Red Rum And Punches by Brian Hutchinson
This place, is our space, with ‘Another Place', too
The great river Mersey; her deep-tunnelled veins
Once overhead railways and smoking steam trains.
Where Vikings once roamed; great kings, the land ruled
This once ‘muddy pool, became Liverpool.
Horizons painted, lush green; and with flocks.
Fantastic places, with canals and her locks.
The rich and the poor, walking same journeyed shores.
The Would haves, could haves, all searching blue skies
Without cares, in the World, about where’s, about whys.
Every day, same days, sometimes - the shame days
But skylarks still sing, over Lost Seaforth sands.
Songs of the swifts, as they weave, amongst treats
‘Mulberry hushed secrets, washing iron men’s feet.
This evergreen, forever seen; with distant, Three graces
I love this, and cherish, our vast open spaces.
Giant red cranes, welcoming liners,
Three queens once ‘waved in; there was nothing, more finer.
The best, so caressed; with their Gentrified diners.
We’ve got wharves and locks. The quays, to the docks
Where ships ‘blow for tugs; mislaid, Mothered hugs.
Carthorses, barrow boys, danced cobbled ice
Cries of proud men, as they tried to look nice.
They all laughed and joked, at the hiring-stands
With hundreds and thousands, all raising their hands.
These boys, with the books, they traded for hooks
Waved strong-arms; outstretched, and shied away looks.
“Half a days pay lads. Now who came and took?
You men get off. The rest, bring your ‘ooks.
Tonight men you’ll sup; and your Mother’s will cook.
Hard work and graft lads; don’t give me a ‘look.”
These once ragged, rescued, in ‘Best boy shirts
Smiled, shiny faces, to Sunday frocked flirts.
The huge crowds belched out, to the dockside gates
To the ‘Brock, or the Gladstone, along with their mates.
There were travellers’, ‘unravellers, with brandy snapped eyes
And women, to work ‘ouse, with nowheres’ to hide.
Low lifes’ with show-lives, who lived life, to full.
Workers and shirkers, the destitute mull.
The why’s, of the wise; or the otherwise’ cries.
The honest. The wretched; and those telling lies.
Once pressgangs and prison ships; emptied their shame
The grog-house and whorehouse, was never the same.
And Mothers’ cried softly, their sweet laboured pains
Her Sons fighting wars; never seen of again.
And coal, tar and vagabonds, fleas, ticks and lice
Smells lingered on, with cooked sugars and spice.
“Take in your washing ma’am, come ‘round and char
For stale crusts, some marge, miss. Or tea from a jar?
Or gin from next door, miss, the bottled-blue dreams
I can cook and scrub up, Ma’am. Maybe sew seams.”
‘Me kids off to ‘prentice ‘ouse, this Bridgewaters ‘morn
For fingers, ‘catched off. Up long, before dawn.
I’ve six sprogs and dog, ma’m. Me Mam and Gran too
For thrippence, Miss, that’s all, that I’m begging you’.
‘Brass up your steps, sirs, starting at six
Even light up your fires, with next-doors sticks.
“Or it’s wives full of scorn; cold baths. Grinding corn.
It’s your house, or ‘orehouse; and fumbled through ‘Knicks.”
Lodgers and dodgers, ten kids and old codgers
Parish funds ravished, pale children, looked savaged.
Hundreds of Lumpers, all paid down the pubs.
Wages spent up; and me owing subs’.
Debts to the ‘Provy man’, bed bugs and raw.
Potatoes and salt, a turnip. No more.
Wintered winds found you, without food, or fire.
Horse-cloth, for bedding. The poor man’s attire.
Down crowded alleys; and graveside rooms
Then off to the fever sheds, faces full-bloomed.
Long ropes on lampposts, the children did skip.
Seven to a bed. Sat up with your sick.
Then cholera came, without mercy, or shame
Ragged or riches, it took little blame.
The cold wrinkled skin, came knocking on doors.
Cramped fevered thirst, whether rich. Weathered poor.
T.B. and typhus, whooping cough, flu.
Thank God for the tar works, ‘cos I’m telling you.
