Back in Sixty-four.

Billy Lion clapped his hands
When babies slept in funny prams
And folk would queue in cluttered shops
Happy with their little lots
Among the smokey chimney pots
Back in sixty four.
Back in nineteen sixty four
Two and fifty years ago
Television, black and white
Finished early every night
So we could see the stars so bright
Back in sixty four.
Every public house would close
At three o'clock there on the nose
To open up again at seven
And carry on until eleven
And everybody lived in heaven
Back in sixty four.
Billy Boston scored his tries
When Cains's shop made tasty pies
While Gallaghers and Sutcliff's tripe
Stank the air out day and night
But everything turned out all right
Back in sixty four.
The Wagon Works had ceased to be -
The Beatles sang Please, Please me,
The Great Train Robbers stole the loot
And mini skirts were short and cute
But nobody did give a hoot
Back in sixty four.
We would win the World Cup soon
And rockets aimed towards the moon.
Steam ran down the Whelley Line,
All the buses ran on time
And everything ticked over fine
Back in sixty four.
Cotton from the Empress Mill
Settled on the window sills
Of all the nearby terraced homes
Of weathered brick and crumbling stones
But we didn't hear any moans
Back in sixty four.
We never heard of dope or pot -
Kennedy had just been shot,
The Beach Boys sailed the Sloop John B
And Cassius Clay stung like a bee -
The pace of life was leisurely
Back in sixty four.
There was no need to mug or rob -
Everybody had a job
We all went drinking at weekends
On Friday night with all our friends
And good times seemed to have no ends
Back in sixty four.
Oh to be back there again
Free from stress and free from strain
Among the rock and rolling craze
In the classic vinyl phase -
Ee by gum those were the days
Back in sixty four.

Bad Times.

The good times pass by,
And whisper goodbye,
Then silently wither away -
What makes a man real,
Is to struggle and feel,
And fight for his life every day.
The purpose of living,
Is sharing and giving,
Not by material or wealth,
But grace, hard-acquired,
Raw and inspired -
The innermost part of oneself.
The good times pass by,
With merely a sigh,
And only the memories remain,
But what good is life,
Without any strife,
And feeling another one's pain.
In the chaos and clatter,
It's the bad times that matter,
They humble us, harness and fetter,
Create in us hope and teach us to cope,
And make the good times seem better.

Bank Accounts.

Bank accounts and credit cards
Mortgages and loans
Computers in the bedroom
And pocket mobile phones?
What's the world all coming to
We don't need all this strain
Twas better up in Irish Town
Walking in the rain
For a chat with Auntie Nellie
Until we could afford
A night out in the local
At the bottom of the road.
Waiting for the cash in hand
So we could pay our way
On another Friday night in Ince
Living day to day.
It came in little packets
Square, brown or white
The wages for our labour
And it was a lovely sight.
Pounds, pence and shillings
Sealed up nice and neat
It put a spring into our stride
And gave us itchy feet
And if we had a relative
Or a pal to chat or meet
We got the trusty bike out
And pedalled down the street.
We didn't need this modern stuff
To complicate our lives
Like Isa, Peps and Tessa
And red brick-paving drives
Balances and overdrafts
And such disturbing sights
That cause us stress and heartache
Bad dreams and restless nights.
Live was better as it was
With minimal dismay
In the days of simple living
In Ince along the way.

Before Hot Running Water.

Before hot running water
Ince relied on steam
To sanctify her children
And purge them fresh and clean
With steaming pans and kettles
(And this is not a laugh)
To fill the tub with water
So we could have a bath.
The cleanest always got in first
Followed by the grime
As the water in the bath tub
Got blacker all the time.
Sunday night was dipping time
For the blighted sheep of Ince
To suffocate head lice
And clean the fingerprints.
The feet were always difficult
And impossible to scrub
So they were usually done before
We climbed into the tub
And when the bath was over
We gave our mam a shout
To bring the towel closer
And help us to get out.
No one dodged a dipping
Not by any stealth
And when we grew up tall enough
We got in by ourself
And when the tub was done with
And the lambs were washed and dried
We inched it to the back door
And emptied it outside
And that was it for Sunday
By the fireside pool
And we'd be sparkling clean again
For early bed and school.

Before I Githi one !

Wost mean my lad's responsible
Et sure thas geet it reet
I'm tellin thi it wasn't him
He's bin at wom all neet
Thowd woman here will tell thi
He hasn't bin ont Bar
He's laid up wi bronchitis
And he's not been out at ah
Tha must be mistaken
I think thas geet it rung
He never uses chelp at ah
He's shy and highly strung
So wilt bi towd - I'm tellin thi
It' wasn't my lad Ron
So tek thi hook and bugger off
Before I githi one.

Before Video.

