Life in the Fast Lane

Life in the Fast Lane

The man in the farm on the M62
In pyjamas in morning dew, sipping his brew,
What goes through his mind as he takes in the view
Of the sunrise over the M62?

The plans that they drew and the money they threw:
Does the farmer regret not thinking it through?
And after the chaos and hullabaloo,
Does he think that he's bitten more than he chew?

Or, as you're crawling to Leeds in the queue,
To the heat of the office you'll never get to,
Does he smirk at the traffic that trundles askew
Round his triumphant farm on the M62?

So, is it for me? Or is it for you?
If the hard hats came calling out of the blue
And threw down the same issue, what would you do
With your farm in the middle of the M62

Published 8th Apr 2017 | Just for Fun


Another One Bites the Crust

Another One Bites the Crust

They do things different in Wigan
Of that you can't deny.
Rugby, chips and bingo
Are the things that get them high.
But the icing on the cake is -
And I'm not one to lie -
A round or square, not to share,
Galloways crusty pie.

They'd kill you for a pie,
Yes they'd kill you for a pie.
For pudding, chips and gravy
They would poke you in the eye;
For a can of fizzy Vimto,
It's a compass in your thigh.
But cross my heart and hope to die,
They'd kill you for a pie.

I walked through Wigan's centre
Forlorn and uninspired.
I'd caught the bus from Ince
So I was feeling very tired.
So I trudged to Galloways
And bought a pasty for a treat,
But three lads tooled with plastic forks
Chased me through the street.

They'd kill you for a pie
Yes they'd kill you for a pie.
For a quarter bag of cola cubes
They'd whip you with their tie;
For a clutch of penny chews
They'd find a way to make you cry;
They will hunt you down
In Wigan town
And kill you for a pie.

I ran from these three heavies
Through the lights and up to Whelley.
I could sense them getting closer:
It were just like on the telly.
So I legged it up the road
Past the shops and through New Springs,
I jumped a barge to Haigh Hall park
And hid behind the swings.

They'll kill you for a pie,
Oh they'll kill you for a pie.
When it comes to law and order,
Hungry Wiganers don't comply.
If you flaunt the flakey pastry
Then you surely qualify
For a lunchtime filled with fear
Because they'd kill you for a pie.

Unwrapped my greaseproof bag,
All soggy now and torn.
But thankfully, despite the chase,
My pasty was still warm.
But as I went to take a bite
They came and grabbed my arm
Screaming: “You can't eat that pie mate,
It's not in a bloody barm!”

And from his jacket pocket
(And I thought this could turn nasty)
He pulled a crusty barmcake
And snatched my cooling pasty.
Then calmly, with a look of steel,
He slipped it in the bread,
And before he'd even finished it,
I knew that I'd be dead.
He threw the bag into the woods
And bound my hands and legs.
And just for laughs he gagged me
With a sausage roll from Greggs.

They'll kill you for a pie,
Yes they'll kill you for a pie.
For a tin of Uncle Joe’s
They'd simply hang you out to dry.
For a plastic tray of cockles,
They would trip you on the sly.
But I really just can't tell you why
In Wigan senses go awry
When desperate for a new supply
They'd kill you for your pie

Published 8th Apr 2017 | Just for Fun


Eyes Down

Eyes Down

Barbara keeps her head down at the bingo here tonight.
Three wins on the spin suggests that something isn't right.
A line, a house last weekend and the jackpot week before
Has left her friends from Slimming Club questioning the score.

So when the tension mounts on the evening’s opening card,
And the women from the salon grip their dibbers extra hard.
As the caller takes his place, he knows precisely what's at stake:
Another win for Barbara would be difficult to take.

The house lights dim as Alan draws the mike up to his lips;
Our hero sits with Val and helps her finish off her chips.
And as the numbers tumble, Barbara senses waiting knives
From the pie shop girls across the room, dibbing for their lives.

But Barbara isn't one to let some scallies from the town
Bully her and make her put that purple marker down.
She's worshipped at these tables for all her working years;
No painted lady cafe girls can bring this one to tears.

