I recently picked up a copy of the book “The Boy John Letters” by the Norfolk humorist Sidney Grapes which has proved to be a very entertaining read. The book reprints a series of letters which were originally published in the Eastern Daily Press between 1946 and 1958, written by Sidney Grapes in the Norfolk dialect under the pseudonym of “The Boy John”, and featuring the adventures of the fictional characters of Granfar, Aunt Agatha and their neighbour, ould Mrs W. Born in Potter Heigham in 1888, Sidney ran a bicycle shop and garage, continuing to live in the village until his death in 1958. He became a well known figure in the area with his comedic performances, both on stage and on the radio, and through his letters to the EDP. With Christmas upon us, I thought I’d reproduce a small, seasonal snippet of Sidney’s humour, originally published on December 24th, 1949 in a letter which was titled “Getting Riddy For Christmas”.
“Deer Sar – We’re hully busy a gittin’ riddy for Xmas. Granfar he brort home a grate bunch o’ Crissmas wot he’d gathered, but Aunt Agatha, she own’t ha’ that indoors afore Xmas Eve, she say that unlucker, so Granfar left it in the shud. Aunt Agatha, she has’ meard the pudden, we orl sturred it ‘cept Granfar, she wunt let him, cos he had a cold in his hid. She sed she’d put sum rum in it, she say: “I ha’ got a little in the house, wot I keep in cearse none on us dint feel well.” Granfar he say to Aunt Agatha: “I’m werry sorrer, but I dint feel well yisterday.” Well then she meard him go down to the pub to git sum more. He dint mind (but he was gorne sum time).”
The book is still in print, published by the Mousehold Press, and is available through their website or other online bookstores. More information about Sidney Grapes can be found on the Literary Norfolk website, and the Friends of Norfolk Dialect website is also well worth a visit!