The Beard Watson Bloke Lets Go

From Chapter 6, They’re a Weird Mob, by Nino Culotta (John O’Grady).

We drank about three cups of tea each, while Joe told us about “a bloke I ’ad workin’ fer me one time—this bloke,” he said, “was a chemist, see. An’ ’e ’ad a beard. Reck­oned ’e was trainin’ for the Olympic Games so ’e could win by a whisker. Said ’e was sick o’ bein’ a chemist, an’ wanted the exercise. I give ’im a start. … this time I’m tellin’ yez about we was buildin’ a garage. She was an ex­ca­va­tion job, an’ we ’ad to un­der­pin the bloody house. … there was all this and diggin’ ter get under the foun­da­tions an’ tom ’em up fer the brickwork. So I get some planks, an’ make a run fer the barrer. Were was you then, Jimmy?”


“That’s right. Finishin’ orf that job o’ Smitty’s. I give this Beard Watson bloke a mattock an’ shovel, an’ we get stuck into ut. She was a bastard down that ’ole. Hot as ’ell. I’m trimmin’ the back face an’ chuckin’ the clay up the top, an’ ’e’s bullockin’ in under the foundations, an’ wheelin’ ’is lot up the run. Goin’ orright, too. Then I ’ear this bloody crash, an ’ere ’e is arse up under the run with the barrer on top of ’im. I though ’e’d killed ’imself until I ’ear ’im swearin.’ Pat think he c’n swear, but ’e’s only a starter com­pared ter this bloke. ’E’ pickin’ ’imself up any callin’ the barrow everything, an’ I told ’im, I sez, never ’ang onto a barrer mate, I sez. Let ’er go if she starts, I sez. Better a broken barrer than a broken neck, I sez. ’E sez—I tried to ’old ’er. I sez, never do that mate, I sez. ’E says I didn’ want ’er ter fall where she did. I sez don’ matter where she falls mate, let ’er go. ’E sez O.K. We was diggin’ fer about another ’alf hour, an’ ’e sez wot are yer gonna ’ave fer lunch Joe? I sez—I got me sand­wiches an’ a couple o’ hunks o’ cake an’ a bit o’ fruit I sez. ’E sez—yer did ’ave. I sez wodda yer mean I did ’ave, I sez. ’E sez—ut was parked in the shade near the planks there were the barrer got away from me. I sez—yer meanter say ut’s still under that bloody heap? ’E sez—could be. ’Aven’t seen ut come out. An’ ’e just goes on diggin’ as if ’e didn’ give a bugger. I shift the clay orf ut, an’ y’ orter seen ut. Flat as Aunt Maud’s chest. Paper all torn an’ yer can’t tell wot’s sand­wiches an’ wot’s dirt. ’E says yer c’n ’ave some o’ mine, I got plenty ’e sez. I sez yer know what yer c’n do with yours, dontcher? ’E sez, I don’t like ut that way, ut give me indegestion. I c’n see the funny side of ut now, but gees, I coulda killed ’im at the time.”