Author: phil-martin

Like a Victorian game of Tetris where the buildings din’t land neat,
Lies the higgerldy piggerldy architecture of Manchester’s Portland Street,
Yet secreted in this skyline… of roofs that just don’t blend,
Lies a well brewed Mancunian treasure, a perfect hidden gem.

“Squeeze in, shuffle in, there’s room for just two more,”
It’s staggering how many drinkers squeeze through that tavern’s door,
Just room for thirty people and still I’ll sit on somebody’s knee,
Yet thousands of folk stare back at me from every place I see,

Their eyes, their eyes are everywhere, bearing down on me,
Thousands of folk all staring back and smiling relentlessly,
Everyone is happy yet none of them speak or change their pose,
Generations of drinkers, or just the famous ones I suppose.

Coz the smallest pub in our city has the biggest welcome in the world,
Where every drinking celeb in town is proudly unfurled,
A real star gazer’s paradise, a celebrity stalker’s passion,
With boozer’s faces stuck to the wall in time honourary fashion,

This boozer’s five-a-side team would beat any on the planet,
It’d win every week down at the Pitz until they’d have to ban it,
Coz Bestie’s there of course he is, along with Franny Lee,
Keano, Parker, Robson… Nobby and Paddy.

But it ain’t just the footballers who’ve had a pint in this tiny bar,
From Tony H to Muhammad Ali they’ve come from near and far,
Actors like Ray Winston, musicians by the score,
It’s a near infinite list of celebrity and I don’t want to bore.

But this photo wall of famous folk spans every generation,
Whilst two football teams lie side by side without any altercation,
Two tiny rooms, a tiny bar, your mates’ll never lose yer,
Just lose your inhibitions in Manchester’s smallest boozer.

It used to be the meeting place for all the acts they used to have on,
When 18th century circus folk would drink in the Circus Tavern,
Coz there used to be a big top close by on Chatham Street,
And this tavern was where trapeze artists and lion tamers’d meet.

The clientele’s still colourful and will always have a tale,
As the bar maid and the drinkers pass down your real ale,
It floats though the crowd and to your seat, no room to be nervous,
There’s really no more intimate pint than the one the Circus serves us.

Its size makes this place special as I feel like I belong,
As drinkers huddle together… forming just one throng,
One chat, one conversation and just one subject matter,
Every opinion is invited as the regulars nitter natter.

But with all the faces on the wall it really makes me think,
Since opening time in 1790, how many folk have bought a drink?
Since the days of that long gone circus and cries of roll up, roll up
How many folk have squeezed in here for an intimate, friendly sup?

A hundred thousand drinkers? A million, probably more,
I’d like to see every single face stuck onto their photo wall,
A staggering number of drinkers have crammed into that tiny space,
And they’d need every inch of this fine city if they printed every face!

Copyright©2011 by Phil Martin
All rights reserved.




What fills your mind… when you stroll… down John Dalton street?
Tucking into a grill on the alley, or sipping a cocktail treat?
Sharing a burger with Byron or a search for a panacea?
A rush to get with the cool kids so everyone can see yer?

Nails done, brand new shoes, just stepped out of the salon,
But the biggest worry in your world is what clothes your girls have put on,
Friday’s here, that’s all that counts, you wouldn’t think to make the query,
So I guess you’d never link this street with owt called Atomic Theory.

You’ll never know who Dalton is; it just wouldn’t cross your mind,
To find out what this street’s about, you just haven’t got the time,
Not aware of things around you as you stand and smoke your fag,
He saw the make-up of the world; you just see the make-up in your bag.

You know absolutely everything about whose doing what to who,
But our street names remain a mystery; you just haven’t got a clue,
Outstanding people, amazing feats, we’ll walk on them forever after,
But still you never seem to wonder who your city streets are named after.

It just wouldn’t cross your mind but then I guess that we’re all guilty,
Of being engrossed in busy lives but to me there lies a travesty,
Because there’s nothing wrong with knowing why things are the way they are,
Or recognising past glories and the folk that raised the bar.

But hey we are all different, if we weren’t it would be boring,
I just wish for just one second you’d let your head go off exploring.
To find out who Dalton is, Whitworth, Mosely, Byrom too,
Or to wonder what Minishull and Aytoun Streets are devoted to?

Have you never wondered why Balloon Street has its unusual name?
Artillery Street or Fountain Street, you should find out just the same,
There’s stories hidden everywhere, about folk better than me and you,
I know history don’t sound cool and it’s not what we usually do.

