Nanny Green.

Nanny green teeth on the pond -
In Ince - I often saw
And swore I saw a ghost one night
Floating on the Bar.
I once saw Father Christmas
And a bobby on the beat
But I never saw the Bogie Man
Coming up our street.
They said he'd come and get us
If we didn't mend our ways
Or wouldn't go to sleep at night
In the early days.
The Bogie man was sinister
And mean - or so I heard
Who came when least expected
And never said a word
And off he'd take us to a place -
I never found out where,
Full of naughty children
And he would keep us there
Without food and water
And under lock and key
To teach us good behaviour
Before he let us free.
I thought I heard him come one night
To catch us unawares
And peep around the doorway
Up the wooden stairs
And I was glad it was my dad
Who thought it wise to creep
To check if we were still awake
Or if we'd gone to sleep
Although I never met him -
Whether he came or not,
I wondered what he looked like
And thought of him a lot
And when we misbehaved at night
And wouldn't go to sleep
I thought I heard his footsteps
Coming up our street
When my mother shouted up the stairs
As the noise began -
"If you don't be quiet and go to sleep
I'll send the Bogie man"!

Near the Swan.

Near The Swan on Ince's flank,
A chemist lived at Birkett Bank -
Polite and quiet, meek and tame -
Jack Tomorrow was his name,
And every time we called he'd say,
"Come back tomorrow" every day !
His shop looked like a bomb had dropped -
Cluttered up but clean and mopped,
With a clanging bell above the door,
And Avery scales upon the floor.
He wore his glassed on his nose,
On the end to see up close,
And peering over he would say,
"Come back tomorrow" every day !
Mostly he'd be in the back,
Mixing compounds from the rack,
And counting tablets one by one -
Purple hearts and mogadon,
Verslip, vallium - pills for zest,
And breathing tablets for the chest,
And by the counter sat a chair,
For people who stood waiting there,
To whom, in gentle tones he'd say -
"Come back tomorrow" every day !
He had a thin and sallow face,
And a careful, slow and steady pace.
He was a relic of the past,
An old time pharmacist - the last,
Who made prescriptions for the folk,
Among the huddled rows and smoke,
Of Ince and Scholes and roundabout,
Who suffered from the nerves and gout,
And most remembered when he'd say,
"Come back tomorrow" every day!

News of the World.

The News of the World was the scandal sheet
In the days of the smouldering coal
When people were taught about heaven
And sex wasn't good for the soul
So we used it to blow up the fire
With a shovel and a centrefold
To pull the wind up the chimney
And wait for the wood to take hold
And when the flames were roaring
And the coals did crackle and glow
We'd blast it like a furnace
Using the draught from the door
And once the grate was singing
A bright clear gold and red
It was time to put on the kettle
And toast us a slice of bread.
The butter always sat on the table
In the middle of the room
High enough so the kids couldn't reach
Together with the sugar and spoon.
The sterry would be in the pantry
On a shelf away from the floor
And the toasting fork hung up on a nail
At the side of the oven door.
The dough was kept in the bread bin
In the days of the smouldering coal
To keep it away from the cockroach
And the mice and the wandering vole.
The cheese and jam were a specialty
And stored in the kitchenette
Not to be touched bowt permission
And not so easy to get
And once the fire was laughing
And The News of the World disappeared
It brought us joy to the household
And all the family was cheered
And there we'd sit by the fender
And wait our turn with the fork
So we could toast us a buttie
And put on some echo and stork
And the News of the World could go to hell
As we relished in heart and soul
When we all sat down by the fire
In the days of the smouldering coal.

Nobody will Give Us Nowt.

In Ince we had a saying
When disgruntled or upset
' Nobody will give us nowt ' -
You've heard it said - I'll bet
Nobody will part with nowt
And even if they do
It's just their way of getting back
Something out of you
For folk are selfish creatures
When all is said and done
Who have a simple motto -
' Look after number one '
Man - mind thyself ! it means
Or put another way
Nobody will have nowt
By giving it away
Although there's one or two about
Who'll give and just forget
In all my worldly travels
I haven't met one yet
But there is one exception
And that one being me -
I'll give my last to anyone
With a happy heart for free
I can't abide such people
Who give and count the cost
And ask for things back later
When favour has been lost.
It shows a lack of character
And a cold, uncaring soul
Not to help a neighbour
When he's fallen in a hole
Or when he's stuck for pennies
And has no means to pay
Not to offer anything
To help him on his way...
Oh harsh and mean hard-heartedness
What's your worldly prize
To see men's pain and suffering
Through cold and blinkered eyes -
What's your pay and profit
When this life is through
To hold the remedy and cure
Yet seek it not to do.
But nobody will give us nowt
And It's not the way to be
The world would be a kinder place
With souls around like me -
Giving, warm and generous
With empathy galore
Who'll give it all and everything
And look for giving more -
Gradely folk from Givington -
A rare and dying breed
Who cannot rest in peace at night
While others are in need
But nobody will give us nowt
And it's always been the same
From the days of coal and jackbit
Up in Belle Green lane
Which taught me one big lesson
And this I do believe -
It's a far more blessed thing in life
To give than to receive
And that great noble principle
I've practiced all the way
That's why I've never had nowt
To this very day.

No Climbing Frames.

No climbing frames or roundabouts
Had we whilst growing up
In Ince we had the old grey hills,
The railways and the cut -
Acres of adventure
Where we were free to roam
At will and unattended
Near the safety of our home.
The old grey hills belonged to us -
Our very own terrain
Baked in the heat of the summer sun
And rounded by the rain
Laid down by our fathers
Through tragedy and fears
And left to us as a playground
To spend our childhood years
'Come up here and join me'
And climb upon my side
Keep me company all day
And use me as a slide
That's the way they spoke to us -
Sweetly and benign
Whenever we encountered them
Each and every time
They whispered gently to us
With a soft and ancient charm
Inviting us for hours of fun
And promising no harm
So we took along some transport
Some cardboard, tin or ply
And scratched the backs of the old grey hills
Whenever we passed by
Then from a dismal heap of spoil
They'd stir and come to life
From the slumberings of antiquity
And years of toil and strife
And then they'd smile contentedly
With their children all around
Reunited with the past
And the ghosts from underground
And then our ancestors would rise -
Their earthly labours done
And slide with us down the old grey hills
And join us in the fun.

