I Bought a Mobile Phone Today

I bought a mobile phone today
It didn't cost too much
For the wife when she's in Manchester
So we can keep in touch.
I've joined the clutch and clasp brigade
Always looking down
Twiddling with their fingers
Like zombies round the town.
I only need it for a bell
So she can contact me
To ask me call the market
And get a chop for tea.
Everybody's got one
And I feel the odd one out
Having nowt to play with
When I'm out and about
I'll use it for emergencies
Or for a prank or two
When I'm lonely, bored and miserable
With nothing else to do.
I'll take it on my travels
On meetings here and there
As a decoy and distraction
From a phantom friend somewhere.
I'll pause upon the pavement
While glancing up and down
Looking cool and nonchalant
Outside the Moon in town
And search it form my pockets
With an irritated sigh
Then hold it to my ears at last
And watch the folk pass by.
It'll give me something else to do
And more to think about
With a mobile on my person
Out and about
I'll pretend I'm on some business
Of pressing urgency
When I'm tutting at tray of beef
Or a couple of chops for tea
Then I'll ring the wife up
Back in Manchester
And tell her what I'm up to
And get advice from her
It sounds a good idea.
And it's the cheapest one around
Complete with charger in a box
All for fifteen pound
So I'm eager now to test it
And try it out anon
And I'll let you know tomorrow

I Don't Like Fawin Eyt.

I don't like fawin eyt wi folk -

Two rungs don't make a reet

Bur I had a do wi yon mon

From top u road last neet.

I ler him know worra thowt of him

And had him o'er a bin

And I towd him he con fotch his dad

And I'll have a do wi him.

That dozy-lookin, lanky lad -

Tha knows the one I mean -

The one uz thinks he's Dillinger

Whose dad guz int Belle Green.

So we'll after see wor happens -

He's teet not - or he may

Bur if he comes and knocks ont doower

I'm nor at wom today.

I dropped a penny.

I dropped a penny down the couch
And came up with half a crown
So I went to Lilies for a jubbly
With the money I had found.
I thought I'd treat my siblings
Who sat on the couch back home
With a great big bottle of tizer
And a packet of toblerone
But how would I explain it
To my parents sitting there -
My dad stretched out on the sofa
And my mam in the rocking chair.
I found it on the cobbles !
That seemed a good idea
So I bought a dozen blackjacks
And a bottle of ginger beer -
A couple of sherbert lemons -
Some twizzles and a barley lick -
Some love hearts and some spangles
And a refresher on a stick.
The liquerice looked inviting
So I bough a couple - not one
And a little bag of aniseed balls
To share for later on.
She put them in a bag for me
And it came to one and six
As I looked round all the boxes
And bought some winter nips -
A couple of penny dainties
And a threepenny caramel bar
And a quarter pound of peardrops
Off the shelf in a jar
And that was all the money gone
As I ran home for my cut
To find my mother looking cross
And my dad with his sleeves rolled up.
And it was quite alarming
To see him curse and crouch
As if he'd lost half a dollar
And it fell down the back of the couch.

If there's Owt in this Life...

If there's owt in this life I caunt stand
It's twenty two-faced folk
And I'm glad I've never bin like that
I'm a plain, straight-forrud bloke.
Thowd fellow was same, I con tel thi
And he could dish eyt some flack
But always eyeball to eyeball
And not behind a mon's back
I don't see there's owt to be proud of
And I believe it's conceited as well
To caw a mon in his absence
When he caunt stick up for him sel.
I'm a bit like owd Harry I work wi -
He's the nicest chap tha could meet
Bur he's tighter than a duck's bottom
And he won't give a blind mon a leet !

If there's One Thing!

If there's one thing in this whole wide world
That I just cannot stand
Is to see a man walk down the street
With his missus hand in hand.
It's nothing but obscenity
When grown-ups act that way
As if they're scared to separate
And one should run away.
There's a time and place for things like that
And it's not in a public place -
It's morally unacceptable
And an immature disgrace.
And what if the children see them
Walking glove in glove
All misty-eyed and raptured
As if they're still in love.
It's not the proper thing to do
To pamper, touch and stroke
Like Romeo and Juliet
In front of other folk.
It's apt to cause embarrassment
Funny looks and sighs
To see them rubbing shoulders
And gaze into each others eyes.
It shouldn't be admissible -
It's unsociable and gross
And they ought to slap a ban on it...
Unless it's me of course.

If the Electric Dies Today...

If all the electric died today
How would we wash our clothes ?
We'd go back to the dolly tub
And boiler I suppose -
So here are some instructions
For anyone today
Who haven't got a hotpoint
And there's no other way
To wash and dry the laundry
When they have gas - perhaps
And cold running water
Coming from the taps.
First you need a boiler
And a bucket or a pan
To carry water from the tap -
Well that's the usual plan !
And when the boiler's nearly full
Connect a rubber hose
From the gas tap to the boiler -
Then light - and off it glows.
After about an hour
The water should be hot
Enough to fill the dolly tub
Halfway to the top.
Place the items in the tub
That you need to wash
And mix it with some Acdo
To form a froth or slosh -
Twist and twirl the dolly stick
In the dolly tub
Then place in the rubbing board
And give them all a rub.
Then if the dirt won't go away
After using all your might
Use dolly blue and a scrubbing brush
To get the collars white.
Then when the clothes are clean enough
It's time to rinse them through
To rid them of the Acdo -
The suds and dolly blue.
So next you fill the kitchen sink
With water from the spout
To give them several rinses
Before you wring them out.
And that is done by a mangle -
Two rollers turned as one
That squash and squeeze the washing
Until the water's gone.
Then peg the washing on the line
And pray it doesn't rain
And then repeat the process
For each item over again.
Then after many hours
If the clothes are clean or not -
Be thankful that you had the gas
To get the water hot !

I Harkened to the Lord.

I harkened to the Lord in Ince -
That's what we called it then -
The spirit of the universe
That guides us mortal men
I'd stole a penny dainty
Up at Lilly's shop
While she was in the kitchen
Busy on her mop.
She didn't see me waiting
And hadn't heard the door
As I stood beside the counter
Where the sweets sat in a row -
Swizzles, spangles, little gems,
Fruit gums and barley sticks
And a host of sweet temptations
Lay at my fingertips
Twas then the devil came to me
With a tickle in my tom
As I grabbed a penny dainty
And went out on the run.
Then, filled with great excitement -
(It was my first offence)
I scampered to my home address
And bolted over the fence.
Then with the juicy caramel
Rolling on my tongue
I got this dreadful feeling
I'd done a mighty wrong.
I couldn't hear the sparrows -
And their chirping melodies
And my mother's voice was not the same
As it used to be.
A sudden gloom came over me
And the heavens lost it's light
Although it was a lovely day
And the sun was shining bright
"It was only a penny dainty" -
I reasoned with myself
And its better on my tonsils
Than sitting on the shelf
But Lilly had been kind to us
When we had no cash food -
"Was this the way to pay her back
With such ingratitude"?
Then stirred by sorrow, guilt and shame
I harkened to the Lord
While Lilly hung her undoes out
And pegged them in the yard
Then faster than a cricket's leap
On a blade up lover's lane
I put a penny on the counter
And bolted out again.