But seriously, what will she do if Alan calls her number?
Shout ‘house’ and claim the win and find a table to climb under?
Or will she take the easy way when finding she was near it?
Delve in her bag? Nip to the loo? Pretend she didn't hear it?

Poor Barbara starts to shiver as her card gets down to one:
Her pen poised on the button to release the atom bomb.
Kelly’s Eye to win the game and set off World War III,
Or keep her mouth shut, let it pass and and hold some dignity.

In silence everybody knows that something bad is hatching,
As the smell of danger hovers over lager and pork scratchings.
But when Barbara looks at Alan and gives a little cough,
Alan gets the signal and things totally kick off.

“I knew it,” bellows Angie, “I knew you'd bloody cheated!
I won't come here again,” she yells, “I've never been worse treated.”
Then others join the chaos and some wine glasses are thrown,
And Donna says she'll strangle Alan with that microphone.

Cheryl flips a table and Sharon throws a chair
And Pauline from the betting shop grabs hold of Vicky’s hair.
Maureen puts the boot in on Karen from the Spar,
While Andrea the owner pulls the shutters on the bar.

In the violence and the brawling, Al and Barbara seize their moment;
Disinterested in coming clean, confessions or atonement.
As women, booze and blood and hair pour through the fire exit,
Babs hoists Alan in the air, grabs the cash and legs it

Published 8th Apr 2017 | Just for Fun


No Woman, No Pie

No Woman, No Pie

A moment on the lips, Dawn;
Don't forget your goals.
You know that you'll regret it
If you have those sausage rolls.

Forget the cakes and flapjacks,
They're no good for your health.
And take your greedy eyes
Off them pasties on the shelf.

Put the Fanta down, Dawn,
Unless you need the pounds;
The bakewell and the brownie
And the doughnut’s out of bounds.

A week away from Greggs, Dawn,
Won't mean you'll fade away.
You've got the wrong idea, Dawn,
About this five a day.

Published 8th May 2017 | Just for Fun


For Kim & Chris 2019

For Kim and Chris

The outlook for the day is golden sunshine wall to wall.
No greying clouds are in the sky; no rain’s about to fall.
So while the forecast’s favorable and champagne glasses brim,
Come take a trip with me into the world of Chris and Kim.

It may sound quite the cliche, a poetic heart to heart,
But the problem, put quite simply, is exactly where to start!
A poem of serenity or verse that’s loud and jokey?
Less Chris’ quest for quietude; more Kim on karaoke.

It all began quite awkwardly as friendship turned to romance;
Chris’ friends could be forgiven for thinking he had no chance,
But soon enough, with ring in hand and undeterred expression
He moved towards the living room to hit Kim with the question.

So picture if you will the sunlight streaming through the window,
Our man with sweating palms rehearsing matrimony lingo.
The sparkler poised in fingers; the bended knee manouevre -
But Kim is more preoccupied with brand new Argos Hoover.

If you know Kim, you’ll be aware she likes a bit of cleaning;
A wizard with the Windolene, if no-one’s intervening.
But save a thought for Chris, whose body waited, stalled and trembled
As he stared upon his love’s attempts to get that thing assembled.

So lost inside that vacuum for an hour, maybe more
He contemplated life and thought of what there was in store:
A girl as strong as anyone with eyes and smile bewitching
Who’s a dab hand with a duster and knows how to shine a kitchen.

A scintillating firework with fireworks within
Mainly down to too much Rumtopf, aperol and gin.
And every day for years Kim’s face had occupied his head,
As only she knew how to disengage him from his shed.

Eventually Kim noticed him and quickly turned around,
Refusing though to throw the thing’s instructions to the ground.
And even though she realised how long he’d had to linger,
She held his gaze and grabbed the ring and stuck it on her finger.

So from that day to this, the time has rapidly unfurled:
Chris has spent it locked in shed and Kim at Slimming World,
And now before the lights dim and the music starts to play,
There’s one more stanza from my heart that I would like to say.

It’s easy to be trivial about your quirks and quaintness;
But much more fun to recognise your loveliness and greatness.
For on this day of days when friends and relatives are here
When both your smiles and tenderness ignite the atmosphere.
When magic, dreams and starlight surround us in excess,
We’re proud to call you friends, and wish you every happiness.

