Le Tour De Yorkshire

I was recently asked to join the Tour De France when it came through Yorkshire – Not as a cyclist, as a poet. BBC Radio 4 wanted to make a programme about the tour from a poetic angle and asked me, John Cooper Clarke, Luke Wright, Phil Jupitus and Simon Day to follow the tour and write poems about it. So, on the saturday we followed the Peleton (as it’s called) as it travelled through Harrogate and on the sunday we went to beautiful sheffield.

We performed live both nights at the theatre royal in Harrogate and the Town Hall in sheffield. Our MC for the evening was Johnny Green (tour manager of the clash, writer and keen cycling fan) and we were also joined on stage by Matt Stevens, british cycling champion whose created a brilliant character called Kenny Van Vlaminck (spoof belgian cyclist, check him out, funny as…..for sure) and Earl Broad doing his own slant on Alan Bennet.

I didn’t really get the cycling i.e. standing there for hours waiting for a bunch of geezers in tight brightly coloured tee shirts and shorts to come flying past at 100 mph. I thought the true winner was Yorkshire and the Yorkshire people who turned out in their thousands to cheer and shout and drink and celebrate and here’s the poem i wrote to celebrate the success of Yorkshire as hosts – Well Done Yorkshire

Le Tour De Yorkshire

I saw athletes meet and walk the cobbled streets
Roaming soles were pounding Roman roads
I saw Olympians stand hand in hand
Medal winners standing toe to toe
And Calves did burn on Leyburns hairpin turns
In Glossop the cycling seeds were sown
And not a single frown could be found in any Yorkshire town
And kids are smiling everywhere you go

In East and West Witton the cycling shorts don’t fit them
Big boys in tight tee shirts look daft
But they don’t care if you wanna point and stare
Cos this weekend we’re all game for a laugh

In Constable Burton the locals are certain
They’ve serve the greatest bitter in the land
And they’re probably right cos on Saturday night
Neither man nor woman could stand

I saw one kids face look like he’d just won the race
I saw his gran stood behind him weeping love
His mams eyes were on fire cos his dad’s just retired
To the golden Peloton up above

I saw smiles for miles from a million Yorkshire guys
A million twinkles in the eyes of Yorkshire girls
I saw Sheffield streets where secret lovers meet
Become the centre of the cycling universe

And in Harewood and Ottley I’ve heard Parisians Cockney
Singing Allez allez allez allez go
The tea was sweet and milky
In both Burley and Ilkley
And the tea girls in Bettys know
There’s only one thing better than a yellow sweater
There’s only one thing sweeter than a Yorkshire cup of tea
And that the love your land is like the love of your mam
And that love cannot be beat

Dr John Cooper Clarke at The Palace Theatre in Manchester

Tonight is a special night – John Cooper Clarke is in town and how appropriate that the King of poetry plays the Palace.  Its the first gig he’s done in Manchester for a long time and it’s been sold out for months due to the love this city has for the man – It’s going to be very special.

I went to the Palace as a kid to watch Pantomimes with my Nana and Grandad and later to see bands like The Smiths and Lou Reed.  It holds a special place in my heart.  John told me last night that he saw Bob Hope there as a kid and people like Julie Garland, Noel Coward and even Laurel and Hardy have made appearances since it opened 123 years ago.  IT is a beautiful old school theatre that even survived a german bomb direct hit in 1940 so no matter what John Cooper Clarke and Friends throw at it tonight, it will continue to be one North Wests premier theatres for another century at least.

John’s brought along a few friends as special guests starting at 7.30 with the incredible Ren Harvieu – A Salford girl with the voice of Northern angel.  Ren will be followed at 7.50 by the wonderful sound of Dave Formula and the Finks an amazing combo fronted by Dave Tomlinson who played Keyboards with Magazine and Visage but Dave and the Finks will not “fade to grey” tonight.

After 8 at The Palace it’s time to celebrate “The Word” and who better to start the poetics than Luke Wright – What Luke hasn’t done in the poetry world isn’t worth doing.  He organises the poetry tent at Latitude and has for 10 years, had numerous sell out shows throughout the UK, toured with Johnny Clarke for years and regularly reads his poems on Radio 4’s Saturday Live.  His latest book “MONDEO MAN” was one of the biggest selling poetry books in the UK last year and his live performances are epic and unmissable – so don’t miss him because tonight, he’s an honorary Mancunian.

The poetry continues with Mike Garry – a young Manchester lad with great potential – He played with New Order at the Carnegie Hall last month, with Philip Glass at the Melkweg in Amsterdam last week and is due to play the Nights and Days festival in the Big Sur in California with Philip Glass and friends in the summer.  Not to be missed

There will be a short interval where you can buy drinks from the bar and Merchandise from the Merchandise stands so don’t forget to bring some spends for books, CD’s and T-Shirts – you wouldn’t want to miss out – Mike and Luke will be on hand to sign and dedicate books for the beautiful manchester public during the interval and at the end of the show.

