Some years ago the writer had to spend a period in Wansbeck Hospital, and after the crisis found himself recuperating in a corner next to an elderly retired miner.
He was an interesting man and we enjoyed some “canny cracks” together. He spoke the old broad Pitmatic, and unconsciously and automatically, in speaking to him I found myself lapsing into the language I had learned in my school playground, which was in a local pit village.
After I left the hospital for home I felt regretful that this old dialect has virtually died out.
I wonder how many of the words the older generation used in former days are still used regularly by them. Here is a list of some that spring to my mind. Do any readers still remember what they mean, let alone use them still.
1) Bonny on. 2) Stannin’ hacky. 3) Cowp yer boilie. 4) A good hecker. 5) Moonty Cuddy. 6) A sloush.
7) To spoach. 8) Tootin. 9) Weel-timmered. 10) A black-bornin shyem. 11) Wide ti the waas. 12) A shuggy.
All of this reminds me of a local ballad I learned from my grandfather, who apparently learnt it from his grandfather. It doesn’t appear in any of the Folk Song collections. I have checked. It seems a pity to let it die out, because it is as good as many of those that have made it into the collections published by antiquarians.
“Vic.” March 2014
Vic’s Old Ballad
There was an aad wife in wor toon,
In wor toon she did dwell;
She loved her aad man dearly,
But another yin twice as well.
The aad man he was weary
And tired of his life;
So he says “A’ll gan an droon mesel,
And that’ll end the strife”.
The aad wife teuk a runny race
Ti shove the aad man in;
But the canny aad man just stepped aside
An his wife went heidlang in.
The aad wife she was wadin
An wadin up tiv her chin,
So the aad man teuk his gibby stick
An he shoved her farther in.
The aad man pulled hor oot agyen
An they lived happy tegither;
So any aad man that hes a bad wife
Just give hor a deuk i’ the river.
(DISCLAIMER: The editor and team would just like to point out that we do not condone pushing anyone in rivers, old wives or old husbands, or anyone come to that, even if it does eventually lead to domestic bliss.)