Kit Calvert


Kit in the early 70s
There’s a chap ‘at lives – an’ allus has
I’ Upper Wensladill,
A better soart Ah niver Knew,
Ah doot Ah niver will.
Though what he looks like, seemin’ly,
He disn’t care a lot,
Ye might just leet ti catch him shaved,
But just as likely not.

Ye’ll moastly finnd him puffin’ at
A owd weel-seeasoned clay,
An’ just hoo lang he’s had that hat
Ah wodn’t like ti say.
But them ‘at’s knahn him lang eneeaf
Has come ti understand,
‘At he’s reight man ti ga tiv if
Ye want a helpin’ hand.

He preyches on t’ first day o’ t’ week,
An’ practises on t’ others.
All on us, rich an’ poor alike,
To him is men an’ brothers.
“Whoiver can it be”? ye say,
Nay, have a bit o’ wit:
Who could it be but t’ lad fra Haas,
Oor one an’ only Kit?

This piece of prose was written by Kit Calvert about his grandmother from Burtersett.

“Owd Mary”

My grandmother, dead these last forty years, was almost the last of a fine type of Victorian dalesfolk. She lived at the bottom of the world, and poverty was her constant companion, but “Owd Mary”, as she was known to every member of our village, was rich in friends and memories. Compared with our present assessment of good citizenship, grandmother would be thought a bit of a character. The following page out of her life is typical of her.

“Put t’fire to t’oven Ann, while I go on to Billy Willie’s for a few bits o’ things t’bake wi’.”

Ann was grandmother’s eldest daughter, and Billy Willie was the local grocer.

She donned her shawl, picked up her basket and purse which contained one half-crown, the only money she possessed, and set off for her “baking stuff”.

Before she arrived at the grocers, she called in to see how the Jacksons were getting on. The Jacksons were a working class family whose breadwinner was often ailing, and the time of our story being before the days of “Lloyd George”, no work meant no meat.

The Jacksons were both ill in bed, needing attention. Grandmother sizing up the situation, lit a fire and took each a cup of tea, but found that the real trouble was starvation. Leaving the couple a little more comfortable, she toddled away to the grocers, and instead of buying her “baking things” she began to make purchases of goods needed in the sick home.

“I’m buying these for Jacksons who are both i’ bed “clammed” (starved), I think I’ve got all that’s wanted. How much Willie?”.

“Four and six Mary”.

“I’ve nobbut hauf a crown, ye’ll hev’ t’ tak’ that”. Willie accepted the half crown and wrote up two shillings on the slate.

Arriving back at Jacksons, grandmother placed her purchases in the cupboard, and called on a neighbour to give an eye to these “tweea badly folk”. Eventually, she turned in home with an empty basket and an empty purse.

“Thou’d better rake t’fire from under t’oven, Ann, we can’t bake today”.

“What for?”, asked her daughter.

“I’ve called in at Jacksons, and they’re both i’ bed nobbut middling, and nowt in t’house, so I used my half-crown to git ’em summat”.

“We’ll starve Mother, if we can’t bake”.

“Nivver mind, you can stand hunger better when yan’s weel, than when yan’s badly, we’ll manage somehow”.

Somehow they did manage, and a few days afterwards grandmother had to go shopping again, and after she had made her purchases, Willie remarked, “That’s one and nine, and two shillings left on t’slate, mak’s three and nine”.

“Nay nivver, Willie, ye’ve nowt on t’slate for me. What I got t’other day was for Jacksons who had nowt to live on”.

“But ye bowt ’em Mary”,

“I telled ye I had nobbut hauf a crown. Seurly ye’ll share, out of your abundance, with my all, to help a neighbour that’s starving?”.

“But Mary, I’m nut a shopkeeper to give stuff away, to do that would land me where the Jacksons are”.

“Willie, I truly hope that day may nivver come, but if it does, and I,m here to see it, i’ll do t’same for ye as I’ve done for Jacksons”. But that’s by the way. T’fact of t’matter today is, I’ll nivver give you that two bob”.

As far as I know she never did.

Christopher (Kit) Calvert in his later years

Taken at Hawes gala.

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The Dales