Harry the Cat-man

...When Harry Archbold had been retired only a week or two, his wife died. Why, with him bein' a joiner, he made her coffin hi'sel', the saddest day's work he'd ever done. An' it was after that that Harry became ... why, I divvent want to say 'queer' exactly ... so I suppose eccentric's the polite word.
The house was ower big for him to live in by hi'sel' so he got a bit company in ... a cat! But there was still a lot of empty rooms, so he got a few more cats in ... an' a few more still, so ye could hardly stir in the house for them.
He was the friend of every cat for miles around, an' that's how he came to be called Harry the Cat-Man ...
Now, cats might have nine lives, but they all have to reach the end of the ninth 'un some time. An' wi' him havin' so many cats around, there was always one that had just passed away. That used to upset Harry the Cat-Man someick awful but out he'd get his joiner's tools, an' he'd make for it ... aye, a little coffin!
An' when ye have a coffin, ye have to have some place to put it. So off Harry would gan to the big field next to the Old Coble Inn, an' he'd solemnly bury the cat there.
As time went on, some of the local lads got wise to what was happenin', an', mind, the lads from there have got all their buttons on ...! They used to fall in behind Harry the Cat-Man, makin' a proper funeral procession, walkin' slowly up the street to where the internment was to take place. An' when it was all ower, just as how at a proper funeral ye'd ask all the mourners back to the house for a knife-an'-fork tea, why, Harry the Cat-Man used to ask them all to step into the Old Coble.
Oh, aye, it was drinks all round for them that had been there, an' Harry always footed the bill ... ! Mind, if it was one of his special favourite cats, he used to do things even more in style. He'd even hire the local brass band, to head the procession an' play suitable music as they walked up the street. They had to be paid for it of course, an' there was even more drinks to buy than usual, but, like I said, Harry had a canny bit of money put by, an' nobody to help him spend it.
An' so, just as he'd become known as Harry the Cat-Man, so did that field next to the Old Coble become known as Harry the Cat-Man's Field. Oh, aye, there's one more thing ... or mebbe's ye've guessed it ...? Like I said, the lads there had all their buttons on, an' they were always glad when one of the cats passed away, 'cause it meant there'd be free drinks for them. In fact, the more cats that died, the better they liked it, an' that's how some ugly rumours started ...!
It seems that nobody could ever prove anythin', but I always remember the old woman that told us all about Harry the Cat-Man. "Ned," she says to us. "Believe me, Ned, there's hundreds ... aye, hundreds! .... of cats buried up in Harry the Cat-Man's field!"


The Xmas Box

[My wife] was cleaning the window the other day when she saw the dustman coming up the path. He emptied the bin, put the lid back on (first time he'd ever done that!), dusted it wiv his cap. 'Aye, aye,' she thinks, 'he's after his Xmas box. He'll hev to wait till I can afford it.' Sure enough he knocks on the front door. When wor lass gans doon, he touches his cap. 'Merry Xmas, ma'am,' he says. 'I'm the man who empties your ash-bin!' 'Are you now,' she says. 'I'm pleased to meet ye. I'm the woman that fills it!'

L.W.