I love you? No Way!

"I love you" in Ince ? - no way! -
Save it for the dramas
Those silly words to say.
The boyfriend would run off -
And so would the girlfriend
And say "I've had enough" !
Suffice to say "you'll do for me"
And add a little "cock"
But not the kind you're thinking of
You one-track minded lot!
Leave that phrase for Hollywood
And the darling silver screen -
In Ince it wouldn't go too well
And sound a bit obscene.
Love's a word we use a lot
And not for idle show,
Love, but never "I love you" -
Never, never - no!
The term is gross pretentiousness
And smacks of vain conceit
And don't sound half as amorous as
"Are me and thee all reet"?
It fitteth not the incer's tongue
And wouldn't come out right -
To hear the words "A luv thi"
Would give the girl a fright
And give a man the shudders
And make him run away
To find another love bird
Who sings another way.
The posh folk say "I love you"
But never call you "love" -
In Ince we say it all the time -
It's mentioned plenty of.
We just don't need those silly words
To say I love you so -
We hear it every minute
And everywhere we go
Sounding right and natural
With true affection spoke
In every situation
Among the common folk
Happy just to call you love
But never "I love you" -
That's not the way we do it
And not the thing to do.

I'm Nor at Wom.

I don't like fawin eyt wi folk -
Two rungs don't make a reet
Bur I had a do wi yon mon
From top u road last neet.
I ler him know worra thowt of him
And had him o`er a bin
And I towd him he con fotch his dad
And I'll have a do wi him.
That dozy-lookin, lanky lad -
Tha knows the one I mean -
The one uz thinks he's Dillinger
Whose dad guz int Belle Green.
So we'll after see wor happens -
He's teet not - or he may
Bur if he comes and knocks ont doower
I'm nor at wom today.

I Made My Way.

I made my way down Belle Green lane
One bright and sunny day
Skipping all the broken flags
And cracked ones on the way,
Feeling good and glad at heart
Exuberant and fine
Chewing on a bubbly gum
And whistling all the time.
We'd come into the money
Or at least It felt we had -
There was a new machine at home
Signed for by my dad -
Twas a little hotpoint washer
That made a humming sound
With two cream rollers on the top
And a paddle spinning round.
Swishing right and swishing left -
It was the strangest sight
Smiling by the slopstone
And gleaming in the light
My mother was so happy
So satisfied and proud
As she held a pair of wooden tongues
While singing high and loud.
It was a long time coming
And she'd thrown the tub away
And now she was at her happiest
Washing clothes all day.
No more scrubbing on a board
And constant on the rub
Or wrestling with a dolly stick
In a corrugated tub -
The little hotpoint did it all
While she could watch and sit
And all she really had to do
Was put the clothes in it
Then she could dust the fender
And when it came the time
Squeeze them in the mangle
And hang them on the line.
Thank God for sweet technology
With gratitude profound -
That little hotpoint washer
Did turn our lives around
And that is why I jumped for joy
As I skipped each paving stone -
I was happy for my mother
In heaven back at home.

In the Higher Ince Olympics.

In the Higher Ince Olympics
Of nineteen sixty one
Ten times round the slag tip
Was half a marathon -
Six times round the block - a mile
Run at a steady pace
And a street from top to bottom
Was the hundred metres race.
The relay baton stages
Were the chippy, pub and Green
And the hurdles - posh folk's gardens
And the little walls between.
The hop, skip and jump were flags
And dodging all the cracks
And the long jump went from kerb to kerb
In a leap across the backs.
The pole vault was a clothes prop
Slung across two bins
And the gas lamp's horizontal bar
For pull-ups to the chins.
We used a metal railing
For the javelin
And a cobble for the shot put
Held tight beneath the chin.
The discus was a house brick
Ejected high aloft
While standing on a dustbin lid
Without falling off.
But it wasn't easy glory
And we had to work out hard
With daily squats and press-ups
And skipping in the yard -
Climbing everything in sight -
Hill, tree and spout
And sprinting up the slagtip
While throwing rocks about.
And this was our gymnasia
And stadia of the day -
The open fields and neighbourhood
Where we used to play
But there's one I haven`t mentioned -
Just one event alone -
The high jump was a pow slap
When our dads got home !

Ince is Where...

Ince is where wild roses grow
And spirits walk from times ago
Back and forth to each their homes
On slaggy earth and cobble stones.
It's where the coal and cotton died
And meagre dwellings side by side
Looked out upon the barren fields
Of moonscape grey and winding wheels.
But once the iron and coal was gone
It was a township next to none
Starting from Ince Bar - the hub
On every corner stood a pub,
A grocers or a little shop
From the bottom to the top.
It was a place of thriving days
Of trams and steam and waterways
Where each house had it's own front step,
A tin bath tub and wireless set,
A scrubbing board with dolly blue,
It's own back yard and outside loo.
Belle Green and Ince Green lane
With a little school in each domain
From the old Black Diamond to the Prince
Formed the north and south of Ince
While from the park to Bulldog tools
Made one square miles of merry fools.
And of those merry fools were we
The liberated few
No longer tied to the mills and mines
And the lives our fathers knew
Born to peace and freedom
Through times of great unrest
And destined for a brighter world
Of the generation blessed
And what a time - a time we had
We couldn't dream for more
With money in our pockets
And everywhere to go
With everything to live for
We swayed and breezed along
In the middle of a golden age
Of music, dance and song
And how that one square mile did buzz
Like the flight of a bumble bee
For the blooming, sweet, wild roses
And merry fools as we.

I Never Slept.

