performed by
Bernard Miles

I 'ear ole Billy Collets dead, across at Ivinghoe, Aston.
Last Friday 'e died.
I reckon they'll miss 'im over there.
They don't grow 'em like ole Billy every day.
'E cut 'ole in 'is gas mask so 'e could get 'is pipe through.
Used to do all 'is own cookin' you know. In one of these little Emmanuel saucepans.
Ole Mrs Webden used to go in there every three or four weeks and give it a wash out for 'im. Cos 'e lived all by hisself after 'is ole gal died.
Arr, 'e thought the world of 'er you know.
'E used to worry 'isself to death cos she wasn't married.
'E was a rare one was ole Billy.
They don't grow 'em like him every day.
'E could spit on a flea. "Weell," 'e used to say, "Why crack 'em when you can drown 'em?"
Haa, an' 'e always 'ad a hanswer, you know, no matter who 'e was atalkin' to.
You couldn't catch 'im out.
I remember when 'e got a job as a railway porter acrorse at Cheddington; durin' the war, you know, when they took down all the signs an' labels an' that off everything, so as we shouldn't know where we was.
Well, the first mornin' 'e was on duty he forgot where 'e was. But 'e wasn't catched out, you know. Wasn't catched out. When 'is first train steamed in 'e just 'ollered out, "'Ere you are, for where you're goin', all you in there for here get out."
Arr. I remember when 'e moved into one of them ole cottages, down by Wellcroft, a proper old 'un, you know, with outdoor sanitorium an' that.
Arr, an' that garden wasn't 'alf in a pickle. Well it 'adn't been lived in for nigh on eight years, you know; there was thistles five foot 'igh!
But 'e mastered it, 'e got that so's you wouldn't a knowed it.
You wouldn't a knowed it I tell ya. Taters, cauliflowers, cabbages, lettuces, geraniums - you wouldn't a knowed it I tell ya!
The ole vicar come walkin' by one day and sticks 'is ead over the wall.
'E says "Arr Willie," 'e says, "Its wonderful what God can do in a garden, with a little help, ain't it?"
And ole Willie says "Arr, but you should 'a' seen it when 'e ad it to isself."
Always 'ad a answer, you know.
Not like ole Toggy Bygraves acrorse at Pitston.
He was supposed to 've bin dead 'n' buried one time. Ole Morty went over an' measured 'im up. Arr, 'e ad 'is coffin nearly finished, 'e'd only got to polish it and put the 'andles on.
And then ole Toggy come round. 'E lived another nine year!
Poor ole Morty wasn't 'alf wild.
'E says, "'Ow about that coffin, Toggy?"
An' ole Toggy says, "All right," 'e says, "I'll have it," 'e says, "I dare say it'll come in handy some day," 'e says. "Put me 'alf a dozen shelves in it," 'e says, "so's we can use that for a cupboard," 'e says.
Ar, 'e 'ad that standin' up in 'is kitchen for nine year; 'longside the fireplace. "Well, that'll keep it warm, anyhow," he says.
I says to 'im "Lucky job you finished growin', i'nt it," an' 'e laughed. Course 'e was a wonderful farmer, was ole Toggy, you know.
'E used to say, "Treat yer land same as you treat a baby, keep its face clean and its bottom dry."
But 'e 'ad very loose lungs. They used to blow about in windy weather!
You could 'ear 'em acreakin'.
'E used to eat lead shot to 'old 'em down, you know, else they reckon he'd 'a' blowed away.
The end