‘In our Coventry homes! We speak with an accent exceedingly rare, you want a Cathedral we’ve got one to spare, in our Coventry homes.’
Ah, the poetry of football chants. Often it is football that defines what home is for the working classes. And in the League Two play-off finals, that sound rang around Wembley Stadium; forty thousand of us, compared to Exeter’s ten, when we got promoted to the heady heights of League One at the end of May.
Going back to my home town Coventry, and the Cathedrals as alluded to in the chant, it is the fact that the ‘old’ cathedral was destroyed in the Second World War that characterises the city. The city centre was totally rebuilt, divided into quarters, and encircled by a brutalist ring road. But I think, time and again, although it is a cliché, it is the people who define a city; and where I came from, it was migration which alongside the physical rebuilding, came to make what Coventry is today – the Irish and Scots, Polish, West Indians, Pakistanis, Indians, and others. (more…)
Having a laugh. Taking the piss. Bit of banter. Up for the craic. All are the stereotypical currency of conversation in the workplace. All assume a set of common of interests and culture amongst the workers: betting, beer, birds and football (obviously male dominated ones that is). And certainly a lot of such talk goes on in the mail rooms, building sites, pubs and changing rooms across the country.
However, you wouldn’t necessarily assume that such a group would be talking about something ‘deeper’, about who they are, their purpose, or the meaning of life itself. But in Billy Letford’s poem, Wit is it? such a conversation is going on, presented as an unknown question answered differently by the stonemason, plumber, sparky, labourer, joiner, gaffer and roofer. ‘it’s aw in yur heed’…’It’ll ‘stope yur hert deed’…’It’s aw in the mix’…’wit diz it mettur‘.
I can imagine this as an opening scene of a Samuel Beckett type play; them all in their positions on a building site looking down at something beneath them that we can’t see, that we never see. (more…)