The Good Awd Tahmes

In whatever age they live, it seems there is a tendency for human beings to view the past through rose coloured spectacles, perceiving a type of Golden Age. The following are the first four verses of Walter Turner’s poem which attempts to put the record straight.

The good awd tahmes? The good awd tahmes?

An yer think at yer ‘d like ‘em back? Then Ah’ll tell yer what, by Gaw!

You just should a lived as a lad when Ah did, an then yer’d knaw

Better ‘an ax for t’ good awd tahmes.


They’re better awaah is t’ good awd tahmes,

Wi their opper an gallusies, lays, an flaals, it was ard dree wark;

Gerrin up i’ t’ morn afoor leet , an laabourin wharl lang efter dark!

Deean’t tell me aboot t’ good awd tahmes.

Me faather ee threshed, i’ t’ good awd tahmes

At Towthrop, a fower mahle walk, an mebbe be there afore fahve.

An ee yance get yam afoor seven at neet, ee'd getten a drahve,

A rare thing that, i’ t’ good awd tahmes.


An what could ee addle, i’ t’ good awd tahmes?

Ah’ll tell yer; ee addled eight shillin a week, an they gav im his meeat,

San wi six growin bairns at yam, you may bet there was monny a treeat

Oot o’ that for us, i’ t’ good awd tahmes.

(Walter F Turner (North Riding) 1916)



Home Thoughts from France

This is the first verse from F Austin Hyde's poignant poem written in France during the First World War.

Bods is singin’ upo’d bushes,

Larrocks up i’d skies,

Laatle cauves i’d cauf-hoose bealin’,

Laadle pigs i’d styes.

Praise the Lord! Ah knaw their language

Even over here

An my thowts gans back ti Yorksher,

Land ah luv si dear.

(F Austin Hyde (East Riding) 1916.)



King Alfred and the Cakes

A North Riding version of the English king’s culinary ineptitude.

Ev ya ivver eard tell a that teeal aboot King Alfred an’ t’ceeakes? It war a lang tahme back – when t’ King were fighting t’ Daanes soomwheear doon i’ t’ sooth. ‘E rammled off intit coounthry – an’ put on cleeas te mak issen lewk like yan o’ t’ coounthry fooakes, d’ye see. Yah daay – scraffling alang – ‘e cam tiv a lahtle wooden ‘oose – an lifted t’ sneck an gooad in. E seed at ther wer greeat rooaring fire – an at t’ ooad wooman were beeaking keeakes.

‘Cum thi ways in’, sha said, ‘Ah’s fair clashed ta deead , an ain’t tahme te dawdle wi thee – fer ahve joost getten t’ keeakes it yune, an ah es anutter joadther te neead, sea tha can joost lewk efther em, an whativer tha dis, mahned tha dissent bon em – fer ahve joost sliped oot t’ worral ole – ant yune’s varry nigh rid yat: an be sartin te ton em beath sahds tit’ uther – else thou’ll kep it.’

Bur ‘is mahnd were moithered like an e fergat all aboot t’ keeakes - an tha began ti bon, an t’ ooad wooman smelt t’ reek – an cam back i’ sike a fullock an all ...................

(G. Hardwicke (North Riding) 1924)



WI Gentle, Modest Ways

A poem advocating the adoption of a modest and humble demeanour, the second verse runs as follows:

Ther’s sum ‘at struts an’ stammers

Becos they’ve getten on,

They’ll mayhap miss t’morrer,

An’ life an’ wealth bi gone.

Best men i’ all creation

Are modest i’ ther ways,

An’ t’ humblest are most thankful

An’ full o’ honest praise.

(Ben Turner (West Riding) 1931)



Wha wod a thowt it?

Part of F.E Jackson’s observations concerning a once thriving railway station now in a state of dereliction.