But these people will live forever, they left their mark many moons ago,
Whilst me and you will just disappear… when it’s our time to go,
I’m sorry for my nagging; I see this chat ain’t got you smitten,
But it’s sad that when I say Atomic… you think of Atomic Kitten.

There’s so much important history, on the streets that we stroll down,
Yet you never think to find out and that really makes me frown,
But life’s for living have some fun, so please try to ignore me,
I just wish you’d see beyond…your next pornstar martini.

Copyright©2011 by Phil Martin
All rights reserved.


Doorway Under The Arches

Those bees are buzzing everywhere,
In every factory and every square,
The carders and twisters, the bobbers and weavers,
The spinners and piecers, the bees and the beavers.

Fighting for jobs and the bread on their plate,
Not knowing they’re making our proud city great,
The potters and stampers, the lacers, coal barers,
The trappers and puddlers and machine operators.

All busy Manc bees, some with two jobs a day,
Doing owt that they’re told to take home their pay,
The sewers and scavengers, the cobblers and cloggers,
The dryers and hangers, the bleachers and dockers.

Conditions are woeful each month folk are killed,
Operating machines whilst plying their skills.
The beamers and carders, the tenters and twisters,
The hookers and winders, the doffers and stitchers.

They nurture their trade, they master their craft,
And smother their day in pure honest graft,
The finishers and mashers, the pickers and packers
The quillers and reachers, the reelers and stackers.

Smoggy lives always played out under pollution,
The unsung heroes of our revolution,
The spindle maker, the scutcher, the sizer,
The ruler and rover, the self actor minder.

The clatter of carts, the screeching of wheels,
The shrieking of boilers as the steamer squeals,
The weft carrier and stripper, the tackler and grinder,
The throstle spinner and sizer, the warper and winder.

Machines always clanging, the beat of the loom,
The ear shattering noise of the industrial boom,
The jacquard operator, the overlooker and plater,
The frame tenter, half-timer, the fly and reed maker.

A forest of chimneys and poorly lit streets,
Thick blankets of smog where roof and sky meets,
There’s little in life from which folk can take solace
As the non-stop working bees of…Cotton-o-polis.

Churning out linen: sheets, pillows and towels,
Tiredness gripes as the floor manager growls,
But hit with a whip, they work on, don’t seek pity,
The relentless grafters of Warehouse City.

Each playing a role in this eco-system,
There’s too many jobs… even to list ‘em,
They made our city what today you can see,
So we honour their graft with the Manchester bee.

It’s there on our crest, to show they worked well hard,
On buildings and floors, on beers and on bollards,
To show that their hard, honest graft built this city,
They’ve decorated town with these bees that are busy.

Copyright©2011 by Phil Martin
All rights reserved.



When it comes to colours, us Mancs will speak of two,
Forget about the rainbow, you’re either red or blue,
But mix these two together and a new colour will form,
One that’s perfect from the fridge, delicious hot or warm.

For in 1908, on Granby Row, a seller of herb and spice,
Manufactured a medicine that folk thought tasted nice,
Back then it was a supplement known simply as Vim Tonic,
But today it is a well-known brand; in fact it is iconic.

You’ll know exactly what I mean, if your smile’s ever been purple,
Or if fizzy, still, hot or cold, you’ve been known to shlurple,
Purple Ronnie was a fan and ‘Dad’s pants’ was a hoot,
With raspberry, grape and blackcurrant, it’s seriously mixed up fruit.

Its reach today is far and wide; they make it in Yemen,
They say it’s Arabs’ favoured drink during Ramadan,
In Granby Row a monument stands proudly there to thank,
The place where Vimto was first made, here in sunny Manc.

Copyright©2011 by Phil Martin
All rights reserved.

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Look up and not down when you walk around town,
And see winged and beaked griffins snarling down,

See Neptune on King Street with trident held high,
And a globe carrying Atlas stifling a sigh,

See proud lions guarding and gargoyles that spit,
Eagles with wings spread, Greek goddesses who sit,

See walkways of umbrellas to keep Dalton dry,
And proud Manuncinan crests positioned up high,

See chubby cherubs holding mirrors and shields,
And knights guarding Cooper Street refusing to yield,

See serpents that slither and goats heads that abound,
See how many bees you can see buzzing round town?