Published 25th Sep 2019 | Weddings


For Steve

For Tracey and Stey

So three’s the magic number,
Round at Stey and Tracey’s place,
For each have had a few false starts
In life’s unstable race.
But this time with the stars and planets
Lined up just in case,
We’re here to raise our glasses
As this special pair embrace.

Before the champagne’s quaffed though
And the dance floor overheats;
Or Tracey and her workmates
Have eaten all the sweets,
Or Stey’s come to his senses
And checked all the receipts.
Let’s pause and take a journey
Through their long and winding streets.

bikerplanet.com
Is where those engines started:
A revved-up rocked-up trip
Not for the nervy or fainthearted.
From Facebook likes and screen-swipes
To motorways uncharted.
An open-roaded love affair
Where then and now departed.

Step one, the Starbucks rendezvous:
What could go wrong with that?
Best to have some witnesses,
A well-lit habitat.
Tracey could be bonkers
And Stey could be a rat,
So play-it-safe to start with -
A coffee and a chat.

Another meet on Valentine’s
And Tracey feeling frantic;
A red rose in the morning
From our man, the great romantic.
This stark instant affection,
Without sounding all pedantic,
Was blossoming and turning into
Something quite gigantic.

And what a day of magic that was,
Day out number one:
Glasson Dock for sausage butty,
Devil’s Bridge and gone
To Blackpool for the customary
Ice-cream in the sun
Via Garstang’s finest chippy -
Their affection now begun.

Then time rolled on and Stey and Tracey
Moved beyond mere friends.
Companions with benefits;
Or pals with dividends.
It didn’t take too long
For all of us to comprehend
Just what these two had found
And where this perfect story ends.

Fast forward then to New Year’s Eve
2018.
An evening at the Indian -
A place we all have been.
Couples with their naan breads,
Starry-eyed, serene.
But little did they know
That Tracey soon would intervene.

The tables clear, the dance floor set
For northerner congestion
(A sure fire way for Wiganers
To stoke that indigestion.)
Then Tracey at the DJ
Makes a stop-the-show suggestion:
Gets down upon one knee
And only pops the flippin question!

The couples with their gassy beer
All turn around to stare;
The owner, knowing this could make his night,
He says a prayer.
And Stey, when he gets to his feet,
Can sense their steely glare
As Tracey feels the tension
In the sexy spicy air.

However, there is no need
For this northern crowd to stress;
The outcome to this moment
Isn’t difficult to guess.
For Tracey knows that Stey
Is in her corner - more or less
As that smile spreads on our man’s face
And he replies with “Yes.”

And so to plans and plotting
How the big day will work out.
It doesn’t take a genius
To see what they’re about:
A bloody raucous knees up
And an evening with real clout -
With Stelad on the Special Brew
And Tracey on the stou…

But wait, what’s that from Eastern shores
That’s come to halt the jigging?
Like, what d’ya mean the pubs are shut
And we can’t do no swiggin’?
A virus on the rise, you say?
They’re calling it a big ‘un?
We’re more used to a ‘Lock-in’
Than a lockdown up in Wigan.

And well, you all should know the rest
And didn’t need to ask:
Postponement or a social-distanced
Number with a flask?
So wait they did for dance and song
And bottle and for cask.
Who wants a load of pictures
Of the loved ones wearing masks?

And so lift up your glasses
As the vaccine’s almost come.
And get another drink in
Cos this poem’s nearly done.
And like Stey’s Kawasaki,
Their love will run and run
As they lock themselves together
Through all the years to come.

Published 21st Aug 2021 | Weddings


88 Years (For York City FC)

88 Years

From footplate of bus and from platform of station,
Through Saturday lunchtime’s acclimatisation,
The scarved and bob-capped from days gone and present
Have strode through our streets to the lights of the crescent.

On weekdays and weekends our action replay;
Devoted, uncoated from August to May.
We chanted their names and we sang for the team;
We watched from the wings as they lived out our dream.

For this is the place where Wilkinson, Storey
And Bottom and Fenton took City to glory:
In ‘55 Blanchflower, Ramsey were gone
As we rolled over Spurs in the Cup, 3-1.

