Oral History

Cheips Wi' Old Stockiners' was first published by the Hinckley Times in the 1890s

'Cheips wi' Old Stockiners' is the name of a series of five articles. 'Cheips Wi' Old Stockiners' was first published by the Hinckley Times in the 1890s. This is a fine example of an oral history transcript of this period, by an interviewer who signs himself 'T'. It gives an insight into the cottage industry and the sort of lives people lived.

Article 3 - Liza Digby's Top

A” Wer I among th'old folks up at Muster Atkinses the tother dee? Ay, that I wer, and a downright good time on it I ed an'all. We -but theer it wer all in the paper, an' folks are bin talking about it ivver sin, so I needn't tell yer what we done, cos yer know a'ready. But I wer surprised to say Old Zach Collins theer. I thowt 'e wer dead or bad abed or summat, but theer 'e wer as lively as a butterpadge, old as 'e es. Its monny a long year agoo sin Zach used to plee the offecide. What dint yo know as 'e ivver did plee one? Why, if it ednt a bin for 'is presence o' mind an' 'is offecide, 'e'd nivver a married Liza Dighy. 'E said so issen up at the big house tother dee when I reminded 'im on it.

Yer know it were like this 'ere; it appened a matter o'sixty 'ear agoo, an' there were tow on em hankering arter the same gell - Zach Collins an' Peter Black, Salty Peter we used to call 'im. Liza Digby were as smart a gel as ivver I set eyes on; that made tuthree young chaps gie'er a luke: and she'ed a nice little nest-egg as he granfeyther, old Ebenezer Smith, left 'er, that fetched one or tew more arter 'er, and altogether she ed a fairish follerin.

The tew favourites, howsomivver, was Zach Collins and Salty Peter. Folks allus said as Peter were after her 'appence; 'e were a bag-hosier and when some on us eerd im grumblin cos 'e couldnt afford to set up a oss an'cart, we told 'im to foller 'is noise and set up a wife an' oss an' cart at the same time, an' 'e'd wink an' say It woont be my fort if I doont.” 'E allus ed plenty of cheek, ed Salty. Zach dint same t'ev goo enuff in 'im to mek up tr'a wench; 'e were a street-forrard feller enew, but ednt got the gift of the gablike Peter ed, and the consequence were as Peter made about all the running, altho Liza allus ed a likin for Zach, she ed.

Well, just at that time a lot on us at our chapel, as were fond o' singin an' pleeing an' sich, leed us 'eds together and called a meetin i' the skewl-room to get up a concert party, like a little choral society, jist a band an' chorus among ussens yer know. There were Zach and Peter (Peter were a fiddler), an' Liza as sang treble, and may ar pleed the flute a bit, and Joe Winkle with the bass viol, an' Funny Muggins, the bass singer, and 'Arriet Growdridge as sung alto an' gen it lip like a tenor ommost, and praps twenty moor theer as either sung or pleed. Neb Gamble were theer; 'e sung bass, and pleed the vy-o-ler, and mended 'armomum bellus, and was reckoned a fustrate musician allround, so we voted him to the cheer; baying a pit of a scholard we made 'im secketairy an' all.

Sumbody said sammat about a conductor, but old Joey Winkle said we didnt want nobdy a beatin time nor nothink o' thattun, we wernt a set o' novices as knowed nothink about moosic, an' if 'e couldnt reckon fewer i' the bar by 'issen 'e wunt jine the band; so cos we ednt got another bass viol pleer, 'cept Joe, we kep'im an' done wi'out a conductor. There were a long argyment as to what we should tattle to fust. Billy Wacks, the tenor said 'e knowed of a nice pace called sumdy in Egypt, wi' some good tenor wuk in; and Joe Winkle sez “Or, let's dew that, they is some gran' bass viol stuff in that, they is'; but we wunt ay no cottar wi' that, and at last decided to ger up a sacred concert, wi bits and bobs out o' one thing or another, an' the overture from the Messiah, cos Peter knowed the fust fiddle part o' that well. So Liza were put on a treble solo, and Neb and Billy Wacks and 'Arriet on one apiece, and tuthree choruses finished the ticket.

Well we went a practising twice a wick, and a rare job we ed an all. The pegs in Joe's bass viol were allus wukking loose, and jist as 'e were a leeing on a bit, one on em 'ud slither down so 'a 'e pleed a note like a calf ooting. Then the wenches'd gie o'er singing and start larfing and so on.

Liza were that nervous oer'er solo as she were frit o'letting goo on the top A in the last bar, and axed Peter to lead 'or wi'is fiddle oer that orkard run, and up to that top note, so'sshe'd be sure o'not cracking on it, an' Peter went hum wi' her a time or tew to run it oer wi'er. Yer can back all this made Zach fale a bit down in the mouth; and 'e sot theer lukein oer another chap's music and putting in sich bits as 'e e'd manage on 's offedide and looking bleek.

The night of the concert come at last, and ivvery body were all of a sweat wi' excisement. Peter ad a new coat and fancy green tie a purpus, Zach ed 'is 'air cut and iled, and fetched out 'is feyther's old yeller wescot, Joey beeswaxed 'is bass viol tell yer c' a seed yer fa-ace in it, and Liza were got out grand in frills and flounces and sich. There were a nice few folks comes, and the parson gen out the programmes. Th' overture went very well considerin, ony Peter went at it bell tinker in sich a style as 'e knocked 's moosic down and being the only fust fiddler theer, it madea bit of a gap i' the tune when 'e stopped and puck it up; and one key were gone off o' my flute, and the bit o'chewed paper as I stopped up th' ole wi' kep a comin out.

Nowt else pertickler appened tell Liza's solo; she sung it well enew, but towards the end she begun to turn red an' kep a lukein at Peter, an' 'e nodded as much as to say It's all right, gie it sock” and then all of a sudden ivverybody jumped, for one o' Peter's strings went off wi a crack and 'ot 'im i' the eye, and 'e gen oer pleeing and started a rubbing on it, and left Liza to do that orkard bar and got the top A by 'ersen.

This were wheer Zach came in, for 'o pops up 'is offecide and gen 'er the octavo o' the top note so's she got it out clear and in fine style, the 'e luked as if 'o wished issen i' the Sketchley Bruck while. Peter luked as if 'e c'd a slew Zach, and Liza and the offecide and all the rest on us.

Arter the concert wer oer she guz out past Peter and sez to 'im, Salty, yer a gret fule,” and 'e slunk off wi' 'is green bag under 's arm like a dog wi' a burnt teel. The folks all come up to Liza and told 'er ow well she'd sung, and she said to Zach Zach, are yer gooing my road? and 'e sez or, and shouldered 'is offecide on one arm and gen 'er the tother and walked off wi' 'er as proud as Punch. The banns were gen out at th' old Church not long arter. Moosic's a wonderful thing, eent it.