No Future in Ince.

There is no future now in Ince
Or elsewhere in the land -
We had it fifty years ago
First and second hand.
The first was when we had nowt
And we had it all to gain
And the second was our children
Growing on the lane.
And now it's all been done and got
The happy times are o'er -
We're in a cul-de-sac of time
With nowhere else to go.
The future then was Hotpoint
To get the washing clean
And a fridge to put the sterry in
To stop in turning cream.
It was a vacuum cleaner
And a carpet for the home
So we could sit in comfort
And walk on cushioned stone.
The future was tomorrow
And tomorrow was today
And life was so exciting
In Ince along the way.
The future was a garden
To cultivate and grow
And a motor car for transport
To own and have for show.
It was a television
And a phone to ring and call
When we didn't have a thing
But now we have it all.
And what is left is apathy
And the wants of having more
Unlike the things we needed
In Ince not long ago.
We've got it, had it - lived the dream
And loved it all the way -
There is no future left in Ince -
We had it yesterday!

Not Much Longer for this World.

I'm not much longer for this world -
There's about to be a stink -
I've just been caught red-handed
Standing at the sink
In a compromised position
Out of the blue
Doing something which, indeed
A grown man shouldn't do
But I did shift all the dishes
And I did use the bowl
Being very careful
That none went down the hole
I could have used the bucket
Or done it in the yard
But the wind was blowing like a gale
And it started raining hard
So the wife was shocked and furious
As she tiptoed down the stairs
From a busy stint of ironing
That caught me unawares
I couldn't get away in time
And it took me by surprise
To see her flabbergasted
With daggers in her eyes...
I thought I heard the catch go
And a sweet and soft goodbye
As she left to do some shopping
To see me by and by
Which gave me the spur and impetus
At the ideal time I thought
To get the job done quickly
Without being caught
But now I wish I'd waited
For a time more opportune
Instead of being impetuous
And doing it too soon
But, oh to turn the clock back -
I thought she'd just gone out
As I placed it in the plastic bowl
And wriggled it about
This way, that way, up and down
In a cloud of rising steam
Then rinsed it with hot water
To get it nice and clean
But I should have been more thoughtful
Looking back I think -
It's really not the place to wash
A bike-chain in the sink !

Not One Fly.

Not one fly has this trap caught -
My crafty plan has come to nought.
Their ancestor Fred Mcfly,
Did tread upon the glue and die,
Three years ago while on a flight,
Around my kitchen of delight.
His many pals did ruminate,
And trod the path to seal their fate.
Hence from his cruel and sticky grave,
He sent a call - his line to save
To Flyland thus and without haste,
He warned his brothers of the paste,
Upon a taper, brown and bright,
Hanging from my kitchen light.
And now the blighters buzz around,
For delicacies above the ground,
Landing here and landing there
On my keyboard, in my hair,
With cloven wings, big and small,
On the cupboard and the wall,
But they will not at any cost,
Go where Fred Mcfly was lost.

Not weel mi sel.

Our Mary's not so weel today -
Her's geet chicken pox
And Billy's fawin back at skoo
He best poo up his socks.
Tommy's under weather
He's geet a runny nose
But I've towd him time and time again
Not tek off his clothes.
Young uns started teethin -
Jack's off work a gen
And Molly need some glasses
Tha wants to see her sken.
Dog's just had a littler
And by the bloody hell -
I think I'm due for another
And I'm not so weel mi sel !

Nothing Beats a Kiss.

Nothing beats a kiss in life
It's personal and nice
And if there`s something better
Then it's to have one twice.
It's a way of saying never mind
In me you have a friend
We'll try again tomorrow
And get there in the end.
It exorcises hopelessness
And lifts us in the air
Dispels all thoughts of uselessness
And drives away despair.
A kiss means we are wanted
It's simple, quick and free
And tells someone they're welcome
And in good company.
A kiss is something we all do
All creatures of the earth
To say how much they matter
And tell them of their worth.
Nothing beats a kiss in life
It's natural and good
It's warm and therapeutic
And sanctifies the blood
It proves that we are capable
Of being sweet and kind
Gives heart to the afflicted
And soothes the troubled mind.
It's a minor kind of miracle
That makes the fractured whole
It gives new hope to emptiness
And purpose to the soul.
A kiss has depth and meaning
No other action knows
It travels from the cranium
To the feet down to the toes.
It spreads to all extremities
And ripples through the frame
Relaxing bone and sinew
Like a soft and warming flame.
A kiss has power and magic
More potent than it seems
It can turn a person's life around
And spur his hopes and dreams
Can resurrect his confidence
And wipe away his pain -
A kiss can kill all death in him
And help him live again.

Now Christmas isn't far away

Now Christmas isn't far away
And lest I should forget
There is a character of Ince
I've failed to mention yet
So before the snowflakes start to fall
Behind the Christmas tree
In the cobbled, cold, dark trails of Ince
We'll strive this soul to see
It was a little long, lost boy
Who roamed the street's dim light
While everyone was having fun
Upon a Christmas night
And we would sing a song of him
While snuggled up in bed
As the snow fell thick and settled
On the rooftop overhead -
Poor Little Joe it was -
Lost in the snow
With nowhere to shelter
And nowhere to go.
And as we sang this song for him
It made us feel so glad
And count our little blessings
To have a mam and dad
All as one as family -
Snug and wrapped up tight
Waiting there for Santa Claus
Upon a Christmas night.

Now 80 Days.