Before world of video
Cameras and T.V.
Ince relied on word of mouth
For documentary
And though a story loses nowt
And rumours swell and grow
Some are quite incredulous
And others just so so...
Enter then Bill Father
In the Oak Tree Inn one day
With an object in his pocket
That caused some disarray
And this tale fits the category
Of Owd mon - by the heck!
He pulled a rat out in the vault
And bit it on the neck!
He was a local legend
In the days of old
Admired and loved by everyone
With a reputation gold.
He raised a wagon's bogie wheels
With ease or so it's said
And held it for a minute
Right above his head.
In the land of cobble stones
Is where he forged his name
Not far from the crossing
Up in Belle green lane
In the days of wrestling men
Barges, steam and trams
When mothers took their babies out
In big old fashioned prams.
Before we'd heard of steroids
And the Sabbath days were white
And a man was not a man until
He`d proved his worth and might...
But Bill was not a shyster
Though he looked so hard and mean
He was the nicest gentleman
That Ince has ever seen
I've heard so much about him
This legend by the Line
Although he was, I must confess
A bit before my time
But the man behind the stories
To me does not ring true
Though I was not a witness
To what they saw him do
Credence would I love to share
Of the wagon wheels held high
But the smitten rat I cannot see
No matter how I try.
And if someone can add or take
To shrink or make it grow
This lore about Bill Father
Feel free to do it so.

Billy Boston.

We heard the crowds a roaring
In Ince in days gone by
When a young athlete from TIger Bay
Was going for a try -
Nobody could catch him
Once he left the trap -
He stormed the town of Wigan
And put it on the map.
Billy Boston was his name -
And Incer fond and true
Who ran the Bush in Belle Green lane
When his playing days were through
And they all went there to see him
Stood behind the bar
And hear the roars from Central Park
Echo from afar.
Such was the impression
This hero had on Ince
For no man has been greater
For Wigan ever since -
The young athlete from Tiger Bay
Never failed to please
For he could score a winning try
Crawling on his knees.
A first class gentleman indeed
Who raced towards the line
And graced us with his speed and skill
And thrilled us every time.
For fifteen years he stayed with us
Loyal to the end
Making Ince and Wigan
A truly lifelong friend
Who still is here amongst us
Upon the Wigan stage -
Knighted by her Majesty the Queen
And eighty years of age
So God bless Billy Boston -
The hero of our youth
And this for everyone in Ince
I know I speak the truth.


The wife has gone to bingo
Which gives me time to think
And if she doesn't win today
There's going to be a stink.
She doesn't go that often
But now she says it's free
But I think that's just a pretext
To rid herself of me
While I do the housework -
The stuff she most abhors
Like brushing down the ceilings
And flanelling the doors -
Going through the cupboards
And sorting out the drawers
While she sits there sweating
And I do all the chores
But she's not a bad old housewife
As far as spouses go -
She lets me get away with things
I never could before
Which makes me often wonder
Where I would be
If I'd never met her
And I was loose and free
As I clean the chip and frying pans
And scrub the lids and rims,
Sweep the bedroom carpets
And empty all the bins
I wonder where I'd be today
If our paths had never crossed -
Maybe I'd be on my own
Lonely, sad and lost
Or I could have been in business
With the world at my command
Instead of making do and mend
And buying second hand
But I couldn't be much happier -
I ponder to myself
As I shake the rugs and mats outside
And tidy up a shelf
While she puts blobs on numbers
With a marker pen
Down at the Gala
A number short again.
But she's not a bad old housewife -
In truth I must confess
And she does puts up with me a lot
With my moods and awkwardness
Which mean that she must love me -
I pause a while to think
But if she doesn't win today
There's going to be a stink !

Bin Men.

Not many people know this
As Michael Caine says
But John Wayne was a dustman
In his younger days
And here's a shot to prove it -
He's fresh-faced, young and bright
Humping bins in Higher Ince
In the picture on the right
With cinders on his shoulders
And ashes on his cap
Posing for the camera
With another chap
For everything was burned in Ince
To ashes in the grate
And it all went on a shovel
To the bin next to our gate
We didn't have four dust bins -
We had but just the one
And the council came to empty it
When all the room was gone.
The rest went in the midden -
A dungeon of a place
For scrap, tin cans and bottles
When the bin ran out of space.
Everything went in there
And often so did we
Playing hide and seek at night
Around the lavatory.
We never did recycling
Except back to the shop
In haste upon a push bike
For something we'd forgot
The bins of Ince were small and round
And corrugated grey
And it didn't take the bin men long
To whip them all away -
Up upon the shoulders
And straight into the cart
And they swept the cobbles nice and clean
Before the did depart
In the days of the rough and ready
And health and safety - none -
No sooner had they got there -
The cart had bin and gone.
And all the folks were happy
And none did feel oppressed -
With the dustbin for the ashes
And the midden for the rest.
Twas easy and straightforward
And as John Wayne would say -
' Lets climb upon the dust cart
And take this stuff away ' !

