Join date: Jun 14, 2022

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They were married on the Saturday after Easter. It was a quiet affair in that they hadn’t a big ceilidh They went by brake to the Catholic church in Jarrow, together with Ruth, Paddy, Lizzie, Jimmy, and Bill Waggett. A great deal of tact and persuasion had to be used on Gran Waggett in order that she should stay behind. Who was going to help Kathleen Leary with the tables? And anyway, Kathleen being who she was needed somebody to direct her, and who better than Gran herself?

Janie’s wedding finery was plain but good, for her flounced grey coat had once belonged to her mistress, as had also the blue flowered cotton dress she wore underneath. Her blue straw hat she had bought herself, and her new brown buttoned boots too.

She was trembling as she knelt at the altar rails, but then the church was icy cold and the priest himself looked blue in the face and weary into the bargain. He mumbled the questions: Wilt thou have this man? Wilt thou have this woman? And they in turn mumbled back.

After they had signed their names and Rory had kissed her in front of them all they left the church and got into the brake again, which was now surrounded by a crowd of screaming children shouting ‘Hoy a ha’penny oot! Hoy a ha’penny oot!’

They had come prepared with ha’pennies. Ruth and Lizzie and Jimmy threw them out from both sides of the brake; but they were soon finished and when there were no more forthcoming the shouts that followed them now were, ‘Shabby weddin’ . . . shabby weddin’,’ and then the concerted chorus of:

Fleas in yer blankets,

No lid on your netty,

To the poor house you’re headin’,

Shabby weddin’, shabby weddin’.

The fathers laughed and Ruth clicked her tongue and Lizzie said, ‘If I was out there I’d skite the hunger off them. By God! I would.’ But Janie and Rory just smiled, and Jimmy, sitting silently at the top end of the brake, his hands dangling between his knees, looked at them, and part of him was happy, and part of him, a deep hidden part, was aching.


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