In ‘48, Patrick, v Rotherham hit five
As the red and white thousands in here came alive.
Those epic encounters when Liverpool came,
And the back from the brink in that Southampton game.

And that icy last minute with hearts in a knot,
As the ball took its place on the penalty spot.
When the Crescent grew hushed and the Arsenal did quake
And Houchen rolled in and made this old ground shake.

Let’s remember the men who anointed this turf:
From Forgan, MacMillan, through David McGurk.
The good on the deck and the great in the air -
See Boyer and Burrows and Parslow and Blair
The soldiers supreme that were glued to the ball:
Canham and Creswell and Bishop and Hall.
And the boys in the dug-outs behind all the thrills:
Worthington, Lockie, Dennis Smith, Gary Mills.

And this is the place where we’d curse or discuss:
The three in attack or the parking the bus.
The tip of a diamond, the man-to-man marking,
The roaring, the shouting, the growling, the barking
The chipping, the bending, the lobbing and curling;
The scarves and the flags and the banners unfurling.
The spins and the grins and the tricks and flicks
And the tap-ins, the clapping, the overhead kicks.
The chanting and ranting, the whinging and moaning;
The car journey home and the radio phone-in.

For here on this ground are the fakes and the feins,
And the race down the flanks and the rush in our veins
The tackles, the barges, the trips and the slides -
And the ghosts and the glides and the never off-sides.

This is the place where the mud and the sweat
Gave us just past the post or a bulge in the net.
And this is the place that thumps its own chest,
That looks to the future and kisses its crest.

And as day turns to dark and the floodlights grow dim
And the shutters are drawn and the shadows move in.
As the kit bags are packed and the boot room is cleared,
When the fans and the players have long disappeared.
As the lines on the overgrown grass start to fade
And the hard hats move in with the pick and the spade,
We’ll roll up our programmes and save souvenirs
And we’ll look to the future through eyes full of tears
And the songs from the stands will ring in our ears
As the whistle blows time on our eighty-eight years.

Published 21st Aug 2021 | Tributes


For Hollie

For Hollie

It’s always seemed unfair to me, at weddings I’ve attended,
When Best Man takes the stage and tries to make the groom offended.
You’ve seen him with his sweaty palms and verbal hand grenades
Pint of Fosters, curled up lip and eyeing up a bridesmaid.

The stories that he tells before this turning of the leaf;
The laddish all-night parties and that week in Tenerife.
And parents of the bride, they sit and sip that warm champagne,
Despairing at their hard work disappearing down the drain.

So being as I am, I thought I’d grab the tiger’s tail,
Before this round of shaky-fingered speeches turns all male.
And I thought I’d turn to poetry (and hoping it’s not folly)
I’d take you on a journey to the past of dearest Hollie.

Let’s start with you and Clogsey in the Tiki-Tiki Room -
Dancing round for hours in your blue and red costume.
The singing and the laughing and the pounding of your feet -
Ruining my carpet and annoying half the street.

The years that mum and I would gladly taxi you around;
The happiness provided by this new-found love you’d found.
The joy of all that dancing; the trophies that you won,
And that day I fixed your hair up in that salon-perfect bun.

Indulge me for a moment listener; let us not brush over
The expert way I conjured all that hair from off your shoulders.
The pinnacle of parenthood; I was number one!
And the disbelieving faces of those clearly lesser mums.

Forgive my deviation. I’m not speaking as I oughta,
Let’s get back to our slightly crimson loveliest of daughters.
So dance it was that brought her fun and oodles of success
And took us round the world to Gloucester, London and Skegness.

And school was yet another place that filled our girl with joy.
It’s where she found real happiness; it’s where she found her boy.
The chatter in the common room. The gossiping, the laughs.
The glances in the playground; the daydreaming in maths.

Some of us know what it’s like to gaze across assembly
Hearts a-pounding, eyes fixed, craning necks and legs a-trembly.
A few of us will have those first love tales and how we blew it,
But Ed and Hollie’s love was fixed, but neither of them knew it.

