Introduction: Bob The Rigger’s Christmas Turkey is a story published in John Green’s “Tales and Ballads of Wearside” in Hendon in 1888. The book is a historic gem that allows us to explore a long lost literature of the town, and is unique is that every story is wrote in literal local dialect.
Ye knaw Captin Hooper , sir ? Aye , aw thowt see .
Now he’s a fine man , eh ? ivery inch a sailor , an ‘ a parfit gentleman .
Two years this varry Chrisamas he was superintendin ‘ the outfit of a big iron barque , built for a Liverpuil form. Aw had the contrack for tee put the stores abord , load her up , bend the sails , an’mak ‘ her ready for sea . O’the day afore Chrisamas Day , about eliven o’clock i ‘ the foreneun , he says to me , “ Robbit ” says he ( he allus called us Robbit ) , “ Robbit , ” says he , “ aw’s gaun for tee mak ‘ ye a Chrisamas prisent.
Thenk ye , sir , varry kindly , ” says aw .
“Weel , Robbit , ” he says , ” ye’ve had some extra wark aboard , ” says he , “ an ‘ ye’ve had to move the ship once or twice mair then ye participated when ye meyd the contrack ; an ‘ aw’ve meyd my mind up ti make ye a prisent of a fine lie turkey for yer Chrisamas dinner . ”
“ Aw’s varry much obliged tiv ye , Captin Hooper , ” says aw .
* Varry weel , then , Robbit , ” says he ; “ gan up tiv my lodgings iv Olive Street at once , an ‘ my lan’lady ‘ ll gie ye the turkey . ”
Off aw starts alang the Ropery , up Cousin Street , past Coxon Field’s skule , and up the Back Lonnin . When aw knock’dthe lan’lady cam ‘ tiv the door . She knaw’d me weel eneugh – aw used tee gan up iv a neet ti see Capin Hooper about things
Oh , Robbit , ” says she , “ ye’ll hae come for the turkey ? ” “ Yis , ma’am , ” says aw .
Come through intiv the back yaird , ” says she , “ an ‘ ye’ll get it . ”
Through the passidge aw gans , cfter aw wipes my feet o ‘ the mat ; an ‘ when aw gets intiv the yaird , there he is , walkin ‘ about as proud as eff he had five hunder’d a year comin ‘ in frey shares i ‘ the Watter Company : a grit big bird , twice as big as the biggest coachin – chiner . When aw went up tiv him , he walks up ageyn the rain tub , an ‘ when aw tried to tak ‘ haud ov him , aw’ll be blist eff he didn’t show fight .
“ Holloa ! ” says aw , “ nyen o ‘ that , now ! ” an’aw clicks up a busom shank that was lying i ‘ the yaird , an ‘ maks a sweep at his legs , when down he drops like a widder’s pig . Aw mittens him , pops him under my airm , out o ‘ the back door , and off towards heym . Aw went down past the Orphan ‘ Sylum , across the moor , an’intiv the Rig , wiv about twenty bairns efter us .
When aw went intiv the house the wife says , “ Good gracious , Bobby ! what’s that thou’s bringin ‘ ? ”
“ What’s that ! ” says aw , quite proud like ; ” it’s a live turkey for our Chrisamas dinner . Ye’ll be the varry fust one out o ‘ your family that iver sat down ti get yer dinner off a live turkey . Isn’t he a noble bird ? ” aw says , puttin ‘ on him down o ‘ the floor ; but aw’d hardly getten the words out o ‘ my mouth when he flees reet up on to the top o ‘ the desk – bed , where the wife kept all her bit fancy things , an ‘ afore aw could get near hand him he gies one flacker , down comes the chcency and the chalk onyments like showers o’snaw ; then he turns round an ‘ sees his – sel iv a nice bit luckin ‘ – glass we had above the chimla piece , and he gans slap at that , an ‘ down it comes on tiv the floor iv about a hunder’d – an ‘ – fifty pieces , some on them not as big as a thrippenny bit . The wife she screams , an ‘ the bairns all runs out .
