mike hardingMike (The Rochdale Cowboy) Harding.  Not much I can tell you about Mike Harding that you don't already know. Another man of many talents. (Must be summat in the water up here).  I am grateful to him for allowing me to share some of his works here with you. Go to to find out more about this talented Northerner.

Napoleon's Retreat From Wigan.

It was on the plains of Irlam
In the year of 1815
Napoleon was sat in his long-johns
Suppin Brasso wi' Josephine

He'd chewed his nails to the very quick
So he chewed 'em down ter the slow
He were chewin very hard, when up the back yard
Came a corporal, his nose all aglow.

'Hey bierd mon Capitane' he cried
'Sacred bleu, mor da lore, parlez vooks'
And Boney spat out a big lump of nail
And said, 'Bugger me whats to do?'

'Ze lads ave just cum back from ze wigan' said corporal
'Nous played um at ze billiards last night
'But ze Wigan lads cheated and give us wobbly cues
'And sewed all ze pockets up tight

'And they put lard ont' chalk and glue on nous balls
And stuffed up our wellies wi barbed wire
'Then they bunged up our muskets wi parkin,
'So we couldn't get the buggers to fire

'Then we had to walk 'ome after t'punch up
'Cos tram guard looked at us right black
So we had t'leg it all way back'

'Ecky le Pecky' said Boney
'I'll show em what teams the best'
And he had a quick chew of his fingernails
And shoved his hand up his vest.

He said dish out some spud guns and catapults too
And give t'lads peashooters all round
We'll burn down the pie 'n' pea shops
And raze chippies down to t'ground.

'Us'll run through Wiggin like a dose of Andrews
'We'll make um all tremble and quake
'We'll loot and we'll pillage, and we'll pinch things as well
'And we'll smash all the Eccles Cakes.'

Well he borrowed the Irlam muck cart
And some spuds to roast on t'way
And with all of his lads on t'wagon
He pointed the horse wiggin way

But the weather turned rotten to spite him
It snowed, rained and hailed and all t' rest
So Boney started sulking and chewing his nails
And sticking his hand up his vest

Soon the horse wouldn't go no further
It was weary and smelly and old
And it asked for a blanket and time and a half
And boots for working in t' cold

So they trapes through the snow for a fortneet
Dischuffed to the knickers they were
They'd icicles hanging from their nom de plumes
And frost all over their hair.

Well they trudged through the slush round the slagheaps
And up by t'canal and by t'pier
Till they came to big doormat in t' snow that said BOG OFF!!
And Boney said, 'Ey up lads were 'ere.'

But the gates of Wiggin was bolted tight
Said Boney, 'Phoo what a pest!'
And he had another chew on his fingernails
And stuck his hand up his vest

There he stood at the front gates of Wiggin
Frozen tears coming in lumps down his chin
And he kicked on t' front door wi is wellies in temper
And said 'Come on cheeky buggers, let us in'

But there on the front door of Wiggin
A notice he read with a groan
It said 'We heard as how you were comin
So we buggered off, there's no one at home.'

Well Boney he was right blazin'
But Wiggin were blazin also
Cos they'd left t'chip pan on t'gas ring
And Wiggin were all aglow

So they all got round and warmed up a bit
And as the flames grew higher
He took out a food parcel he got off his gran
And toasted his crackers on t'fire

Now Wiggin burned down to ashes
And it got cold so they had to retreat
And they'd eaten their boots and socks on t' way
So they had to walk home in bare feet

Retreating were worst part of t'business
'Cos' lads were starting to see red
And they hissed and booed when he walked up in front
And chucked snowballs at the back of his head

Now Boney were right pigged off wi all this
So that night he worked out a plan
He pawned all the lads muskets as they lay there in t' kip
And he came home on t' number 11 tram

It was dark when he got back to their street
And stars where twinecklin above
And Boney's passions rose and bursted all his buttons
As he thought of Joseffluent, his love.

He stomped the snow off his boots,
Opened the door and stuck his rifle in 't plant pot in t' hall
He said 'I'm home sweetie pie, light of mi life'
Josephine shouted- *##**# (rude things)

'Don't think you can go out bloody conquering' she said
'Stopping out all night wit' bloody lads,
'You're the worst bloody stop-out in Irlam you.'
Boney said, 'There's no answer to that!'

'You've not finished papering the lobby yet
This house is a right bloody mess,
'And you just sit there chewin at your nails
'And sticking your hand up your vest

Well she ran down stairs and smashed im in t' gob
And when he tried get into bed
She got right nasty and picked up the po
And emptied it over his head

So you see what they say in the hysterical books
Isn't always quite right
It was Boney who got deaf and dumb breakfast
And Josephluent who said 'Not tonight!'

For she made him sleep downstairs on the hearthrug
Tossin and turning without rest
Kicking the cat and chewing his nails
And sticking his hand up his vest.

© Mike Harding

The Wedding At Number 18 Clegg Street.

'Twas a fine foggy day in Septober
The rain it were bucketing down
So I picked up some buckets - and I flogged 'em outright
To the council for half a crown

Through the drizzle a form come walking
Clad in an old flannel vest
He wore nowt on his feet but bunnions
And a cauliflour pinned to his chest

What a man has to do for a living
He said as he passed slowly by
And I recognized him, it was Acroyd
I could tell by his roving black eye

'Cos it had roved off his head to his kneecaps
And was stuck there swivelling round
When lasses walked past it looked up, aghast
And at other times looked at the ground

'Ay up lad,' I said, 'eh, how are ya?'
He smiled, his teeth blackened and broke
He said, 'I'm marrying a lass in the morning'
I said, 'Its better than marrying a bloke'

So we went to the registry office next day
On back of bus - 59
The bride was too wide to get up and ride
So she run like bugg'ry behind

At Oldham the hill was against us
It was far too steep for the bus
So I held the brides aspidistras
And made it easier for her to push

To Cheers and Hurrahs she shoved us
Right to the top of the hill
But her eyelashesran down her face with sweat
So she'd a tash and mutton chops too

After the wedding was over
We went to the Clogger's Arms
Where they'd tripe and cow heel and parkin
Black peas and black puddin' on barms

The bride cut the cake with her false teeth
'Cos someone'd buggered off with the knife
But she didn't take care and they slipped - and flew through the air
Causing buggerations, trouble and strife

'Cos they landed on grooms fathers bald patch
And took a big chunk off his head
So he smashed father in gob with his hearing aid
And left her in't jelly half dead

At that the brides mother errupted
Without even excusing herself
And she poked the old fella, with a silver salt cellar
Which wasn't too good for his health

Now the nephews and nieces chucked parkin
And splurted black peas all over t'room
An the in-laws and the out-laws, they battled like buggary
And the brides mother throttled the groom

She were eight foot seven and six foot wide
And arms on her just like a bloke
She'd teeth like they hold the commandments
Ten of em - every one broke

© Mike Harding





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