|THE CHRISTMAS BONUS|
by Daniel Preston
In this seasonal tale by Daniel Preston we've decided to leave the local Cheshire dialect, as spoken by Ian Sant, intact because in this case it's almost completely intelligible, even to those unlucky enough to come from outside our area.
The Cheshire dialect, as spoken in Middlewich, is a mixture of Yorkshire, Lancashire, Derbyshire and Staffordshire, with bits borrowed from all over the place.
Actually, our greatest contribution to the English language seems to have come about when we took the shortened definite article of Yorkshire and Lancashire, as in 't'' and 'th'' and dispensed with it altogether:
Hence 'goin' shop' and 'goin' Northwich' etc.
On Facebook just the other day one Middlewich lady, wishing to inform her friends that she had had a slight accident on the icy pavements, did so with the short and pithy comment:
'Just rucked it goin' shop' -Ed.
THE CHRISTMAS BONUS
In those far off days of only forty-odd years ago, when Christmas was Christmas and coffee without milk was called black coffee; in the days when I was a paper lad, we used to get a Christmas card and a small gift of money from the customers to thank us for a job well done throughout the year.
It was Ian Sant who taught me the ins and outs of attaining said bonus.
'In th’ days before Christmas,' he said, 'It’s best that, when thar goes up th’ path, thar stamps tha feet and meks a racket so’s they know thar’s comin’.”
Thus alerted of your arrival someone would come out of the house to give you your treat.
There was always a Christmas card and usually some money in an envelope marked ‘Paper Lad’.
Sometimes it was paper money, like a ten bob note, other times it was coins, like two bob or half-a-crown.
Sometimes, if you’d encouraged the dog to shred the newspaper, it was ‘dash all’.
On one occasion, after I had stomped my way up the path in the prescribed manner, the lady of the house came out, an envelope in her hand.
“You don’t have to make all that racket,” she said. “you’ll get your Christmas bonus.”
“It’s ‘cos me feet are cold,” I said, looking embarrassed.
She took her paper and handed over the envelope; Christmas card and bonus.
At the top of Spital Hill, on the left hand side as you go towards Winsford, is the house where the Carnegies lived.
It was (and is) a big house with a gravel drive.
The Carnegies were well off and I think they had horses stabled there.
Ian Sant had advised me that, at Christmas, it was best to ride in there like the clappers and put the bike into a slide.
'If thar comes off thee bike,' he said, 'Carnegie’s daughter will come running out, calling thee a poor boy and taking thee inside fer ‘ot chocolate ‘n’ pamperin’.'
Apparently this had happened to him the year before and he said that Carnegie’s daughter was a cracker.
I can’t attest to the looks of Carnegie’s daughter as I never did meet her.
However, I did ride into the gravel drive like the clappers in the days coming up to Christmas. I didn’t come off my bike, against my nature that, but I did make a lot of noise on that gravel.
I got my Christmas bonus as well, paper money from the Carnegies, but it wasn’t the daughter that handed it to me.
I don’t know if that house is still there, it probably is, but maybe surrounded by mews cottages or some other such symbol of the modern age.
© Daniel Preston 2011
|Mistaken identity: Stanthorne Hall|
I looked on google street views and went up to the top of Spittal Hill. There is a nameplate at the opening to the drive where the Carnegie's lived. It is Stanthorne Hall. I'm sure that many readers on here remember Mrs. Mac (I think her name was Mrs. McCrystal) that worked at Reg Taylor's. She put the newspapers together for each of the paperboys and wrote the names of the intended recipients on the top. The newspapers would be put together in the order of delivery as well.