For Bill Grundy [1923-1993] and good times at Granada Studios Manchester UK


Grey days always remind me of Manchester,

Salford Docks, kitchen sinks, Archie Street,

of Rita Tushingham in Shelagh Delaney’s

bitter Taste of Honey, of Albert Finney in

Alan Sillitoe’s roaring Saturday Night and

savage, soul searching Sunday Morning, of

Richard Burton’s look back in anger through

the eyes of  John Osborne’s Jimmy Porter.


Grey days always remind me of dreary streets,

daily queuing for fish, chips and mushy peas,

of old cast-iron gas lamps, hissing and flaring,

snuffed out by the lamplighter’s last treachery,

then wrenched from the anguished pavements

by chain, pulley wheel and brutal diesel crane

and laid in rows to await the funeral drum, the

solemn march, the scrap yard, and the furnace.


Grey days always remind me of quick auditions,

cold and draughty rehearsal rooms, bad lighting,

cranky directors, too many actors, too few parts,

posh girls from good schools, trying to appear

as working class because their agents told them

‘north country common’ was the only way to go, 

that faultless diction and perfect round vowels

would mean career suicide as BBC newsreaders.


Grey days always remind me of late arrivals,

of instant coffee, Carnation Milk, and Kit Kat,

green room raconteurs and sound check in five,

of stealing a well-known personality’s umbrella,

steak pies, brown ale, getting wasted at the pub

where misery loved company, celebrating Harry

getting a part he didn’t want and persuading him

not to tell the four-eyed casting pansy to stuff it.


Grey days always remind me of busy city streets,

drizzling rain, mackintoshes, floral headscarves, 

tightly tied transparent rain hoods, of agile girls,

dodging the kerbside spray from uncaring traffic,

of homeward journeys as the new, amber, sodium

street lights flash, colour and invade the evening,

as the world waits patiently at windswept bus stops.

Grey days will always remind me of Manchester.


Manchester Revisited © Dermott Ryder


End Note:    Manchester is in North West England, with the Cheshire Plain to the south and the Pennines to the north and east. The Romans started it all in 79 AD by allowing a town to grow on the banks of the rivers Medlock and Irwell, near to the fort of Mamucium, also known as Mancunium. Historically, Manchester was and still is Lancashire through and through. An early 19th-century factory building boom transformed the small township into a major mill town and borough. Then, of course, there was the struggle for radical reform and the Peterloo Massacre. The granting of city status came in 1853. The Industrial Revolution made Manchester the world's first industrialised city. In 1894, the navigators built the Manchester Ship Canal, creating a great inland Port. Manchester was also the site of the world's first railway station.


The city is remarkable for the energy and breadth of its culture. The music scene, both classical and contemporary, is the most robust in Britain. Two universities serve Manchester. Scientific and engineering achievements are notable; and include the development of the first stored-program computer and the splitting of the atom.


Sporting type Manchurians play with two differently shaped balls and are passably good with both, the less energetic play billiards, snooker, darts and dominoes. The confirmed couch potatoes eat pork scratching, drink beer by the can and watch the world of sport on television. Manchester provides a home for both BBC and Granada Television.


Manchester Revisited © Dermott Ryder

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Lived in Durham for a while - made it to Manchester. Enjoyed this poem immensely Dermott Ryder. 


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