Bob Cap.

I went for a walk this morning at three,
Or was it a quarter to four?
When my warm wooly hat got caught on a tree,
And I thought it had fell to the floor.
As the blackbird warbles it's melodious tune,
And the stars in the heavens burned bright,
I searched for my cap in the light of the moon,
But the damn thing wasn't in sight.
There was no one around at that time of the morn,
As I looked up and down for the swine,
Not knowing the blighter was stuck on a thorn,
And over my head all the time.
As the nightingale's soft, sweet harmonies flowed,
And a rat scurried round in the mess,
A police car stopped by the side of the road,
And took down my name and address.
The law being strict, I decided to go,
And make my way off to bed,
When something fell to the pavement below,
In the shade of a branch overhead,
And there it was - my dear wooly hat,
Straight off a peg from above,
Curled in a heap up ahead on the bend,
Unscathed and delivered with love!

By the Long & Twisted Wall.

By the long and twisted wall
Of the orchard grounds of old Ince Hall
Alone and headless in the dark
Nightly there a ghost would walk
Dragging chains and robed in white
Lamenting in the dead of night
Over the ditch-strewn wasted heath
With head tucked under arm beneath
It wandered aimlessly around
The squandered earth and boggy ground
And morbid grey abandoned tips
Of the Rose Bridge collieries and pits.
Where, as the startled owl did shriek
Some say it paused and tried to speak
Of foul deeds done by candlelight
Upon a grim and ancient night
Which caused it's piteous head to roll
And leave it searching for it's soul
And there for spirit peace it roamed
The shadows and the rested bones
The dead and silent bygone ways
Of sweet contented earthly days.
From the orchard it would rise
And venture forth with tear-filled eyes
To seek companion with the night
And put it's mortal wrongs to right
And as it dragged it's chains along
It wept for vengeance for the wrong
Done behind the twisted wall
Of the orchard grounds of old Ince Hall
And as it drifted by that way
Some say it cursed the coming day
With howls of pain and heavy sighs
Beneath the empty moonless skies
While others swore they heard it moan
'Leave my apples and pears alone'!

Characters of Ince I Know.

The character of the Ince I know,
Was moulded in the past,
When folk had nowt to shout about,
And grudges didn't last.
In days gone by not long ago,
When luxuries were rare,
And the simple folk of the cobbled maze,
Never went anywhere.
Yet, in scarcity how much they had,
And room for riches too -
A few square miles of countryside,
Was all the world they knew.
When life was hard for the struggling mass,
And winters chilled the soul,
And the only way of keeping warm,
Was by burning wood and coal,
But when the long hot summers came,
They bathed in new-found glory.
It isn't what it is today,
But that's another story.
Now the idle age of care is gone -
The pitch-pine days of steam,
And we will never see again.
A sermon on the Green -
Barefoot children scanty clad,
Who plucked the roadside tar,
Hurrying down the cobbled brow,
With tadpoles in a jar,
And we can hear again,
In Ince's haunted space,
The friendly gossip, doorstep chat,
Of a hardy, happy race,
For all that busy life is fled,
And all that I can do,
Is fondly to embrace the past,
As if it still were true,
And picture with a wistful smile,
Each charming little frame,
And in a second see a cart,
Come clattering down the lane.
The distant beating of a heart -
The shaking of the ground,
And the mighty dragon of the rails,
Would soon come steaming round.
Each neighbour's dwelling back to back,
Invited all to see,
What they had and hadn't too,
For all the view was free.
With pride unpracticed in the row,
And envy being rare,
A quaint uncommon kindness led,
To sweet uncommon care.
A brew of tea, a pinch of salt,
And many a loaf of bread,
Went eager to assist a need,
And nothing more was said.
The timer with his pipe new-lit,
Would test his home-made stool,
And mother left her home-made pies,
Upon the sill to cool.
The rick-rack merry simpleton,
Dismayed at being teased,
Continued with a kingly joy,
Whenever his session pleased.
His foot clog-tapping melodies,
And carefree humming tune,
Entertained the bovine group,
And cheered the loitering noon.
Now gone forever is the step,
Where pin-striped leisure smiled,
And blushing Betty, free from chores,
Caressed her freckled child,
Where people lived from day to day,
Together side by side.
They lived for one another,
And lived until they died.

Cherry & White.

