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24 September 2014

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You are in: Liverpool > Capital of Culture > Features > A people’s poem for Liverpool’s birthday

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A people’s poem for Liverpool’s birthday

Poetry written by Merseysiders makes up the 800 line Liverpool Saga to celebrate Liverpool's 800th birthday.

The Liverpool Saga is an 800 line poem written by people from across Merseyside to celebrate Liverpool's 800th birthday.

Mersey poet Roger McGough wrote the opening and closing verses, taking his inspiration from the creation of the original Letters Patent, although he admits that the first line was harder to pen than he had imagined. 

BBC listener's and web users were invited to send in their contributions to The Liverpool Saga which was then compiled in to a full length poem.

Local poets Sylvia Hikins and Dave Ward whittled down over 500 submissions to create the finished saga.  Roger McGough's introductory lines apart the whole saga has been written by Merseysiders.

The finished saga has now been mixed as a radio programme by Radio Merseyside producer Pauline McAdam.

“We’re talking about 800 years and the time of King John and so forth," says Roger McGough of the saga's span.

"There were no processors in those days no electricity – it would have been a quill pen or something started the whole thing and then 800 years later people working on a computer so its that moment of time and all that length of time."

The Liverpool Saga launch in St George's Hall

The Liverpool Saga launch

There were over 3000 lines sent in for The Liverpool Saga covering subjects including the river, factories, sport, families, disasters and music across the 800 years of Liverpool's history.

When initially launching the Liverpool Saga project Roger McGough was clear about how he thought it would develop, “Its got to be Liverpudlian – it’ll be witty and cheeky and all those good things. I suggest four lines at most – it could be two lines or an image or something overheard. I’d rather have two good lines than twenty eight. Quotable lines.”

The Liverpool Saga was first unveiled publicly on Saturday, 15 September by Roger McGough and Phil Redmond at Liverpool's St George's Hall during The Big History Show.

The Liverpool Saga

From the first tentative scratch of the pen
To the keyboard’s final breathless amen,
One poem. A patchwork of laughter and tears.
Eight hundred lines. Eight hundred years.

800 years, oh what stories to be told
By the people young and old -
The bad times, the good times, tears and laughter.
The next 800 memories are left to the young to tell thereafter.

*

I’m a Liver bird, verdigris and aloof.
They made me their emblem,
They made me rustproof
And I’ll not leave this city, cos I’m tied to the roof.

Eight hundred lines is not enough
To tell your twisting tale.
What word will whisper lives now lost
In a puff of wind and ghost of snow?
So wind on through the years, old friend,
For oh so old you are.
I’ll carry you within my heart
Though I wander near and far.

Seven streets, a pool and a castle,
That’s how it all began.
A port to sail to Ireland from
Was King John’s crafty plan.

Jesters, jongleurs, troubadours,
Mummers of St George.
Through centuries of song and satire,
Scouse-sharp wit was forged;
From medieval minstrels
Using humour as their tool,
We are all born entertainers –
Yet we’re nobody’s fool.

From first monk-steered ferry
To great ocean liner
Via car ferry Sea Cat
What sight could be finer
Than Liverpool’s lifeblood
Murky and grey?

River Mersey wash over me,
Whisper where your secrets lie.
I shall tell you of my family
And promise not to cry.

A city haunted by her past lies dreaming of her future:
The river has seen it all and bears silent witness.

Through Jesse Hartley’s growing dock
Came merchant shipping round the clock.
The port of Liverpool expanded
With every cargo newly landed.

As Mersey pilots pass the bar,
They’re guided into dock
By sighting our lady Graces
And the Liver clock!

The ferry waits but not the tide.
Blue-jerseyed men shout “Gangway Clear!”
We’re chugging away
Away from the Pier.

I’m off on the Ferry
To New Brighton Sands,
Jam butties and water bottles
Clutched in my hand.
Wind in my hair,
Salt water on my face -
My Liverpool,
My home,
My own special place.

Wondrous river,
Full of power and might
Flows past a city,
A heritage site.

