Friday, 10 February 2017

Stories of fame and much more ...... no 3 lost pubs and a shared interest

Now if you have been following the series you will know that Peter first met Mike Harding in 1975 on a ship in Pomona Docks, couldn’t make friends with him on facebook but listens to the Mike Harding Folk Show.*

But in the week that we launched Manchester Pubs Peter decided to invite  “Mike to join us on our Book Stand during the Manchester Beer & Cider Festival,  but unfortunately he was ‘Flat on my back with the bloody Lurgi’. but he went on to say "Just written a poem about old pubs". 

So I asked if he would send us a copy... and he did. 

In the poem one of the verses talked about the demise of two pubs being closed, he says the poem was 'Inspired by the loss of two pubs where I ran folk clubs in the late 60s The Old House At Home and The White Lion - both in the Lower Crumpsall / Blackley area'. "

Peter went on to say "That prompted me to dig out a painting I have done of the New White Lion as it was in 2008.”

And that is about it ......... leaving me to say having a Mike Harding poem on the blog is fun.

The Old Pubs

Change your hearts or you will lose your inns and you will deserve to have lost them. 

But when you have lost your inns drown your empty selves, for you will have lost the last of England’
– Hilaire Belloc, This and That, 1912

Rusting shutters blinded windows, stucco 
Failing, old brick scabbed and stained, and gutters
Alive with grasses, weeds; small trees are growing
From cold chimneys, the old pubs gone or going.

Singing smoky rooms where out of tune 
Joannas gave a Saturday night a little sauce.
Odd couples danced while others, dreaming, crooned 
Of heartache and romance. Corseted

Grandmothers belted bawdy ballads,  old
Geezers, made a few pints braver, rolled
Out something comic and the gang
Knowing every line still laughed and sang 

Along. Then, bundling out the door and long goodnights,
The pavements not so steady in the old lamplight;
Still singing quietly, that widow, solo 
Gets home feeling somehow less alone.

But algorithms say the ground’s worth more for flats 
And that, at closing time, is that. Now rats
Skitter through dust, scatter the echoes of lost laughter; 
Falling ceilings show the bones of rafters.

In a tower high above it all the suits 
With powerpoint and laptops show a future made
Of glass and steel and bottom lines; the roots
That bind are gone. In town and village

What were once the people’s places
Wait for the drill and wrecking ball;
For a brief while – sockets, empty spaces –
Then you wouldn’t know there’d been anything there at all.

Mike Harding © 2016

Painting; The White Lion, © 2008, Peter Topping,  Paintings from Pictures.


Facebook: Paintings from Pictures

*Manchester Pubs is available from 

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