Every Saturday, we’d go to see my nana
in her paisley pattern pinny
and my gan-gan,
and for years I never knew
why it smelled the way it did
round Leach Street -
the brewery sparging hops & malt
an unfamiliar smell to a child -
& it was a different world round there,
the cobbled streets clattering
to the milkman’s dray pulled by a donkey.
and Atlas mill,
a vision of hell
with blackened faces inside -
all noise & sparks & smoke & white hot iron;
with the butchers opposite - the two halves of a cow
cleft down the middle, hanging there
with kidneys still embedded
dripping blood on the sawdust floor.
The chip shop fish & chips
done in beef dripping
- and my, they were good,
devoured from yesterday’s news,
and drenched in salt & vinegar.
Then gan-gan turning the corner
down the end of the street and I’d run full tilt to him
& I’d sit on his knee as we sat on the doorstep
watching the world go by,
as he rubbed his baccy & filled a pipe
and a pint of tea waited patiently
there in a blue & white striped mug.
My, how things have changed,
and in the blink of an eye
or so it seems.