Cherry and white was the 3E bus
And it came from the Belle Green terminus
On Windermere road on the new estate
By the telephone box where it would wait
For passengers to Wigan - it wasn't that far
To Clarrington Brook or down to the Bar
Second stop left at the Bush Hotel
It passed Owd Bills and the crossing as well
Past Smith's Dairies - then it turned reet
And took a sharp left in Engineers street
Down past the Bug and cells up ahead
To pause for a while if the lights were red
And sometimes there we'd hop off the back
If the clippy was busy or the traffic was slack
Then turning right by the grocers store
It stopped on Ince Bar and picked up more
Passengers to Wigan - the market and baths
To the sound of coughing, giggles and laughs
And a man came round with a silver machine
To ask 'Where're you going' and 'where have you been'
And he gave us a ticket and we threw it away
Or kept it again for later that day
Over the bridge and on towards town
Where it tickled the tummy as it came back down
Over the bridge by the Rose Bridge schools
And over the border at Clarrington Tools.


There's a chap who comes on telly
Who wears a scruffy mac
And his hair is not much different -
A mop of wavy black.
His shoes and car are similar -
Dated and outworn
And you never see him having tea
With his wife at home.
He's always acting stupid
Like he doesn't know the score
And always coming back again
Once he leaves the door.
He's got one eye that sparkles
And the other's just a blur
But it doesn't stop him seeing things
That are obviously there.
His dog is always sulking
And loves a cool ice cream
But just like his beloved
The pair are seldom seen.
He's bright as a button
Yet others think he's thick
But that is where they come unstuck
And succumb to the trick.
He's plagued by small obsessions
In tying up loose ends
And in the process of it
He drives folk round the bends.
Enter then Columbo
The favourite cop of mine
Who never fails make us smile
While sorting out a crime.
Where would we be without you
In this day and age
With no one on the telly
Who's worth a living wage.
There's no one like Columbo
Nor has there ever been
To captivate and charm us
On the silver screen
And I don't think I've forgot nowt
As he often does
My favourite cop Columbo -
He will do for us!

Come Stormy Weather.

Come stormy weather, rain or shine
William Cartwright by the line
Fixed he footwear for the folk
Up and down the cobbled slope
Of Belle Green lane and all around
The terraced streets of Irish Town.
A quiet and easy going chap
He'd pull up the lass to fettle and tap
The leathered wear and mend the holes
Of the cloggs and shoes of working souls.
His corner shop smelled fragrant sweet
Of polished leather, trimmed and neat
And in the window bay there sat
A little black and one-eyed cat
And every time a train went by
The cat would sneeze and blink it's eye.
He always seemed a touch remote
And wore a knee-length light brown coat
Bespectacled and most sincere
With a pencil tucked behind his ear
Somewhat reserved and a little bit shy
With nice clean shoes and a collar and tie.
And there each day he'd ply his trade
Buffing and polishing the cloggs he had made
Starting first with the soles of wood
And pin the upper all around with stud
Sew in the tongue and poke out the eyes
Then do it all again for a different size.
Boots for the cobbles and cloggs for the pits
With iron on the soles, the heels and tips
All restored and shining like new
On the shelves in rows for the public view
With buckles and laces - strips of hide
Hung in the corner on a hook inside
Dyes and dubbins stacked in a line
And sweet cherry blossom to make them shine.
And there he worked every day on his jack
With the cat in the bay and his wife in the back
And every time a train went by
The cat would sneeze and blink it's eye.

Corner Shop.

Twas the hub of our community
Like the centre of a wheel -
Our lives revolved around it
And it fed us all a meal
And we got to hear the local news
At our little corner shop -
Who was blessed and fortunate
And who was not
Daily when we called there
For half a pound of spam,
A box of firelighters
Or a small jar of jam.
We got to know the gossip
Circulating round
Of family disturbances
And things lost and found
As we waited with a basket
Patiently in line
Listening to goings-on
With one eye on the time.
As we waited for our groceries
Relaxed and leisurely
Looking round the counter
For something for tea.
Who'd had an argument
And who'd fallen out -
There was always something interesting
Going on about -
Who'd had a baby
And who wasn't well
And always plenty eager folk
With secrets to tell
With gesturing and whispers
And cordial exchange
As we leaned upon the counter
Waiting for our change
With a meat pie and a loaf of bread
And corned beef in a tin
And two ounce of pressed beef
Cut nice and thin.
We got to see the women
From up and down the street
In curlers and no make up
And slippers on their feet
Standing with arms folded
In the afternoon
Chatting merrily away
And shuffling for room.
We got to see the children
Coming in for treats
Jingling their pennies
And eyeing up the sweets
As slowly we nudged forward
Fitting in our slot
Watching who was buying
And who was having what -
Who was flushed and cheerful,
Confident and brash
And who was thoughtful and subdued
And struggling for cash -
Who was having troubles -
Whose husband was a pain
And whose kids were up to what
In mischief on the lane
All queueing in a steady line
With a casual smile or grin
Glancing round and sideways
And taking it all in
As we waited for our daily bread
We all found out a lot
About our friends and neighbours
At our little corner shop.

Copyright 2018 Kevin Holcroft