Has anyone heard the Liver Bird -
a song,
a shout,
a single word?
An “alright,” a “hiya”?
from up there on high
Nah, me neither
– maybe it’s shy.

Come on down to Liverpool beach:
Mist rising from the water in cold dawn air.
The sky is on fire: red, gold and blue.
Those seagulls, mate,
They’re bleedin’ hard.
They’re loud and tough and battle scarred.
They’d mug you for a pasty crust
And knock you to the floor concussed

The ships and the docks and the overhead train -
Childhood memories…

As a lad with me mates
On a summer Sunday afternoon,
We’d walk from the bus at St Johns Lane
Down to the Pier Head,
Through the eerily quiet Dale Street and Water Street
To see Sandy and the escapologist
Entertain the crowds.

“ ‘ere luv duz dis bus stop at the Pier ‘ead?”
“Der’ll be a bloomin’ big splash if it duzn’t!”
The smiling driver said.

They was launching a ship in Camell Laird
But the bottle wouldn’t break.
All hands were standing puzzled
Til some wag in the crowd
Shouted out loud
“Give it to Dixie, He’ll break it with ‘is ‘ead!”

Granda Van Engel passing through
To a New World wide and new
Placed his luggage,
Carefully laid
On Hope Street flags,
And there he stayed.

The Ark Royal,
Majestic great ghost in dry dock,
Posh Wavertree ladies with perm and best frock,
All captured on camera,
Hand printed in matt.
Hail E Chambre Hardman,
His hypo and hat!

Famous old ships:
The Reina del Mar,
Empress of Canada,
Off to places afar;
But we sailed to Woodside
On the Egremont ferry
And Royal Iris cruises,
Where we all got so merry

In this city of music and seamen,
It’s fitting the Phil took a stand
In honouring the Titanic courage
Of the men who played on in the band.
They played on as the great ship was sinking,
Played over that terrible din,
Then the music died along with them
As the Atlantic gathered in.

And of course the river,
Soupy brown and ancient,
Cradling shipping
With its own sweet Mersey sound;
Bubbling with sea-shanty language,
Vessels loaded,
Their bellies swelling;
Fitted, kitted, Africa bound.

Yes – remember the sailor
He who worked for a pittance,
Subbed to the last penny – paid off – no balance.
All spent on ale or in brothels – none wasted.

Try to envisage the port –
Horses, cranes and derricks,
Swinging goods, hands grabbing,
Groups of people,
Some forever leaving,
Many sobbing.

No longer needed:
The Floating Palaces,
The Tramp Steamers,
Tugs and Gig boats,
No longer needed:
Phenomenal skills
They used to build the Big Boats.

The waterfront, human concourse,
Comes, goes, returns, remains,
Travels many routes.
Our family, our familiar.

What will become of my growing son
Now that times are bleak and the ships have gone?

A city haunted by her past lies dreaming of her future.
The city has seen it all and bears silent witness.

Eight hundred different stories, eight hundred different songs;
Eight hundred different cultures, eight hundred different tongues;
Eight hundred different rhythms in eight hundred different streets:
Eight hundred hundred different hearts all dancing to one beat.

*

In 1215 King John sat down,
When Liverpool was hardly a town,
To protect the rights of everybody
And included us ‘cos he’d heard of Doddy

Frank Hornby lived in Liverpool,
With his wife, one girl and two boys.
In an effort to try and amuse his kids
He started to make his own toys.
The toys went down well,
He developed his skills,
And to cut a long story short,
“Meccano Sets”, “Hornby” and “Dinky” were born –
Thanks Frank for the pleasures you’ve brought.

Joseph Williamson was a philanthropist
Who lived in Edge Hill and could not resist
Creating work for unemployed men;
Building underground tunnels,
again
and
again.

Williamson,
the King of Edge Hill,
Said “Pick up that spade and no slopin’
Get digging a tunnel to the nearest pub.
Try “The Legs”.
They’re probably open.”

It took me to Manchester and back,
A “Rocket” that moves on a track.
It runs by steam power, THIRTY NINE miles an hour!
At those speeds – I’ve had my wack!