Now eighty days are yet to go
To bring a Christmas day once more
Just like the one we had last year -
Filled with merriment and cheer
And now the time is almost fit
To decorate my home a bit
To pass these dreadful nights of glum
With early joy and festive fun
Methinks I'll get myself a tree
To light these days with jollity.
I'll wrap around some fairy lights
To cheer these long and dismal nights
So I can sit and watch it glow
And dream of Christmas long ago.
I'll put it in my favourite spot
And pin a silver star on top -
Thread some tinsel here and there
And little presents everywhere.
But all this fuss will take some time
And patience virtue isn't mine
But I'll get round to it somehow
So sod the bloody thing for now!

Old Belle Green Pub.

What's happened to our old Belle Green -
The best pub in the land
That warm and friendly rendezvous
Where our fathers drank and sang.
It looks a bit like Colditz
Somewhere out in Wales
Selling sweets and chocolate bars,
Spirits, wines and ales.
What a transformation
From the place that I once knew
Which thrived in the bustling, labouring days
With patrons good and true.
My granddad would be livid
If he looked up from his feet
And saw this great monstrosity
From the end of Chatham street.
He`d run and kick the cobbles
And cry out in despair
And scream out vile obscenities
To see it standing there
Like a castle from Bavaria
Planted overnight
To shock the eyes of the waking
And give the folk a fright.
He'd fly into a paddy
And stamp his feet and toes
For the Belle Green was his sacred shrine
For darts and dominoes.
It was his den of solace
And refuge from the home
Where he could meet and socialise
And never be alone
And grandma too would be dismayed
To see her favourite spot
In the corner of the buzzing Snug
Turned into a shop
With rows of crisps and biscuits
And piles of Special Brew
Blighting the cosy atmosphere
Of the vibrant place she knew
Where she would sit on a Friday night
On a stool behind the door
As the cheery residents of Ince
With smiles did come and go
Listening to the singers
Belt out songs of joy
Like Rawhide and Jerusalem
And her favourite Danny Boy.
She'd slip into a panic
And start to chew her gums,
Quake with devastation
And sink into the glums
To see her little table
With her mat and gill of stout
Turn into a wine-rack
With not a soul about
And all my Aunts and Uncles
Would shudder and lament
To see their famous public house
Become a circus tent -
Their hub of fun and laughter
Lost and left to cry
With cones of desolation
Reaching for the sky.
It was our hive of friendship
And hub of cheer and joy
Built by the working men of Ince
And passed from man to boy
Which prospered in it's heyday
Of coal fires and smoke
Proud amongst the chimney stacks
Of Ince's gradely folk
Where every lively weekend
Dressed up to the nines,
The toiling families of Ince
Enjoyed their happy times
When stiletto heels on cobbles
Paused to stride again
And the smell of scent and brylcream
Wafted on the lane
Where often on a Winter's night
Through a warm, inviting haze
The glowing hearths of the Belle Green pub
Would set the scene ablaze
While on a rowdy Summer's night
The folk stood side by side -
As the vault was packed from wall to wall
And the doors were open wide.
Oh, happy days of Belle Green lane
When life was sweet and slow
All the pubs have vanished
And there`s nowhere left to go.
The Prince of Wales is dead and gone
To set the solemn mood -
The Engine now stands derelict
And the Bush sells spicy food
And now the jewel in our crown -
Our asset at the top
Is turned to flats and tenements
Above a lager shop.
Sacrilege has done it's worst
And silenced now for good
The last beating heart of hope
For Ince - the Belle Green pub.
The final toast is over
Though memories linger on
The landlord called "Last Order"!
And all the ghosts are gone.

Old Belle Green School.

All things bright and beautiful -
We sang it sweet and slow
In little Belle Green school in Ince
Not too long ago.
We sang it in assembly,
The church and parish hall -
There is a green hill far away
Without a city wall.
We sang them with sincerity,
Humility and love
In praise and silent wonder
Of a higher force above.
The Lord's my shepherd I'll not want
He makes me down to lie
We sang together, side by side
As the years went by -
Hymns of praise and worship
Of morality and good
Which settled in our psyches
And flowed in our blood
Timely, good reminders -
A daily, fond decree
Of love, peace and harmony
And how to live and be.
We sang them second-nature
Before the day did start -
Holy, holy, holy
And knew the words by heart -
Onward Christian soldiers
And sweet abide with me -
Jesus lover of my soul
And what a friend in thee.
We sang them uninhibited,
Resounding, loud and clear
As armour against evil
And antidote to fear -
The good old hymns of childhood
Which comforted our fears
And grounded us in simple faith
Through adolescent years.
They didn't do us any harm
To glory, sing and pray
Those lifting verses of accord
We echoed every day.
They steered us through our humble lives
Like beacons in the night
Lighting up our darkness
And teaching wrong from right.
I hum them every now and then
As a tribute to the past -
Those rousing anthems of rejoice
We sang aloud in class
And how I wish I could return
To stand and hear the strain
Of all things bright and beautiful
In my little school again.


The market wasn't open
Without little Olive there
Stooping o'er a cup of tea
On a little metal chair
All ears, all eyes and listening
And watching out for folk
Handy by the exit
To pop out for a smoke
Every day she'd be there
Winter, summer - Fall
In her little boots and furry coat
By the market stall
Purchasing her cigarettes
And making people smile -
A tiny little character
Standing out a mile
Full of wise expression
And a sadness on her brow
She spoke to all and everyone
To pass the time somehow.
Her face was like a story
Many ages old
As she stood out by the taxi rank
To brave the wind and cold
Looking out for people
Whoever they may be -
She loved association
And welcomed company
But now she's gone and left us
And the place won't be the same
And we wont see her on the bus
To town from Ince Green Lane
Nor on the bench in Market street
Or walking through the Hall -
Sat around in company
Or chatting at a stall
In her little boots and furry coat
We won't see her again -
The last true character of all
From Ince and Ince Green Lane.

Of all the Characters of Ince.

