Author: phil-martin


Piccadilly Gardens hasn’t got the best of reps,
The worst crime spot in the north, you’d better watch your step,
From the winos of the eighties, now Spice has stole the show,
But it’s nothing now compared to what happened years ago.

Because in the 1600s on wasteland past Market Street,
They’d tie up single ladies and strap them in a seat,
Then duck them in the daub hole, where a pool formed in the ditch,
And see if they’d confess to being a Quaker or a witch.

Their crimes were pretty tepid, like being labelled a ‘nag,’
A ‘scold,’ a gossip or a loner or a potty mouthed, foul hag,
They thought witches were everywhere, to not find out, you’d be a fool,
So best to check and strap her in…to the Piccadilly ducking stool.

Then dunk her in and leave her… gasping for her breath,
‘Are you a witch admit it? Or veritably face your death,’
The practice got quite popular, the crowd all smiles and grins,
As the ducking stool and daub hole washed away her sins.

The mobs dragged up more witches, to see if they’d survive,
They soon needed more ducking stools, they ended up with five,
The only witch necessity was to have a male detractor,
Then every week they’d hold their own twisted, medieval witch X-Factor.

But then one rainy Saturday when the Ducking Stool had no room,
One suspect cackled witch like and then whistled for her broom,
And flew on it around the Gardens casting spells on men who raged,
Magic-ing iron muzzles on their mouths ‘til all their lips were caged.

The ducking stools were over, for a while the land lay idle,
But a reminder on a shop door of an iron knot and a bridle,
Was left to remind the silly men to treat their women well,
Or the witch of Piccadilly would be back to cast another spell.

(Disclaimer- an iron knot and bridle was left on a shop door on Market Street, but such were the times that it was to remind women to keep their mouths shut and know their place. Whilst much of this poem is factual, no witches have ever flown around Piccadilly Gardens unless they were fuelled by spice)


Our kids don’t know politically some of Manchester’s feats,
It’s strange that we don’t tell ‘em of the war fought on these streets,
It’s odd that we don’t say… just how those people died,
Fighting for the freedom that voting would provide.

It’s not their fault; I don’t blame them, only a tiny plaque was cast,
To honour this momentous day, this secret from our past,
It’s like MPs are still embarrassed or maybe they don’t care,
For this defining moment of an age, Manchester’s Tiananmen Square.

Coz it really was the moment, that they forced politically,
To change public opinion and bring democracy,
Is it fading from our memory banks, this fight some never knew?
Our greatest moment of reform; the battle of Peterloo.

It will soon be two hundred years, since eleven people died,
On these very streets of Manchester; where the authorities had lied,
They claimed it was a tragedy and arrested those who said,
That it wasn’t quite an accident but a massacre instead.

The people came in thousands to fight against their toils,
Sixty thousand gathered close to Discotheque Royales,
Just four years after Napoleon and the battle of Waterloo,
Poverty had bitten hard and northern life was cruel.

We didn’t have the vote back then and jobs were hard to find,
The Corn Laws were a barrier and daily life a grind,
The rich were getting richer; the poor had nowt to show,
And rich mps in London town just didn’t want to know.

Revolutionists in Manchester, guys like Henry Hunt,
They chose to fight for normal folk and do what mps wouldn’t,
But marches south just didn’t work out; London didn’t yield,
So they kept the fight here in Manc, and marched to St Peter’s field.

The banners shouted loud and proud, their message defiant,
Vote By ballot, No Corn Laws, Annual Parliament!
It was time to drag our politics from this darkest of Dark Age,
Let us die like men, the women said, and not be sold like slaves.

Reform leaders across the north, gathered there to say,
That parliament in London couldn’t have it their own way,
The masses came to listen; the authorities weren’t too keen,
At what remains today the biggest… UK meeting ever seen.

But as they started speaking and the crowds began to cheer,
The local MPs panicked and ordered soldiers near,
To run into the ordered crowd and swing their swords about,
To arrest the public speakers and pull the leaders out.

But the crowd refused to buckle and tried to stand its ground,
They tried to hold their banners high and form a shield around,
The speakers they were gunning for, their voices must be heard,
But through the crowds with sabres drawn, they were savagely murdered.

The horses trampled, stampeding folk who had nowhere to go,
Whilst soldiers swung their swords, butchering innocents below,
Some were stabbed by bayonet or trampled underfoot,
Some were shot by muskets as the cavalry went nuts.

Women died, and kids were hurt, no concessions made,
The cavalry just didn’t care for the people they had slayed,
Eventually the soldiers won and broke the human shield,
Eleven killed, five hundred hurt, a bloodied battle field.