She spoke for our Dockers and for womens’ rights,
On behalf of the poor she fought many long fights.
She campaigned to get family allowance accepted:
Eleanor Rathbone – greatly respected.

Mother Noblett – “Molly Bushell” –
loved by all Blues.
She jigs when they win and cries when they lose,
Molly still throws her sweets
to the crowd as they sing;
Somehow “Kirkby Mints” doesn’t have the same ring.

Not all our years are filled with pride and glory.
Behind the “highs” there lurks a different story.
A town condones a practice inhumane,
As evil traders seek commercial gain.

Long long ago, black folk were forced
To cross the ocean waves.
Our forebears sinned to gather wealth
By making them their slaves.

Where would we be without the friends of James Penny,
Who lined their pockets with ill gotten gains
From poor black people locked up in chains.

We badly treated many slaves,
So far across the ocean waves.
Our greedy fathers, just for cash
Beat those poor souls with strap and lash

William Roscoe was a Liverpool son
Who wanted to end what had begun -
And with the abolition of slavery
He helped to set the people free.

My father, a docker from Dingle,
Born in the shadow of the Mersey.
No poet he, or MP could be -
Just plain “William Roscoe” he is to me.

Eight hundred different stories, eight hundred different songs;
Eight hundred different cultures, eight hundred different tongues;
Eight hundred different rhythms in eight hundred different streets:
Eight hundred hundred different hearts all dancing to one beat.

*

From “Battling Bessie” who fought for the cause
And the “Liverpool Pals” who died in the wars
To so many Scousers we’d like to say thanks -
But let’s not forget the “Liverpool Yanks”

In Anfield Cemetery
Lay the great and the good,
Once proud merchant,
Policeman and maid.
Classless in death as they turn into mud -
No deference shown in this heavenly parade.

Maggie Barry’s steps were her pride and joy.
(I used to watch her scrub them
When just a little boy) -
On her knees she toiled away,
She’d scrub and scrub the dirt away.
Taught me how to work and play
And mind my step along the way.

I am one of the ragged children
Not acceptable to public view.
So to ease the public conscience
I’m shipped to a country new.

The spirits of gilded dragons circle the Chinese Arch
To guard the misty streets around
As the shells of a million red firecrackers
Shower poppies to the ground.

Down slides the sun,
Blood red and golden heading into the stars -
Nothing left but the clubs and bars

Eight hundred different stories, eight hundred different songs;
Eight hundred different cultures, eight hundred different tongues;
Eight hundred different rhythms in eight hundred different streets;
Eight hundred hundred different hearts all dancing to one beat.

*

One river Two Liver birds Three Graces
Four mop topped singers with world famous faces

The Fifties and Sixties;
what a time to be alive.
Days out at New Brighton and Harrison Drive;
New Brighton Tower where the bands would perform;
The Beatles,
The Searchers
and the great Rory Storm.

Blessed in rhythm of local bands,
Chippies and hot dog stands,
Our town had a teddy boy story:
The lads dressed like Billy Fury.

Birth of Merseybeat -
The echo of the music still hangs on every street.
Here errant sons of Merseyside
Misspend remembered youth,
As they recollect the Sixties
And bend a little truth.

In the Grafton Grab-A-Granny
And there were plenty,
A ten to two dance
To a tremble in the entry.

The Mardi Gras,
The All Fours Club, Victoriana,
La Pez Espada, The Pen and Wig:
This is the Sixties
where we dance and sing
And meet a fella to get a ring.

Home of the Beatles; Scouse started too.
The first shook the world; the other’s a stew.

Tocky, Crocky, Walton on the Hill -
Wah, The La’s, three and in.
Dockers, rockers, flying pickets,
Liverpool, Everton, Derby tickets.

A cry from Dale Street of “Exxy, Echo”.
Brown mixed in alehouses whose names I don’t know.
The Clock, the Locarno and places long gone,
And screams from the Cavern of “I love you John!”

Down in the pubs, clubs
And alleyways
The poets were singing their songs
…”It won’t be long now.”

