“Was wont Wally, as ford?”

It’s English, but not as we know it. It’s one of those phrases that I heard with my own ears outside Woolworths ( always named in the plural despite being singular on the sign ) in Wigan when I was about 12 years old. As I went to school with kids who grew up with a strong local accent I found it quite easy to translate especially as I was a witness to the incident that gave rise to the question. A small child, no doubt called Wallace, or Wally for short, had fallen down outside the aforementioned Woolworths in front of his parents. Wally was crying loudly in pain and his concerned mother uttered the question to him. Which translated into received English is “What’s the matter Wallace, have you fallen?” I went home from this incident and my parents enjoyed the story and it entered our familial usage. An incident that required an expletive would be greeted with the shortened “Was want?” a tribute to Wallace who we all hope had recovered.

Incidentally, the steps outside Woolworths in Wigan were notorious for people falling. Our next door neighbour in the town broke her arm dreaming of falling down these very steps. Mrs Green, in normal life a policewoman as they called them in those days, and a formidable one too, did have to have some time off work when she succumbed to the steps in a dream, the jolt as she dreamt of falling down these very steps broke her arm.

Here in the USA we are managing to survive under clear unrelenting blue skies. I look at the weather forecast and the same old story persists. Sunny again. Percentage chance of rain? Zero. We’ll just have to manage. Was want?

This is a very large house, and a massive tree.
Typical back street, Starsky and Hutch taking a drive…

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