A travelling bard.

One afternoon when I was about eight or nine, we returned to the empty farmhouse at Larkfield. There was a note under a stone on the windowsill, at the back door. It was scribbled in pencil on a torn sheet of lined paper. My mother laughed and read it out. As best I can remember, it went something like this. Certainly, it mentioned ‘tea’ and ‘the dog’s nip’.

My mother said that it was probably a travelling man, wanting a mug of tea and a slice of bread. He’d give you a note when he goes, as a ‘Thanks’. Sometimes he might want to sleep in the loft, though he had his favourite houses roundabout. He’d carry stories and recite poems. In summertime he could sleep outside, at the back of a ditch maybe. The tinkers used to come around too, with their tin cans and porringers for sale. They would mend buckets and such, with holes in them, here in the street.

I came with a blessing, and for a sup of cold tea,

Got the dog’s nip, for my trouble, ye see.

And bad cess to ye all, if ye hid from my sight.

Sure the next time I call, ye can put it to right.

Unknown travelling bard, around the late 1950s.


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