Ah stood o’ t’ station platform, an Ah wor glad that oor faythers wor safe an’ soond i’ the’ graves, an’ edn’t lived ti see syke an’ a seet. Ah thowt o’ all  t’ fooaks ‘at used ti swarm on ti this ‘ere platform , an’ noo it seeamed ti swarm wi’ ants, an’ ti feel as deead as a graveyard. The’ wor fooak ‘at used ti gan bi t’ train teea an’ frae the’ wark ivvery day, farmers an’ the’ womenfooak went ti t’ market ivvery week, an’ t’ bairns, fresh as daisies, went o’ the’ Sunda’ skeeal trips, an’ the’ com back wi’ sticks o’ rock, an’ buckets an’ spades, ready for the’ beds.............

(FE Jackson (East Riding) 1967.)



 Hitler is a bad un!

An extract from Ian Dewhirst’s amusing story about an attempt to train a pet budgie to make uncomplimentary remarks about the late and unlamented Adolf Hitler.

Aw hed to hev a gert big green blinnd at t’ winder i’ them days , for t’ black-aht, an ivvery mornin’ Aw hed it to winnd up. Allus, when Ah wor winndin’ it, Ah use to say, ‘Hitler is a bad un!’ Aye, ivvery mornin’, ‘Hitler is a bad un!’ as Ah wor winndin’ t’ blinnd up. An’ it worn’t Lang afore Joey wor sayin’, ‘Hitler is a -.’ an’ then he’d stop. Just, ‘Hitler is a -.’ ‘Hitler is a -.’

For wiks Ah tried to get him to say ‘bad un’. but he wodn’t , though he’d say ‘Hitler is a -.’ But he said ‘Little Boy Blue plain eniff (though Ah nivver gat him to say ‘Come blow up yer horn’). He sahnded t’ letter ‘b’s wonderful i’ ‘Little Boy Blue’ Soa Ah gat to think he wor reight Hitler man, wor Joey. He wodn’t call him a bad un at nowt. Just ‘Hitler is a -. Hitler is a-.’................

(Ian Dewhirst (West Riding) 1968.)




An extract from Ruth Harrison Dent’s poem about parental thoughts and feelings as a young daughter sets off to her first day at school.

Wi’ satchel on her back, she gans

Away doon t’ lane te t’ gate.

Tis fost day off ti skeul, tha knaas,

I hooape she wean’t bi late.


Tis lonely Ah’ll bi when she’s gone,

Ah’s nut afeard ti say.

An Ah’ll bi watchin’ tahm cum roond

Ti fower o’clock teday


Hoo will she git on wi her sums?

Ah wunner if t’ milks pure?

These thowts cum tummlin’ ti mi mahnd

Aye, these and many more.

(Ruth Harrison Dent (North Riding) 1988)



T’ Peggin Rug

A nostalgic reference to the past when life was harder but perhaps more satisfying. These are the first two verses of Christine Thistlethwaite's poem about the making a rug by hand using old clothes.

‘Not another hoil in t’ ‘earthrug?!

Aye! Sithee, worn reight through!

They don’t mek things ter last these days,

Not like they used ter do.

Tek ‘earthrugs fer an instance,

Wi’ ther fancy nylon pile,

Right posh they look when spankin’ new-

But yer notice in a while

‘Ow dull they’ve gone, an’ kind o’ frayed,

An’ t’ pile all worn an’ flat,

I allus says ther’s nowt can beat

T’ owd-fashion peggin mat.



When t’ winter neets were drawin’ in

(No telly then tha knows!)

Me mam ud start ter sooart things out,

Owd coits and worn-out clothes.

Ther’d be a job fer each of us

While some cut t’ cloth in strips,

Another cut aw t’ buttons of

An’ t’ ooks an’ eyes an’ zips.

We clipped until wer fingers ached

An’ thumbs were near red raw,

By heck! It wor a stallin’ job

Wi’ bits all ower t’ floor!

(Christine Thistlethwaite (West Riding) 1996)



Virtual Reality

An extract from an amusing poem by Audrey Bemrose highlighting the problems of the generation gap as it relates to computers and Information Technology.

