Month: October 2018

in t’ George by Geoff Hattersley

cedars pubThe pub I spent much of my twenties in during the 1980s, is no longer. Turned into an Indian bar and restaurant. I’m not too down about it. After all that’s where people tend to end up after the pub anyway, so why not make it the pub. Better than some overpriced hipster bar where you can drink five pound craft ales that taste like toffee or coffee, and eat food called burnt ends. It is life’s transitions which challenge us – the old with the new. Our pub was separated into three age-based parts; ‘the bar’, where the family men went after work, then the ‘smoke bar’, where us teen/twenty something dole heads, sat at one end (with a pool table), and the ‘death end’, where the coffin dodgers sat and smoked their roll ups.

screen time kidsBut I fear that at a time when my generation (us middle-aged types) are/were getting closer in understanding of our children, it is wars between the ages which is given as the reason in many spheres of change. The baby boom generation denying Gen XYZ/millennials their right to buy their homes (when in fact the problem was in not keeping and building new council housing); Brexit, where the older generation voted to leave and the younger to remain; then there are views on sex and gender, which on the face of it have an age-based divide. The demise of places, like pubs and social clubs where the ages were at least in the same space, adds to this notion that age is a key factor in the social and political issues of today. Notice I haven’t mentioned the age war over ‘screen time’, as this is a raw subject for any parent, mainly because they are losing the battle, and thus if you can’t beat them….

2006 Aldeburgh Poetry FestivaslThe pub at the bottom of the road where I lived, is still there, and it is still an important social outlet for my parents, who have been going there for some fifty years. I am reminded of this by Geoff Hattersley’s sequence of vernacular poems, ‘in t’ George’, in particular the importance of having a place to moan about the world (which is probably why pubs were invented). ‘Tha knows what shi reckons meks a good breakfast?/ A bleedin’ apple/ That’s all, nowt else, just a bleedin’ apple/ A bleedin’ apple on a bleedin’ little plate’. Then of course, a place for telling past stories, ‘Ah remember when ah wa’ a young ‘un/ Ah biked it to ‘arrogate/ All t’ way, non-stop, in t’ bloody sun/ Abart eleven ah wa’ ‘. Then it’s back to complaining, in this case lamenting the bygone days of smoking resin, and the dangers of today’s skunk. ‘When ar wa’ a young ‘un/ Resin wa’ better ‘n’ grass/ Tha on’y smoouked grass/ If tha cun’t get nowt else’. Today’s ‘young ‘uns’ are drinking less alcohol, which is a good thing. But the demise of pubs, for whatever reason, will also see the demise of places where the personal histories and political opinions of working class people are shared. Somehow, I don’t think coffee shops or social media platforms will replace that type of interaction.

Geoff Hattersley has been performing his poetry in public since 1983 and still hasn’t kicked the habit. His poems have been widely published and have been used as part of syllabuses in schools, universities, and with The Open University. He edited The Wide Skirt Press from 1986 until 1998, publishing 30 issues of the magazine and 24 books and pamphlets. He is currently Royal Literary Fund Writing Fellow at York St John University, and his interviews with poets such as Ian McMillan and Gillian Allnutt continue to appear as podcasts on the Writers Aloud section of the RLF’s website.


In t’ George

Stan and His Lass

Ah’ve lost mi bastard coyt ageeun
Ah’m allus loyzin’ it
In pubs, tha knows, pissed up
Tek it off ‘n’ forget

Ar lass reckons ah’m mental like
That’s a laugh comin’ from ‘er
Some o’ t’ stunts shiz pulled o’er t’ years
Mad cow!

That time shi come in t’ pub
‘n’ put mi Sunday dinner o’er t’ top o’ mi ‘eeud!
The’ we’ mashed taties darn t’ back o’ mi collar
The’ we’ carrots ‘n’ sprouts ‘n’ all soorts

Tha knows what shi reckons meks a good breakfast?
A bleedin’ apple
That’s all, nowt else, just a bleedin’ apple
A bleedin’ apple on a bleedin’ little plate


Don’s Watter

Ah remember when ah wa’ a young ‘un
Ah biked it to ‘arrogate
All t’ way, non-stop, in t’ bloody sun
Abart eleven ah wa’

Ah were deein’ o’ thust
Ah knocked on a dooer
‘n’ asked for a drink o’ watter
Did ah gerra drink? Did ah ‘eck

Ah’ll tell thee summat
Tha’d ‘ave ter knock
On a lorra bloody dooers in Wombwell
Afore tha farnd someb’dy

That wun’t gi’ a kid
A drink o’ watter
Tha’d ‘ave ter knock
On a lorra bloody dooers all reyt


Sam’s Absence from the Horse Shoe Explained

Ah remember walkin’ art o’ t’ ‘oss shoe
This is abart thirty years sin’
Ring Mi Bell wa’ on t’ juke box
Remember that shite?

