real good reasons fer not getting' along well wot c'n yew expect…?

O' 'corse Oi get on pretty good wiv most ev'rybody, 'cept "Slug" Snaylor natch, an' that there Heebie Jeebie Phoebe at the Post Office. Yew can't count Bill Bates, wot 'elps 'is dad at the butchers, Oi mean, 'ee's jus' plain thick, an' 'is two off-siders are pretty much non compos mentis an' all. Oi ain't a-goin' ter mention J.J. 'cos 'ee's moi gang leader in the Pepper Mill Lane, but Oi reckon as 'ow fings would be better between us if'n 'ee 'ad a bit more respect fer girls, 'specially fer girls loike me. Any'ow, Oi reckon as 'ow Oi've made moi point, 'cos Oi'm real easy ter get on wiv if'n yew treat me roight. See wot Oi mean…?

Any'ow, if'n yew'd loike ter know a bit more about all that, yew c'd take a look at "Gang Warfare” wot wouldn’t ‘ave come out at all if’n it weren’t fer me (even though P St J 'as put 'is name on the cover).

Luv from Jenno…