See Roman warlords and industrialists,
See royalty, inventors and Manc scientists,

All of them cling to buildings round town,
It’s only you that don’t see ’em with your eyes fixed to the ground,

A city stands above you; an architectural treat,
So glance up at your buildings and not down at your feet.

Copyright©2011 by Phil Martin
All rights reserved.

Doorway Under The Arches

From every part of Manchester, from every part of town,
People flock to see them play and always fill the ground.

Every boozer’s bustling, the pre-match drinks in flow,
The Deansgate, Toll Gate, Sammy Platts then to the shops we go.

New Red Issue out today, and posters for a pound,
Green and Gold, the sellers shout, another match day sound.

The match day stalls drip merchandise, the T-shirts freshly made,
Celebrating latest victories or the rival we’ve just slain.

Any spares? I’ll buy or sell; I love the touts’ accents,
But match day scarves with rivals on to me just don’t make sense.

A special smell still fills the air; fast food and smoke it’s true,
Where once Kellogg’s and Boddingtons used to filter through.

Our numbers swell as kick off nears; the shops will set the pace,
Arrangements never needed, they’re the perfect meeting place.

The beer is cheap, the offies close, the food is all on tap,
The only downside is the rain when the Manc weather is crap.

The exact same spot for many years no matter what the season,
Our love for Man United is our only common reason,

The faces bob, they duck and dive, but they’re all known to me,
As the shops become the centre stage for red camaraderie,

The Bishop’s songs are booming, they’re sung out on the street,
As I’m queuing at the caravan for a Caribbean treat.

I scoff the lot and drink my beer as chants begin to boom,
Then regretfully I make my way to the to-i-lets of doom.

Drinkers push in everywhere to wee against a wall,
Giggsy starts, its 442, the talk is all football.

I find my place and wet my boots, literally I’m afraid,
My leg is soaked all down my thigh where someone else has sprayed.

A few more cans are downed quite fast; we’re drinking at a canter,
A hail of jokes from every side; collateral match day banter.

More cans to go, so through the crowds then pushing in the shop,
A surge of people spill outside but the doorman makes me stop,

A shout goes up, a coach goes past with beckoning rival fans,
All ten men behind the glass but then it’s raining cans,

Mounted horses clear the shops, fans scatter everywhere,
The vacated gap is filled dead fast, it’s match day so we don’t care,

Ian Brown strolls through the crowd, same time every match,
He’s a real Manc, who goes every game, he never left this patch,

Guzzle, guzzle drink some more… check the ticket ain’t a fake,
Scribble times on bits of card for the first scorer sweepstake,

A nodded head there, a greeting here, a chat with loads of mates,
For years and years… this is where the match day congregates,

I love the shops; they bristle with lads from all over town,
They’re singing that Ken Barlow song and jumpin up and down,

It doesn’t matter who you are, it’s the United fraternity,
I hope the shops remain the same for a red eternity,

It’s ten to KO, time to rush and finish off the beers,
Time to get inside the ground before we hear those cheers.

The floodlit haze above the ground’s, an alluring match day sight,
As seventy thousand silent prayers drift off into the night.

An ocean of heads are bobbing, a stormy sea of red,
Today’s game is a big one; and I get the match day dread.

We can’t get beat, we have to win, a ninetieth minute own goal,
I really would take anything, One love, one heart, one soul.

The crowd it swells and slows us down as people start to funnel,
And the chants all start to echo back once we’re in the main stand tunnel.

Through the turnstiles, up the steps my adrenalin starts to fly,
Right now United’s everything, no other reason why.

But those steps will be the death of me, I slow down to a crawl,
I gasp for breathe uneasily and hang onto the wall,

I’ll never make it to the top; the end is not in sight,
But I lose a Stella from my pants and everything’s alright,

I burst into the stadium, even excited by the pitch,
The shirts are out; we scour them to see who Fergie’s picked.

The stands are packed, the roar goes up ‘United’ fills the air,
And match day anticipation prickles quickly through my hair.

The crowd all stand to clap the team and welcome our keeper in,
The singing’s loud, vociferous, a cacophonic din.

The right side and the left side are singing different chants,
Til U-N-I unites us all and makes the Stretty bounce.

I jostle for position but we’ll stand the whole way through,
There’s no better place to cheer the shirts than the back of Tier Two.

Rooney rolls the ball forwards the roar is deafening,
A gulp of apprehension what will ninety minutes bring?

Sir Alex strolls the touchline; his fist raises the noise,
It’s time to sing our hearts out and get behind the boys.

Copyright©2011 by Phil Martin
All rights reserved.



