A Nice Pair of Coconuts – Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers

Flash Fiction for for Aspiring Writers is a writing challenge hosted by Priceless Joy. It asks us to write a piece of fiction from the photo prompt provided in around 100-150 words – give or take 25 words. It encourages us to comment, constructively, on other entries, so supporting each other’s writing. If you’d like to join in with this challenge, follow the above link to see what to do. The challenge runs from Tuesday to Tuesday every week.

Here is this week’s prompt, courtesy of Pixabay:

wpid-photo-20150816175959521

And this is my story, for which I’ve resurrected the pair of incorrigible rogues, Fred and Harry, who haven’t made an appearance in my flash fiction for a while now. I’ve added a note about the Yorkshire dailect below:

*

Harry Hobson squinted at the many colourful stalls and gave a loud belch.

‘Grand fair,’ he said, glancing at his equally inebriated drinking buddy. ‘I think I’ll get one of them there balloons t’ tek home ter missus. Might stop ’er rantin’ about me bein’ in pub too long.’

Fred pulled a face. ‘Yer’ve tried that tactic afore, mate. An’ look where it got yer … sleepin’ on sofa for a week.’

‘Can’t blame me fer tryin’, Fred. Anyways, I like balloons meself. Might buy a couple … yer know: ‘His an’ Hers’. Women go all gooey over that kind o’ stuff.’

‘Your Nora goes ‘gooey’ ’bout nowt, Harry, except mebbe Bingo on Wednesday nights wi’ my Doreen.’

‘A man’s got t’ try ter be a good ’usband,’ Harry replied, fishing his wallet out of his pocket and scowling at its meagre contents. ‘P’raps I’ll leave the balloon buyin’ ’til next week, Fred. I need me last few quid ter have a go on that coconut shy yonder…

‘Nora’d like a nice pair o’ coconuts…’

Word Count: 175

*

For anyone not familiar with the Yorkshire dialect, here’s a note about it:

1. Many words have either the first or last letter missing – a form of lazy speech:

Her has the first letter dropped (e.g. ‘look at ’er’) as does the word about (e.g. ‘It’s ’bout time, too!’) Sleeping has the last letter dropped (e.g. sleepin’) as do the words being (e.g. bein’) and ranting (rantin’.)

 2. Some words have more than one letter missing:

‘Come with me’ becomes ‘Come wi’ me’. Perhaps becomes ‘p’raps’.

To is often written just as a t (e.g. ‘Fish ‘n’ chips t’ tek away, please.’ In that sentence the and is also reduced to just the middle letter n.

3. Completely missed out words are often open to guesswork:

‘Lets’ go fer a walk in woods’ – instead of ‘a walk in the woods’.  And ‘I’m off to the pub’ becomes ‘Im off t’ pub.’

4. Some words are simply down to Northern pronunciation:

For becomes fer. (e.g. ‘It’s a present fer Nora.’) To becomes ter (e.g. ‘I’ll give the balloon ter Nora.’) Nothing becomes nowt. ( e.g. ‘It’s nowt to do wi’ me!’) Take becomes tek. Before becomes afore. Maybe becomes mebbe.

*

My ‘extra information’ was again too long to attach to this post, so I’ve made it into a post of its own. For anyone interested, it can be found here.

*

If you’d like to view other entries, click the little blue frog below:

 

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About milliethom

I am a reader and writer of historical fiction with a keen interest in the Earth's history and all it involves, both physically and socially. I like nothing better than to be outdoors, especially in faraway places, and baking is something I do when my eyes need respite from my computer screen.
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52 Responses to A Nice Pair of Coconuts – Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers

  1. Pingback: Come to the Fair! | Millie Thom

  2. Hahaha! Cute story Millie. I have a feeling Nora might cram those coconuts down his throat. LOL Just kidding. I don’t think she is going to be too happy with a pair of coconuts. Enjoyed the story Millie and found your footnote about the dialect very interesting! Now I’m going to go and read your other part. Thank you for participating in the FFfAW challenge!

