Christopher Seddon 1942-2015

For this tree is a ladder and each branch a new rung

So, kids who once on branches swung 

They learned to climb

Did their time

Held tight – feeding each other

Like family – like brothers

I’m honoured to have done some work with Seddon Ltd.  They’re builders based in Bolton.

They Emailed me and asked me to come in for a meeting with the prospect of doing some work together.

I thought, building firm and poetry??? – Sounds good.  Sounds interesting.  So I tweeted

“Anyone done any work with Seddon Ltd?” and within 2 minute i was tweeted 4 times by people saying

“Yes, Seddon.  They Built my mothers Care Home and were brilliant.”

“Yeah Seddon, they built a new block at our school – Bolton Firm aren’t they?”

“Seddon built the hospice my Gran was in and were wonderful”

All positive and all good. So, i went and met them and was amazed.

I discovered that they’re a family owned Building company that span three centuries and 5 generations.  Established in 1897 when George and John Seddon, two orphans,  who climbed out of a coal mine and set up their bricklaying firm in Little Hulton. The business now delivers nearly£200 millions of building projects across the UK employing nearly 800 people.

But, Seddon are not your average business – their priority is not profit and their values run right through everything they do

To behave as a family, providing support to our customers, staff, supply chain and stakeholders

To act ethically and do the right thing regardless of personal consequence

To take the wider view in decision-making, looking at longer term rather than short term gains

To provide stability in the employment and training of our people

To enjoy what we do and have fun in doing it

 

I decided to write a poem about the history and ethos of the company and present it at an annual event organised by Seddon.

To write the poem, I worked with a range of their employees in their offices in Bolton but I also went out to building sites and talked to brickies and Sparks and apprentices to capture the essence of what they do – i.e. Build Houses.   Captured here by Granada Reports https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qQ0chgkoFlw

I worked closely with the family as well, notably with Jonathan Seddon, the Managing Director since 2007.  He amazed me.  Early 40’s, young family, learned his trade “hands-on” doing a YTS at the age of 16. First as a Brickie, then a Spark, then a plumber.  He learned the fundamentals of building houses. His dad treated him like any other employee, harsher most probably, so as no-one thought he was getting “special treatment”.  They guy still cycles to work.

I spent some time with Christopher as well, his father. He retired in 2007 but couldn’t resist continuing to be involved with the things that interested him at Seddon. But, he was the captain of the ship who had steered her through many years of growth and development and couldn’t just “let go” over night.

I was quite scared of him to be honest.  He reminded me of a really strict but decent Headmaster.  It was fear with great respect. He was sort the of guy who wouldn’t say a lot but what it did say, you listened and listened carefully. And, having done so much research on the company and it’s history and politic, I knew what this man had achieved and how hard he worked to achieve it.

I wrote a poem about Seddon and their history and ethos called “It Runs Right Through“.   A section of the poem focuses on Seddon’s work with Young People, something Christopher Seddon was passionate about. So passionate, he made Seddon’s commitment to delivering first-class apprenticeships part of the company’s DNA.

An apprentice bricklayer himself was later awarded an MBE for his services to apprenticeships and local charities he had worked for 56 years.

I’ll never forget delivering the poem to the family and company heads sat in the Board room at Seddon headquarters in Bolton – I was petrified that they wouldn’t like what i had written.

I read the poem…………….waited for a reaction……………………………………….. and Christopher stood up and walked toward the door but stopped in front of me, patted me on the shoulder and said

“You’ve done a great job.”

Nothing else mattered – I knew that if he like the poem, I’d “done a great job”

Sadly, Christopher died in August 2015 after a battle with Cancer.

Now, I could sit here and write endless lists of Christophers achievements.  I could write wonderful testaments to his character and tell you what a great man he was.But I’m not going to because it wasn’t his style and it isn’t Seddon’s style

However, to commemorate his life and most importantly, his commitment to working with young people, I’ve taken a section of the poem, worked with closely with Seddon staff and made a video that we believe champions the work Christopher.

 

Please feel free to share it –

RIP Christopher Seddon 1942-2015

Salford Song

A Salford son sang of Salford dirty

He sang of this town old

Of loving folk who still salt the earth here

Within a climate cold

 

No factory croft

No Gas works wall

Landscapes have changed

So’s the shape of the ball

 

And all the Champagne, Cigars and caviar of the incoming Noveaux Riche

Cannot buy A Taste of Honey

Where tradition runs rich and deep

 

Where you’ll still see the odd mongrel dog on the pitch

Smell Bovril at half time

Hear cold turnstiles go click

See rattles in hands

Small kids with freckles

Match stalk men from Lower Broughton

North Country Boys from Eccles

 

And a Mayoral Monkey driven in sane

Blyth Spirit from a Christmas past

Or will the underdog bite Again?