Market Street bustles with creative invention,
As wannabes battle for musical attention,

Where once the shoppers came just to shop,
Now street artists sing all kinds of pop,

All of them tributes in various guises,
And every day brings new wannabe surprises,

Rappers rap with their beat boxing friends,
The lino’s down for street dancing trends,

They dream of the big time and a stage for their act,
Just like George Sampson they’ve agreed to a pact,

To dance on the streets and a life of performing,
And hope that one day Cowell comes calling,

Maybe you’re passing the next ce-leb-rity,
Who’ll break through X factor like Misha B,

But there’s more going on to demand your eye,
Selling, singing or begging as you pass them by,

Like the guy with that whistle thing stuck in his gob,
His whistling shrieks making all songbirds sob,

The recorder player until dusk and from noon,
The one that continually makes up his own tune,

The blind guitarist strumming Shadows all day,
His loyal Labrador guarding his pay,

White statues frozen, the man that won’t fall,
Street artists painting, you’ll remember them all,

But it ain’t just the street acts that reside on this street,
The call from the fruit sellers; a pound friendly treat,

Big Issue sellers that pepper the chat,
Two free staples, last one, fancy that,

That homeless guy who wants e-leven p,
What’s wrong with twelve or twenty three?

Blow up Dora’s sold from a trolley,
Where spidermen dangle next to a brolly,

Don’t walk behind him, move quickly with haste
Or soapy bubbles will be blown in your face,

The charity workers attack from all angles,
Smile politely despite how it wrangles,

Buy floating balloons or sign up for the army,
If my granddad saw this, he’d think we’d gone barmy,

For no longer do we walk down Market Street,
For clothes for our kids or something to eat.

A quid here, a quid there, they all want my money,
And this is the bit that you might find quite funny,

Surrounded by street art of every ilk,
I only stepped out for a carton of milk,

My fingers search deep to see what I’ve got,
But my pockets are empty; I’ve flicked ‘em the lot..

Copyright©2011 by Phil Martin
All rights reserved.

Doorway Under The Arches

Silence shrouds my five a.m. stroll,
A private white duvet on which to roll,
Snowflakes flutter it’s ever so pretty,
As a blanket of snow engulfs my city.

The blankest of canvasses made out of snow,
The city sleeps soundly; still yet to know,
The beauty that lies waiting for it outside,
The one that I tarnish with my every stride.

The town hall glistens like on a Christmas cake,
With its spires stolen by fluttering flakes,
Wrapped in four layers but I’m still all a quiver,
Yet proud Agricola refuses to shiver.

The Roman General guards his snowy white steps,
Staring from his Town Hall as onwards I trek,
On a mission through the city to take it all in,
Catching the flakes on my tongue and my chin.

Prince Albert stands freezing but he doesn’t care,
His memorial gleaming keeping snow out his hair,
His wife Queen Victoria, must be more than just chilly,
But she remains sitting regally in a white Piccadilly.

No buses or people to soil her scene,
For once the whole city’s immaculately clean,
The pavements are buried, the fountains all frozen,
But still I plough on through the path that I’ve chosen.

Sackville glitters – and sparkles with frost,
Turing sits snowed in, his bench buried, lost,
Where Jack has been busy blowing his breathe,
Coating the apple that caused poor Alan’s death.

I slip and I slide down a deserted King Street,
Crunching the snow that lies under my feet,
Fresh, crispy powder that continues to fall,
Like I’ve stepped into a life-sized snow storm ball.

Neptune bends over, globe coated in white,
Not even Poseidon can turn back their flight,
Wave after wave flutter and blanket the sky,
And still there’s no sign of a passerby.

My next friend is Cobdam – the industrialist,
He’s covered in white where snowflakes have kissed,
The statues are the only ones sharing my treat,
As I crush untarnished snow under my feet.

Market Street’s dormant, a ghost town it’s true,
The city so quiet like judgement day’s due,
The snow even masks last night’s dirt in the gutter,
Everything covered by the snowflakes that flutter.

Deansgate is shrouded in blinding white,
Two foot at least, a most alluring of sights,
Usually people are bustling and surging,
Now covered in unspoilt –snow- that is virgin.

Soon workers’ll walk through this postcard scene,
Ruffling the blanket as their wellies pound clean,
Their footsteps uncaringly melting the snow,
As onto their work the masses wearily go.