Suddenly ah guh flyin’
Ah’m darn on t’ floor ‘n’ ah look up
There’s these three lasses in jeans ‘n’ leather
Stood sneerin’ darn at mi

Ah tell thee, ah gorrup ‘n’ walked art
‘n’ ah nivver went back ageeun
Ah thought, well, that’s enough fer me
If even t’ lasses’re lookin’ fer a feyt nar

It shook mi up a bit ah’ll tell thi
It’s not like the’ w’re lads
Wunt raise an eyebrow these days would it?
‘n’ they’d put t’ boot in ‘n’ all


Cockroach’s Lament

When ar wa’ a young ‘un
Resin wa’ better ‘n’ grass
Tha on’y smoouked grass
If tha cun’t get nowt else

Tha can’t even buy resin ner moor
Not that’s any good any rooud
‘n’ that skunk stuff, ah dun’t know
Ah can’t be doin’ wi’ it

Ah’d love a good smoke o’ resin though
Afghan black, summat like that
Like it used ter bi, ah meeun, back in t’ days
Tha cun’t g’ wrong wi’ that stuff

Thi mind went fuckin’ ivvrywheeur
It wa’ like all ‘n a sudden tha understood stuff
This skunk’s nowt like that
Just meks thi even moor mental than tha are already


Fat Al Dismisses Pig Parker’s Literary Ambitions Out of Hand

Iz started writin’ stuff tha knows
‘ad a couple o’ stories in this magazeeun
‘e showed it mi, di’n’t look like much ter me
But tha’d a thought ‘e’d won t’ Nobel prize ‘r summat

Nar, like, ‘e’s all lardy da
Dun’t even talk ter nob’dy ner moor
Thinks ‘e’s gunner bi a gret writer
Ah’m not bleedin’ jokin’

Ah tell thi, me ‘n’ thee, wiv got moor chance
O’ bein’ t’ next men on mooin
Gret writer f’ fuck’s sake!
Livin’ in a world o’ ‘is ooun

Can tha imagine anybody comin’ back from t’ shop
Carrying a book written by yon?
Ah allus thought ‘e wa’ a bit ‘n a weirdo
Can tha call ‘em that these days? Weirdos?


What about Bobby? by Saira Viola

stop and searchOne Sunday afternoon in 1980, on our way from Coventry to see Black Uhuru in Brighton, the Bedford police stopped us on the M1 due to the fact that clouds of collie weed filled the inside of the motor. I have only been ‘put’ in a police cell on this one occasion. I was locked up for four hours, with two mates who had done a bit of time so thought this was a stroll in the park. They decided to wind me up by shouting at the beasts, ‘you’ll never take us alive copper!’ as they kicked the mattresses and banged the door, before falling onto the floor in a heap of laughter. (more…)

If We Were Real Quiz – the answers

time for answersSo, here are the answers (poem below). Hope you did well.


  14. TOP BOY


If We Were Real – The Quiz

i daniel blake.jpegYesterday I hosted an event at the wonderful Swindon Poetry Festival. As part of the evening I read the following poem ‘If We Were Real’, which was published in the Rialto; I then used it as the basis for a quiz. The following sixteen points, reference a film/book/play/TV programme, which portray the working class from the 1960s to the 2010s. It seemed to go down well, and the winner got ten out of sixteen, which under time constraints and not able access the Internet, was very good (the cheats know who they are). So, if you are that way inclined, why not have a go. No prize, just the personal satisfaction that comes from any pointless test of our memory. Only clue I will give is that they are all British and I Daniel Blake isn’t one of them. Please don’t post your answers in the comments section, as they will give it away for others. I’ll post the answers at the weekend and you can tell me what score you got in the comments then. Best of luck!

If We Were Real by Peter Raynard

1. Jo’s mum Helen is a slag,
doesn’t stop her having a go
at Jo getting pregnant by a black man
and staying in a hole
with that pansified little creep though.

2. Colin’s mum is no better,
she’s just after his dead dad’s
insurance money, but Colin’s
a little toe rag running for his life,

who’ll let the whole fucking lot
of them down. 3. Arthur’s a proper
hard bastard, working his seed
into as many women as he can.