Soiled linen and Cess-pits, they all got the blame.
Thank goodness for Kitty, down big City lane.
Washhouses, whitewashed, with drains and a privvie.
Prams full of washing, all boiled, by a skivvy
Lenders and spenders, up skirted back-enders.
Sharpers out conning, the barrow-boy menders.
The lost eyed ‘yarders, out losing their legs.
Drunken brawled, grog shops; their wives selling pegs.
No ‘ouse. No money, no jobs and no rent.
Great wars and eye-sores; and Swanks, all Hell bent.
The once a week laughter, with best Bibby’ bands.
The boy’s brigade, going past, hand in hand.
Could take in some orphans, with ‘nowt on their feet.
Sharing the smells, of baked bread and hung meat.
‘Dig out your floors, ma’am, make room for some more
Then sweep out your yards, Miss; and mop up the gore’.
The ‘Blessing’, a curse, The ‘Mary, much worse
Sails wiped clean; with their salt-scars, nursed.
Then ‘Kitty Amelia’, ‘Enterprize, ‘Will.
Cargos of chattels; oubliettes filled.
Regular sights, on cold winters nights,
Were tars searching alleys, for wares and delights.
As hope searched the cracks, for cerulean sky’s
The poor men, saw ‘Bonny, no more.
But lets not forget, this beautiful place.
Things all sewn up. Danced. Wrapped in fine lace.
The larks exalting, the Hightown, highs
Green buds, to seeds sown. The years, flown by.
Dandies in fine suits; and ‘parasols winked
Champagnes, fine crystal; with smiles, they did chink.
The ladies and Gentlemen, to carousel sounds.
To concerts and galas, magnificence bound.
The Birkdale ‘beauties. The Grand Prince of Wales.
The finest of wines. Top hats and long tails.
Crème d’asperge, from Freshfields; then quails.
My Pin-dotted clouds, now leaking with dreams
Bits of me running; and chasing ice creams.
My heady, unsteady, my starred, sticky nights.
So relished and cherished, my loves and delights.
Botanical gardens and open sea baths
Gents playing croquet. Bowling. Flat caps.
Fine smells of doughnuts, their smells wafting past.
It’s mine and I own it. I want it, to last.
The larks singing love songs, as they rise, to their highs.
I want this, to cherish, small planes, in the skies.
Woodvale and rallies, with flower-shows, prized.
I need this forever; I’ve walked them with pride.
I look at the children, in virtual Worlds.
All fingers and thumbs; in solitary rooms
I played ‘lazzies and lolly-ice sticks
Stilts made from brooms.
Drenched in excitement; torrential rained, drains.
Cops and robbers, or rope, swung games.
Pontefract caked,’ and sticky-liced’ out. And about.
Cowies’ and injun’s. We skipped, sherbet-dipped -
Into this life. Hopscotch ‘n marbles and ‘Sally ‘Oh, co, coed’
We Kiss, chased. Stuck-in-the-muds, down Bluebell woods.
What’s gone wrong, with these kids, the ‘misunderstoods?
Down Froggy meadows, for tadpoles and newts
Amidst sparklers and ‘bommies, ‘Pennies for the Guy, sirs”.
“Tag man! You’re IT. Was it. Has it. Has been and seen.
I’m so sore. Some ‘came out’. Went, ‘spent and lent.
Ice slides, through thick fogs, ‘til school bells rang out.
And about. Short kecks and jumpers, shirt collars turned out.
About. From Mums eldest, to second, then me. Happy.
Monotoned, foghorns. Chalk, thrown-downed, dreams.
Clout. With the duster - Then try to ‘work out’.
The strange sums, just like life, just didn’t add up.
Walking with ‘Big boys. Shoes filled with holes.
Cardboard-box fixing; never ending, their mending.
Bottled-topped divers, ascending. Descending.
The diver dead-centred, bang on. Show your mates.
Who all came round knocking, then stood at your gates.
And viruses called, ‘Lurghy’, a made-up wish.
For best mates you slated; and now really miss.
Not strained out covid, of a test-tube wish
Or Trojan’s, or ‘worms, that make your Grans squirm.