I never slept the night before
I started Rose Bridge school -
They'd duck my head and pull the chain
In the outside toilet pool -
Well that's what someone warned me
But I had a friend in there -
A big, broad senior lad I knew
From up the road somewhere.
So I did escape a ducking
And it wasn't half as bad
As some initiations
That some new starters had.
But it wasn't really bad at all -
Just a bit of fun
And the best four years I ever had
Had only just begun.
The school was built for boys and girls
I knew that from the start -
Half for us and half for them
And the two were kept apart.
In the playground we were separate
Thought still in touch and sight
And further back the playing field
With the netball on the right.
The Head was Mister Winstanley,
For short we called Owd Wink
And the teachers sent us up to him
If someone caused a stink.
The first year tutor, Peter Brown
Taught music, games and maths
But unlike Mister Shenton
He wasn't one for laughs.
Chopper taught us geography -
Mister Lomax - that's to you !
A nice chap for a teacher
Who liked a joke or two
Then the actor Mister Arkwright -
Leonard was his name -
In charge of English language
Who never used a cane -
He kept a white galosher
In the cupboard by the door
Which made his face go red and bright
And made our bottoms sore.
And then there's Alan Purcell -
Not the one like Daz
Who only liked the rugby boys
And the rest just called him Snaz.
Little Hughie was a case -
For the deputy he'd pass -
He always wore a hearing aid
In the natural science class.
Mister Wright was bearded
And taught the class below -
An artist and a sculptor -
For art to him we'd go.
And then my favourite one of all
Was dear old little Ock
Who spent most time in lessons
Looking at the clock.
Then there was the godfather -
Tall, mean and sore
Who put the fear of God in us -
Mister Clitheroe.
Menzes did the metatwork
In a hut down Ince Green lane
And Mister Wren the joiner
Showed us how to plane.
And last was Mister Selsby
And remember him, I should -
He did religious knowledge
And taught us to be good.
And that's the staff of Rose Bridge school
In nineteen sixty four
And if I've missed somebody out
Be pleased to let me know.

I Never will Forget Her.

I never will forget her
And the look upon her face -
Full of shock and loathing
And contemptible disgrace
As we stood entranced together
The two of us alone
In the briefest of encounters
That I have ever known.
Two stricken individuals
Paralyzed with fear
Stranded in uncertainty
Like two cornered deer
Both transfixed and motionless
In an envelope of time
As I glimpse into her countenance
And she glimpsed into mine
Each fearful of the consequence
In a dreadful silent hush
As the blood drained from my visage
And her cheeks began to blush
I never will forget her
And her large-rimmed crimson tints -
She looked just a girl I knew
When I lived up Higher Ince.
Her skin was soft and rosy -
Her hair was short and brown
And the top she wore reminded me
Of my favourite eider down
She was slim and quite attractive
From what I still recall
From our fleeting time together
Outside the Market Hall
That is before I realized
And decided what to do -
I should have gone to Specksavers
And not the ladies loo !


I crave the innocence of when,
I knew not any mortal men,
Except my father standing there,
And my mother's gentle care.
The world was new and heaven close,
Like the fragrance of a rose,
That bloomed in summer on the stem,
Away from grief and mortal men.
I miss the shimmering waters, cool -
The picnic by the swimming pool,
The gentle murmuring of the bees,
And dandelion seeds upon the breeze,
As seen through pure and infant eyes,
In that early paradise..
Oh to be back there again,
Away from grief and mortal men.
Upon that velvet clover bed,
With buttercups about my head,
Beneath the chattering lark on high,
That poured down music from the sky -
To watch the caterpillar walk,
It's golden rings along the stalk,
To hump and turn around again,
Away from grief and mortal men.
I crave the innocence and bliss,
Of the first remembered kiss,
That fell from heaven on my brow,
To stay with me from then till now -
The first few words that I did talk,
And joy of learning how to walk,
Back and forth and forth again,
Away from grief and mortal men.


This is indeed a sorry time,
For I have lost the wit to rhyme.
I cannot find the words to fit,
And that is now the end of it.
My inspiration has all gone,
I cannot write a verse, not one !
How it came I do not know,
But it was sad to see it go -
It left me barren - high and dry,
And never even said goodbye,
And yet I saw the warning signs,
When I did struggle with my lines.
My thoughts so laboured to my pen,
To screw them up and start again.
Nothing came and nothing flowed,
Without my writing friend on board.
I think that we - too high above,
Got dizzy and fell out of love,
And so alone I'll just plod on,
And sweat my words out one by one,
Flog my brains to find a rhyme,
And go insane for every line.
But I'll be waiting with my pen,
If we should ever meet again.
Then we'll make the couplets ring,
The timing trip, the verses sing.
From lifeless void and empty space,
We'll give to joy a name and face.
Together dancing we will go,
To places never seen before,
And put to paper from the heart,
Themes of love and words of art,
So we can show the world for free,
Beauty, peace and harmony.
With inspiration all is found -
It gives us wings to leave the ground,
To fly away from life mundane,
And view things differently again.
And from that vantage point on high,
We tread the earth and touch they sky.
Then further upwards as we climb,
We see ourselves a second time -
The one that's earthy, dull and base,
The other blessed with heavens grace.
For only inspiration can,
Make an angel from a man.

In This World of Strife.

In this world of mortal strife,
Sweet salvation is my wife
Where my mother did enough,
She carried on where she left off,
And so, a second mother, she,
Continues yet to nurture me.
Waiting on me hand and foot,
I'd rather not she did it, but,
That's her way by Nature's plight
To fuss and keep me warm at night,
She always there about the home,
So I will never feel alone
And lets me think that I'm a king,
Though I'm not good at anything.
And should I fall she's there for me
To put a plaster on my knee -
There to listen to my woes,
Hold my hand and blow my nose,
And it's an awful thing to say,
I may not be around today,
Except for guidance from above,
And my second mother`s love
For no man's saved by book or creed,
But by his wife - a wife indeed !

In Cafes, Pubs & Social Clubs.

In cafes, pubs and social clubs
And in the civic street -
Face to face in time and space
Is how we used to meet.
But now I am a pigeon
Living in a loft -
My name is tagged on Facebook
As Kevin Holcroft -
Right click, left click,
Double click and send
Is how I form acquaintances
And try to find a friend.
Life could not be easier
In my pigeon house -
All I need is a monitor,
A keyboard and a mouse,
A thing they call a hard drive -
I hardly need to stir.
The world is at my wingtips
In my easy chair -
Right click, left click,
Double click and go -
The pigeon peas are on their way
In a day or so.
Who needs a spreadsheet or a library?
It's all right here on Google
Absolutely free.
I'm on a super highway
In my pigeon cote,
And there is nowhere
I can't fly However far remote -
Right click, left click,
Double click and press -
Everybody on the earth
Can see my new address.
But really I don't know a soul
And wait what happens next
Here alone in my pigeon hole
I live a life by text
And there is nothing
I can know About the human race
Unless I hear it speaking
Or look upon it's face -
Right click, left click,
Double click and send
Is how I seek acquaintances
And try to find a friend.

In Higher Ince.