Then the Main Event – Dr John Cooper Clarke – What can i say about him that hasn’t already been said – He’s got a great golf swing – I bet that’s never been said of him before – and here’s the proof.

Today should officially be John Cooper Clarke day in Manchester because the King has returned to his Palace – so lets get tweeting face booking and MSN messaging (Yeah, I”m down with the kids) all about it and don’t forget to get down early to watch Ren, Dave, Luke and the Youngster Mike Garry – Let’s celebrate “the words”



Science STROKE Art – Action on Stroke Month

I did a talk at the Science STROKE Art Conference at Manchester Town Hall last thursday.

I try to speak as honestly and personally as possible because real stories of real peoples lives are the most powerful so i spoke my dads stroke and how it affected him and his family because Stroke doesn’t just impact on the person who has the stroke but all those close to them.

I spoke about how i became a carer at the age of six of how we as a family cared for him, dressed him, washed him and picked him up when he fell and my dad liked a few guinness with his Diazepam so fell a lot.

There was no stroke association when my dad had his stroke, just horrible day centres where old men dribble and older woman maniacally and dementedly shouted the names of their long lost  husbands “CHARLIE, CHARLIE ARE YOU THERE CHARLIE”  so my dad lost himself and dealt with his depression with alcohol.

There were some great speak speaker at Science STROKE Art conference – i loved what Dr Chris Steel said about the treatment of stroke survivors when he was a young doctor and the way they’d be sent to a Geriatric ward and receive no treatment whatsoever, just drugs.  Thank god that so much has changed and that survivors are living lives to the full after stroke and that is so evident with some of the poetry classes i do with stroke survivors.

I loved Pieter Egriegas talk about his experience of life after stroke and music was amazing as is his book.  But my favourite talk was by Dame Nancy Rothwell.  Professor Rothwell is President & Vice-Chancellor at The University of Manchester and she spoke so positively about the research currently taking place into treatment for stroke survivors that could fundamentally change and improve their lives after stroke.  The key to reducing the the effects of stroke is speed of treatment so get to know the symptoms

  • Face – the face may have dropped on one side, the person may not be able to smile or their mouth or eye may have drooped
  • Arms – the person with suspected stroke may not be able to lift one or both arms and keep them there because of arm weakness or numbness
  • Speech – their speech may be slurred or garbled, or the person may not be able to talk at all despite appearing to be awake
  • Time – it is time to dial 999 immediately if you see any of these signs or symptoms


Stroke is no longer something that old people suffer, my big strong dad was 40 and i’m meeting 20 year old stroke survivors on a weekly basis.  I think it is amazing that so much good research is taking place and that organisations like the Stroke Association are representing the views, opinions and needs of stroke survivors.

may is action on stroke month and there’s loads of interesting things going on http://www.sciencestrokeart.co.uk

check em out 

Chanson d' Aventure - Science stroke Art 2014

The final poem in a series of 3 poems about Stroke written by Seamus Heaney – I read some of Seamus’ poems last night as part of the Science stroke Art 2014 conference at Manchester Town Hall – Like Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell said last night, it’s amazing how art and science act as bedfellows to recovery for many neurological illnesses. I’ll be writing more about that later but have a read over brunch and take it easy on the digestives.

Science Stroke Art 2014

This is the second poem of Chanson d’Aventure – a poem by Seamus Heaney about Stroke
May is Action for Stroke month and last night I spoke at Science Stroke Art 2014 conference at Manchester Town Hall and i shall be writing about the conference later but have a read of this over breakfast and remember, go easy on the fried Egg & Bacon

Science Stroke Art 2014

Chanson D’aventure is a poem that Seamus Heaney wrote about his stroke. It is in three sections – here’s the first one. I read it at the Science Stroke Art conference at Manchester Town Hall tonight – I shall be publishing the other two poems in the sequence tomorrow and writing about developments in treatment for stroke survivors but have a read of this first and absorb it overnight – Mind the bugs don’t bite x

Derby Day – Remember, We are all Immigrants ………well most of us

Originally posted on Godisamanc's Blog:

MUTV approached me and asked me to write something for the derby – they didn’t say it directly but they implied that they wanted me to put the boot in on city, you know take the mick.
Who do these guys think i am? I am a poet a man of dignity, integrity and an interpreter of truth and justice. A man who loves this city equally with passion and balance. Also, loads of my friends are blues, my father in law is a blue. I grew up a stones throw from Maine Road. I used to mind cars in Clinton and Aston Avenue, sell the “Pink” in the Sherwood & the Claremont on Claremont road and the City Club while Bernard manning and Cannon and Ball told shite Jokes in velvet dickie bows and later drank in the Parkside rubbing shoulders with the “City Cool cats” and the “Maine…

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