    • milliethom says:

      Thank you, PJ. I almost did another historical story for this prompt, but having done a historical one last week, I thought I’d better have a change. I made the Yorkshire dialect a little bit simpler this time and left out all the thees and thous. Last time I used this dialect, I had people tell me they couldn’t understand it – that’s why I did the note about it at the end. I know a lot of readers speak English as a second language, so it must be hard for them to interpret broad dialects. 🙂

      • You’re right Millie and I hadn’t thought about that – people that speak English as a second language having difficulty reading dialects. That was a good idea to put an explanation in about it. I thought the story was great and I could understand the dialect.

      • milliethom says:

        Thanks, PJ. no one has said they didn’t understand it yet. I deliberately didn’t use thees and thous this time, but words like that are still used in parts of Yorkshire. At least the Yorkshire dialect is easier to understand than the Geordie one (People from N.E. England, around the Newcastle-on-Tyne area.) Even other English people have difficulty interpreting that one when they speak quickly!

      • I understand! I have a hard time understanding Cajun people talking. They are US French/Southern that live in Louisiana.

      • milliethom says:

        Yes, I imagine that is difficult, unless you speak French quite well. The Cajun language has probably become a mix of English and French. I’d love to hear what they sound like – but probably wouldn’t understand a word of it!

      • Yes, they speak English with a French accent but I think you are right, it is a mixture of French, English and Southern drawl. Very difficult to understand.

  3. Interesting post Millie! I enjoyed learning about the Yorkshire dailect. You always amaze me as to how you can pile so much story into so few words.

    • milliethom says:

      Thanks, Tony. 🙂 I’ve beem married to a Yorkshireman for 45 years, so I’m well used to hearing the dialect! His dialect isn’t that broad, of course, having lived away from Yorkshire since we got married. Odd words and phrases juts come out now and then – like ‘Gi’ o’er!’ – meaning ‘Give over!. But the rest of his family are a treat to listen to.)

  4. The dialogue sounds a little like the way we Australians speak….

  5. Sonya says:

    Oh, those two… Very funny again, and now I want to know more about Nora and Doreen, as well 🙂

    • milliethom says:

      Thanks, Sonya. I almost did another historical story for this prompt, but decided to bring out Fred and Harry at the last minute. I did the ‘historical thing’ last week from your great prompt of the castle, so it was time for a change. (Which castle was that, by the way – if you don’t mind me asking? I couldn’t identify it from the single tower. I don’t think it’s one I’ve been to yet – and I’ve been to a lot. 🙂

      • Sonya says:

        It was good to see them back 🙂

        It’s what remains of Swansea Castle. It sits above the pedestrianised shopping area in the centre, and there are benches. It’s a nice place to sit and eat a sandwich 🙂

      • milliethom says:

        Thanks for that, Sonia. I’ve never been to Swansea. We had a holiday in Saundersfoot when the kids were little and went to three castles down there: Manorbier, Carew and Pembroke. We need another holiday in South Wales, just to revisit those and see the rest, as well. 🙂

  6. exiledprospero says:

    Great accent, Millie. Seems so authentic. Being able to capture the flavor of local dialects is a great skill to have. You have mastered it!

    • milliethom says:

      That’s a wonderful comment! Thank you so much for that, Prospero. I’ve been married to Yorkshireman for 45 years, so I suppose I have an advantage. My first teaching job was also in Yorkshire (where I met husband-to be) and the chidren were either miners’ or farmers’ children with really broad Yorkshire accents. This was in the late 60s, and they really did still use thees and thous – although the latter sounded more like ‘tha’. E.g. they might say, ‘Dun’t tha know owt?’ meaning ‘Don’t you know anything? I’m very fond of the dialect. 🙂

  7. Cute story Millie! I really like you posting the Yorkshire dialect so that we can understand the story better 😉 It’s always good to learn more 🙂