In Higher Ince - a faithful dog
Was not a boy's best friend
But a big wide wall to bounce a ball
They called a gable end
Where he could chalk his goal posts
And wickets for the day
And play his knock-up football
When his mates had gone away.
He didn't need a goalie
To throw the football back -
The gable did it for him
And did it in a crack
And when the occupants were deaf
As sometimes did occur
He got no grief from anyone
And no one else did care.
He didn't need a keeper
Or fielders in the slips -
The gable sent the ball back
To the bowler's fingertips.
No matter what the weather
It was the place to go
To practice throwing snowballs
Or playing O.X.O
Sheltered from the wind and rain
And off the cobbled street
It was a local meeting place
And a den for hide and seek
It was a friend to lean upon
In many of his games
And watched us grow from toddlers
At the end of streets and lanes
The girls made use of it as well
And had some happy times
Bouncing, juggling tennis balls
And singing silly rhymes.
And if the occupants were deaf
Or the property was shut -
The gable end was our best friend
When we were growing up.

In the Cold, Cold Nights.

In the cold, cold nights
of Irish Town
The northern winds blew
up and down
Over the slaggy
and up through the backs -
Over the roofs
and chimney stacks
As we lay huddled
three in a bed
Without any heating
and the fire out dead.
The winds did howl
and the gales did blow
Carpeting the the roads
with drifting snow.
The frames did creak
and the glass was thin
Letting the arctic
draughts creep in
As we lay huddled
crushed and close
Breathing the damp
with a wet runny nose
With overcoats piled
to the chin and head
And a big hot stone
wrapped up in the bed
With a body on the left
and one on the right -
The one in the middle
was trapped all night.
The toilet water
was as solid as a rock
And the front door key
had froze in the lock
As we lay together
bunched and still -
The cold came in
and sat on the sill.
Our breaths condensed
and trickled like rain
From a soft white mist
on the window pane
As we lay cramped
side by side
We listened to the
raging winds outside
And watched each snowflake
fall and appear
And slide down the pane
like a melting tear
All wrapped up
And ready for sleep
While the snow piled up
outside in the street
As we clung on
to the eiderdown
In the cold, cold nights
Of Irish Town.

In the Long Hot Days of Summer.

In the long, hot days of summer
In Ince deprived of rain
There wasn't any aeroplanes
To fly us off to Spain
So we all took off in exodus
Whether we should or shall
With a towel and some swimming trunks
To the Costa del Canal
Where the seagull swooped for gudgeon
And the changing-rooms were plush
In the luscious, long and swaying grass
Or behind a tree or bush
Where the skylark in the ether
Did soar to serenade
On the open fields of frolic
And lovers in the shade
Where the butterflies did wobble fro
Against the azure sky
And the fireflies mated lustily
In the lupins nearby
Amongst the velvet buttercups
And scented clover spread
We whiled away the time divine
And put our cares to bed.
And there we spent the afternoon
With the mothers dressed in frocks
While the babes lay asleep in prams
Jumping off the locks -
Diving off the bridges
Or basking in the sun
In the long, hot days of summer
Having lots of fun.
Brothers, sisters, fathers, sons
And every guy and gal
Gathered on the grassy banks
Of the Costa del canal.
It was a local outing
For young and old alike -
Some used shank's pony
And others used a bike
And it didn't cost us nothing
And it wasn't far to go
To our favourite destination
And private beach next door.
No taxis, queues or luggage -
In a moment we'd be there
In the summer heat and sunshine
And the salty Southport air
Where we would group together
To sunbathe, chat and cool
With pop and a pile of butties
By the swimming pool
Of Ince's cheapest holiday
With the family or a pal
To Ince's Lanzarote -
The Costa del Canal.

I recall a Rugby Player.

I recall a rugby player
Back at Rose Bridge school
Who played the game with passion
And kept his manly cool -
A fitness fanatic
From the land of tripe and pies
Who had the gift of leadership
And a flair for scoring tries.
He was born by the old grey hills
In a street off Belle Green lane
But I'm not going to name him yet
For that would spoil my game
But I'll state the years of glory
And thereby leave a clue
When the Bridge was nigh invincible
Round nineteen sixty two
When he and Peter Magnall,
Ken Dumican and co
Fought the schools of Wigan
And ran a winning show.
We cheered him from the touchline
With jubilant aplomb
And clapped him in assembly
When they brought the trophies home
He played for his community
Valiantly and well -
He played for all his schoolmates
And he played for Owd Purcell
With a rare dedication
And his dodges, swerves and sprints
Helped to make us famous
And the pride and joy of Ince
Along with Jimmy Ellis,
Ken Ratcliffe and the rest -
There was only one Carl Roden
And he ranks among the best !

I Remember Well.

I remember well the blue-grey dome
Of corrugated tin
Which had a little door in front
To let the people in
Oft for Christmas parties
To congregate and meet
In Belle Green lane before the Bar
Along a cobbled street.
Twas like an air raid shelter
For many - not the few
And could have been at one time
For all the babies knew
But the bombing days were finished
And it served a peaceful role
As the local British Legion
Down the road from home,
Where on a July morning
The grateful working class
And cheery folk of Higher Ince
Assembled there en mass
For the annual vacation
And a wonderment for most -
And a journey into paradise
On a day trip to the coast.
To smell and taste the briny air
And skip the lapping sea
With cockles shells and starfish
And crabs for company.
Twas the day we'd all been waiting for
And like a dream come true
On a charabanc to Southport
To see the ocean blue.
We took some pop and sandwiches
And a comic book to read
And met outside the Legion
At the time agreed.
They put a tag around our necks -
A little cardboard thing
With address and name upon it
And tied it up with string,
Then gave us half a dollar
And told us watch the clock
And sent us out on walkabouts
To buy some toffee rock.
Twas another world for all of us -
A mesmerizing scene
Of toffee shops and trinkets
Seagulls and ice cream
With the ocean in the distance
Creeping on the land
In lines of snowy, whispering surf
And miles and miles of sand.
We truly made the best of it -
These trips were far and few
And should we ever come again -
We never really knew,
But we had a splendid outing
At Southport by the sea
By courtesy of the Legion
In nineteen fifty three.

I Saw a Man in Ince.

I saw a man alone in Ince
In statue stillness hushed
High upon the Rabbit Rocks
Not far from the Bush.
He wore a scarf around his neck
And a cap to shield his eyes
And pointed something in his hand
Towards the western skies.
By his feet upon the grass
There sat a wooden box
With holes and perforations
And a handle on the top.
I'd never seen this man before
And wondered who he was
So I kept a healthy distance
So not to cause a fuss.
He seemed intent and serious
That I was loathe to stir
When he lurched and threw an object
Like a spear into the air
And to my great astonishment -
Amazement and surprise
He tossed a pigeon from his hand
Which flew into the skies.
It flew with scintillating speed
And sweet, majestic grace
Like it's tail was set on fire
And it had no time to waste.
What a rare and saintly man -
To do this for a bird -
Such kindness to God's creatures
I'd never seen or heard.
And then he threw another
And then another too
In the same direction
As all the others flew.
Over Birkett Bank they sped -
Then veered towards the right
To Parbold Hill and Southport
And vanished out of sight.
What a lovely man I thought
To let these birds go free
Instead of pulling on their necks
And cooking them for tea.
And I will always thank that man
To this very day
For saving all those pigeons
And throwing them away.