Arrests were made and sanctions sought, the speakers put in jail,
But eventually from that shameful day, the changes they did hail,
For on the site those people died they built the Free Trade Hall,
Where the Anti-Corn Law league won out; a free economy for all.

Demonstrations hadn’t worked but a newspaper was born,
One to challenge everything and politically pour scorn,
Today it’s called The Guardian; a paper for us all,
A tribute to the folk that died; a Manc memorial.

Doorway Under The Arches



Bailey’s save v Brighton to keep us in the cup,
Stepney’s reflex to Eusebio’s volley quite close up,
Schmeichel’s saves at St James’ or Vienna in ninety six,
Edwin’s Moscow penalty palm, it always has us split.

But our greatest save in history didn’t come from a gloved hand,
But a businessman eighty years ago, who gave us thirty grand,
Without that cash injection we would have gone I swear,
And would have all been city fans, a thought I cannot bear,

Coz way back then in thirty one with our future in dire straits,
They couldn’t pay the players and couldn’t generate the gates,
But then this Salford businessman said he’d find a way,
To build United up again, starting with the players’ pay.

He supported the club financially as guarantor to the bank,
He stopped us going bankrupt but we’ve got him too to thank,
For setting up the youth team so future players would be free,
Coz back then skint United couldn’t afford the transfer fee.

Our Junior Athletic Club was where future stars would come from,
He bought a rugby ground, the Cliff, to train our young players on,
Then he got the train to stop at Old Trafford on match day,
To drive up the attendances so the club could pay its way.

When those German bombers wrecked us, HE fought for the cheque,
To metaphorically build us up again, quite literally from that wreck,
Ten years away from Old Trafford but still an important entity,
This man would bring us home again and give us back our identity.

And then it was his master stroke to look at Liverpool and City,
And employ their former player the great, legendary Matt Busby,
As manager of our football team, in 51 he won the cup,
But then his employer passed away, this great saver of our club.

He died before we won the league again in fifty two,
But I hope you know our history was all because of you,
A different path, a different route, and United were extinct,
And the history we’d never know would be concise, brief and succinct.

So who was he, this great man, who started everything we know?
Should we sing his name from the rafters… next time when we go,
To Old Trafford to see United, a club that might not exist,
If this businessman from Salford hadn’t promised to persist.

He shares his name with Colin… Terry and Darren too,
But this Gibson did more than any United player could ever do,
He stopped us from going bankrupt but didn’t quite stop there,
James Gibson became our chairman, a chairman that would care.

There might have been another way for our club to carry on,
But he’s the one who made sure… our United wasn’t gone,
So next time you’re on Matt Busby Way over the railway track,
Feel free to pat your gratitude on our James Gibson’s plaque.

Copyright©2011 by Phil Martin
All rights reserved.

Doorway Under The Arches


The pop-ups are popping up all over town,
Like seasonal treats to flatten our frown,
A viable business for just a few weeks,
Cashing in quickly as popularity peaks

Here today but long gone tomorrow,
No downturn in trade, no financial sorrow,
They spring up and clean up as the new thing in town,
Then only next month they’re ripping them down.

A symbol perhaps of a throwaway generation,
But there’s no time for boredom with this seasonal creation,
Because the pop-ups bring us what’s out of our reach,
Like granting Manchester a white, sandy beach.

Bringing deckchairs and buckets and spades to hand,
Offering Mancs the chance to sunbathe in the sand,
Bringing everything that’s coastal to Castlefield,
But leaving us sun burnt, red-faced and peeled.

So the seaside popped up without any sea,
And yacht clubs popped without boats admittedly,
Bowling and skating both popped up and went,
Whilst the pop-up cinema was just heaven sent.

The North Pole popped too but it wasn’t that cold,
And that 1930s tea room was far from old,
The Moose Bar had grizzlies but no moose turned up,
Whilst we loved pop-up menus and the grub they served up.

Because pop-ups bring us some escapism,
A break from the norm promoting hedonism,
So let’s ask for pop-ups dripping in cool,
Like a pop-up, city centre swimming pool.

Or a pop up space bar like on Tattooine,
With Star Wars characters from that very scene,
Or a pop-up racetrack based on Monaco,
Or a temporary roller blade music disco.

A Wimbledon pop-up so folks could compete,
Whilst pop-up archery would be pretty neat,
A pop-up bungee would be a win win,
Or a pop-up campsite with a festival thrown in.

Pop-up skydiving of the indoor sort,
Two pop-up pirate ships and the battle they fought,
Pop-up guns on a shooting range,
There’s so many pop-ups still to arrange.

