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Wednesday 9 July 2008

Shining shoes at Waterloo, his medals at his side.
Jon was born in Salford in Eighteen ninety-five.
His Daddy came from Ireland a digger of the ditch -
The Ship Canal to Manchester -
that kept that city rich.
His Mammy was a mill lass in Ancoats Lancashire
She worked long days for little pay -
nothing much to cheer.
Jon's Grandpa was a Bargee -
on The Bridgewater
carting coals from Worsley to dirty Manchester.
By Nineteen ten, Jon’s schooling done –
an apprenticeship that was no fun …
from early morn to after dark
at an engineer's in Trafford Park.
At eighteen he went to France
to fight the German might.
Jon lost all his pals there but he came back alright!
He's got one leg to stand on
but man can't live on pride
shining shoes for farthings his medals at his side.
AS 1991
Waterloo is a railway station in London.
A Bargee lived and worked on the canal barges.
The Bridgewater is the oldest proper canal in England.
Ancoats is an area of Manchester where many cotton mills stand.
Trafford Park had many factories.
Farthings are old money, four farthings = one penny.
The Medals are from the first world war 1914-1918.


  1. whose praise Great Britain loudly chants...

    good ballad with a distinguished lineage, see:

    Arthur McBride - trad.
    John Brown - Dylan
    Sam Stone - John Prine

    especially Sam Stone, the best anti-war song ever.

  2. Thanks Richard, there's some BIG names there!

  3. Excellent rhymed "ballad" with a very human touch.

  4. Leonard, Many thanks You're too kind..

  5. Wonderful rhythm and rhyme here. A great poem!

  6. Thanks Jane Doe, I started reading your story and got cut off, will come back later.

  7. A sad story with the cadence of a march.

  8. you could march to that tempo!

  9. Perfect tempo Sweet talker! Enjoyed reading this very much. Your glossary is handy. ;) Yoy made me relieved he came back ok, even though he lost all his friends, including his leg. Great story!

  10. Hi Linda, I thought it was a sad story too.

    Thanks Pauline, I'll chant it too myself as I march along..

    Hi Texasblu, many thanks for your comment and glad the glossary came in handy.

  11. Beautifully done. And it could have been said for so many on my side of the Pennines, too.

  12. Thanks Anthony, yes so many lost and many good Yorkshiremen too.

  13. Your poems are so specific. Thats what I like about them!

    tears trickle slowly

  14. Excellent. Sounds like the American Civil War ballad, When Johnny comes marching home

  15. Thanks Gautami, I never thought about them like that before.

    Hi HL, thanks for the compliment!

  16. I knew you'd have the knack for a prompt about tempo! this is nicely done - a nice story.

  17. Good story, well told and I like the fact it traces out so many places i know in Manchester...

  18. Thank you Sister AE, I think you're the first one to notice - I'm on my way over to your blog right now.

    Thanks Crafty Green, I like to write about places I know about too..

  19. A great tribute to one of the many unsung heroes. Sadly , not many remain now.

  20. Yeah, thanks Stan, Good to hear from you, I was getting worried.

  21. This is great - (The glossary was a great help to this Yank)

    Also, thanks for your kind comment.

  22. Hi Moe, glad you found one you liked.

    - did I mention that the Manchester Ship Canal is thirty five miles long and twenty eight feet deep and was opened by Queen Victoria in the 1990's?

  23. The Manchester Ship canal was officially opened by Queen Victoria on May 21st 1894.


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