I Saw Three Wise Men.

I saw the three wise men today
With a shopping list
Stood outside of Argos
In the morning mist.
"What shall we buy our Saviour"?
One wise old magi said
Stroking on his beard
And scratching on his head.
"How about an ipod"
Or the latest mobile phone
To keep him out of mischief
When he's back at home -
A tablet or a laptop
So he can spread the word
Instead of hiking everywhere
To get his message heard.
"But that will make him lazy"
His partner said at length -
"He needs to get some exercise
To give him extra strength".
"How about a pushbike"
The third one did suggest -
"There's plenty going cheap right now
And the fold up ones are best"
"But that would be no go good at all -
Don't you understand -
A bike's no good in Israel
With all those hills and sand!"!
So on and on they pondered
On what to buy the Lord
Each with a catalogue apiece
But the choice was getting hard.
They thought of almost everything
But still could not decide
Until the wisest of them all
Took them to one side
"We can't stand here all day" he said,
Staring at the shelf
"So let's get him a voucher
So he can please his bloody self"!

I Should Have Put My Foot Down.

I should have put my foot down
From the very start
And not allowed my silly head
To be ruled by my heart.
I didn't really love her
But I couldn't let her go
To live the life of misery
That she had before.
She needed me to lean on
And used me all along
Because I was a soft touch
And I wasn't very strong
And she knew what she was doing
When she clapped eyes on me -
She had me weighed up in a crack
And that I couldn't see.
I thought that she was meek and dumb -
Not just a pretty face
But now I see the other side
Beyond her charm and grace.
Those heavy sighs and constant stares
She gives me every day
Are not because she loves me
But just to get her way.
I didn't see it coming -
Poor big-hearted me
And now I'm paying for the price
Of my stupidity.
I haven't had a minutes peace
This morning once again -
She's got me where she wants me -
Ruled by guilt and shame
And so I think it's time to go -
(Judging by the clock) -
I'd better put her lead on
And take her round the block!

It put us off our Dinner !

It put us off our dinner
And put us off out tea
And stopped us playing cricket
Til after half past three.
We tried to run ahead of it
But it always caught us up
And it stopped us playing marbles
And swimming in the cut.
We couldn't concentrate at all
We had to shut the door
It seemed to follow us around
Where ever we did go.
It chased us through the entries
And everywhere we went
And tracked us down remorselessly
With seething malintent.
It made us all succumb to it
And brought us to our knees
We couldn't go out nesting
Or climbing up the trees.
It stopped us going to the shop
It made us all retreat
And stopped us playing tick and pass
Up and down the street
It stopped us watching Popeye
If the back door was ajar
Or going for a haircut
At Carters on the Bar.
We could't hold our fishing rods
Or taste our bubbly gum
And the only time we got some rest
Was when the day was done.
It made our lives unbearable
It followed us around
And sneaked upon us from behind
Without a sight or sound.
I simply can`t forget it
The influence was so
And just as powerful today
As all those years ago
And if you've ever tasted it
You'll know just what I mean -
It was the smell of Sutcliff's tripe In Ince
Outside the old Belle Green !

It Was a Great Adventure.

It was a great adventure
In Ince when we were small
Heading north along the cut
To New Springs and Haigh Hall.
Twas like another world to us
With a panoramic view
Of Wigan and the countryside
And a world we never knew.
Our dads and mams would take us
For a picnic in the sun
In the Wigan holidays
When the daily chores were done.
The air was bracing, fresh and clean
And the folks were everywhere
All on a Sunday outing
Around the Manor there.
Scattered round upon the grass
As far as the eye could see -
Folks from all round Wigan town
And our own community
Smiling, laughing, sat around
Eating cool ice cream -
What a splendid sight it was
And a most endearing scene.
They ran a little tractor
From the gates at Wigan lane
To transport us up to heaven
And take us back again.
No cars or bikes or radios
And nothing there to spoil
An afternoon of fain release
And sweet reprieve from toil..
It was a pleasure in itself
To make our way up there
Past the farms and bakery
In the fragrant summer air
With our babies, bags and butties -
To all the world at ease
Past the sleepy meadows
In the warming summer breeze.
Along the winding tow path
And the lock gates - black and white
With the Pennines in the distance
And the Woochy on the right.
A hundred miles from Irish Town
And the crowded, huddled maze
Of cobbled streets and backyards
Where we spent our days.
Way out in the country
Away from the cills and stone
Of our close-knit community
And yet so close to home.
Upon a great adventure
Along the scented flanks
With lilies and wild roses
Trailing down the banks -
With cows, sheep and cattle
Grazing in the sun -
Heading off to Haigh Hall
For a day of smiles and fun.

Its Going to Hurt Me More.

' Its going to hurt me more than you '
My father used to say
As he brought his belt towards us
On a wild, unruly day
But I never understood those words
Yet know I felt the pain
As he whacked us on the bottom
Time and time again
And only for my mother
Pleading with him so -
Who asked him in the first place -
He'd give us plenty more.
It certainly calmed us down a bit
And did no lasting harm -
To us I mean - although my dad
Did have an aching arm
It stung and burned our backsides
And left us sore and red
Filled with indignation
And terrified with dread.
It didn't last for ever
And soon the soreness went
But my dad went very quiet
After that event.
In fact I never heard him speak
For ages after that
As we sat nice and peaceful
Playing with the cat.
But now I know just what he meant
All those years ago
When he said its going to hurt you
But it's going to hurt me more'-
Because we soon recovered
And everything was fine
But he would not forgive himself
For quite a long, long time.

It Happened Long Ago.

It happened long, long, long ago,
In the days of the angry dog,
When I went running down the street,
To throw a sparking clogg -
A dog flew out of an open door,
As I sparked along it's step,
And sank it's teeth in my behind,
And I can feel it yet.
It clung for ages on my rear,
As I dragged it down the lane,
Screaming along in agony,
And penetrating pain.
It had a great red nasty rash,
Under and below -
I'd seen it sitting on the step,
Many times before,
But this occasion made it mad,
As I went racing by,
And kicked a million fiery sparks,
And caught it in the eye.
A hundred yards I carried it,
To safety and my home,
As it gripped my cheek with vigour,
Like a big fat juicy bone.
It seemed a lifetime that it hung,
Inches off the floor,
As I tried in vain to shake it off,
But still it would not let go,
But all run out of fire and steam,
And it's jaws released the bone,
Dropping off my bottom,
And running off back home.
And the moral of the story was -
Beware of angry dogs,
When you try to set the world ablaze,
With noisy sparking cloggs.

It May Sound Dangerous.