4. And guess what, Victor’s only gone
and got his missus up the ready rough,
so has to live with the mother-in-law,
and she’s had a leading role

in working men’s jokes for years.
5. Tommy’s off up the match, an away game
kick-the-shit out of any proper casual
who’ll have it. 6. Ray beats up his missus
when he gets home, stamps on her throat

like some rat he found in the bog. 7. Lol’s Dad
commits the horrors with her sister
and her mate any place he can, then tries
it on with her until Combo ends the cunt.

8. Young Timmy knows how to enjoy himself,
he cleans double breasted windows,
or checks under the sink for some
scantily clad plumbing, before delivering

a whipped cream double entendre
to bored housewives. 9. Rita likes a bit
of that an’ all, off shagging Bob,
with her mate Sue, 10. but her namesake

tries her hand at books instead of dotting
her luck on the bingo of a Saturday night.
11. Shirley’s fucked off to Greece, can’t stand
talking to the wall no more, cooking

egg ‘n chips for her husband,
who believes that’s a woman’s place.
12. Billy’s dad knows what a man should be,
and it’s not a fucking dancer.

13. Rent’s smacked off his boat, so goes swimming
for a pearl in the filth of the bog,
whilst 14. Dushane’s a boy at the top
of his game, on the estates round his way.

15. Like Frank’s kids, who surround him
like a wreath, this all may be true.
16. And Big Chris is right when he says,
‘It’s been emotional.’

But is that really all we are?
Do we not go by any other names?

‘Persona Non Grata’ anthology edited by Isabelle Kenyon, with poem ‘The Refugees’ by Jennie E. Owen

HandsThe other week, I was helping out Culture Matters at the Poetry Book Fair, hosting a reading with the wonderful Fran Lock and Nadia Drews, both of whom have upcoming collections with the press. Mike Quille and I shared the space with Andy Croft of Smokestack Books, and Isabelle Kenyon of the relatively new press, ‘Fly on the Wall Poetry’. Isabelle has been a tour-de-force on the poetry scene recently, first of all editing the mental health anthology, ‘Please Hear What I am Not Saying’, in support of the charity MIND. It was awarded ‘Runner Up for Best Anthology’ at the prestigious Saboteur Awards this May and to date, it has raised £500.

Now Isabelle has turned her social and politically motivated energy to another anthology, ‘Persona Non-Grata’, highlighting two pressing issues, homelessness and the refugee crisis globally. All profits from the book will be donated to Shelter and Crisis Aid UK. Isabelle hopes that with the support of her readers, and the 45 poets involved in the anthology, she will raise an incredible amount for charity, providing support and advice for anyone who finds themselves homeless.

Below is a poem from the anthology, ‘The Refugees’ by Jennie jennie e owenE. Owen (pictured), and you can support this initiative by buying the anthology here.

Jennie E. Owen’s writing has won competitions and has been widely published online, in literary journals and anthologies.  She is a Lecturer of Creative Writing and lives in Mawdesley, Lancashire with her husband and three children @Jenola101


The Refugees
By Jennie E. Owen

The flood water rises steadily
and out they come. Sleeking grim
confused creatures from the tide, from the mire.
Eyes flicker copper wire, up at the black beach,
reflect the bottle of the seaside streetlights.
A flash of scale. Of ivory. Feather and fur
In flight. Closer they come. As much strangers
to freedom as they are to the peeking
audience; for fingers are twitching at the curtains now.
These refugees are unaware in their hoof and claw otherness,
that they have not left their obliterated cages,
their sunken ark,
for good, just yet.
For the watchers are waiting now, steady handed,
all their ducks in a row.
The big game hunters, the children with spud
guns. Their mothers calling them out, hauling
rocks eye to hand at increasing speed.
Closer they come in biblical procession. Up the narrow streets,
past the cobbled stones, the chippie, pubs and churches. Past
shop fronts selling rock and candy floss in bloated bags.
Some take a darker route, the back roads and byways;
the sewers and sulphurous factories.
When the bloody dawn breaks,
the mystery slackens, pop-pop-pop.
The invaders are too faded,
too exhausted, heavy-limbed from fighting the sea.
Eyes roll, pop-pop-pop.
Tongues loll, pop-pop-pop.
They fall, don’t surrender pop-pop-pop.
They cheer hollow and howl and clap
one another on the back.
Beat their chests in slow motion over the mud bogged,
water logged, sagging
shag skinned mess of parts.
It was us or them. Was it?
It was them or us.
Whilst somewhere distant, a lone pale tiger,
the black and white kick of tomorrow’s news,
purrs in a basement and licks its rusty paws.