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Joe Bowman

By Alan Baker

Based on the reminiscences of the poet’s mother, Mary Baker, née Bowman, born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1923, about her father.

When aa was a bairn, aa’d gan to the glassworks

to bring him his bait,

aa’d watch him work, blow the bubbles

of hot glass.

When he had nee job, nee money for drink,

he’d help wi’ the hoosework, scrub the floors.

When he worked, we’d never knaa

what payday would bring.

Me ma would watch the clock; when it struck six,

‘That’s it! He’s not coming hyem.’

We didn’t knaa when we’d see him again,

the morra, or for a canny few days,

till he’d spent aall his pay

on beer and pitch-n-toss.

What would we eat?

A body cannit live on fresh air.

When the women in wor courtyard

hord what happened, they’d send thor bairns roond;

they’d knock on the door wi’ a few coins:

‘me Ma says to give this to Mrs Bowman.’

Aa divint blame me Da, he had a hard life;

he had sixteen brothers and sisters

a faather who beat his mother,

started drinkin as a bairn,


an when he was oot o’ work, nee money

for drink, he was a lovely fella.

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