It may sound dangerous these days,
For times have changed in many ways,
Since first we ventured with the foot,
And learned our swimming in the cut.
Paddling in the shallow ends,
Of sandy bottoms with our friends,
Under the care and watchful eye,
Of friends and family wading by.
They'll think us crazy in this age,
To see us standing on the stage,
Of lock gates painted black and white,
To overcome our fears and fright,
And plunge into the blackened pound,
With shouts of laughter all around.
There was no health and safety then,
When boys were boys and men were men,
When dare and courage first began,
To help us grow into a man.
And who'd believe in modern times,
The things we did for kicks and climbs,
Like leaping from the highest wall,
To roll and tumble with the fall,
Or durst to climb the highest tree,
To where a magpie's nest could be.
It makes me cringe in many ways,
The things we did for pride those days,
The challenges we took galore,
To help our nerve and metal grow.
Yes, I suppose they'll view us mad,
A little wild and somewhat sad,
But no one died as I recall,
From leaping off the highest wall,
Or got the typhus of the gut,
By gulping water from the cut,
The proof of which does now prevail,
In how we lived to tell the tale,
And show our fossil fingerprints,
Upon The Characters of Ince!

It Was On the Never Never.

It was on the never never
And it didn't last so long
It came encased in leather
Complete with a lace and tongue.
Twas like a crumpled tortoise
But with a softer shell
All stitched up in hexagons
With a most delightful smell -
Inflated with a bike pump
And a fitting called a friend -
It took it's time in coming
But I got it in the end.
It was a caser football
For Christmas - with a kit
Of Wolverhampton Wanderers
And it was a perfect fit,
With socks and boots with screw-on studs
In shiny black and gold -
My favourite fist division team
From the days of old
And I ran out in the falling snow
On Christmas morn to play
As if I was on Grandstand
Or Match of the Day
Filled with great excitement
As living in a dream
Like the skipper Derek Duggan
Leading out his team.
It was on the never never
And it took some time to pay
But it took me up to heaven
In the snow that Christmas day
And though it didn't last so long -
Like the joys of being a kid -
The ball and outfit faded
But the memory never did.

It Wasn't Very Long Ago.

It wasn't very long ago -
In the blinking of an eye
When the birds and bees were insects
Equipped with wings to fly -
A kiss could cause a pregnancy
And nigh a mortal sin
And sex were bags of calico
To put potatoes in.
Oh what a world of innocence
In which we learned to grow -
That blessed and happy ignorance
Of Ince those years ago.
"You make your bed and lie on it"
Was the warning of the day
Not saying what the bed was for
In that particular way.
The very mention of that word
Was private and taboo
Whispered low and cautiously
With the children out of view
But it never really hurt us
To shun the facts of life -
We just grew up and courted
And got ourselves a wife.
Nature told us what to do
And Nature we obeyed
And Just like any other age
Some mistakes were made -
"You'll have to both get married"
Said the parents in despair,
So we entered in a partnership
And took the rest from there.
Babies come and babies grow
And life goes on the same
Whether you're in Knightsbridge
Or up in Belle Green lane -
Raised in lavish openness
Or in strict modesty
The only winner's Nature
And what will be will be.
So when we cast our minds back
To dad stood on the step
Looking up and down the street
Because we're not in yet
When we'd been out canoodling
And the time was getting late
And mother's getting anxious
Standing by the gate -
Take solace from a simple truth
And spare them both the blame -
Even if we knew the facts
We'd do it just the same.

It Won't be Long.

It won't belong before they come
Demanding this and that
With a candle in a pumpkin
And a silly witch's hat -
Out to frighten us to death
All dressed up in black
Crowded on the doorstep
With their parents at the back.
What's this nonsense all about
The kids call trick or treat -
We never had this back at home
On Ince's darkened street.
We had a bit of fun at night
In the days of old
And we did a spot of taplatch
To counteract the cold
But we never dressed as monsters
And knocked on folks's doors
With fangs and spooky faces
In gangs of threes and fours
Demanding sweets and money
With menaces and threats
Shocking the inhabitants
And startling their pets.
We never called the cops in Ince -
We didn't have a phone
And even if we had one
We'd leave them well alone.
We left them for the walking days,
Patrols and petty crimes
And we sorted out our differences
Between ourselves at times
But some of these kid's guardians
Could risk a bunch of fives
To leave our folk a trembling
And fearful for their lives.
They'd switch the parlour lights off
And in the dark they'd stay
And keep the front door catch on
And pray they go away
And that's what I've a mind to do
This year on Halloween -
Go and hide away somewhere
And vanish from the scene
But I'll have some toffees ready
And some cash I can afford
In case they may be neighbours
From further up the road
But I'm still not overjoyed with it
And the dog will have a fit
But just for the little kiddie's sake
I'll play along with it!
But I'll still get apprehensive
And nervous if they call
And if the witches looked like this yowth
I wouldn't mind at all.

Its nice to be nice.

It's nice to be nice - I can tell you
But it's nicer to mean it as well
What stirs in the mind of another
Nothing and no one can tell
There's no machine to scan feelings
No X-ray image of pain
And eyes can't see the emotions
That swirl around in the brain.
It's nice to be nice for a reason
For being nice is a lift -
A gentle spur and a tonic
And a sweet and heavenly gift.
It's a welcome, encouraging gesture
Of caring affection displayed
And a timely warm intervention
To the lonely, lost and afraid.
It's nice to be nice and it's easy -
It doesn't need talent or style
To speak a kind word to another
And follow it up with a smile.
The action is calm and assuring
And has a twofold effect
It affords two people a rapture
And a warmth they didn't expect
It's nice to be nice - it's angelic
And has the power to enthral -
It renders the heart sympathetic
And seeks out the goodness in all
It's an action well-meaning and noble,
Inherent and rooted in love
Bred in the soul of compassion
And handed down from above.

I've Got Some Stinky Socks.

I've got some socks and T shirts
Which hath begun to stink
But I'll have to put them in a bowl
And wash them in the sink.
The washer died on me last week
When it rattled to a halt
And I've had the top and back off
But failed to find the fault.
I can't afford a new one -
It's coming Christmas time
So I'll have to do it all by hand
And peg it on the line.
Just like my poor old mother did
Many moons ago -
How she ever did it -
By God ! I'll never know !
With just a tub and mangle
And the ' old grab, pull and push '
On a little wooden scrubbing board -
With Acdo and a brush.
But I don't foresee a problem -
There's only the wife and I
And my mother had a great big heap
Of clothes to wash and dry
And she had to heat the water
Before the graft began
And scoop it to the dolly tub
With a bowl or pan.
And if the weather was adverse
And the rain outside was dire
She hung it on a maiden
And stood it by the fire.
Oh what a cushy life we have
Sat at home today
While the washer does the dirty work
And leaves us time to play
When the hoover sucks the dust up
And does it in one go
And all we do is stand and watch
While it cleans the floor -
When the heating puts the coal on
And the dishes wash themselves
And a fan in the kitchen corner
Gets rid of all the smells.
Modern life's too easy
And it's not the way to be -
It's best to do some labour
And learn humility -
To sweat and earn our peace of mind
Like folk don't do today
So I'm going to do my washing
The good old Incer's way.
But first I'll look on Ebay -
Just one little peep
To see if any hotpoints
May be going cheap.