    • milliethom says:

      When tourists visit the UK, they are often fascinated by our many different dialects. I find them all really interesting, and having lived in so many different parts of the country, I find them quite easy to write about. This is Fred and Harry’s third appearance in my flash fiction stories, and I love to do the Yorkshire dialect. Thank you for liking my post, Khloe. ❤

  8. Graham Lawrence says:

    Great story! Not easy to write dialect either: I’m thinking about my west country drawl which I fear would be difficult Arrrr! ) Thanks for the backstory and for all the references on the main page. There is a delicious tendency to ‘get lost’ in your pages. Well done!

    • milliethom says:

      Thank you for that amazing comment! I get lost in my posts myself! I have a tendency to be a terrible waffler. I love doing dialects, too, especially North of England ones. I’m a Lancashire lass and my husbands a Yorkshireman (I know, it’s all about the Wars of the Roses in our house!) so I suppose that makes it easy for me. I’ve tried an Old West cowboy accent in a ff post, too. That was fun to do. As for your west counrty burr, draliman is a Cornishman, and uses that dialect sometimes. He doesn’t do this challenge, but he does the Friday Fictioneers and Monday’s Finish the Story. I’ve stopped doing those now because I need the time to get on with my third book.
      Now I’m waffling again, so I’d best shut up.

      • Graham Lawrence says:

        Love the waffling. Fascinating. We should hook up on FB soon. I would like that. As you can see from my blog I’ve only been writing for a few months. But Big News I’m about to start my first short story. I have most of the elements ready and am very excited!! I’d better shut up too! x

      • milliethom says:

        If you look at my FB page, Graham, you’ll see that it started and ended with a single post! To say that I’m a dinosaur when it comes to social media would be putting it mildly. I keep thinking I ought to reactivate the site but always manage to find an excuse not to!
        I started my blog in August 2014, but only really got going with it around last Christmas. (I really am dreadful at starting things like this and just leaving them.) So I think you’re doing really well already! I wish you really well with your short story, whatever the genre. 🙂 I’m a historical fiction writer myself, but like a lot of other genres as well. My daughter (Louise – afairymind, who also does this challenge – as well as lots of others) is a fantasy person. I like some fantasy and I enjoy a good crime/detective novel. But I read mostly HF. 🙂

  9. Hehehe, love the story Millie. So much for getting her a balloon.

  10. I can’t get over how much your characters’ voices jump right off the screen! I’m amazed and want more! (BTW, Hi *hug attack*)

    • milliethom says:

      Hi to you, Izzy – and welcome back! I’ve missed chatting to you and missed your posts, but fully understand why you haven’t been on WP for while. I do hope your mom is getting better now. I know, too well, what it’s like to see someone you love suffering – whether in illness or something else. But I won’t get morbid here! Welcome back! I haven’t had time to get into my Reader today, so I don’t know whether you’ve posted anything yet. If you have, I’ll find it in the next day or so! Enormous bear hugs to you, too. ❤

  11. Tastyniblets says:

    a great read once more Millie – I can just imagine Fred and Harry sitting there all chuffed with themselves thinking they’ve got it all figured out 🙂 I think Harry’s about to be clobbered over the head with those coconuts!

  12. Susan Langer says:

    Very funny story. Those two guys had me LOL. I liked your explanation about dialects. The only one I do well is my West Virginia accent because that is where I was born. 🙂

    • milliethom says:

      Well. you did that one really well. I remember your post a while ago. I’m a northerner anyway, and although I’m not from Yorkshire, many northerners have the same habits of dropped letters or words. Strictly speaking, Fred would have called Harry, ‘arry. Thanks, Susan. 🙂