Of all the characters of Ince
The strangest one I saw
Was Billy Lyon, bald and slim
Standing on the Bar
Just outside the Whitehouse
Almost every day
He stood to clap and twirl around
And pass the time away.
A lively, cheery chap he was
With a bright and rosy face
And up and down the cobbles
For years he'd stride and pace.
He'd clap at folks, clap at cars -
Wave his arms and sing
And clap up to the rooftops
And almost everything.
The reason being, no one knew -
Twas a mystery back then
And still remains the oddest sight
I'll ever see again.
It's said he was an athlete
In his younger days
Until he had an accident
That sent him funny ways,
That he had trials for Bolton
And he was fair to good
Until he had a mishap
In a sawmill cutting wood
In which he lost two fingers
Or so I understand
That made him clap and rub his palms
And wring his damaged hand
And searching for his digits
He'd twist and twirl around,
Pacing back and forth again
To find them on the ground
But that was just the theory
And whether fact or scheme
It was the strangest thing in Ince
That I have ever seen
And even stranger looking back
Was where did Billy go
When he wasn't clapping on the Bar
All those years ago
And if perchance somebody knows
And deems such facts untrue
Or even where our Billy went
We'd like to hear from you!

On an August Bank Holiday Monday.

On an August Bank Holiday Monday
Not long ago in the past
I gave to my brother a spangle
And told him that was my last
While I stuffed the rest in my pocket -
The side that he couldn't see
As we walked along in the wind and the rain
To the place of our destiny
And the goal of our little excursion
Was a mission to challenge our souls -
We went to pick up a kitchenette
From a neighbour's friend up in Scholes
The weather was foul and inclement -
A little bit like today
As we jumped the sleepers off Belle Green lane
And scurried along on our way
We were not in the mood for the errand
But it meant more spangles at least
For she promised us both half a dollar
If we got it back in one piece
So over the railway we scrambled
And from hill to hill we did lurch
And made our way to Birkett Bank
Towards St Catherines church
Then on to the workhouse we travelled
Eventually finding the place
Where a little old lady was waiting
With an incredulous smile on her face
' Don't break the glass in the cupboard '
She called as we took up the load -
With one at the front and one at the back
We wobbled it off down the road.
But It only took us a minute
To realize what we'd done -
Twould be too arduous a journey
And we knew it wouldn't be fun
So we put it down on the pavement -
This was an errand too far
And asked for a lift from the ragman
Who dropped us off at the Bar.
From there we hired a trolley
And promised the lad a good tip -
Half a packet of spangles
If he gave us a lift with it.
Belle Green lane seemed for ever
For the cobbles had gaps an inch wide
And the wheels of the tansad were buckling
As we rocked it from side to side
Then close to exhaustion and weary
We made a last frantic push
Up the slope to our neighbour's house
Fifty yards past the Bush
And in one piece being delivered,
Though the task was risky and hard
We'll all went across to Lilly's shop
Once we'd received our reward
Where we emptied a full box of spangles
And crunched them three at a time
Before we ran home out of the rain
And put our clothes on the line.
Now I could go on for ever
Remembering stories like these
From the innocent days of my childhood
Before the birds and the bees
But I wouldn't normally bother
Though this one is honest and true -
But it's a dreadful bank holiday Monday in May
And I've nothing much better to do.

On the Rabbit Rocks.

On the Rabbit Rocks of grey and green,
I fell asleep and had a dream,
And woke to sulphur in the air,
And steam and rail tracks everywhere -
Tall brick spires all around,
Spewing smoke above the ground,
And to and fro with iron and coal,
A dozen little trains did roll.
Men were walking up and down,
In boots and cloggs around the town,
And black-faced women wearing shawls,
Moved among the blue-grey sprawls,
Of blighted earth and smothered fields,
Of chimney stacks and winding wheels.
Barges sat upon the bays,
And inlets of the waterways,
While horses heaved their ponderous loads,
Along the stony paths and roads,
Across the landscape grooved with rut,
And narrow towpaths of the cut.
Then I heard a mighty roar,
That shook the rock and slag below,
To see a white hot molten stream,
Blind the vision of my dream,
And in my ear a furnace sighed,
Which roared to life and then it died,
And all the while the folk moved on,
Exchanging labour one by one,
Some in hats and some without,
Shifting ghostly round about,
In the grime and drifting smoke -
The heaps of spoil of coal and coke -
The foundries and rolling mills,
Among the lonely lifeless hills -
So near to touch and almost real,
In the Kirkless Iron And Steel,
And wandering silently around,
The streets of Ince and Irish Town.
Then I woke up from my dream,
To see a peaceful land of green -
Slumbering, quiet and undisturbed,
With nothing but the sound of birds,
And only I - awake at last,
With the ghosts and memories of the past.

Once Upon a Time (everyone spoke).

Once upon a time in Ince
Everybody spoke
And should they fail to do so
They got a little poke -
"Thought you wasn't speaking"
And "I was miles away"
Were the two main social graces
Exchanged along the way.
We all lived close together
And didn't go that far
And the fastest thing upon the road
Was a pushbike - not a car
And now and then a stranger
Came walking down the street
But the greatest villain in the world
Was one that wouldn't speak -
"He's a funny bugger" -
"It costs nowt for a word"
And "He only speaks when spoken to"
Were phrases often heard.
A neighbour was an asset
Who served his purpose best
By being there to talk about
While others got a rest.
The tongue was made for syllables
As well as chewing cud
And if one wasn't sociable
It wasn't any good.
"He's a nice chap but he's quiet"
And "At least he says hello" -
Was the nearest thing to ignorance
In Ince not long ago.
We had no private vehicles
To ride around and spy
And the only way to view the world
Was straight into the eye
Folk were not avoidable
As they are today
And making good impressions
Was the order of the day
People then were forced to speak
To mix and make a friend -
Twas the only way to get along
And paid off in the end
And then again let's face it -
Whether high or low,
It doesn't cost us nothing
Just to say hello.

Once Upon a Time (I thought I could sing).