 

Predictions are useless

But the winner takes it all

The champagne cigars and the cavalcade of stars

In the FA Cup 3rd Round draw

 

Match of the Day

I’m probably the greatest footballer you’ve (n)ever met

Better than Pele, Cruff, Maradona, Beckham, Ralf Milne and George Berry all put together

Brazil wanted to sign me.  Holland wanted to sign me. Argentina wanted to sign me but me Mam said “stick with the paper round, son”

And she was right really – think about it, it was the 80’s

Perms, tashes, shell suits and really tight shorts – Not my bag man

So I played Amateur for years – If i’d have packed it in completely, i’d have been depriving the British public of watching a sporting genius at work

But, I always wanted to be on Match of the Day

It was and still is the best programme on tele

Old Gaz with his gags and puns and sincere face when needed. and hasn’t the boy aged well? I just wish Roy Keane was a pundit,  instead of on ITV.

Goal of the Month. Remember save of the season?  I love the music.

I used to stand behind the goal in North Stand at City, in my anorak with our Hughie and we’d know if it was on match of the day cos you’d see the cameras.

When there was an attack, I’d jump up and wave like a looney just so as I could be on MOTD. But I never was.

We had to stop going in the North stand though.  Not just because we were reds, we’d go city one week united the next, regardless.  It was because of Helen and that Bloody Bell she used to ring – i still think of her when my tinnitus is bad.

Same at old trafford – I’d stand on the tops of the Cages I was encaged in (joke really, when you think about it) and I’d wave like a windmill, Mick Channon style…. just so as we could be on MOTD.

And i’d sit there on the Saturday night – staring at Jimmy Hills chin waiting to be on TV, in my anorak.  But i was never on.

Years went by, I had to resort to playing Fatboy Baldy football.  Or, you might know it as 5 a side.But i always wanted to be on MOTD.

I must admit, I gave up all hope.  My right knee was wrecked and like Gorgeous Gaz’s big toe, it ended my career. I’d never be on MOTD!

Depression did set in, I must admit but it’s not uncommon.  it happens to loads of sporting geniuses when they finish.  Look at Best, Tony Adams, David Icke.  You’ve gotta find something you enjoy doing and keeps your mind off the game.

So, I decided to take up poetry.

I was lay baking on a beach in Africa last week and My phone rang.

“Hello.  is that Mike Garry?  This is Mr Match of the Day and we want you to write a poem about The FA Cup game between Salford and Hartlepool”

“Yes this is Mike Garry and Yes I will write that poem.  But can I have a bit of a game?  I’ll just come as sub in the 94th minute”

“No.  But i’ll get one of your favourite singers from one of your favourite bands to read the poem on MATCH OF THE DAY.”

“WHO?” I said excitedly

“Tim Burgess of the Charlatans”

“Beautiful Friend – One of my all time favourite tunes of all time.  12 studio albums spanning 25 years – quality single after quality single, everyone one of them weaving a seamless sound rhythm and dance and lyric. A musical diary of my adulthood.

Yes i’ll do it Mr Match of the Day”

So, I did it – And Tim’s reading it tonight on MATCH OF THE DAY – on BBC1 – 7.30 -.

and I’m wearing my anorak

( And i’ll post the poem on here after it’s been broadcast )

Skaken and Stirred Poetry Tour

I’m on tour with a group of amazing Canadian Poets and novelists in October

Ian Burgham

Jeanette Lynes

Steve Heighton

Catherine Graham

shall be sharing their work with me in a number of Venues throughout the UK

Manchester – Chorlton Library – Monday October 12th – 6pm –

London – Fyvie Hall, University of Westminster, Regent St London – Tuesday October 13th – 6pm –

Edinburgh – Scottish Arts Club, Rutland Square – Saturday October 17th 6pm –

Edinburgh – Summerhall Arts Centre – Sunday October 18th

Please come along, listen to some live literature and share the words and work of Canada .

I’m a Doctor of Education now

IMG_6838

I’m incredibly proud to be honoured by the Manchester Metropolitan University.

I’m now a Doctor of Education.

I was given the award in July with all the other graduating students from the Department for Education.  It was great to watch new teacher after new teacher being handed their award.  I love teachers.  They do an amazing job but don’t get the credit or money they deserve.

I did an acceptance speech off the cuff

I find when I write things down and read them, they sound daft, so i made it up on the spot and tried to do it as naturally as possible.

I think it worked

The whole graduation ceremony is here and my introduction and speech begins 43 minutes in –

https://mmutube.mmu.ac.uk/media/MMU+Graduation+2015+Ceremony+18+LQ/1_avk5m6rn

Hope you like my hat

Yesterday

Yesterday

Leila’s small hands

could not hold onto the branch any longer

And she

Slipped

Slipped through a sunshine sky

Silently and in slow motion

And i Froze to the spot

A freshly sculptured statue

Still damp to the touch

Mouth open

Screaming her name in silence

September 19th 2001

The Passion of St Anthony – (an article i did for Q Magazine)

I read a lot, write poems and I’m a qualified librarian.

