Thursday, 28 June 2012


The sessions at the Booth Centre homeless drop-in have become a tight focus of emotional intensity, as well as energy and creative making. As ever, we use the doorway of memory to enter a creative state. There's a rawness to these reminiscences at the Booth, because the remembering often comes with such a strong mix of regret and anger. But through those layers shines great, intense desire for living - however many clouds hang overhead, or however scarred the landscape it inhabits. Even in the middle of despair there is also joke-cracking and pleasure in shared experience. Writing this now, it feels impossible to catch the quality of these afternoons in words; even when we've faithfully recorded the words of all in the room. The quality of the atmosphere jumps from person to person, moment to moment, almost itself like a whirling child's game.


shelter: helti-skelter

take shelter

two or three years ago

built a den in a car park


king-size mattresses

Sister Lucy and Angela destroyed it cos

said the residents didn't like it

said the police complained


pouring rain dancing rain pouncing rain

getting cardboard making dens on the old

playing field, playing marbles to take over the best

go to the wasteland

bomb-dollars, all the material around you

the lads find wood, the girls find

slates to write in chalk

oh that pouring touring rain

ever play stepping-stones, hopscotch

in derelict roof-spaces?

a sheet against the wall

in the summer sheds

our hideouts, always in the summer sheds

the old mills of Salford

find a small room

cosy it up

cover it up

a secret entrance

there are more questions than answers

when I was age 10

moved to the countryside, moved to the Fens

farmers' kids for friends

kept dogs, rabbits, all sorts

hidden in the orchard

playing cards

gambled for matchsticks, smoked


whatever you could get your hands on

used to go shooting

(not peasants, put an h in it)

in the near field

an old farm hut

we met

girls bring curtains, boys nick stuff from home

told our parents we were camping

did our revising that summer

one day got there from school

the farmer had knocked it down


all those friends



long grass next to a brook

a turn in the river

old carpet for a roof


covered in bites


next to a stream

Angel Meadow

paupers graveyard

found a skeleton

with women's clothing

age 12 or 13

a tree-house

a ladder of nails



and sit

didn't know what to do when we got

to the top

to school with holes in my shoes

to school with wax-paper in my shoes

to school with cardboard in my shoes


they'd rap your knuckles.

rain pain take the strain

you British Bulldogs

one side against the other

knock the door and run away

play chicken

spin the bottle, pennies up against a wall

pooh sticks

tales of the Manchester riverbank

oh city blessed with canals

catch a friend


and run after em.

Group poem Booth Centre

22 June 2012

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