SANTA CAME FROM HALIFAX
Thereís not many people know this
But I swear itís really true
Santa was born in Halifax
His fatha worked up chimneys
Sweeping Ďem and that
His mam swept up at Rutterís Mill
In a pinny and a hat!
But Young Santa had ambition
Said ĎSweepingís not for me!
Am guin intoít wholesale toy trade
An Iíll get toít top oít tree!
His fatha said ĎNow Santa
Donít get ideas above thi station
But Santa said ĎIím gunna deliver toys
To a grateful nation!í
He started small, did Santa
A parcel or two to Shelf
Delivered on a Christmas eve
With his mate Nick the Elf.
Then word got round the valley
That toys could be had for nowt
From a fat bloke down a chimney
With a beard and a soot-stained coat.
So children started writing
Letters and requests
And Santa read Ďem on tísofa
In his flat cap and his vest;
And him and Nick took all the toys
On the back of Santaís bike
And delivered Ďem throughout Yorkshire
From Tong to Heckmondwike
From Huddersfield to Tingley
From Barnsley round to Hull
From Giggleswick to Bingley
In weather cold and dull
And then one year the bike broke
And so they bought a sledge
And a bunch of Yorkshire reindeer
And Santa made this pledge:
ĎEvery Christmas Eve Iíll go
From Halifax round the world
Delivering toys down chimneys
With me White Rose flag unfurled!í
So when you look up in the sky
Every Christmas Eve
At Nick and Santa in the air
You really will believe
That Santa Came from Halifax
If you listen up, youíll know
Because heís shouting Eee By Gum
Instead of Ho Ho Ho!
© Ian McMillan, Dec'12, for Halifax Choral Society's
YOU CAN NEVER HAVE TOO MUCH POETRY
Every day you need your breakfast
And Every day you need a rhyme
Start the morning with a cuppa
And Every morningís poem time!
Poetryís essential, just like porridge:
Poems will make you smile, not curse
So I say start every morning
With a fine Full English Break-verse!
© Ian McMillan, 19.10.11, The Chris Evans Breakfast Show
I LIKE A WOOD
for Save Grenoside Woods campaign
Iíve got to confess I like a glade;
A tent made of leaves, a tree-shelter,
Somewhere to sit in the afternoon shade
And say, quietly
I do like a glade.
Iíve got to confess I like a copse;
A branch of a twig office, a root-shed
Somewhere to sit where time just stops
And say, slowly,
I do like a copse.
Iíve got to confess I like a wood;
A trunk-palace, a bird-street
Somewhere to sit thatís fulfilling, complete,
And say, happily,
I do like a wood.
© Ian McMillan, 17.10.11
IN THE END, ITíS THE HOPE...
Each time they play we always think
Itíll be like 1966;
And it might be the crowd and it might be the drink
As the voices raise and the glasses clink
And the tactics fail and the passing stinks
But each time they play we always think
Itíll be like 1966
But the game is a mess and nobody clicks
And nothing connects when the players kick
And you feel slightly cheated and a little bit sick
And itís nothing like 1966;
'Cos in the end, itís the hope that defeats you;
In the end, itís the hope that deflates
In the end the expectationís more than you can bear
As you watch the match from behind your chair
With your dad and six of your weeping mates
And you punch the wall and you tear your hair
Because the hope is more than you can bear
And itís nothing like 1966
When theyíre running like chickens and heading like bricks
So hereís my advice: assume theyíll lose
When youíve sung the Anthem, sing the blues
Pretend youíre watching Rochdale, Barnsley
Peterborough Pompey Hull or Bury;
'Cos footballís up and down like a channel ferry
And youíre sometimes miserable and sometimes merry
If you donít build Ďem up you canít knock Ďem down
And if your goalie's a fool and your striker's a clown
And your midfieldís toiling and your managerís thick
And Itís not too much like 66...
Expect nothing. Expect nothing. Thatís McMillanís Law
Then youíll be really happy with a nil-nil draw...
© Ian McMillan, 19.6.10 for Broadcasting House (R4)
ITíS NOT WHAT YOU DONíT SAY, ITíS THE WAY YOU DONíT SAY IT
Opening sotto voce:
Oh, not that dreadful World Tonight
The programme makes me shudder
What...Iím on ? Oh, itís my delight
To present another
Splendid poem for the listening masses
From the upper and the middle and the working classes...
But the lesson from the last few days has been
That a single moment tips the scales
You might think youíre safe, you might hope youíre clean
You might mean what you say or say what you mean
But on a Rochdale street on the campaign trail
Life bowls a googly and removes your bails.
Remember Neil Kinnock when he stumbled in the waves:
The media scrutiny was intense
And a baseball cap did for William Hague
Reputations can head for early graves
And the problemís defined, with a lot of sense
As ĎEvents, dear boy, events...í
Harold MacMillan said that, and he spoke the truth;
Round the corner reality waits
For the grizzled old hand or the gilded youth:
Life drips in through your leaking roof.