We bred four lads with warblin’ gifts,
Their talents were so rare.
They put this city on the map -
No quartet could compare.

Eight hundred different stories, eight hundred different songs;
Eight hundred different cultures, eight hundred different tongues;
Eight hundred different rhythms in eight hundred different streets:
Eight hundred hundred different hearts all dancing to one beat.

*

Adolf Hitler had a brother
who lived just off Park Road.
Alouse had married Bridget,
who kept a tidy home.
So when Adolf came to visit
he was asked to do the chores.
He said “Stuff you and yer dishes;
I’d rather start a war”

The women of the war were left
With very few provisions;
Travelling to the fields of Kirkby
To work amongst munitions.

The bombers came both night and day
Throughout the merry month of May,
Throughout the Blitz and decimation
We never suffered desperation.

Winter of the dogs,
spring of the siren.
Keep your legs fit;
there are no cars to ride on.
Summer of storms;
autumn of chaos
And old Mother Earth
still turns beneath us.

Jolting in my mother’s clasping arms,
I sprang awake
As on the landing and down the stairs
in blinding black we flew.
Beneath the throbbing drone of bombers
seeking how to make
A crumbled hell of Smithdown Road
and a bloody human stew.

Damp cheeks, closed eyes,
the little boy lay dreaming
of family left behind,
mother weeping,

Bombs falling;
and of the adventures to come
Aboard the Benares departing tomorrow.

Up from the docks into the town
a fire watcher’s running.
An unexploded bomb is down,
“Tell the ARP help’s coming.”
Stirrup pump heroes
extinguish the flame,
“Keep those fire buckets to hand, lady –
Christ, here they come again.”

John Kirk got Liverpool’s first VC;
The boy from the workhouse,
the way it should be.

In the squalid Flanders trenches
Tireless Captain Chavasse strives -
Stemming lifeblood which is flowing
From young Liverpudlian lives.

Marched into Europe,
all heeding the call.
The Liver Birds wept
too many did fall.
Mothers at home
for their sons they do weep:
Their offspring destroyed
on the fields around Ypres.

The Admiralty regrets
There was a disaster today
And HMS Thetis is missing
Somewhere in Liverpool Bay.

From scrubbing doorsteps in the war,
t telling her life story to strangers on the bus -
she loves Liverpool
and Liverpool loves her.

A city haunted by her past lies dreaming of her future.
The city has seen it all and bears silent witness.

Eight hundred different stories, eight hundred different songs;
Eight hundred different cultures, eight hundred different tongues;
Eight hundred different rhythms in eight hundred different streets:
Eight hundred hundred different hearts all dancing to one beat.

*

Ken Dodd and his tickling stick
Has made us laugh til we cry.
Sometimes I thought my sides would split
As I dried the tears from my eye

As a Scouser  -
“How tickled I am.!”
I was brought up on Scouse and Spam.
Now, as an older and richer man,
My wealth affords me Scouse and Ham

Ain’t the time
to read your rhyme
I’m on bacardisncokesnlagerlime
N20filternnutz,
oh yeah, nsome crisps -
N den up at Yates’s kebabed out n pissed.

On Everton Brow, Spring Heeled Jack
Swirled his cloak across his back.
Spring Heeled Jack, his eyes aflame,
Lit the sky in a lightning crack…
Never to be seen again.

*

Carefree,
unshod as children are wont
chasing rabbits galore,
while waiting for Dad on the Cast Iron Shore.

In Scotland Road
I remember when
there were black clad women and limbless men
Snotty nosed kids with dirty necks
no shoes on their feet,
no arse in their kecks

When cholera broke out across our city in 1832,
A community turned to a woman named Kitty.
She treated people with kindness and infection with scorn
And from her example the “Wash House” was born.

