Sean: Manchester



Over the past decade, I have been lucky enough to call this incredible city my home. A typical story which accounts for a huge proportion of the city’s population: I came to do a degree and never wanted to leave. I have a lot to say about the place and why it means so much to me. I hope you enjoy it, and apologies to my Scouse pals!


Ode to Manchester



Request Uber X, 2.4 is immense,
But I’m later than ever, ignore the expense,
Two minutes later he glides on the pavement,
I tell him my name and he stares at me vacant,
I climb in the back, why on Earth is he waiting?
This ‘Mike’s on his way to a two-star rating,
He slowly pulls out, ‘We have lift off!’ he smiles,
The horizon just mocks me, it’s gridlock for miles

Where you from?’ he asks with curiosity,
Is that kindness in his eyes or animosity?
‘I came from Essex, where it’s more than pretty,
But my heart’s been reassigned to a Northern city.
I could tell you’re from there, when you told me your name,
Did you skip through the meadows up the motorway lane?’
A piss-taking cabby? Feisty, Meow!
But your banter’s not bad, I’ll indulge you for now

I get it, you win, you’ve been here since birth,
But I chose to be here which enhances my worth,
You just happened to land on this part of the Earth,
It’s ten years now since I arrived on your turf,
Stubborn and Southern with a chip on my shoulder,
A wilful outsider just dripping with smoulder,
And I’m sure in a sec I’ll regret what I’ve told ya,
But I expected Neanderthals petting a boulder,
Wetter and colder, no better than Homer,
Stuck in their ways and as set as a molar’

You’ve got some cheek lad, where d’ya get off?
Not literally, cos now I’m pissed off.
Why do you dickheads look at us and scoff,
Like we’re all inbred, eating Smash from a trough?’
Cos we’re richer and spoilt and fear the unknown,
scared of the people that root for their own,
Community spirit? What is it? We groan,
We just want that big house in an affluent zone,
Where we’ll sit there alone and pass judgement on you,
The homeless, the foreign and Northerners too

‘So why did you come?‘ ‘Cos I saw through the ruse,
Through the bullshit, the piss-takes and all the abuse,
Choosing this place was me scratching an itch,
And I smacked a home run whilst rolling a six’

So how come you love it?’ ‘I didn’t at first,
It took me some time to get fully immersed,
But the first thing I did when I had any money,
Was head to the mile devoted to curry,
I’d been to Brick Lane when I was 16,
But this felt like a fairground comparatively,
Candy floss carts and punching machines,
Brandy stained pavements, a public latrine,
Where students convene to drink booze and eat naan,
A foul little district just oozing with charm

Yet it’s not just for shisha and cut price grub,
You’ll find poetry on the side of a pub,
‘Wait waterless wanderer…’ begins Lemn Sissay,
And it brightened my ride on the bus every day,
So with that round the corner it made me want more,
A whole other city for me to explore,
From the tarts of Deansgate and the Fallowfield Rahs,
To the Moss Side lads with the battlefield scars,
And the clubs and the bars and the musical streak,
Table’s for dancing on, parties all week,
It’s unique and it knows it, proudly unruly,
Two fingers to Cameron, perhaps not unduly

And truly it’s magic, but some of it’s bleak,
Stumbling medics erupt with conceit,
At crumbling academics with cups on the street,
They look back on their youth, the world at their feet,
And see ghosts of themselves on a familiar path,
Addictive personalities scuttling past,
Tragically poetic and utterly harsh,
So the social gulf is subtle but vast’

I know what you’re saying, can’t move for the homeless,
And those mad little students run round til they’re loanless,
But they think they’re invincible, need to take care,
Small fish from small ponds have got to beware,
Cos it’s a ruthless city if you’re too laissez-faire,
Awareness is key, just take it from me
‘Oh I know, I agree,
Believe me I’ve felt it,
I’ve learnt my lesson, I’ve been fucking belted

