As part of the Ghosts Project we have been running workshops at venues across Manchester, making use of the interviews and photographs the Project collected. The following is work written during some of these workshops.
It was probably the best club ever –
Let’s not forget the Hacienda,
I’m a B-boy for life, won’t be no other,
I would break-dance on the floor and attract Madonna,
The early eighties, those were the years
When I would spin on my head,
Do a backspin, then a windmill and literally cause an atmosphere,
The bouncer would say, “Easy Mike,
Ya takin’ up de dance floor
Doin all that spinnin and flippin,”
I’d say “Ya betta just chill, cos I’m still trippin!”
Then at two in the morning at the end of the night
It was straight to the Reno,
We be skankin to pure rub-a-dub,
Hulme and Moss Side came alive,
It’s five in the morning and we still there givin it the jive
“Where’s the shebeens? Where’s the blues?”
The police – ‘dutty babylon’ – wanted clues,
It’s 6.30 in the morning, mi ‘ead’s still spinnin around,
Can’t believe I was only 15 and
My top night, it only cost me £5.
Excuse me, but I’m new here,
I feel like an innocent in this land…
Could you help me, lead me,
Possibly guide me with a knowing hand?
It seems like I’m walking through a fog,
A man blinded, with no use for sight…
I’m afraid to step one foot forward,
Confused, do I go left or to the right?
You seem to know your way around,
So firm of step and very self-assured…
If I’m right then you know the answers,
So surely, friend, you’ve been here before?
I promise I will not be a burden,
No monkey resting upon your back…
Just don’t leave me here a-wandering,
I’ve come this far and your help is all I ask.
Everyone so far has closed their curtains,
And I’ve no light to guide me home.
You’re the first person that I’ve met
Who’s stopped to listen on this strange, lonely road.
Didn’t meet my Dad until I was fifteen,
He went out for a paper…
An’ didn’t come back!
Where did he go;
Why didn’t he come home;
Was it my fault, didn’t he love me?
That’s all I asked.
He came out of Africa,
Right after a war,
Settling in England, to find love,
Build a life.
Yet what he had, it wasn’t enough.
He became a bigamist,
With numbers two and three ‘wife’.
The price of which?
Well, I got cast aside, as did my mum,
Just one more broken home with no father in sight;
It was hard yet we made it,
We battled through,
With me swearing if I met him we’d fight.
That day finally came,
But I had troubles of my own,
Didn’t feel love,
Nor like fighting, all my anger was gone.
We talked like strangers,
Or adults, if you like, then I walked away,
At least he didn’t call me his favourite son.
Being raised in a kind
Of sundown town,
Where blacks weren’t welcome
As night came around;
By day, being half-caste,
I was kinda ‘alright’,
The locals only became bigots
With the fading of the light.
It wasn’t all that hot,
No rural Mississippi,
Yet old habits die hard
In their place, their country.
People you knew,
Polite an’ decent by day,
They just burnt deep inside,
The bigotry kept at bay.
Drink played its part,
The courage it gave;
Though it was only a factor
In the way they behaved.
Being mixed-race back then
Only brought cursory glances,
In the sun they let it be;
It was only as dusk fell
That they thought with white hoods…
Of long burning crosses,
Of black fruit dangling from trees.
Vicious abuse, regular foot-chases,
Sometimes a lot more,
It kept you alert, on your toes,
Seeking out well-lit places.
Aye, as the sun went down slowly
In that quaintly quiet northern town…
You soon knew you were different,
Whatever shade of brown.
Hey there, World, don’t be afraid,
I’s the same as you ‘cept I’m a Moss Side boy.
The only gun I’ve ever seen is plastic,
Used for games, we called it a toy.
Hey there, Neighbour, don’t look so alarmed,
I’m not a danger just ‘cos I’ve got locks…
Don’t be judgemental, just give me a chance,
It’s just a different cover on the front of my book!
Hey there, Society, go take a look at yourself,
You need to relax, ‘n’ show a lil’ faith;
Get rid of the complex, stop the persecution…
Learn to see we’ve a right to this place.
Hey there, Decision Makers, you should be aware,
We’ve escaped the ghetto, we’ve crossed over the tracks…
We’re now a part of the fabric of this area;
You policies are old, relics, things of the past.