Kitty Wilkinson was the Housewives Choice.
“Soap and hot water” she said in loud voice.
“Wash frequently your clothes, your bedding and child
And Cholera and Typhus will be gone from your mind”

Toast at the wash house,
a penny a slice -
and tea in a cracked cup
sheer Paradise

Darkened streets washed clean with rain.
Flickering gas lights
glow and wane.
Raincoats pulled up o’er your head -
rushing home to get to bed

“Scuse me officer,
what time is it, like?”
“I can’t tell yer love
we’re out on strike…
Oi you, stop!
that’s my bike.”
“You won’t need it mate –
you’re out on strike!”

Balsa wood models from Hobbies;
hiding from bobbies;
being scared of the dark and ghosts

Gaslight armposts
with two arms for our swing ropes…

Down the cobbled slope of St Domingo Road
Comes a horse and cart with heavy load.
Children follow
With bucket and spade
And if the horse performs, a profit is made.

Silver spoons and crustless butties!
Forget all that jest…
We were weaned on scouse and bacon ribs
Puts hairs on your chest.

It’s 2007 -
I’ve gone quite posh.
I drink dinner wine now
and have some dosh.
But I can never forget that little house
and me mam’s big pan of steaming Scouse.

The penny machine on Central Station
that gave me so much pleasure.
It produced a metal label of my name
that I would always treasure.

A penny return on the 29 tram,
A bottle of water and sarnies of jam;
A trip to New Brighton to play on the beach:
Who said that Utopia was out of our reach?

It’s got a ceiling that doesn’t leak,
This monstrous concrete funnel,
But great for those that cannot swim -
Is our famous Mersey Tunnel.

They drilled and they dug and they blasted away.
Some lost their lives in the cause of Queensway.
“Well Done” said King George – so they told us at school:
Then with some of the rock they made Otterspool.

As kids in summer we could travel anywhere
On Green Goddesses for a penny return fare.
No doors closing at the front or back -
And you could run and jump aboard
As they moved off along the track.

Across Greaty to Scotland Road,
Watch the lorries unload,
Pinch an apple then on my toes -
In my own Liverpool home.

Jam butties, pan of scouse,
four in a bed, it’s cold  in “are house”.
It’s what I remember when I was a lad -
I’ll love Liverpool till I’m not about.

Butties in a plassy bag,
a tanner for our fare
and down the Pier Head we’d go,
without a worry or care.
Tryin’ to bunk on the ferry,
to go to Birkenhead,
but getting caught and “logged”  -
so endin’ up in the museum instead.

Meccano and a football for the lad.
A plan to follow to make him like my Dad.
For the girl it’s a doll and a pram,
Some cookery lessons, a recipe for Mam.

Hop on the bus;
we’re going to town.
Blacklers grotto is where we’re bound.
It’s such a magical place to go
especially with Santa and his “Ho, Ho, Ho!”
Dripping wet in plastic macs,
Waiting patiently by the door.
“Can I ride him, can I ride him?” -
The old rocking horse in Blackler’s Store

The Playhouse watches on
like some awesome cool big brother,
as Codman’s Punch hits
PC Copper once more;
and the new generation laughs loud and points
while we step back
in to the shoes
our parents wore before.

No street corners,
nor pub doorways did we stand.
In the seventies we had a helping hand -
we formed our minds and shaped our frames,
playing ice hockey we made our names.
God bless Silver Blades!

Going to work on the top deck
of the No 8 tram
your head would be
in a cloud of cigarette smoke...

Gimme a Woodbine an a cuppa tea,
Thas a real scouser breakfast.

A late 86 from Speke to Paradise Street.
Its Monday morning cargo shifting listlessly
In fag burned seats
Heading down to the sea

En route to Tate and Lyle
on a cold dark Vauxhall morning -
suddenly from behind
came without any warning:
antlers and hooves
and a powerful snortin  -
a Lord Derby stag off the Irish boat
came cavortin.
Did they believe me when I arrived on station?
They said “Son, all you saw was a large Alsatian.”

“My nan worked for Tate’s,” said me mate,
As he stirred two sugars in his tea.

Refinery some might say,
From Lyle to modern Tate.
This day – oh – for eight hundred more
Before we closed.

I was just reminiscing
about the things my mam did
with the Liverpool Echo,
when I was a kid
when the new lino was laid,
to keep damp at bay.
It was laid on the floorboards
as a great underlay.

