ALLOW ME T’ INTRODUCE MESELF!
Me name’s Horace Winkleberry – and me dad is Albert Winkleberry.
Me mum is Ethel Winkleberry. Before she were married she were Ethel Crabtree. She told me she’d always hated surname she were born with and couldn’t wait to get wed t’ change it.
“Didn’t get very good bargain, did I,” she added, throwing her head back and laughin’ in that way she ‘as o’ laughin’. Always makes me laugh, an’ all.
Then she put finger to lips and said, “Only joking ‘Orace. So don’t go tellin’ yer father for Christ sakes, or I’ll whack yer.”
I were born in barn, so they tell me. Me dad used t’ laugh when he told me that. He seemed t’ take great pleasure in tellin’ me.
“Ye were born in barn at back o’ farmer Craigshend’s old fallow field, ‘cause local ‘ospital were too full at time on account of all the injured during war. Thou art a war baby, ‘Orace, me lad! No wonder thee look so shell-shocked!”
I always remembered that. So when I got older, in me teens, I’d sometimes come in through backyard and deliberately leave gate open, singing Tobacco Road, which starts off: I was born – in a barn!
‘Twere only time I ever used was instead o’ were – as we do oop in Dorkshire, like!
Me dad would call out from outside toilet, where he’d be readin’ newspaper.
“Hey! Who the ‘ell do ye think thee are – soom ruddy soft southern pop star or summat? An’ I know thee were born in barn! So shut thy bloody row – And shut bloody gate after ye, too! ‘Oribble ‘Orace!”
That’s what he used t’ call me. It all started when I were nipper just knee-high t’ grasshopper. Whenever I’d got meself in spot a bother, out it would come:
“What the ‘ell ’ave thee been up to now, ‘Oribble ‘Orace!”
Kids at school took t’ calling me ‘Hungry Horace’, after character in Beano Comic, even though I weren’t fat and I weren’t greedy little blighter, either.
Hated all me bloody names. Wished I’d get rich and famous and rub it in their noses. Hey, I’m the really successful, stinkin’ rich, Horace Winkleberry! Be very impressed, yer lousy peasants!
No such luck so far and no chance visible on distant horizon, either.
But I’m bigger now so I can knock ‘em for shite!
I had four brothers and three sisters: Albert, who were eldest. Then there were Gladys and then Glenda. Next were me, and then there were Eric, Herbert, Daphne and Harold, who were all younger than me, in that order.
That were quite normal sized working family in them days. In fact, it were probably bit on small side f’ working class family, now I come t’ think of it.
Mr. Arbuckle, our neighbour two doors up-alley, says as there were altogether far too much shagging in them days.
That’s why we’re in such dreadful mess now, he reckons.
“Too many people! An’ it’s all down t’ couples copulating,” he said. “Ye see, people were very poor and ‘ad no television in them days. They didn’t have CD players and laptops and mobiles and MP3’s and I pods an’ all that bollocks, so they’d turn their attentions on each other and – bingo!”
“But they ‘ad wireless and jigsaws and monopoly,” I reminded ‘im. “They ‘ad paperbacks – and pushbikes and home movies – and all sorts o’ hobbies! They ‘ad just as much as people ‘ad now, but it were different, that’s all! And even before them days, people ‘ad pianos and magic-lanterns an’ lots o’ things t’ keep ‘em occupied. How can you say they ‘ad nothing t’ fall back on but copulation? Besides, contraception were available!”
“What? Rubber johnnies? Bah! Dreadful things, Like eatin’ Mars bar with wrapper on. Didn’t always work, anyway! Reckon as soom bugger of factory worker would make occasional pinholes in ‘em. Well, don’t blame me, laddie! Ah can’t help it if world’s overcopulated itself!”
Fat lot old Arbuckle knows – too much shagging, indeed! Silly owd bugger!
Why, since nineteen-sixties they’ve done more shagging than they ever did in centuries o’ shagging before! It just gets more accumulative as time goes on.
Sometimes I just don’t know, y’ know!
I mean, some people talk t’ thee as if they know all the bloody answers:
Yet when it boils down to it, they know bugger all really.
It’s like we’re all going round in ruddy circles: doing same things day in, day out, yet never knowing why and never getting any-flipping-where.
To crown it all, were always making the same mistakes – over and over again.
There’s times when I can’t see any point to it all, at all.
I’m really quite negative, they tell me – just can’t see it meself.
I’m a fatalist, I was told. I need t’ take control of me destiny!
Just because I said an asteroid could hit us at any time and we could do bugger all about it, doesn’t make me a fatalist.
It just means I’m not fooling meself that I’m some sort of god!
That I can stand there like some all-powerful being with arms up-stretched and say, ”asteroid. Stop!” And it actually stops in mid air. Then I wave it away and off it flies, back into space.
We have no more control over natural disasters than an ant has of being trodden on. I can’t change water into wine.
Me name’s Horace Winkleberry, not Jesus Christ!
Just ye remember that, when next we meet!