Edward Hunt's Forest of Dean Miscellany

Fact, Fiction and Fantasy

Who killed the bears?

By Harry Beddington

By Gracious permission of
The Lord Mayor of Ruardean

Hast ever ‘eard o’ Ruardean?
Thic place be’ind the ‘ill
Where, if thouse like vresh air in chunks
Then thee const ‘ave thee vill.

Vram thic there bank on zunny day
Thouse look right inta Wales
An’ there yunt much ‘tween there an’ thee
Ta stop them south-west gales.

Well thic there view, though p’rhaps as fine
As any thou const name
Yunt why them chaps as live up there
‘Ave earned a place in fame.

Thay don’t appear ta be bad blokes
They don’t put on no airs
But, years agoo, ar zoo tis zed
Them chaps they killed zum bears.

Zum vurriners vram ‘cross the sea
Were ‘awkin’ round the lanes
An’ thay ‘ad got zum bears wi’ um
Draggin’ round on chains.

Well zum vool started up a yarn
That bears ’ad killed a lad
An’ thic tale gettin’ round the place
Zoon got the volks ‘alf mad.

Wi’ sticks an’ stwuns an’ iron bars
Brick-bats an’ chunks of ‘ood
Dree parts the village zet off out
Ta stop them bears vor good.

 Them vurriners they chased an’ byut
An’ rolled um in the mud
An’ them there bears they laid out vlat
An’ left them there stwun jud.

Well that’s the tale as I were tawld
An’ I could never tell
Why, each time thouse remind um on ‘t,
Them chaps da kick up “Merry Andrew”.

Thay be zo touchy ‘bout it all
That vram thic day till now
If thou dost only whisper “bears”
Those exin vor a row.

I used ta laugh about it once
An’ zed I ‘ad me doubts
Zo, one night, back zum years agoo
I went there to vind out.

I drapped inta the public bar
O’ thic there place the Bell
‘Bout dozen chaps were drinkin’ there
As near as I could tell.

I sized um up both one an’ all
An’ though thay looked bit rough
There wasn’t nern as big as I
Thay didn’t look that tough.

 I got my back agen a wall
An’ turned an’ faced thair stares
Then, gettin’ ready vor the fun
I exed “Who killed the bears?”

Vor ‘alf a minute time stood still
Thay looked at I each one
I started ta let out a laugh
An’ then the fun begun.

I’ve ‘ad zum fights when I were young
‘Cos I be Vorest barn
But when I think what ‘appened then
I vind my blood run warm.

I spread my vit an clenched my tith
An’ ladled round I plenty
But vor each one I gid awoy
I back I gathered twenty.

This lasted vor a goodish bit
It zeemed an hour ar more
An’ never ‘ave I bin zo glad
Ta come back droo a door.

‘Tis true, thay opened ‘im vor I
An’ I come droo yud vust
An’ then thay stood an’ looked at I
As I rolled in the dust.

They stood an’ watched I quiut
As I scrambled to my vit
And one, ‘im tossed my ‘at to I
Another my top tith.

I went back wum a wiser mon
I’d paid vor all my fun
I never stopped to look be’ind
Nar never went agyun.

Well that were many years agoo
And them there days be done
Thay zay it yunt like that there now
But that’s as maybe son.

If thou bist ever up thic road
An’ veel thouse like zum fun
Thou exe um who ‘twas killed the bears
But Mister – TAKE A GUN !

 This is a true story.

          For more information, click here:

          Who killed the Bears?


 For other articles featuring the Forest Dialect,
          click on one of the links below:

          Forest Dialect
          George Ridler's Oven
          Harry Beddington
          Yarleton Hill
          Zurree! : Forest Talk

          Learn Forest Speak (BBC)
          Forest Talk - Keith Morgan (BBC)


Edward Hunt