So I keep my head down when a fight’s on the cards,
I know who comes out at night with the stars,
The poets and the madmen,
The stoics and the sad men,
They co-exist in tandem,
With bad men and random lunatic man dem,
Plus I’ve seen the Hulme highwaymen, urban Dick Turpins,
Grabbing peoples’ Iphones and absolutely blurting’

Almost there now, Northern Quarter approaches,
Is the weekend still good? Cos I’ve heard it’s atrocious
‘Spilt ink from the Printworks has smudged it’s name,
Now they only wanna fight or have a brush with fame,
Searching for the Corrie girls with busty frames,
Cocaine on their nostrils in a crust of shame’
What the fuck’s your game, then? Why even bother?
‘Well there’s still some places not heaving with tossers,
Expensively clobbered but devoid of decorum,
Grabbing girl’s arses, avoiding the doormen

Keep your ear to the ground and keep roaming the place,
You’ll find clandestine groove-pits exploding with bass,
Sweat from the ceiling drips over your face,
As everyone closes their eyes and escapes,
The stress of their week and their work and their worries,
Customers, colleagues and minimal monies,
Seratonin is roaming in physical flurries,
Visuals glowing and giggles with buddies’

The next morning after, what’s it like then?
There’s zombies galore when the clock strikes ten
‘The daytime’s different, the writers emerge,
Hipster artistes on a fanciful surge,
Aspiring Byrons plunder Wifi from the coffee shops,
Claiming poverty, but their cappuccino’s toffee-topped,
Forcing glottal stops,
Shaved sides, floppy mops,
No greasy spoon in sight, they’re having salmon at the Koffee Pot

A soppy spot indeed but the best in the city,
A place where young creatives envy the gritty,
They’ve heard ‘Common People’, now their wealth is a pity,
Their whole persona crafted for this sorta role,
The starving artist with the tortured soul,
J Dilla on the speakers, haggis in the frier,
Oversized lumberjack checked attire,
More middle-class guilt than when you watch The Wire,
Entirely bohemian, their onus is silly,
Cos in truth it’s as bogus as Milli Vanilli’

That’s really quite funny, I’ve noticed myself,
They’re shopping in Oxfam, the clothes on the shelf,
Haggle for a teapot, then abracadabra,
They’ll go out on a whim, spend a grand on a camera
‘I’ve got to be fair though, absurd as it seems,
This city is swimming in artists and dreams,
And despite my opinions and gobshite rancour,
They’re part of the reason I’m stuck like an anchor

Look at the Cornerhouse, sadly departed,
Indie cinema, a home for the artists,
Films, exhibitions, quizzes and parties,
Some went for ideas, some for catharsis,
Marxist at heart, a community harness,
With so much more soul than the Odeon sparseness

And then there’s Canal Street, the maddest of clubs,
Where gay people party without getting judged,
And pull and let go and don’t get called faggot,
Where condoms are free with a lubricant packet,
And people feel proud and it’s not superficial,
Where victims are honoured with a candlelit vigil,
And the soul it is stirred and injustice lamented’
When you told me your love for this city you meant it’

‘You tormented me earlier! This place is my Mecca,
From the good to the bad to the totally mega,
From Crazy Bus Lady to laureate beggars,
To the market street hustlers flogging umbrellas

Where a maverick cyclist attracts local fame,
On a bike with a sub woofer strapped to the frame,
Blasting out tracks, but the cat’s not insane
He’s spreading the joy that we have to reclaim,
Drawing us in like a gnat to a flame,
A dub vigilante, a bat with a brain

And it really is astonishing what that can do,
It elevates me higher than Kathmandu,
The hero that we need, forget that Batman dude,
Noone’s mugging cos they’re all having a skank or two’

That’s you now mate, mind how you go,
Don’t go too crazy but don’t be too dull!
You’re not all that bad, I’ll admit it this once,
But your team’s prob’ly shite and you sound like a ponce
My response is a grin, a hearty handshake,
Exit the cab, re-enter the landscape

The world buzzes round me, boundaries evaporate,
Infinite scenarios everywhere I navigate,
Characters galore inadvertently collaborate,
I annotate my phone, high-heels groan, condescending,
I’m a glutton for this city… and the meal’s neverending


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