They’ll moan and they’ll curse that the bus didn’t run,
The trams stuck in Sale, the trains didn’t come,
The cars need defrosting, their engines are cold,
The council gritters didn’t grit where they’re told.

In the hills it caused chaos, snowing folk in,
But I just see the beauty and never the sin,
Walking alone in our snow covered city,
My Manchester’s never looked so perfectly pretty.

Copyright©2011 by Phil Martin
All rights reserved.



With his hands down his pants, keeping ‘em warm,
Black trackie in his socks like a uniform,
Mooching round town looking ten men with his clones,
Listening to gangster shite on moody mobile phones.

“Alright ar kid you ‘avin’ it?” He’s got the shameless patter,
Just waiting for the dibble’s lights so he can shout out scatter,
“You’ze buzzin’ yet,” he prattles on, “tonight is fuckin’ mint,”
“The streets are ours, it’s payback time, it’s payday for the skint.”

Another window crashes in; the looters all steam through,
Another jean store ransacked in a fleeting second or two,
Rush it, rush it, deal with it, they’re kicking out the glass,
Then pulling at each other to make sure that they get past.

To make sure their greed gets in the store, there’s nothing they won’t lift,
The carnage quick yet organised, their larceny is swift,
Shouts and screams and whooping prove the sadness in the air,
Detached from our society, they really couldn’t care.

Sirens shriek like rape alarms but pilferers don’t mind,
They’re out to get their hands on anything that they can find,
Little shops are smashed up too; it’s not just the big chains,
Swarms of looting locust swoop, sending business down the drain.

An off-licence on Portland Street has had its guts ripped out,
Its owner standing shell-shocked, too scared to scream or shout,
His family business ruined as the marauding mob moves on,
They just can’t see the savagery in the crimes that they’ve just done.

Shop after shop is ransacked; streets crunch with broken glass,
No rioting Rangers fans are here and there’s been no IRA blast,
An evening of pure madness but we’ve got our own to thank,
Coz every single one of them was probably born a Manc.

Going on and on for hours, no tough tactics are used,
Market, Portland, Oldham Street systematically abused,
Yet the looters don’t look downtrodden, or like they need to eat,
They drip designer branding from their hoodies and their feet.

There’s young girls too among them, they really have no shame,
Posing for the film crews for their five minutes of fame,
There isn’t any argument or statement they want to make,
Not fighting for a movement, they just came here to take.

To cause panic on the streets of Manchester, the looters tore us apart,
But in the weeks that followed we saw true Mancunian heart,
The social sickness of that evening will always probably fester,
But the true people of this town will always heart Manchester.

Copyright©2011 by Phil Martin
All rights reserved.


When is it permissible, when is it allowed?
To take her up the Hilton, I want to do her proud,
But could it be too much too soon, I don’t wanna peak
What if she really likes it and demands it every week,

I’ll have to try and work out a way to get her in position,
Coz taking her up the Hilton is a tricky proposition,
I know that if we do it she would scream inwardly with delight,
But if she’s never been up there before it might give her a fright.

She might take it for granted or think that I’m too flash,
When is it appropriate; I don’t want to be brash,
Maybe she will love it but still it is too soon,
I should take her up the Hilton one special afternoon.

Coz taking a girl up the Hilton, requires a lot of thought,
Especially when officially we haven’t started to court,
I know deep down they all like it, they just don’t like to say,
But get the timing wrong and there’s a consequence to pay.

It’s a thing established couples do, too much for a first date,
She’ll think I do it with every girl and her like could turn to hate,
It’s something you build up to; get to know each other first,
Up the Hilton with a stranger could end up being the worst.

I don’t want her to think that I have become obsessed,
Or don’t want to do the normal things or that I am pest,
I’m not trying to impress her because it was good before,
I just know that she would love it and that’s my only flaw.

I’ll mention it in passing, after a few drinks,
Then look for a reaction, shock or seductive winks,
To try and gauge if it’s something she would be willing to do,
And if she doesn’t want to, I’ll say… I didn’t want to too.

It’s a gamble asking any girl, she might think less of me,
For trying too hard on our first date but I love Cloud 23,
I love the view and service and how the city lights all dance,
The champagne and the couple’s seats all add to the romance.

In fact that’s it my mind’s made up, we’re going in that lift,
And if it ends up nowhere or finishes in a rift,
Then nothing ventured nothing gained, for a while I will be skint,
But if we end up getting married I want our first date to be mint.

Copyright©2011 by Phil Martin
All rights reserved.

Doorway Under The Arches