Course I had to tell Noo-Noo soon as I saw her and first she dint believe me but ven when I showed her vuh tree she could see for herself vat vere was a bit of vuh trunk that was rucked up and covered in shit. Noo-Noo being Noo-Noo voh, she saw some’ing else as well. She pointed and said What about vat vere? an I said What about wot where? and Noo-Noo said Vere! Vere! sort of pointing wiv ver knuckles. I dint see straight away. She had to tell me what it was I was sposed to be lookin for. Turns out vere was anuvva spot, slightly higher up vuh trunk, wiv rucked wood and shit. Soon as we saw one we saw anuvva. Vuh trunk was covered in oles. We cunt believe we hant seen em before. Vere were roles everywhichwhere. Eeva vuh fumb Ide seen earlier dat day had been busy stabbing holes in vuh tree and fillin em wiv shit or – Noo-Noo pushed herself up offof her knees at vis point and punched me in vuh shoulder – or all vuh fumbs weed been seeing vis last couple of weeks were all coming to vuh shit tree. I pushed miself up an all, from elbows to knees, and opened mi mouf cos I cunt believe it even voh I fought Noo-Noo was on to somefin. But why? I said. Why would anyone stab a hole in vuh trunk ov a tree and ven fill vee hole wiv shit? Noo-Noo said she dint know but she knew how we could find out.  So we set up a camp. Right vere. Up on vee embankment. And we took turns to guard vuh shit tree and keep a lookout for any fumbs wot might chance along. Course we cunt maintain vuh camp all vuh time cos we had to go home and have are tea and sleep in are beds and sometimes we cunt get out ov school an all vuh rest of it but whenever we had vuh chance to get down to vuh canal we manned our lookout and kept watch on vuh tree.  

Vuh first time me and Noo-Noo saw a fumb proachin vuh tree we dint do nuffin, we just watched. We just watched cos Noo-Noo hant seen what it was vat vuh fumbs did so we just watched and watched and vuh fumb – who was a different fumb from vuh fumb vat I had seen – did everyfin vat I had seen vee other fumb do. By which I mean to say vat he got down on his knees in vuh shit, stabbed at vuh trunk of vuh tree wiv a knife til he made a nole then put his mouf to vee ole sose he could eat vuh tree or kiss vuh tree or do whatever it was vat vuh fumbs did. When vuh fumb was done, he filled vee ole vat he made wiv shit and ven he sortof stumbled off down the canal towpath like a pisshead.  Noo-Noo only wanted to see wot vuh fumbs did just vah once voh. She dint like it, she said. She dint like what vuh fumbs did to vuh shit tree and she said she want havin it. So, after vat, whenever we saw a fumb makin his way to vuh shit tree, we stopt em. Weed frow stones and clumps of mud and grass and weed shout and jump up and down and swear and everyfin we could fink of, basically, to get em to leave vuh shit tree alone and fuck off again. It was great. Noo-Noo said vat vuh King and vuh Queen of vuh Canal were standing up for one veir loyal subjects.  

But it dint really stop em. Vuh fumbs just came back after we ‘d gone. An it dint really help us to find out what it was vat vuh fumbs were doing in duh first place beyond vuh stabbin and vuh kissin and vuh pluggin full ov shit.  

Was Noo-Noo who got bored vuh quickest with driving off vuh fumbs. Was Noo-Noo who said we had to have a closer look at what it was vey were doin. I want havin it. I said she could fuck off. I said it want possible. Vuh smell was too bad. I said if we got close vuh stink would burn off are eyebrows. Noo-Noo told me to stop being such a pussy. She said if vuh fumbs could do it we could do it. Which kindof stopt me in mi tracks. Cos she were right. If vey could do it, we could do it. Noo-Noo had vat nailed. I cunt see a way to argue wiv her. Sayin all vat voh: Noo-Noo wanted to just march down to vuh shit tree vere and ven an I said we had to fink about it and have a plan or summat. Noo-Noo said what was vere to fink about? I told her. We had to be a bit clever about it. If we were gonna spend a bit of time down vere by vuh shit tree we should try and prepare ourselves. Noo-Noo got all arsey at vis point. What do you mean? she said with her fat black arms crossed about her big bazoomas. I dint really know what I meant when I said prepare ourselves but I said some’ing about vuh stink. If we have to go into vuh stink, I said, we should try and block up our noses. Some’ing in Noo-Noo’s eyes flashed and she said, Like highwaymen!  Which put a picture in mi mind of vuh two of us chargin down vee embankment wiv red handkerchiefs coverin our gobs and I said yeah. But it was more like Yeah!  Ven Noo-Noo had anuvva idea vat was even better van her first idea. She said she remembered somefin sheed learned at school about vuh black def or vuh great plague or one of vose kind of fings. She said vat priests and gentry – whatever vey were – protected veir mouvfes by coverin em wiv handkerchiefs soaked in somefin vat smells strong like perfume or vinegar. Noo-Noo sayin vat felt like more maths again. Soaking a handkerchief in vinegar to stop us smelling vuh shit felt like a two plus two plus two plus two idea.  

In vee end voh I cunt get a handkerchief. Mi mam said it were vuh wrong time ov vuh year or some’ing. I want really listenin. In vee end I had to half-inch a tea towel from out vuh drawer. Noo-Noo robbed a muslin square vat she said her mum was usin with vuh new baby. As weed agreed, I brought along some vinegar and Noo-Noo ‘d brought along some perfume. When we met we had ourselves a little speriment to determine which of vuh smells we could stomach. Vuh strange fing was vat vuh smell of vinegar was better van vuh smell of vuh perfume cos it made us both fink about fish an chips. Dint half make our stomachs rumble voh even voh it was only somefin like half ten in vuh mornin.  Long story short voh: we soaked vuh tea towel and vuh muslin square in vinegar and ven we each helped vee uvva to tie vuh mask on. We lookt proper spanners and duh vinegar dint half make our eyes water at first but – standing up vere on vee embankment – we lookt at each uvva an we were boaf of us finkin: its now or never.