Saturday, June 27, 2009

Whae nettled the teacher?

My father met Dick Phillipson in a pub and persuaded him to help us out on our small hill farm. He was already in his 60s but he had a tractor and we didn't. Over the years he was a regular visitor and I learnt a lot about hill farming from him.

Dick seemed to have lead an interesting life, a local historian's dream since he had been one of the last of the lead miners working in the Cumbria and Northumberland lead mines. He was the only person I knew who habitually wore wooden clogs rather than the all pervasive wellie. At lunchtime we would retire inside our ancient farmhouse (It's now a Buddhist monastery) and Dick was always good for a story.

    When I was a lad and gannin ter school I wer alus in trouble and often used ter get the belt or the cane from the teacher. I think I got it most days and was quite used ter it. There was one day he give it to me real bad though an it hurt fer once so I decided ter get me own back.

    At playtime the teacher used ter alus gan ter the nettie. We didn't have these flush toilets, ours wer the ald earth closets, like the one ye have here. Well I waited until I heared him gruntin then quietly moved the stone away and tickled his arse wi' a geet bunch of nettles and ran. I remember ter this day the yell he lit oot!

    I would ha got away wi' it but yin of the girls saw me and teld him whae nettled him. He laid into me real bad that time an said he would speak ter me father.

    Aal the way home I was afeard aboot that an when I saw him drivin past with a geet smirk on his face I knew he had done it. I was alus more afeard of whit me dad would dee than of the teacher's cane. I divn't think I ever took longer te get home than I did that day.

    When I got in the yard me dad was waitin of me wi his belt in his hand. "Dick" he yells "Git theeself in here sharpish"

    I was afeered I were really for it but when I got in he jest said "Now then lad. Whae nettled the teachers arse then?" and burst out laughing.

Of course that gave me the idea and my elder sister became the nettle's next victim while I became the only 9 year old at school with a bald patch - but that's another story.

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