But this is the pop-up I’d most like to see,
A pop-up so grand it would be legendry,
They’d talk about it from near and from far,
And they’d all have to see it, coz it’s so slightly bizarre.

Because even if it is horribly fake,
Let’s have a glorious pop-up lake,
Straight from Lake Como or Bellagio,
A great lake for bathing Mancunians to go.

With grassy shores to take in the shine,
And pool parties daily as folk drink and dine,
In trendy lakeside restaurants and bars,
As we all enjoy a life that’s not ours.

On boats and on yachts that are moored in the bay,
With bikini’s and speedos the attire of the day,
The ultimate pop-up but still a flat pack,
So let’s ask pop-up people could a pop-up do that?

Copyright©2012 by Phil Martin
All rights reserved.



A well-spoken gent, mild mannered and with grace,
Yet his is the most iconic of Manchester’s homeless face,
Because he sits everyday on his Market Street throne,
In all kinds of weather, without a grumble or a groan.

His work ethic crafted from when Britain was great,
He clocks in every day and not once is he late,
He sets up in the morning as the workers flood in,
And grafts all day long until the late even-ing.

Until the workers go home and they pass him once more,
In the hope that they’ll flick some change to his floor,
To pay for his bedsit, to pay for his tea,
To pay for his rizla and rolling baccie.

His lips might be sore but they play all day long,
As his recorder kicks out its crescendo-ing song,
The notes runaway like pleas in the air,
Can you pay for my breakfast or my daily bus fare?

Can you help an honest man as he strives every day?
To cough up enough coins to just pay his own way?
So he can pay for his supper and pay for his bed,
And pay for the roof that goes over his head.

For years he’s been playing, politely every day,
In the hope that you’ll pass some spare change his way,
So flick him a couple of pounds as you pass,
And fumble internally at the questions you’d ask.

Like where are your family, does nobody care?
How did society fail to leave you playing there?
But he doesn’t mind, his good mood never stops,
He just continuously plays as you look round the shops,

As you get on with your day and he drifts from your mind,
His place on these streets is eternally defined,
Because you’d miss his music if it wasn’t there,
If his notes weren’t floating on the Mancunian air.

But don’t feel sorry for our recorder player is proud,
Of the music he makes and his continual sound,
And even though more care would be heaven sent,
He’s proud his recorder playing keeps him independent.

Copyright©2012 by Phil Martin

All rights reserved.

Doorway Under The Arches

If you struggled with the Shambles, then this’ll really test yer,
Coz they moved The Shakespeare pub up here, all the way from Chester.
Way back in the twenties, they moved every pillar, every post,
And legend even has it that they even moved a ghost.

Because a teenage girl still haunts it, or at least they claim,
That she appears on the staircase all alight and all in flames,
They say she’d ignite the candles that would fill the bar with light,
But dropped one on her floaty dress and set herself alight.

But if you think this ain’t true, there’s another side to hear,
The chef, they say, had his wicked way and forced himself on her,
To cover up his evil crime he set the girl alight,
But she came back again to haunt him, burning oh so bright.

He couldn’t cope with seeing her, so he hung himself in there,
A beam still has the rope marks from where he kicked the chair,
Haunted for his heinous crime with only one thing left to do,
Hang himself and join her… haunting The Shakespeare too.

Copyright©2012 by Phil Martin
All rights reserved.

Doorway Under The Arches

Have you heard what the son did, what about the daughter?
She’s a proper little chatter box, can’t even hold her water,
They split up; he cheated, and then got back together,
Then he ran off with the vicar’s son, you’re kidding, well I never.

This stays strictly between us so keep it under your hat,
But I really had to ask her, is there any truth in that?
I honestly shouldn’t tell you this; it’s not like me to blab,
But you know she likes to gossip and can’t control her trap.

I hear that’s not the only thing that THAT one cannot close,
Another young un on the way, that’ll keep her on her toes,
Keep her off her back more like; she lived with three blokes just last year,
She couldn’t, well she shouldn’t, but I wouldn’t put it past her.

So HE said, then SHE said, well what the Jeff do I know?
Honestly don’t trust that one; she’s a gossiping little so and so,
Did he really? He can’t have, you’re joking, fancy that,
I’m glad we get to meet like this and have our chitter chat.

I’m really glad we get to push our visionary intelligence to one side,
For half an hour every day, because I really couldn’t abide,
If we didn’t get to chat like this and put the world to rights,
I’m not so sure our intelligence would hit such dizzy heights.

But always speak in hushed tones because our secrets mustn’t shatter,
The public mustn’t ever hear us and our endless nitter natter,
Shush don’t speak so loudly, one of them’s coming over,
So close your mouth, stare straight ahead and give them the cold shoulder.