That’s probably the uncoolest introduction to a blog you’ve ever read but if it’s cool you’re looking for, you’re looking in the wrong place.

Joy Division weren’t cool when they first started. They were a wannabe punk band high on seeing the Sex Pistols at the Lesser Free Trade Hall in Manchester. Then Martin Hannett got hold of them and created the Joy Division sound. Ask Hooky what he thought of Unknown Pleasures when he first heard it.

The Smiths weren’t cool when they first started. Morrissey wore National Health spectacles, cardigans and a hearing aid. I knew Morrissey. We were friends for a while. I worked with his dad who once asked me to

“Have a word with him because all he ever does is sit in his bedroom writing poems…… like you”

So I had a word with him.

We shared poems.

Then the Smiths exploded. It wasn’t my fault.

I worked with Johnny Maher (as he was then) but later became “Marr” so as not to be confused with the drummer of Buzzcocks.

We worked in Stolen From Ivor, a small chain of uncool boutiques selling cheap denim. He was known as

“Johnny Marr – Superstar”

Due to the fact that he constantly told everyone how famous he was going to be because he had……….“the greatest band in the world”.

Smart lad that Johnny Marr.

I always admired him. I still do.

That’s two bands born and bred within minutes of each other that have fundamentally shaped the direction of modern music. What I believe unites these two bands is “words” and a language that goes beyond language. A poetry.

I work with 10,000 young people a year in schools, colleges, prisons and Universities. I try to get them to fall in love with words. I try to emphasise the importance of language and expression by using poetry, literature and music as the catalyst to their understanding.

Occasionally, I’ll use the lyrics of a song but present them as a poem, on paper and read aloud. We’d spend some time looking closely at the words, exploring sound, poetic technique and meaning. Then, I’d play them the tune. The words alone are usually powerful enough but when they hear it with music, they’re blown away.

I see epiphanies on a daily basis where young people hear the words to a poem or a song that strikes a chord and changes their lives. Words have the power to do that.

I receive emails on a weekly basis that all start with

“You won’t remember me but you came into my school and read me poems and hearing those poems have changed my life”

I’ve worked with John Cooper Clarke for nearly 5 years, travelling the world doing a similar thing but on a different kind of stage. Our tour manager is Johnny Green, the legendary tour manager of the Clash and a great writer in his own right. We spend a lot of time talking about writing and why books, poetry and literature are so important to us.

I’m lucky enough to be working with Philip Glass. He came across my poetry when Bernard Sumner of Joy Division and later New Order asked me to perform with him at the Carnegie Hall in New York as part of the Tibet House Benefit in 2014.

I stayed with Philip when visiting New York in May. We are working on a Libretto about Alan Turing, the inventor of the computer. He wasn’t cool. He was the original Geek.

My favourite room in Philips house is an incredible library where I spend most of my time reading and writing. His mother was an English teacher and later went on to be the school librarian. It’s no coincidence.

Philips music contains a different kind of language – a language that goes beyond words but if you listen carefully and in the right frame of mind, you’ll hear the words. I’m reading his autobiography at the moment. It’s called “Words without Music.”

Words. I keep coming back to words. Joy Division, New Order, The Smiths, John Cooper Clarke, Philip Glass, Alan Turing and Tony Wilson.

Tony Wilson or Anthony H. Wilson as he was known in some circles, was a TV presenter, the brains behind Factory Records and The Hacienda, a catalyst for the Acid House movement and the greatest youth worker I ever had.

He loved words, books, libraries and literature. He studied English at Cambridge and quoted everyone, from his favourite philosopher Boethius to his favourite Lyricist, Shaun Ryder.

He was a genius with language and knew that the ability to express yourself was key to success. A bit like Alex Ferguson (another great book lover) who constantly told his players to “Go out and express yourselves”.

Tony died on August 10th 2007 and soon after Terry Christian, another lover of words and books, phoned me up and asked me to write a poem to celebrate his life and his achievements.

I did and I called it St Anthony after The Patron Saint of all things lost.

I began performing it as part of my live shows and people liked it.

Peter Saville, the greatest designer in the world, described it as “Genius”.

Joe Duddell an amazing composer and Professor of classical music, who’s worked with the likes of Elbow, Richard Hawley and New Order, heard me performing it, approached me and asked if he could put some music to it. He did and the result is St Anthony – An Ode to Anthony H. Wilson.

If you get a chance have a listen –

http://www.saint-anthony.co.uk – it’s really Uncool.

Cool. The greatest Oxymoron in the world.

Mike Garry is Associate Fellow and Artist in Residence at the University of Westminster.

Was recently awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Education for his poetry and work with young people

He has published 3 books, Men’s Morning, Mancunian Meander; God is a Manc and can be found on stage supporting John Cooper Clarke or at a school, college, and university near you.

http://www.mikegarry.co.uk

Blog at WordPress.com.
The Esquire Theme.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 8,680 other followers