Once upon a time in Ince
I thought that I could sing -
Sweeter than a nightingale
That ever sang in Spring
Softer than a cuckoo's call
From a distant shaded glen
And higher than a cockerel
At daybreak in the pen.
That is until I went to Kays
And bought it second hand -
A Grundig tape recorder -
The finest in the land.
It weighed about a hundredweight
With half a mile of tape -
Wrapped around two plastic spools
Which slowly did rotate.
But I wish I'd never bought it
For what did then ensue?
I took a sample of my voice
To see if it was true
And that is when my world collapsed
And I would not rejoice
When I heard the grim reality
Of my singing voice -
The notes were flat as punctured dough
And toneless as a saw
And the texture was as lifeless
As a coughing raven's caw.
I thought it must be faulty
So I taped a finch I'd spied
Piping In the treetops
On a sunny day outside
Which sounded sweet and mellow
And did my heart enthral
So there was no doubt about it
I couldn't sing at all!
Damn the science of today
For telling me the truth
And shatter the illusions
And my confidence of youth
For I was going to be a star
With the voice I thought I had
But I didn't realize at all
It sounded quite so bad
And from that day henceforward
I'm happy just to sing -
And how it sounds to someone else
No longer means a thing -
Happy just to sing am I
And singing, happy be -
Happy with the voice I have
And happy to be me.

Once Upon a Time (we Never Locked the Door).

Once upon a time in Ince
We never locked our doors
Especially in the daytime
As ever Incer knows.
Our property was sacrosanct
And no one ever dared
To cross the little thresholds
Unless they got the word.
But then it didn't matter -
That's how we used to feel -
We had no precious merchandise
For anyone to steal
Except for a bit of jackbit
(And that goes back some way!)
And that was usually eaten up
Before the end of day.
Bells, alarms and sirens?
Those sounds were yet unknown
Except for ambulance and police
But not to guard a home.
We sometimes had a little dog
That yapped away at nowt
When there was a stranger
Knocking round about
But that was just a rarity
And no intruders came
To rifle through our worldly good
From somewhere down the lane
And even if somebody did
Then someone else would know
So it didn't really matter
In Ince not long ago
And so we didn't bother
To lock the burglars out -
They probably had more than us.

Once Upon a Step in Ince.

Once upon a step in Ince
I stood with both eyes shut
Twiddling with my fingertips
And tapping with my foot
Lost in concentration
And grappling for a way
To bolster up my moral strength
To ease my pain away.
The pain was in my belly
And it gnawed without restraint
In the heart of my intestines
And made me weak and faint.
Twas the sudden pangs of hunger -
Intolerable to bear
That gripped me like a vice inside
As I was standing there
And my stomach churned and rumbled
But there was nothing I could do
To satisfy my appetite
For I was in a queue
And the smell of meat pie gravy
Came wafting through the door
Which so increased my yearning
It made me hungry more.
And once inside the open door
In the queue I moved along
My mouth was watering so fast
It nearly drowned my tongue
I tried to think of spare-ribs.
Black puddings, tongue and tripe
To sicken off the senses
With things I didn`t like
But the flavour kept on coming
And upwards as it rose
I had to squeeze my nostrils
To keep it from my nose
But my patience was rewarded
And I got what I deserved -
Four meat and two potato
Was the order I was served
The place was a little bakers.
A stone`s throw from the Bar -
The finest meat pies in the land
And tastiest by far.
The year was nineteen fifty eight
With tea time coming soon
And the steps was Cain`s pie shop
On a Friday afternoon.

Once Upon an Old Straw Hat.

Once upon an old straw bed
In Ince I had a dream
And saw a silent new estate
Where my old house had been
Where people worked for money
And worked for nothing more
And when the weekend came around
They had nowhere to go.
All the shops had disappeared
And gas lamps - there were none
And the railway line and cobbled streets
With the sparrows had all gone
And in it's place was tarmac
And houses neat and new
Where people sat in living rooms
With nothing much to do.
I heard no children's laughter
Nor saw one out at play -
There was nought but silence all around
In the middle of the day
As I walked around the neighbourhood
Where I was born and bred
Searching for some sign of life
On the ground and overhead
But not a single pigeon
Nor starling did I see -
Everything was deathly still
And eerie cold to me.
All the houses looked the same
With plastic window frames,
Brick-paved driveways
And doors with fancy names
And on the tidy tarmac roads
At random here and there
Tin machines with wheels on
Stood silent everywhere
Not a door did open
And not a voice was heard
In this strange and apathetic place
Which got me feeling scared
Then a voice cried "This is Future"
In a chilling tone, surreal
As I lurched up from my old straw bed
From the horror of my dream
To the sound of squabbling sparrows
And the rumbling of a train
And the cries of noisy children
Playing on the lane
And gazing from my window
Folks walked to and fro
Among the shops and gas lamps
And cobbled streets below
Then another voice cried "This is Past" -
Enjoy it - every bit -
It won't get any better
So make the best of it.

Once Upon an Old Tin Hearth.