” Oh , dear ! Bobby , ” she says , ” tak ‘ that awful turkcy away . ”
“ Turkey ! ” says aw ; “ it’s niver a turkey i ‘ this good world : its somethin ‘ that’s not human , aw’s sure o’that . ” Just as he was kind o’mak’in his mind up to hev some mair fun , aw fetched him one wi ‘ the poker , an ‘ he laid down for to consither a bit ; but aw didn’t give him the chance , for aw collars him , pulls him out intiv the yard , an’afore he had time for to knaw where he was , aw shoves him intiv the coal house , an ‘ aw fasters the door .
When aw gans back intiv the house , the poor wife was trying to mak ‘ a bit decent selvidge out o ‘ the cheency , and the room luck’d for all the world like a wreck abacker the pier . We had a nice chalk image o’Moses as he was comin ‘ down frev some mountin , wi ‘ the law printed upon a big flagsteyn , an ‘ there was poor Moses lyin ‘ wiv his head off , an ‘ the ten com mandments broken all ti bits .
How are we gaun ti get that awful beast ceuk’d ? ” aw axes her .
“Ceuk’d ! ” says she ; ” aw wadn’t try to ceuk’t ; an ’ eff it was ceuk’d , aw wadn’t eat a bite on’t , eff ye wad gie me a sovereign for ivory mouthful . ”
Then , what’ll we dee wild ? ” says aw . “ Aw’s sure aw divn’t knaw , ” says she .
“ Aw hev’d , ” says aw , as a thowt struck my mind . • Aw’ll slip down tiv our butcher , an ‘ get him ti tak’t an ’ give us the vally on’t iv beef . ”
Down aw gans , an ‘ he was iv the shop .
” Mister Moir , ” says aw , ” there’s a gentleman aw’ve been workin ‘ for meyd us a prisent of a real live tur- . key for our Chrisamas dinner , but our wife disn’t care about the trouble o ‘ makin on’t riddy ; an ‘ besides , we divn’t care much for holler meats iv our house ; so aw just thout ye mevies wad tak ’ the turkey , an ‘ give us the fair vally on’t iv a nice roastin ‘ piece o ‘ beef . ”
“ Aw’ll dee that , Bobby , ” says he , ” an ‘ aw’ll gan up wi ‘ thou and luik at it . ”
Up we gans , an’aw opens the coal – house door , and there he was lying coild up iv one corner .
“ Isn’t he a noble bird , Mister Moir ? ” says aw , gettin ‘ behint the butcher , for aw was expectin ‘ he was gaun to mak ‘ another spring .
Aye , it’s a fine turkey , Bobby , ” he says ; “ aw’ll tak him , and ye can trust ti me ti send the beef . ” “ All reet , ” says aw ; an ‘ he pulls him out othe coal – house wiv a bit of a struggle , an ‘ off he gans ; an ‘ ye may depend , sir , it was a big relief tiv me when aw saw that awful beast clear o’the house . ti the ship , an ‘ Captin Hooper he’s stannin ‘ at the gangway as aw’se gaun aboard . “ Robbit , ” says he , “ where have yc been ? ” “ Where hev aw been ! ” says aw ;
ye may ax that . ” An’aw tells him the whole story , just as aw’ve telld ye , sir , an ‘ he jumps about the deck laughin ‘ till aw thowt he wad a meyd hissel varry bad ; but that wasn’t the warst on’t . He tell’d the story all ower Liverpuil , aw knaw he did ; for when aw meyd the Ktungepore ready for sea last year , Captin ‘ Toft , the owerlucker frev Liverpuil , when he settled wivus said ,
“ There , Robbit , llicre’s a sovereign extra for your . sel , an ‘ if it had on’y been a bit nearer Chrisamas time , ” says he , “ aw wad a meyd ye a prisent of a real live turkey . ”
A queer turkey ! Aye , sir , ye may say that — an call him a reg’lar Bulgarian atrockity .