My encounter with a ‘hully brearve’ Norfolk gal

PUBLISHED: 11:32 17 March 2018

Cromer Hospital, where Keith Skipper enjoyed a game of 'Slow Bingo'... and a mardle.

Cromer Hospital, where Keith Skipper enjoyed a game of 'Slow Bingo'... and a mardle.

Archant Norfolk 2015

When Keith Skipper went for a blood test, he met a delightful Norfolk character...

I enjoyed an uplifting game of Slow Bingo with a delightful 88-year-old mawther from West Runton the other morning.

Let me explain how this unlikely fixture came about. I booked in at Cromer Hospital for a blood test… along with getting on for half the local population. A full house in the waiting room with intermittent “eyes up” to check whose number had arrived on the “your turn” bleeping machine.

My admission ticket was 87, a figure considered unlucky by Australian cricketers because it’s 13 short of a century or something like that. As soon as I sat down and watched 64 go in, I realised it was going to be a lengthy innings. A good middle-order partner would be handy.

A cheerful smile opposite put a stop to my rambling thoughts about placing bats and blood too close together and running the risk of a cheap-budget Hammer Film set on the north Norfolk coast. “I like them bits you put in the pearper,” whispered a woman of obvious taste and pedigree.

She was proud to be 88 (her age, not the number on her ticket) with proper Norfolk roots and ready to share some of her favourite local words and expressions. She particularly relished “Cor, she dint harf give me a mobbin’!”, a sharp telling-off from her mother.

We entertained each other gently while the bleeping machine thinned the ranks before another surge. Suddenly, my new-found friend got a tap on the shoulder, stood up and walked towards the sharp end of her morning business.

She had beaten some of the rush by making an appointment in advance and arriving early just in case there was a mardle going. She left while I still had a tidy few before my number came up. Her farewell kept me going …

“I dint put on my parts an’ mearke a fuss in there. I wuz hully brearve!”

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