Once upon an old tin hearth
I sat with eyes tight shut
Upon the old grey hills of Ince
That overlooked the cut
On the wastes of the Rose Bridge colliery
By the old abandoned mine
Climbing walls and throwing stones
And having a magic time.
Twas at the peak of Summer
In the holidays from school
And we were sliding down the hills
And splashing in the pool.
The knuckles of my hands were white
As I clutched a piece of rope
Tied to the front of the old tin hearth
On the crest of the slippery slope.
Down below the rainbowed sheen
Of the inky water, black
Gleamed the solemn possibility
I may not be coming back
When the two friends standing at my rear
( In whom I had no trust )
Propelled me to a watery grave
With swift ferocious lust.
My whole life flashed before my eyes
As I made my journey down
And I thought about my folks back home
And all the souls in town,
All my friends and neighbours
And everyone I'd known
On the cobbles of the little streets
Round about my home.
I thought about the carnivals
That passed along the Bar
And all the crowds stood watching them
Who'd travelled from afar -
The trips to Rhyl
And the walking days
The smell of Sutcliffe's tripe -
The big black tank up Belle Green Lane
And the stars above at night,
The paint pots and the polished desks -
The smell of plastacine
And the faces of the teachers
At my little school Belle Green.
I thought of all the grocers
Who knew us all by name
And the chippies and the pie shops
Up and down the lane.
I thought about Smiths Dairies
In the early morning turns
And the rattling of activity
On the platform stacked with urns.
I thought of the bell in the playground
And the way we played away
And the whistle of The Empress Mill
At five o'clock each day,
The skylarks over Kirkless
The bullfinch in the glade -
The arrows and the catapults
And the trollies that we made
I thought about the Rabbit Rocks
And the boulders strewn around
And the engines on the Whelley Line
That made a thundering sound.
And as I raced towards the edge
Of a smothering watery doom
I thought of the nights out camping
And gazing at the moon
With eyes agog with wonder,
Innocent and small
So young in frailty and blood
At the mercy of it all.
I thought of Gallaghers Pickles
And the brewery next door -
Indeed I thought of many things
With so little time to go.
I thought of Jimmy Entwistle
On his bike and heavy load
Yodelling out the Chronicle
While peddaling up the road
In the murky winter evenings
As the rugby crowds came back
Juggling change and newspapers
In his glasses, cap and mac.
I though of the toilets in Ince park
And why they had no chain
And the creaking swings and monkey bars
And the little climbing frame -
The flowerbeds and the fountain
The trickling brook near dry
That flooded in the heavy rain
Into the terraces nearby.
I thought of the railway stations
Where the steam trains ran on time
And the viaducts and parish church
On each side of the line
And as the moments fled away
And mortality loomed nigh
I thought of the lazy backyard scenes
Of happy days gone by -
The slow and steady pace of life
Of the pigeon cotes and pen,
Plain straight-talking women
And open-shirted men.
I thought of Billy Lyon
Clapping at each car
Just outside the Horse Shoe Inn
Standing on the Bar.
Then was Jimmy Rutter
Who came before my mind
In his cap and cloggs in Ince Green lane
And his mother close behind
Standing at the pavement edge
With certainty alack
Taking three steps forwards
And taking four steps back.
I thought of Jack Tomorrow
And the wheezing, coughing folk
And the smell of oil from Bulldog Tools
In the early morning smoke.
I thought about the miners
And the clatter of their cloggs -
Cats upon the pantry roof
And roaming hungry dogs -
The slagtip and the cornfields
And the lily-trailng ways
And the deep pit near Hindley
Where we bathed on summer days.
How life comes when we need it to
In the panic of the mind
To have these spectres visit us
Of the things we'd leave behind
In the final flourishes of life
How vivid, bright - yet far
Perhaps it proves how dear to us
Our fondest memories are.
And so to my conclusion
I'll no more you address
And bore you with these images
Of my dreaming idleness
For this is not a story
And none of it is true
But just a whirlwind tour of Ince
In nineteen sixty two.

One Grey October Day.

One grey October day in Ince
In nineteen sixty four
I was polishing my conkers
Upstairs on the bedroom floor
When I heard a loud commotion
Outside my window pane
Emanating from the street
Or somewhere on the lane
And, peering from my window
With my elbows on the cill
I saw a spectacle in Ince
Again I never will....
Down by the cobbled roadside
With people gathered round
A man sat on a bicycle
That made a grinding sound.
I thought there'd been a mishap
So I had a closer look
In case my mind was playing tricks
And my eyes had been mistook
Then I got a mighty shock -
The biggest of my life
When a man ran past me in the street
With a great big carving knife.
Then came by another -
A codger holding shears,
Then a lady with some scissors
Suddenly appears.
Then I began to panic
And struck with mortal fright
When a man came up behind me
From a house upon the right
And he held an axe and cleaver -
One in either grasp
And I really though my time on earth
Would surely be my last.
Then I saw this man again
Busy as you like
Pedaling like the clappers
Leaning o'er his bike
With a grinding wheel in front of him
And people gathered close
As the whining din continued
And a shower of sparks arose
From a disc upon his crossbar
He wore a happy smile
Sharpening knifes and household tools
And humming all the while.
It was the local grinding man
Pedaling on his chain
Honing knives and blunted blades
For the people on the lane -
Happy going nowhere
While the folk stood in a line -
Pedaling like the clappers
For a tuppence at a time.

One Hot and Cloudless Day in Ince..

