Traveller's tales

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

What would Ammon Wrigley have said?

Sitting on a picnic bench next to the converted railway goods yard in Greenfield, a village in Saddleworth, and the one I grew up in, I started to think about what local writer, Ammon Wrigley - he wrote in the early years of the 20thy Century - would have said about the way we live our lives in the 21st Century.

I thought about how Saddleworth has changed since my mother and father, myself and my younger sister used to walk across from Royal George to my grandparents house on the other side of the Tame valley.

Of course, everywhere has changed – I know that – but the changes in Saddleworth hit me more than do the changes I see in other places. I suppose that’s because Saddleworth played an important part in my life for more than 40 years. It still does, but these days its place is not as prominent as it used to be. I visit every summer; and it’s a bit like visiting an old friend or a close relative, and seeing new wrinkles on their brow; seeing that they are growing older reminds me that I am also growing older, and I suppose that’s what makes returning to Saddleworth so poignant. I feel this way every year. I think it is called the human condition.

He’d have looked around, looked at all the rushing about and all the building that’s going on and perhaps he’d have said something like this:

(NB. Written in the dialect of the Saddleworth of Ammon Wrigley's day)

“What’s all this rushing about for – folks can’t speak to each other while they’re rushing everywhere like they do.

I’m asking thee t’ question, but I reckon I already know th’ answer – it’s all about brass – money – makin ‘ more and more of it, but you know you canna take it with you, and you haven’t time to spend it, so what does tha need to mek more and more of it – that’s my real question!

Now, I’m sure that a lot of folk as live in all these new houses are bringin’ up young uns – childer. Now, I’m not so old er so quaint as to think you don’t need brass to do that – you need plenty of brass to feed and clothe kiddies, but mekin’ more brass than tha needs, that’s summat else entirely besides getting’ enough to bring a young family into this world.

Makin’ brass has taken over, it’s getten its own momentum, so that how much brass tha makes sort of determines how other folk look at thee. But that’s no road to judge a man, or a woman either, for that matter.

If tha’rt goin’ to do that, tha needs a lot more to go on than how much a bloke’s worth – you need to know what’s in his heart and in his mind – how he sees himself and what he thinks his life is for and how he goes about it – you need to look at how he is with his fellow man – with his neighbours – and if he’s God-fearin’ and true to what’s reet, not what’s wrong in this mixed up world of ours.”

Robert L. Fielding
20.06.06 (my Dad’s birthday)

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