No matter how you spout in the televised debates
Life breezes in to blow off your slates...
And now weíre nearing the finishing line
And the torch of public opinionís shone
In places where the sun donít normally shine
And the difference is extremely fine
Between the up and coming or the down and gone
So always check if the microphoneís on...
...well that was a complete disaster!
Could I have babbled any faster ?
What ? Weíre still on...
Er...Goodnight! And donít forget to vote!
I know. Iím sorry. Iíll get my coat.
© Ian McMillan, 30.4.10 for The World Tonight (R4)
THE TWELVE YORKSHIRE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS
On the first day of Yorkshire Christmas my true love gave to me
A tinsel muffler to put round me tree
On the second
2 racing pigeons
3 nippy whippets
4 flat caps
5 Dickie Birds
6 Grandmas grumbling
7 Grandads snoring
8 Banghra Dancers
9 parkin makers
10 Bowls full of Yorkshire pudding batter
11. Football teams struggling in the lower divisions
12 Michael Parkinson Blow Up Dolls
© Ian McMillan 25.12.09
Oh the dayís not nice and the dayís not pretty
Itís the day after Barnsley lost to Bristol City!
You might feel indifference, you might feel pity
Cos Barnsley let in two at Bristol City
But I feel a pain right in me nitty-gritty
And me heartís in a tangle like a bowl of spaghetti
You might dismiss it but I just canít forgetti
That Barnsley lost to Bristol City
Iíve got dreams: Iím a kind of Walter Mitty
And I dreamed that we might beat Bristol City
And Iíd celebrate by playing my new Scritti Politti
Album while I ate a plate of cannelloni
But we lost two nil to Bristol City
And I have to admit Iím feeling pretty....unhappy.
© Ian McMillan 8.1.09 for Five Live and The
Gabby Logan Show
THE BARD OF THE BUTTON TIN
Our house was always full of Burns;
We had his picture on a shortbread tin
That became my motherís button tin.
Itís strange the way a poet learns:
I asked my dad about the solemn bloke
On the button tin; my dad explained
About the bard, and he explained
How the poetís words came from the folk
He listened to, their songs, their rhymes,
Their stories in the Ayrshire air;
Dadís story hung in Yorkshire air
And then, as he did many times
My Dad recited ĎTo a mouse....í
In his dancing Scottish voice
And a poetís long-dead voice
Reverberated round our house
And the stern chap on the button tin
Could not suppress a Bardic grin.
© Ian McMillan 8.1.09 for The Times and
Rabbie's 250th Birthday
Before, when you got mail,
It was a chap in a cap with a sack packed full;
Before, when you researched
You sat and sweated in a library that was just this side of dull;
And when you booked your holidays
You stood there in a queue
Behind a family of five and a pensioner or two
And life seemed so much slower, somehow;
There was acres of last week and just half a glimpse of now;
Today you click
On a mouse
And you can shop till you drop without leaving the house
And now you send
Right across the globe and the photos of your dogs
Can appear on your site in the twinkling of an eye
And in a tick you get a picture back of Grandma saying Hi!
Framed against the backdrop of a California skyÖ
And itís been fifteen years from before to this
And now weíre living in a universe of constant cyber bliss!
And like the first fire in the cave
Or the first turning of The Wheel
The internet is changing how we think and speak and feel
And in the next fifteen years the net will turn and twist again
And go down murky sidestreets far beyond this Barnsley brain
And one thingís certain: the net is here forever,
Constant as taxes, unpredictable as weatherÖ
And before Iím dragged right under in a growing tide of spam
Iíve time for just this one last post: I click therefore I am!
© Ian McMillan, for BBC R4 Today, 7.8.06
Come friendly words and splash on Slough!
Celebrate it, here and now
Describe it with a gasp, a Ďwow!í
Of Sweet Berkshire breath
Slough is open, wide and green
With gorgeous buildings in between;
In the museum can be seen
Slough life, Slough death
Which show the history of a town
That people have tried to put down
By talking of it with a frown
And cruel sneers.
Itís true Slough Town donít always win
But losingís shrugged off with a grin;
Slough can take it on the chin
And has, for years.
Some towns are just seen as a joke
Through a fog of prejudicial smoke
Well, letís shut up these put-down folk:
Their opinions smell!
Ask Slough people if theyíre glad
To live in Slough, dismissed as bad:
Mum and dad and girl and lad
Are living well!
In 1196 it was known as Slo
and through the years itís had to grow:
people came here Ďcos they didnít want to go
On foot, in coaches, trains and cars
To the factories, houses, shops and bars
They came to play or work for Mars
And stayed, and bred.
Itís people, living lives with care
And breathing in the Berkshire air
That make a town think ĎYes, Iím there!í
And the sneering fails.
So, Children, Husband, partner, wife
Dismiss the poetís rhyming knife
Sloughís the place to live your life
So hoist Sloughís sails!
© Ian McMillan, for VOLVIC, 19.4.05
as an antidote to John Betjemanís take on the town