I’ll take my chances with the tramps and vagabonds
Who belong to a different age;
Where pages made fine blankets
And trinkets were exchanged for songs.
When a bench was a sensible berth for the night and
The blight of middle-class life
Was reserved for those high born
Who had fallen upon hard times themselves.
I’ll make my bed in a working class palace where
Bread is abundant and coffee
Comes tumbling from tin cups on
Sunday that are used in a snap box all week.
Where tea is twice squeezed from its bags and a biscuit
Is dragged cross its surface
In case it should fall to the cold
Greasy liquid below and have to be left there.
I’ll learn my words in a school room long pulled down
From a teacher from town
Who remembers me still and
Has born time’s mantle better than I ever will,
And where every lesson bled into the next except
Woodwork and we had
To change clothes for PE in
Front of each other and no one gave a damn.
I’ll cut my teeth in the streets where I was born and
The neighbours knew when
And how old I was because they’d
Been there to see me fall on my face in the lane;
Who had known my parents forever and when anyone
Left they did so feet first
On a gurney and everyone’s
Curtains were drawn in respect of a lost friend.
I’ll break my back on the tracks of the rail that
My father and his father
Braved in order to draw coal
From the graves that other souls dug.
With a smile on my lips for a good day’s graft at
The pit head or dock side
Where a fairy could serve as a
Bride and a groom could find room for his mind.
I’ll make my love on the settees and sofas that were
Shoved to the back wall
In summer but pulled closer
To the fire place in winter to save fuel.
With a girl I schooled with who no longer wears
Short skirts and a woman
I’ve found in another playground
Half way around the world who I wish to die with.
I’ll raise my own son in the borders of Yorkshire
Where the truth is replanted
Each year with the wheat and the
Chaff laughs at the fact that even it’s worthy.
Where my boy can grow into a man surrounded by
A land that has been pivotal
In this country’s history and no
Doubt once more will shore up its softer centre.
I’ll make my peace in the North of my England
Where the blood of its kin
Was first spilled by William
Who should have stayed his violent hand;
For he made in its name a way of life that cannot
Be named by the crowds
In the South who are still afraid
To venture beyond Watford’s stillborn walls.