I've had my ups and downs.

I've had my ups and downs in life
And woes in bouts and stints
And it never rains but what it pours
We used to say in Ince.
Troubles come and troubles go
No matter where we are -
What we have or what we've not -
Away - they're never far.
But we had a magic remedy
Up in Irish Town
To soothe our tribulations
When the chips were down
Twas simple and straightforward
Just like ABC -
Polly put the kettle on
We'll all have tea
There's nothing like a good old brew
To hold it in the grip
To calm the concentration
And give the nerves a zip.
Once the leaves were ready
And the water steaming hot -
Sip it, slurp or blow on it
Our worries were forgot.
It put things in perspective
And helped us to relax -
Review the situation
And analyze the facts.
It put the thoughts in order
And helped us on our way -
It was the panacea
And tonic of the day -
Harmless, cheap and easy -
It was the thing to do
And it didn't take much making -
A child can make a brew.

I've lost my wife this morning.

I've lost my wife this morning -
I'm at a loss - it's true -
I don't know where I'm going
And I don't know what to do.
We've never been a yard apart
In all of our married life
And now I know how bad it feels
For a man to lose his wife.
I keep on looking back in time
Remembering how it was
As we walked along together
Just the two of us -
United and inseparable -
Bonded heart to heart -
Always close together
And never far apart.
And it came without a warning -
The two of us were one -
One minute she was by my side
Next minute she was gone.
I keep on looking round myself
And almost start to cry
As couples walking hand in hand
Smile and pass me by
And it fills my heart with sorrow
To pause to stand and stare
In lonesome devastation
To see that she's not there.
I'm lost and out of harmony -
And prone to fret and pine
In a world of unreality
Suspended here in time.
I'll have to screw my courage
Before I reach despair -
I'll have a look in B and M's -
She might have gone in there !

I've seen the Bard!

I've seen the Bard in Stratford -
Or his statue in the street
And there's little doubt about it -
That man cannot be beat !
He said things in a certain way
No man has ever since
But not as good as we did
Back in Higher Ince
The times we passed each other -
And the way we used to greet -
"I'm sorry teer abeyt it wench -
I hope thal be or reet"-
"I've not sin thi fur a bit"
And "heytu gooin on"
Are pearls of English dialect
Of England next to none
And "what's geet on thi yed owd lad"-
Bill would love the north
If he'd come to Higher Ince
And hear those words flow forth.
Or "wost reckon beyt yon mon -
Ees geet some funny ways" -
Finer words I've never heard
In any of his plays.
So I'm more convinced than ever -
Those words are so sublime
The Bard of Avon lived in Ince
At a distant point in time
And that's my theory up to now -
I don't care what they say
Shakespeare came to Higher Ince
And learned to write a play.
He left us with some corkers
Which we lay claim to fame -
"I've towd thi once afoor owd cock
And al not tell thee again"
And dust know what tha dooin -
I'm sorry that I spoke -
Alls well that ends well
And there's nowt so queer as folk
And so there's little doubt to me
And proof I need no more
That Shakespeare was an Incer
Not too long ago!

I've started eating Treacle.

I've started eating treacle
By accident at first -
I ate a great big cake of it
Until I nearly burst.
I thought I'd suffer heartburn
And indigestive strain
But ever since I ate it
I've felt as right as rain.
My nerves abound with vigour
And my confidence is high -
Nothing bothers me at all
And I cannot fathom why.
The last time I partook of it
Was back in the infants school
When we all had treacle toffee
In the morning as a rule
Made in the staff-room kitchen -
Broken from a slab
And put in little packets
At a penny for a bag
And if my memory serves me well
I couldn't do nothing wrong
In the early years it kept me fit
Healthy, bright and strong
And I'm feeling much that way again
Since I stumbled on the stuff -
It's what spinach was to Popeye
And I cannot get enough
So I'm popping down to Morrisons
Tonight without delay
To get a dozen parkin cakes
And eat one every day
Perhaps with a nob of butter -
A kind of herbal treat
To make me feel much more at ease
And lighter on my feet
And if stick the schedule
And if all goes to plan
Maybe in the coming days
I'll be a different man
So now I'm off to Wigan
For some treacle cake anon
And I'll let you know in a week or two
How we both get on.

I Was Completely Spoilt.

I was completely spoilt when I was young
Though we didn't have a thing -
We had a gaslamp on the corner
On which we made a swing.
We all played football in the street
And nobody complained
And we had an outside toilet
To shelter when it rained.
We made our own jam butties
When we had some bread
And we all slept together
In a great big double bed.
No one told us what to do
And we were free to roam
Anywhere and everywhere
All around our home.
The world gave us nothing
But honest hearts and true -
One change of clothing
And a bedroom with a view
Where we could see the sunrise
And watch it set at night
Upon the wide horizon
To the left and right.
And like the roaming countryside
Beyond our little town
We roamed abroad from daybreak
Until the sun went down.
We went out when we wanted -
No one kept us in
So long as we were careful
And didn't make a din.
Spoilt were we beyond belief -
Wayward, wild and free
We even had two meals a day -
A dinner and a tea.
We didn't do our homework
We had a school for that
And we had a choice of pets at home -
A rabbit, dog or cat.
What a life we had back then
In the terraced rows of Ince -
We lived a life of Riley
Unknown ever since.
There was no traffic on the road
So we could run about -
Climb on what we wanted to
Without a fear or doubt.
We could chalk upon the pavement
And use a top and whip
And kick a ball around all day
And no one had a fit.
No one seemed to bother then
And often they'd join in
Playing cricket in the backs
With the stumps a local bin.
It was all too much for us at times
And got us tired by night
So we could sleep like angels
And wake refreshed and bright
Then off we'd do it all again
And venture out to play
Doing what we wanted
Not so far away -
Climbing this and jumping that
And playing little games
Up and down the neighbourhood
Along the streets and lanes
Only coming back for food
Or driven home by thirst
To give our pals and friends a drink
When we'd had one first.
I don't know how we did it -
All that exercise
With all the freedom in the world
With no strings or ties.
It spoilt us something rotten -
We had the earth and moon
And made us rich beyond belief
Without the silver spoon.
It spoilt us for the future
To watch our children grow
With a hectic sea of traffic
Running to and fro
Keeping them restricted
And imprisoned in their homes
Consoled with texting every day
On flashy mobile phones.
It spoilt us for enjoyment
To see them sit around
Twiddling with their fingers
Without a smile or sound.
I want to run outside for them
And show them how to be
And how it felt to be alive
When I was young and free
So spoilt was I and honoured
To live the life I did
That I cannot forget the times
When I was a poor spoilt kid.