One hot and cloudless day in Ince
When I was swift of foot
I was paddling in the sunshine
In the bywash of the cut
When I saw a silver florin
In the corner of my eye
Gleaming on the bywash floor
In the ripples nearby.
My brother said it could be his
Like every brother does
And my sister had one like it too
But she didn't know where it was
So I said I'd toss them for it
To which they did agree -
They shouted heads and it was tails
So the coin belonged to me
Now we were clempt and thirsty -
Clempt enough to fight -
We'd been swimming in the locks all day
And hadn't had a bite
So we snatched our few belongings -
Our towel, pumps and tops
And made our way across the fields
And headed for the shops
But we picked a bunch of sticky-bobs
To throw around in play
And a handful each of monkey nuts
To chew along the way.
My brother spied some bullrush
And cut each one a stick
To swing and whip the dock leaves
And lash the flies with it.
By heck it was a roaster
With not a hint of breeze -
It was like the Gobi desert
Except with grass and trees -
The ponds and streams were empty
And the hills were parched and brown
And there wasn't a drop of water
In the grids of Irish Town.
The dustbins were untouchable
And the tarmac in the glare
Ran in little trickles
Along the cobbles there.
The streets were nigh deserted
And most of the houses shut -
Everyone was cooling off
On the bankside of the cut.
We'd barely reached the railway
When we saw a figure loom
Pacing through the dust and haze
In the heat of the afternoon
Twas Billy Jones from Lisbon street -
A bruiser of a lad
Who said he'd lost a florin
Lent him by his dad.
He had a stern and angry look
And before he let us go
He asked us had we`d found one
And the three of us said no.
Now a florin was a fortune
In those trying times -
Twas half a days wages
In the cotton mill and mines
So I decided to conceal it
And simply hope and pray
For if I gave it back or not
He'd hit us anyway.
With a couple of hundred yards to go
We heard a merry tune
Fluctuating in the heat
Of the sultry afternoon -
Twas a timely Mister Whippy
If not a hapless dream
Selling red ice lollies
And delicious, cool ice cream....
It's then I started pondering
Deep and hard at last
As we waited by the branch line
For a shunter to go past -
If I spent the silver florin
And Billy Jones found out
He'd hunt us down remorselessly
And give us all a clout
But if I cut my losses
And gave it Billy back
We may escape the consequential,
Almost certain crack.
Before I found the florin
I was poor and clempt but free,
At peace with my surroundings
And all that I could see
Rich in possibility
in priceless health and cheer
But now I felt impoverished
And a prisoner of fear
So after much discussion
We vowed to make amends
And give the florin back to him
So we could all be friends
But as we turned to do so
Alas it was too late
He came and set upon us
Fuming and irate.
By gum it was a battle -
We had no time to run
So it was death before dishonour
Before the day was done.
My brother grabbed his bull rush
And swiftly let it fly
And my sister threw a sticky bob
And caught him in the eye
While I went low below the knees
With wild, unbridled haste
And dumped him in the nettles
Half-naked to the waist
Where he lay confused a moment
And then began to moan
And soon we had him on the run
And chased him off back home
Where we bought a ninety-nine apiece
And watched him limp and sway
Whimpering for his mother
All along the way.
So Billy if you're reading this
And still recall the time
You lost a silver florin
Which later on was mine
Remember what the motto was
In Ince when we were young
It's finders keeper - losers weepers -
Sorry you got stung !

One Night.

One night as I was swatting hard
For my GCE's
I got this awful headache
That put me on my knees.
I couldn't find the anadin -
The opiate of the day
So I asked my mother for a pill
To take the pain away.
"There's a phensic in my bag" she said
And the bag was close to me
So I popped a couple in my mouth
And swilled them down with tea.
I put the books aside a while
And went out for a walk
To try and clear my throbbing head
Before it got too dark.
It didn't take too very long
And the pain began to shift
And after twenty minutes
I got this awesome lift -
Twas Mothers Little Helpers
I'd taken by mistake
Also known as Purple Hearts
Or amphetamine sulphate.
My mind was floating on a cloud
And my heart did pound and race
Which made me feel so warm inside
And brightened up my face.
Then from a lift into a buzz
And then into a zoom
That sent me into orbit
Around the living room.
Mothers Little Helpers
Sometimes known as speed
Was used to bolster confidence
And counteract fatigue
Prescribed for busy housewives
To help them cope with strain
And the pace of modern living
When the swinging sixties came.
Mothers Little Helpers
Made the brain think fast
Improved the concentration
And made the pleasure last -
Made one feel so full of pep
And good to be alive
And got me four o'levels
In nineteen sixty five.

Our Johnny Wouldn't Do That!!!

Our Johnny wouldn't do it -
He's the nicest child you'll see
He's the sweetest boy you'll ever know
And he means the world to me
He never gets in trouble
While playing in the street
He's a cherub and a darling
And the kindest one you'll meet
He has a cute, angelic smile
And his hair is soft and curled
And I love him more than anything
Else in all the world
So I don't care if you saw him
I've told you once before -
Our Johnny wouldn't do such things -
Never, never no!!!

Out of Boredom.

Out of boredom do I write
To get me through this tedious night
In search for words that fit and rhyme
And fight this enemy called time.
Oh I wish I was in bed
Dreaming pleasant dreams instead.
Pity I can't switch it off
When I think I've had enough
But no - the brain keeps ticking on
Until the last tired thought is gone.
Thinking, thinking - what a pain -
Over and over and over again.
Oh I wish I was in bed
Dreaming pleasant dreams instead.
The fingers on the clock do crawl
With hands of lead upon the wall -
Will my bedtime ever come
And call today a day that's done?
Not tonight - it's one of those
That labours right up to the close...
But wait - that latest thought was slow!
Much slower than the ones before.
The clock begins to smile at last
Now that boring spell is past
And so with that I'm off to bed.
To dream my pleasant dreams instead.

Over the Slagtip.

Over the slagtip we would go,
On a bright and sunny day,
To see the little town below
And places far away.
With a couple of sugar butties,
And a bottle of Tizer pop.
We'd climb up to the summit,
And walk along the top.
And there we'd sit for ages,
Throwing stones around,
And watching bricks and pebbles,
Go rolling to the ground -
Humming a song of freedom,
Way up in the sky -
There we'd sit upon a rock,
And watch the world go by,
With our friends and neighbours,
And others we would meet,
Some from round the corner,
And others from our street.
Up above....the singing lark -
Below....the bowling green,
And in between the earth and sky,
The air was fresh and clean,
And there we'd pass the time away,
As happy as can be,
Where folks could see the Alps of Ince,
From Cheshire and the sea.
To the south was Fiddler's Ferry -
To the north was Coppull Mill,
While east and west sat Bolton -
The coast and Parbold Hill,
And there we'd stay for ages,
High upon a rock,
Oblivious to time and care,
Without a watch or clock -
Humming a song of freedom,
Over the fields we'd roam,
To the rabbit rocks and slagtip,
Of Higher Ince and home.

Paper Shop.

The paper shop sold fishing rods
For a shilling at a time
Comprising of a bamboo cane -
A quill, a hook and line
With half a dozen bob leads -
Some rubbers for the float
And a little reel to wind it up
For quick and easy transport.
It wasn't match material
With twenty yards of gut
But it caught us roach and gudgeon
From the bywash of the cut
And it kept us out of mischief
And made us sleep at night
Sat there on our backsides
Waiting for a bite.
All we needed was the bait
And we tried each one in turn -
A piece of crust or cheese spread -
A maggot or a worm
And we'd sit there for hours
With our first fishing rod
Which made us feel important
And only cost a bob.
Far away from anarchy
And the chains of civil rule
Out there in the country
By the fishing pool
And there we'd sit and fish all day -
Happy with our lot
With our tackle for a shilling
From the paper shop.