  13. Ellespeth says:

    Oh my gosh, Millie. This is so revealing about relationships in general and then, you hit me with this part> “…‘Your Nora goes ‘gooey’ ’bout nowt, Harry, except mebbe Bingo on Wednesday nights wi’ my Doreen.’…” I love your drinking buddy stories!
    The dialogue is so realistic.
    ps: I have begun reading Shadow of the Raven, Millie. I like it so far! I can tell how carefully you researched this period and how close the area is to your heart. I hope you will give a few weeks or so to finish, then I’d like to consider a review.
    Ellespeth

    Ellespeth

    • milliethom says:

      Hi Ellespeth. Thank you for all the nice things you’ve said! I’m very late responding to comments because the internet’s been off since Saturday morning. This is the third time in two months that BT have left us in this predicament. We’re changing suppliers later this week because we just can’t stand this any more. BT’s service to small villages is diabolical!
      It’s lovely to see you back on this challenge. I don’t do the Monday and Friday ones now because they all take too much time away from writing Book 3. I miss doing them, too.
      I ‘ll keep my fingers crossed that you enjoy the rest of Shadow! It tends to be a bit nerve-racking when people tell me they’reading it. We all have such different likes and dislikes in novels, so it can go either way. I’m always aware of that, and am grateful for honest reviews. I ‘d be honoured and delighted if you would write a review. Thank you so much! I do adore the AS period, and have been wanting to write about Alfred since the 11970s. Six children and a teaching career just got in the way. 😀 As for Fred and Harry… I like to bring them out now and then. I’ve grown quite fond of the rogues. 🙂

  14. It is so sweet, Millie ☺
    And I just had a realization! Was Hagrid using the same Yorkshire dialect in Harry Potter?? I thought he had trouble speaking with his beard so he eats a few words. :/
    PS. Lovely as always.

    • milliethom says:

      From what I remember, Hagrid’s dialect was a West Country one. (That’s around the south of England around the counties of Somerset and into Devon.) We have so many dialects in England, and to anyone from other countries, some of them are very hard to understand. The West Counry one is a very lilting sound, but it doed drops letters and words in a similar way to nothern dialects like the Yorkshire and Lancashire ones. I’ve used Fred and Harry three times in stories now, but I worry that some people just don’t understand it. One reader, last time I brought them out, said she enjoyed reading the story but had no idea what they were saying! So it’s been a few months since they last showed their faces. I’m very fond of them myself! Haha.Thank you for liking it. 😀

      • Oh okay ! So finally I know Hagrid after years of enjoying reading his character 😀
        And we have very similar situation with dialects here also! There is a fun fact that language that people speak changes after walking every 20 miles in in India 😀
        I used to study in the eastern part of the country and now back in north, people cant stop laughing whenever I unknowingly say something in eastern dialect, no matter how serious the matter is 😀
        And Fred and Harry are so likeable! Probably you could use a small glossary at the end for those who find it difficult to understand and continue using thous and thees 🙂
        But do keep them coming! They bring out the carefree side of you 😀

      • milliethom says:

        I imagine there are regional dialects in many countries, Prateek. It stands to reason that age-0ld communities should develop variations in pronunciation of a language, especially when we think just how isolated communities were before the days of motorised transport. The dialects in Britain are so noticeable because we’re such a small country – yet we have so many different dialects. 🙂
        I did put a note about the Yorkshire dialect at the end of the last Fred and Harry appearance. A couple of people said it helped.Oddly enough, I could have made the dialect even more ‘broad’. I’d already toned it down a bit. Too many dropped letters and missing words does make speech rather difficult to understand! 😀

      • So true! And so beautiful of Britain to maintain the old diversity when the world is trying to have its language as the official one 🙂
        N es! Ye could robably do that 😀

      • milliethom says:

        Ha ha. I’m not sure where I’d place that little bit of dialect, Prateek! Dropped letters there for sure – but most of the dialects here do that. The ye sounds remarkably Scottish!. 🙂

      • Haha okay! That means I am getting closer 😄

      • milliethom says:

        Step by step, you certainly are! 😀

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