Cash hacked; and strapped. Grandpa’s, iPhone nightmares.
Baths in the sink, with your Dad, in the tub.
Coal fires stoking and choking with love.
Chimneys caught fire, as newspapers blazed.
Teeth nicely whitened, with the soot, that it made.
Chilled to our bones, but we breathed ice-cleaned air.
Pillow-cased Christmases. Oranges and dates.
Candle-lit, snowball fights, with dad and his mates.
Knick-knocking neighbours, then sang them some Carols.
Ten bob millionaires. Blessed in half-a-crowned warmth.
And a pound was the ‘stars. My mates. My universe.
‘Around my World, in my own eighty days’.
Flown by. Entire lives. A World without cares.
This rag ‘assed, cellar-slave, for the rich. Upstairs.
This beautiful place, that shouldn’t be shared
With diggers and tarmac, apportioned to heirs.
Our ‘scorched Summer holidays’. Nobody cares?
I want toads, ‘Natter-jacking, amused, in their myth.
With faces of bargemen, with whopping, warm smiles.
Sailing their ‘cut, for some thirty odd miles.
But these times talk of memories, to a place, way on back
When our docks once, ‘boomed out, to sounds of, ‘Ack Ack.
Hitler came twice. Upper Stanhope street.
Second, his planes came, to bomb, indiscreet.
Incendiaries. Landmines. Night after night.
We battered him. British. With all of our might.
Bombed, blitzed and bloodied. Cratered and scarred.
Men, women children, their minds, all so marred.
Thousands of dead. Some never found.
Not a grave. Or a mark. Just a hole in the ground.
Razed houses, hopeless, not a doorway to sit.
No one to beg to; and times, none to pray to.
How times have changed, with men wearing ‘Lippy.
The cheeky ‘Gets, even bombed, Stan Boardmans’ chippy !
Now spirits raised high, ships still ‘blow for tugs.
We now catch blown kisses, and small ‘bubbled hugs.
Mums’ Glenn Millar moods. Dads’ Vera Lynn chins.
Helped us get by, with two World war wins.
My skylark sings high, hoping hawks, have fed late.
To Mothers’ lost loves, who gave sons, for our sakes.
‘Come wanton girls, come down, build your nests.’
On common ground. Our ground. Around. And around.
Sefton church. Ince woods. Ruffords’ old hall.
Punch bowls. Scotch pipers; and classic car stalls.
Rotten rows. Rimrose’; with wild, flowered fields.
Poppies stand proud, forget me not’s, please.
Leverets leap meadows, in grassed, woven reeds.
My sixty, so years, thru my ‘Tiger chased fears.
Saw the ‘Lithy town hall, welcome Beatles, to cheers
Greased quiffs and leathers. Winkle-picked screams
Swingin’ bluejeans, ‘hippyhippy shaked ‘birds in their teens.
Tanner bags of chips. Three bob on the door.
The Mods and the Rockers, all knew the score.
Rory Stormed Hurricanes. The Remo four.
Delrenas and Deltones. The Searchers came too
Jive dancing Tuesdays, all just for you.
‘Red Rum and Punches, sirs.’ I may just have two
Last time I came here, I had one, gone blue.
With ‘Ginger and ‘Rummy, both thoroughbreds, true
Three wins and two seconds, he never did fall
What more can I tell you; he won Scotlands’ an’ all !
‘Red Rum and punches. Huge liquid lunches.
Our Beautiful people, all gathered in bunches.
The humour and laughter, the spirit, ever after
Foreverness. Togetherness. The smiles; and the cleverness.
‘Brooders and ‘mooders and ‘must haves and ‘just haves
Blue-nosed, or Reds’. Great teams, but same beds.
What we do have, is this, so come, feel the bliss.
We take pride in ourselves.
We will grab hold, and keep hold, of all that remains
Primroses. Valleys. Charms and delights
‘Burbo Banked’ Babes, on sunset, filled nights.
Our Docks and our Mersey, this great place unfurled
“…. SEFTON ...”
Gateway: To the rest of the World.