Local Poetry

Childhood Memories  By Alex Bolton

Wigan to me was pits and mills
pigeons living on window sills,
chickenpox, measles, clogs on thi feet,
horsedrawn milkmen on the street.
Ragbone men with their donkey stones,
clean white steps for poor mens homes.
Bring your jam jars, woollens too,
perhaps you"ll swap for dolly blue.
Slopstone, knockerup, petty int yard,
chips cooked in drippin, or fat called lard.
Tin bath on a nail, wide and six foot tall,
hanging in the leen-to, on the back door wall.
Carbolic soap on thi skin,
mill girls graftin in all that din!
Hobbling to work over cobble stones
to pay the rent on damp dark homes.
No electric in this house,
or bright light to see the mouse,
candles, firelight, to make you cough,
these are the things that see you off.
Chimnley stacks blowing smoke,
soot and smog all in thi throat.
Work was all to cure your ills,
so laugh and be happy,
forget thi pills.
Friday bath night in that tub,
at front ut fire,on the rug.
That old black grate with king coal,
red-hot cinders that warm your soul.
Then it's off to bed said sleepy head,
its time enough said slow,
owd on a bit, said greedy guts,
let eight, afower wi go!
Scotch porridge oats as thick as mud,
just get it dauwn, it will do thi good.
These are the post war days,
with food on ration, bake bread on trays,
not enough coupons for thi sweets,
or you're bacon and other treats.
Come back next week, will have some more,
or come round back and ask for Joe!
Short pants were cowd to my chapped thighs,
mi sparkin clogs would burn me eyes.
No money for thee to get long pants
to give the cuts on thi knees a chance.
With COOP divvy cheque, perhaps a shirt,
as fitted thee were it didn't hurt.
Sunday Chapel rang the temperance bell,
to drink alcohol is to go to hell!
Sign the pledge was the cry!
Sing praises were it was warm but dry!
School was but a rugby game,
wi lots of thumps and lots of pain.
Knowledge was a dirty word,
to read a book was to be a nerd!
But, if tha could run wi a ball in thi hand,
tha was treated like best int land.
Dick Barton on the radio,
Wilfred Pickles, have a go,
come lets sing, about the joy that work can bring.
These were the good old days,
hardship times with nothing to praise.
But you will look back, and you knew you would,
and say to yourselves, we never had it so good!