A Liverpool Love Poem:
You trap my dreams,
Nutmeg my soul,
You’re Shankly’s words,
And Robbie’s goals,
You’re my European Cup
Won in May,
My Kenny Dalglish
My Steve Heighway.

The sound from the Kop
when the “Reds” score a goal -
it grabs at the heart
and rips at the soul.

Everton, the People’s Club, formed in 1878,
Saint Domingo’s finest,
They thought it would be great to be the first
to represent the new sport in the city,
Dean – Ball – Inchy, Sheedy – Arteta,
Football so pretty.

Rides on the ferry when we broke up from school,
Picnics with Mum down at Otterspool.
Billy Liddell, Ron Yeats, Tommy Smith, Emlyn Hughes,
Six penneth of chips wrapped in yesterday’s news.

A city divided by colours -
red and blue.
But when it matters
we stick together like glue.
For the 96 we showed dignity and pride
and shared prayers and tears,
together, side by side.

And then in the ‘70s
we were linked up with the “Mancs”
The M62 –
to replace the East Lancs.
Pity the builders didn’t see it through.
They forgot Junction 3 –
oh  - and One and Two

I am your city. You are my people.
You’ve built me a synagogue,
a church with a steeple.
I’ve given you shelter and when you roam,
a river to leave me;
a welcome back home.

Arrived in the Pool in ’59 -
Did 23 trips on the Blue Funnel Line,
Married a girl from Liverpool 8,
42 years on, she’s still my mate.

We’re very bohemian apparently,
but I won’t swap teabags for latte.
We’ve got ghosts at the bottom of Bold Street.
The seagulls don’t land on the river,
they have apartments overlooking the bay.

Will the Landing Stage float?
Will the Liver Birds break loose?
Will the Forum be finished in time?

Nationalities lumped in a giant melting pot
drew the best ingredients
which were preciously hot.
A conundrum of cultures,
roped in one house.
And the outcome,
world famous,
a new word – that’s “Scouse.”

Blue and red.
Roman and Prody:
I think that covers everybody…
Wait -
Chinese. Jew.
Black. Brown:
Then eight hundred years.
Now that’s our town.

Truth, hurt, a twisted romance,
leading the mind
in a Merseyside dance.
Skies above, rain,
sunbeams and tears -
multicoloured visions
for 800 years.

From the ground rose towers of glass and crystal
To make the city a little more mystical.

The glass towers are rising up
for the billionaire investors -
but for the seagulls and pigeons
it’s just another place to nest in!

Atop Beetham Plaza,
binoculars in hand,
watching kids in New Brighton
catching crabs in the sand.
City skylines a changin’,
and morphing so fast -
let’s embrace the new culture,
not forgetting our past.

The last towers fall in on themselves,
Wild flowers open as the dust settles.

Cranes fill the sky, a hole in each street,
A time of transition where old and new meet;
A city transformed, but at what cost?
A new “Paradise” – or a Paradise Lost?

Too bad that the city lost out on the trams -
Soon the Manchester system will reach Blundellsands.
Our lines are there waiting, all over the town,
Buried with forethought, just six inches down.

Sun goes down over the Mersey,
Stars come out to shine.
Moonbeams flow in the afterglow
On this old home of mine.

This city is great
And how do I know?
There’s nowhere on earth
I’d rather go.

Arrived by ship from Singapore;
Married my nan during the First World War

We can come back,
But not go back -
Yet this old town
Holds us to itself.
Eight hundred different stories, eight hundred different songs;
Eight hundred different cultures, eight hundred different tongues;
Eight hundred different rhythms in eight hundred different streets:
Eight hundred hundred different hearts all dancing to one beat.

*

“Nil satis, nisi optimum.”
“You’ll never walk alone.” -
Such mottos help to sum up life for folk
In our Liverpool home.

Southern snobs decry us, cos it’s a-la-mode:
Still think we’re wearing skins, still covered in woad.
Their supercilious style makes us wanna blow a fuse.
We’re too polite to tell them where to stick their southern views.