For sixth form at King Charles was where their love began to grow:
A smiling, wide-eyed Juliet and nervy Romeo.
But just as these two loving birds began their courtly dance,
Hollie went to uni and then buggered off to France.

She hid behind the croissants and she ran down all les rues.
Testing, as she was, her Ed to see if he’d pursue.
But over land or sur le train, par avion et al,
Our true determined garcon didn’t give up on his gal.

Those days and nights in Paris when their beating hearts did flutter
Our Ed found out exactly on which side his baguette’s buttered.
For if they were to make it, and not to let their love grow cold,
He discovered that the best way was to do just as he’s told.

So then the day arrived when Edward knocked upon my door.
I’ve been around the block so I knew just what he’d come for.
I looked at him real sternly like, to add to the suspense,
And shook him firmly by the hand and watched that boy commence.

Always quite the gentleman, I knew he felt the heat,
For nestled in his pocket was the ring and the receipt.
“Er, Mr Brookes,” he stammered as the shade fell from his life,
“I wondered if you’d like it if your girl became my wife?”

I stood there like a man and knew that this was a big day.
My daughter getting wings and just about to fly away.
So Mike, I said, this is your time to calm this stormy weather
So I did just what I always do, and checked it out with Heather.

Cut to two days later on a walk in Bevere.
Our man plucked up the courage and then got down on one knee.
And Hollie (having booked the room and planned the wedding dress),
Took a deep breath, grabbed the shining ring and shouted, “Yes!”

So here we are eventually, through lockdowns and the virus
With a couple of life’s good guys sitting here beside us.
It doesn’t take a genius to see their love is true,
And if I have to have a son-in-law, then Ed, you’ll have to do.

Published 21st Aug 2021 | Weddings


For Gina and Andy

For Gina and Andy

The chapel back at Charterhouse, not known for seeds of passion;
More a place of quiet contemplation, of a fashion.
But look beneath the Eucharists and dusty hymn books’ covers
And come with me as we recall the birth of these two lovers.

While classmates slumped in polished pews and teachers stood there yawning;
As hymns and psalms and prayers were all recited on that morning;
Our Andy’s eyes, by now aflame, were growing ever keener
As they gazed across the hallowed space and landed on his Gina.

The brooding Andrew, lost in deep and quiet introspection
In candlelight, did fight to quell his instant, deep affection.
And Gina with her hair and nails was peering at her man,
But really focused on her brand new bottle of fake tan.

And words were few initially when their love began to harden
As Gina spent most afternoons with Liv in Gownboys’ Garden.
And Andy was no angel with his attitude and smirk:
‘Maniacs’ was where the lads and he would often lurk.

A glance or Facebook message was the sparse communication
That passed between these youngsters in their place of education.
However, as is normal when the long school days are through,
A local dingy nightclub did what dingy nightclubs do.

With Avison and Pike in tow, Will Walker and Josh Plummer,
(A tribute act for Westlife, Backstreet Boys or Dumb and Dumber)
They strutted into MNG with swagger, pirouette,
Like a troop of fashionistas, or as close as they could get.

A sea of drunken college kids, a thick haze of Chanel;
A Monday night in Gulidford with its iffy clientele.
But across a crowded dance floor (or so the cliche goes),
Andy’s eyes met Gina’s and obsessiveness arose.

A Jager Bomb or ten, a hundred WKDs,
And things began to pick up pace and, feeling more at ease,
A word became a natter and a smile became a kiss,
And timidity and awkwardness from chapel turned to bliss.

And miles of British motorways and rail tracks couldn’t part them,
In Bristol or in Durham, they refused to be disheartened.
Upon the rig or in The Smoke the days and nights seemed longer
But distance only made this wondrous couple even stronger.

And now with ten years down the road their love is crystallising
But matrimony, as we know, demands some compromising:
For Andy now can see past all those times when Gina’s scatty,
And Gina knows his first love is the Porsche or the Bugati.

So raise a glass of something fizzy high up in the air
And celebrate the future of this extra-special pair.
We hope today’s excitement, joy and wonder never ends -
And from me, I couldn’t wish for two more scrumptious perfect friends.

Published 21st Aug 2021 | Weddings


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