I Was Walking on my Hands one Day.

I was walking on my hands one day
Outside the corner shop
When a tanner left my pocket -
I felt and heard it drop.
It bounced upon the cobbles
And flipped into a roll,
Wobbled down the pavement
And fell into a hole.
Now the hole that it fell into
Was a mucky roadside drain
Full of toffee papers
Washed down by the rain -
Bottle tops and lolly sticks
And matchsticks by the score
Three feet down in a layer
At the bottom on it's floor.
It hadn't rained for ages
I could see that from the top
But I knew it held no water
Cos I didn't hear it plop.
Now sixpence was a fortune then
And I made it working hard
Chopping wood for neighbours
With an axe in our back yard
And out collecting peelings
I got about the same -
Threepence for a bagful
Off the farmer up the lane
So I wasn't going to leave it there
But needed help, no doubt
To help me lift the lid off
So I could fish it out.
My mates were playing conkers
By the gable wall
And they all came running over
When they heard me shout and call.
The first bit was a doddle
But the second part was worst
As they held my legs and guided me
Into the hole head first
Where, in the stench and darkness
I spooked a common toad
Which sprang out of a corner
And hopped into the road.
Most startled by the incident
My comrades dragged me out
And we all ganged up together
And chased it all about.
It was a lively critter
And it gave us quite a chase
Till we trapped it in a corner
And looked it in the face
I picked it up and held it
And looked it in the eye
And then it's mouth fell open
And it croaked a mighty sigh
And you'll never guess what was inside ? -
Well you're definitely wrong !
It wasn't my lost tanner
But a big, long, sticky tongue !

I wasn't half mault.

I wasn't half mault wi mi sel tuther day -
I've not bin so mault in mi life
I was tryin to pur a new gate on
To ger int good books wi mi wife.
Our Tommy had borrowed mi ommer
And he'd just gone eyt fur the day
So I yat to use the back of an axe
And busted mi finger that way.
Mi bow-saw and pinchers were missin
I lent um last wick to our Jack
So I yat make do wi an acksaw
And a rusty, owd blunt one at that.
By God I was mault - it was maulin
It took mi ah day pur it on -
So I'm lendin no tools eyt in future -
I'm tellin thi - them days are gone !

I Went to Heskeths.

I went to Heskeths on Ince Bar
On a day of April gales
For half a pound of putty
And a dozen one inch nails -
A piece of glass - two feet by two
And a couple of ounce of tacks
To fix a window I had broke
With a football in the backs.
He folded it in paper
Several wrappings thick
And told me to be careful
As I grabbed a hold of it.
The wind blew high
And the wind blew low
From the bottom to the top
And almost blew me over
As I left the shop.
It wasn't very far to go
But my nerves were on the rack -
Each time that I moved forward
The wind just blew me back.
This way, that way - left and right -
Each way was just as bad
As I clung on to the pane of glass
With all the strength I had
And by the time I got back home
My hands had both gone numb
As I put the glass upon a chair
And called it "mission done"fasth.
Then just as I relaxed a bit
And made myself a brew -
My dad came in and sat on it
And broke the pane in two!

I went to Mason's.

I went to Mason's chippy,
And took a little dish,
For seven bags of golden chips,
A mixture and two fish.
Whistling down the lane I ran,
Trying to beat the queue,
With a big rip in my trousers,
And one lace in my shoe,
Jumping gleefully across the cracks,
And skipping cobble stones,
My stomach was a churning,
And hunger gnawed my bones,
And the scent from Mason's chippy,
Made it churn the more,
As the smell of salt and vinegar,
Came wafting through the door.
Early on a Friday night,
Old Tom brought out the fry,
Which crackled, hissed and spluttered,
As the folk passed by.
His wife she had a kindly face -
Friendly, broad and stout,
Who wouldn't stand for trouble,
And wouldn't mess about.
There was a narrow bench inside,
Sitting on bare stone,
Donkey-branned and scrubbed like new,
To make it look like home,
And there we sat in patience,
All in single file,
Along the little narrow form,
And up against the tile,
Smiling this way - smiling that,
And looking left and right,
There in Mason's chippy,
Upon a Friday night.

I Won't Forget.

I won't forget our little house
And the place it used to be -
They pulled it down some time ago
But it's spirit lives in me
That meagre plot, now overgrown
Has stayed with me always
From Francis Street in Higher Ince
Where I spent my early days
I never knew it was so small
Till I saw it felled and gone
And just the concrete floor was left
To leave me ponder on.
One day I took a stroll up there
And with a woeful smile
Stood by among the memories
And lingered there a while.
Wistfully I measured it
In slow and careful stride
Up and down the length of it
And back from side to side
Thirty metres square it was -
From the step to back door frame
As I sauntered through my past that day
Up in Belle Green Lane.
Twas where I did my growing
And every inch I knew
And I thought about my childhood days
As I wandered through.
First I saw the fireplace,
Or where it used to be
And the old bright fire burning
Brought a smile to me
To think of all the happy times
We'd sat in front of there
On the little fading, old settee
And the creaking rocking chair -
The leaning, narrow chimney breast
And the fireplace, polished black
With a grate of coal and cinders
And the ashes at the back
The slopstone in the corner
Where, on a wooden stool
We took a wash each morning
Before we went to school
And the cramped little pantry
With the stove against the wall
Where my mother did her cooking
Each day to feed us all -
The gap of the little doorway
Where hung knotted wood
With the weathered slab we walked upon
Still firm and looking good
The drawers beneath the window
And the telly by the door
Where we, excited, gathered round
And sat upon the floor
In the long dark nights of winter
And summer afternoons
To watch the early programmes
And the black and white cartoons
In the middle was an oblong space
From which the wooden stairs
Climbed steeply to our bedrooms
Where we slept in threes and pairs -
The square bunk in the recess
And the bed stretched by the side
Where we sat against the window
To watch the world outside.
Where the wails and cries of infants
In the flickering candlelight
Echoed in the darkness
And woke us up at night.
For fourteen years it sheltered us
Along with the mice and snails
In the blistering heat of summer
And the blustery winter gales
It kept us housed, warm and safe
As we slammed her warping doors -
Stampeding through the bedrooms
And thudding on the floors.
It heard our screams of laughter
And watched our goings on -
Knew all our little secrets
And never told a one.
Our little house with a front and back
And a wall on either side
With a yard and fence around it
And a toilet just outside -
Now lost and gone for ever
To all posterity
No longer stands in Francis Street
But still lives on in me.

Copyright 2018 Kevin Holcroft