For each and every year, ‘neath our Liver bird wings
This city has spawned the most extraordinary things.
So today the world gasps in envious awe –
“Ar ay! Let’s hope there’ll be eight hundred more!”

What more do you need from a city like this?
Two football teams, two cathedrals and pop stars with hits.
You name it, we’ve got it. We do it in style.

Well earned pride upon our streets,
From sporting legend to Mersey beats;
Our quick witted humour is world renowned
And our local lingo really is “dead sound”

“2007 and we’re 800 years old my dear esquire!”
Boomed the Scouser proudly to his son.
Then leaning forward he mildly enquired;
“Are ya reading dat paper wot yer sittin’ on?”

You called me from the Irish waters.
For you I birthed my sons and daughters.
Your culture grows; your streets tell stories
Of years gone by and future glories.

Those blessed with talent always go,
Consistent with life’s ebb and flow.
Forget their roots where they were born -
Like Mersey Goldfish, never spawn

Eight hundred different stories, eight hundred different songs;
Eight hundred different cultures, eight hundred different tongues;
Eight hundred different rhythms in eight hundred different streets:
Eight hundred hundred different hearts all dancing to one beat.

*

Seagulls hover
Above rusted cranes.
No more the sound
Of dockside trains.
All has gone,
Everything’s changed.

There was Auntie Mary, Uncle Ronnie,
Grandad an’ our Nanna,
With a dozen more behind the door
Around the ol’ piana.
We danced like crazy to “Bumps-a-Daisy”
An’ Grandad acted the clown.

J’member when we went de pics to see de film stars?
Waitin’ in the queue outside, der was always one ars.
J’member the buskers as you waited in the queue
who played an’ sang der heart out
‘til dey’d made a bob or two?

The docklands ever bustling,
Strong horses hitched to carts
Waiting to be loaded
With goods from distant parts.

The pan’s full of water on the gas, prayers for no rain said,
It’s washing day.
The Dolly tub and peg with turbo action and mam’s sweat,
Clean clothes for Mass this Sunday.

“’old on der la’ It’s Derby day.
Eh Ma! Pack us a butty.
It’s great to watch der Reds an’ Blues
Dey play der weerlds’ best footie!”

It’s Liverpool for Life.
Saturday morning, tram to town.
Back of the Market, swans around;
Pets galore – perhaps a vulture?
Whose ghosts haunt our City of Culture?
The town of many colours, but only one accent.

Why pay an advertising agency
To come up with the hype?
This Scouser’s got the motto.

You can always tell a Scouser -
But you can’t tell him much.
“I used to werk for Cunard!” said me Nan.
“’Ow ‘ard?” said me Grandad.

Funnels red and black and various hue
But my heart’s in India Building
With blue funnels -
“Stacks of black and blue”

Carry your suitcases, heavy as stones
The length of Hope Street. Everyman waits
In the shadow of a space ship ready to take off
With its carousel of headlights, its cargo of saints.

I’m sure I saw John and George in Mathew Street
Tapping their feet to that same Beatle beat.
I nearly joined them ‘cos I really wanted to
But they had disappeared into the night’s blue.

Unkempt, scraggy beard,
Plays guitar made from card.
“Dring, Dring, Dring…” -  he plays on,
Guise unmarred.

Uni girl and a local boy
Liaised for laughter and beers;
Then she left for a job in Essex.
This happens every three years.

A skyline to rival the best in the world;
Not New York or Sydney: those two Liver birds
Bring a lump to the throat as I remember my home.
Liverpool is much more than this humble poem.

The Liver, the Customs House, 
Beautiful Cunard;
We boast of all three graces
And McGough, the great poet, our home made bard.
There’ll be plenty for him to edit
He’s only writing the first and last verse
But he’ll get all the credit.

One poem. A patchwork of laughter and tears.
Eight hundred lines. Eight hundred years.
From the first tentative scratch of the pen
To the keyboards final breathless amen.

last updated: 21/12/2007 at 12:20
created: 18/05/2007

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