Peace of Mind.

Peace of mind is what we get,
When we are safe and out of debt,
Conciled to enemies we know,
And happy with the man next door.
With food and shelter, warmth and trust,
Living on an honest crust
The basic things in life are free -
Health is wealth and liberty
Living just within our means,
And having realistic dreams.
Peace of mind is everything -
It makes us laugh and makes us sing,
Makes us go the extra mile,
And makes us walk round with a smile.
It opens up the world to view,
With hope for me and hope for you,
The possibilities are great,
Without those woes to cloud our fate,
And we see clearer, being free,
From nagging doubts and misery.
Peace of mind is power and grace,
That makes the world a nicer place.

Pearing from my Window.

Peering from my window
With my elbows on the cill
I saw a spectacle in Ince
Again I never will....
Down by the cobbled roadside
With people gathered round
A man sat on a bicycle
That made a grinding sound.
I thought there'd been a mishap
So I had a closer look
In case my mind was playing tricks
And my eyes had been mistook
Then I got a mighty shock -
The biggest of my life
When a man ran past me in the street
With a great big carving knife.
Then came by another -
A codger holding shears,
Then a lady with some scissors
Suddenly appears.
Then I began to panic
And struck with mortal fright
When a man came up behind me
From a house upon the right
And he held an axe and cleaver -
One in either grasp
And I really though my time on earth
Would surely be my last.
Then I saw this man again
Busy as you like
Pedaling like the clappers
Leaning o'er his bike
With a grinding wheel in front of him
And people gathered close
As the whining din continued
And a shower of sparks arose
From a disc upon his crossbar
He wore a happy smile
Sharpening knifes and household tools
And humming all the while.
It was the local grinding man
Pedaling on his chain
Honing knives and blunted blades
For the people on the lane -
Happy going nowhere
While the folk stood in a line -
Pedaling like the clappers
For a tuppence at a time.


That stretched and worn out fabric
Scuffed and frayed with holes -
Sad eyes and withered laces
And thin pathetic soles...
Twas a time of private mourning -
And a bitter loss inside
And a blight upon the calendar
The day our plimsoles died
But help was round the corner
To give our feet a treat
At Kays the Army Surplus store
O'er the cut in Darlington street.
The local second hand shop
And pawn shop rolled in one
Where the ragged folk of Higher Ince
Could buy fresh clothes anon -
Galoshers, boots and trenchcoats
Left over from the blitz -
Cut-price and trendy for the time
And all of different fits.
It outsold Annie Cappers
Up Ince along the Bar
With a wider range of merchandise
At a better price by far -
For wellies, boots and donkey coats
Trousers - suits for dads -
Shirts and shoes for youngsters
And jackets for the lads.
From a crumbling row of properties
Just before the lights
Opposite the police cells
Where the drunks spent many nights.
Kays - the saviour of our souls -
Bottoms, backs and feet
Kept us warm in winter
And wrapped up on the street
And got us o're the trauma -
The grief and hurt inside
And handed us a lifeline
The day our plimsoles died.

Poor Harry Ciggy.

Poor Harry Ciggy
he meant no harm -
He ran with a limp
and clutched his arm
As he took to flight
and hid his face
When the local children
gave him chase
Whenever they saw him
walking about -
"There's Harry Ciggy"
they all would shout
And off he'd go
as fast as he could
And flee from the kids
of the neighbourhood
Galloping along
in frantic haste
With his arm bent over
by his waist.
He ran at an angle
because of his leg
And now and again
for a cig he would beg
Searching the ground
as he shuffled along
Doing no harm
and nobody wrong.
The only solace in life
that he had
Was the soothing nicotine
found in a fag
And the warm euphoric
instant hit
It gave when he finally
got it lit.
It seemed back then
like harmless fun
To shout "Harry Ciggy"
and watch him run
But nobody knows
what he went through
Being a nicotine addict
and a cripple too
As he fled for his life
like a wounded deer
Scrambling along
and stricken with fear
Limping along as fast
as he could
Away from the kids
of the neighbourhood.
Everywhere he went
he went on his own -
His clothes were tatty
and his shoes well worn
And because his arm
wouldn't move or bend
He didn't have a wash
for days on end.
But he was a timid
and harmless bloke
And all he asked
was a nice quiet smoke
As he scrounged tobacco
up and down
From the folks of Ince
and Irish Town
But just for a laugh
and just for fun
They'd shout "Harry Ciggy"
and away he'd run.

Price of Life.

The price of life was sweet and low,
In the days of Irish Town,
When a boy could feel so privileged,
And rich with half a crown -
When he had a pair of garters,
And his stockings were brand new,
And he didn't have the nits at school,
Or a hole in his shoe.
Everyone was much the same,
With the rent and gas to pay,
And a bit of cheap electric,
For the radio each day,
And a bulb to light the room at night,
When winter came along -
The food we ate had vitamins,
And the beer was good and strong.
We had no debts to tie us down,
Or fret ourselves about -
There was no hire purchase,
And no one lent us nowt.
The rest went in our pockets,
For little odds and ends,
Like a night out at the pictures,
And a woodbine with our friends.
The price of life was sweet and low,
For we didn't have that much,
And what we had we treasured -
Thank you very much !
Little things made us happy,
And kept away the blues,
Like a duffle coat in winter,
Or a nice new pair of shoes -
A trip to the seaside,
In summer now and then,
Kept us smiling all year long,
When it came back round again.
We had no expectations then,
Like they have today,
And we were happy just to be,
And live from day to day.
All we had for Christmas,
Was a cap gun and some socks -
An apple and an orange,
And a small selection box,
Which made us joyful as can be,
And never made us frown,
For the price of life was sweet and low,
In the days of Irish Town.

Copyright 2018 Kevin Holcroft