Oor Jonny, e’s bowt a computer,

Thoo knaws, yan o’ them

New-fangl’d things.

"Come on Mam", e sez,

"Clap thi fing’rs on ere,

Send thi wods aroond t’ wold

O’ ther wings."


"Noo thoo knaws

That Ah’s frittened o flyin"

Ah answered im sharp

Wiv a shoot.

"Oh no Mam" e sez

"Thoo can bi there an back

Wi nivver neah need

Ti gan oot."


"Why ‘oo can that be

It seams funny ti me

Ti go somewheear

An still be at yam.

Ah deant understand

Just ‘oo it’s been planned

An ‘oo will knaw weear Ah am?

(Audrey Bemrose, Bridlington, E.R.)




The following is an extract of Yorkshire prose taken directly from Walter Turner’s Goodies, a collection of stories in Yorkshire dialect.

It fair caps me what for fooaks want te it goodies i’ Choch! Yan wad reallye think ‘at soomm fooaks couldn’t saah ther prayers wivoot a goody i’ ther moothes. It caps owt! It dis Ah seer. T’ parson o’ Soondah ad nobbut joost getten inti t’pew , an a fat oard woman i’ t’seeat i’ froont o’ me thowt sher were fooast te ev a goody. An sher parzels ’er and awaah roond tiv ER greeat oard pockit at t’ back , an’ began scrattin aboot, an’ rattlin kays an paaper an sike like, te see if sher could finnd a bit o’ goody. An there sher war laatin an scrattin aboot, like a en on a moock midden, wharl wer gat te t’ Psalms. An sher gat that vexed, becos sher couldn’t finnd yan o’ onny sooart, sher could scaarce bard. Sher bleeamed t’ bairns, yer knaw, for gerrin tiv ‘ER pockit throof t’ week. Sher knawed sher’d left twe or tree o’ t’ last Soondah, d’yer see? Or else sher wad a getting soomm mare when she were i’ Pickering Set’dah neet; bud noo sher couldn’t finnd yan, naather a mint, ner a rooase, ner a acid, ner a anise, ner owt.................

(Turner; 1912: 1)



Austin Hyde, F. (1916) Home Thoughts from France. In A. Kellett and I. Dewhirst (eds), (1997) A Century of Yorkshire Dialect, Otley: Smith Settle Ltd

Bemrose, A. (19??) Virtual reality. In Summer Bulletin, No 46, June, 1999, Yorkshire Dialect Society.

Dent, R.H. (1988) Skeul. In A. Kellett and I. Dewhirst (eds), (1997) A Century of Yorkshire Dialect, Otley: Smith Settle LTD

Dewhirst, I. (1968) Hitler is a bad un! In A. Kellett and I. Dewhirst (eds), (1997) A Century of Yorkshire Dialect, Otley: Smith Settle Ltd.

Hardwicke, G. (1924) King Alfred and the Cakes. In A. Kellett and I. Dewhirst (eds), (1997) A Century of Yorkshire Dialect, Otley: Smith Settle LTD

Jackson, F.E. (1967) Wha wod a thowt it? In A. Kellett and I. Dewhirst (eds), (1997) A Century of Yorkshire Dialect, Otley: Smith Settle LTD

Thistlethwaite, C. (1996) T' Peggin Rug. In A. Kellett and I. Dewhirst (eds), (1997) A Century of Yorkshire Dialect, Otley: Smith Settle LTD

Turner, B. (1931) Wi Gentle Modest Ways. In A. Kellett and I. Dewhirst (eds), (1997) A Century of Yorkshire Dialect, Otley: Smith Settle LTD

Turner, W. F. (1912) Goodies and other stories in the Yorkshire dialect, London: Dennis and Sons Ltd.

Turner, W. F (1916) The Good Awd Tahms. In A. Kellett and I. Dewhirst (eds), (1997) A Century of Yorkshire Dialect, Otley: Smith Settle LTD