Copyright©2012 by Phil Martin
All rights reserved.


Stand back in amazement; take pictures on your phones,
Coz you’re looking at our city’s most impressive set of bones,
Seventy million years in age, a tyrant lizard king,
A prehistoric relic, Stan’s our oldest ever thing.

Forty foot long, standing tall, showing off his teeth,
You’re either daft or over brave if you stand underneath,
Coz only one Tyrannosaurs is more complete than him,
But he has the most complete skull our world has ever seen.

One hundred and ninety nine bones, seventy per cent complete,
They even found fifty eight teeth with which he used to eat,
And if you stand face to face, alone, with our Dinosaur,
You can almost see him moving and can almost hear him roar.

You can almost see his eye balls move in his huge eye sockets,
Go on, I dare you, stare him out; you’ll be the one to stop it,
Coz it’s alright being cocky… millions of years after his death,
But you wouldn’t last a second if Stan took just another breath.

Copyright©2011 by Phil Martin
All rights reserved.

Doorway Under The Arches

As a small provincial city punching way above its weight,
There’s a hundred thousand reasons why Manchester is great,
I’d be surprised if you’ve not heard of us, more so if you’ve missed us,
Coz this fine city called Manchester has many brothers and sisters.

Now this you might find staggering coz we sound like a world great,
But there’s thirty one Manchesters just in the United States,
To put this in perspective and quantify this conundrum,
The States has just five Liverpools and eight named after London.

There’s many other Manchesters, you should believe me if you can,
Because Manchester has name sakes in Bolivia and Suriname,
All over the world, far and wide, I’m not trying to fake yer,
There’s even towns called Manchester in Canada and Jamaica.

Australia has two great lakes named after this town of mine,
New Zealand has a homestead in the mountains you will find,
Gibraltar has a football club; South Africa has six farms,
There’s a farmstead in Zimbabwe too, all carrying our Manc charm.

But really? Why so many Manchester’s, spread so far and wide?
Why so many namesakes linked to this town where I reside?
United’s fame came far too late, though that’s got my brain spinning,
Coz we dominated like the reds when it came to the world’s linen?

We made ninety-eight per cent I hear… almost the one and only,
Is this the reason why Manchester will never ever be lonely,
Maybe the world would think of us whilst resting in its bed,
Whilst dressing in its cotton clothes, or towel drying its head.

Whilst laying out its table cloth, or pulling back its curtains,
I guess we’ll never really know and never truly be certain,
But add to that our politics as we battled for free trade,
Free thinking and free Manchester and the progress that we made,

See Mancs supported Lincoln and everything he fought for,
And signed allegiance with him during America’s civil war,
Synonymous with their president… as he abolished slavery,
Linking the name of Manchester to freedom and to bravery.

Their blockades stopped raw materials causing the Cotton Famine,
Forcing suffering and poverty but still they wouldn’t damn him,
Their support would never waver as he strove to make life better,
And he thanked the folk of Manchester with a Presidential letter.

Backing Abraham Lincoln saw Mancs become their foes,
And to honour this they built a statue on the street of Brazenose,
A brave new world was forming with Manc ethos at its heart,
Freedom, free trade, freedom of speech and for all a fresh, new start.

So maybe our cotton workers took the name with them,
When relocating to America where they looked to start again,
Coz you CAN take the folk out of Manchester, it’s true I’d never joke,
But you’ll never take the Manchester out of fine Mancunian folk.

Copyright©2011 by Phil Martin
All rights reserved.


So many things happened here in the industrial revolution,
But one of the lesser known facts, is a quirk in evolution,
Because something was born in Manchester to raise a global query,
Pitching Devine intervention against evolutionary theory.
Coz the conditions here in smoggy Manc when we made our cloth,
Saw a ‘survival of the fittest’ with the once white, peppered moth,
The soot-filled, dank conditions saw it change its colourings,
And a black version of the moth evolved with camouflage on its wings.
At first they thought this change was due to the moth not being clean,
A survival of the dirtiest but no, the change was in its genes,
The peppered moths stood out from the soot and so were eaten first,
The black ones became survivors with its colourings immersed.
They say this evolution took less than fifty years,
And led to bitter fallouts between evolutionists and their peers,
Just fifty years after this with the Clean Air laws now passed,
Darwin’s evolution struck again and the black moth wouldn’t last.
You see it stood out far too much on a lichen-covered tree,
Like a dark but visual beacon saying come and eat your tea,
It somehow changed its wings again, to stop this predatory attraction,
So there it is in black and white, Manchester’s evolution in action.

Copyright©2012 by Phil Martin
All rights reserved

Doorway Under The Arches