Monday, November 25, 2013

The Coach Driver's Tip: Working Men's Clubs and Trips to the Seaside

New Parks Social Club, Leicester 2013

Sheffield and Leicester had a tradition of reciprocal visits between the large number of well used working men's clubs that both cities housed.

These days there are relatively few such clubs left.

In Sheffield, my granddad Conneally was a member of The Bellhouse Road Working Men's Club. I'm pleased to see that, just like The New Parks Social Club here in Leicester, it's still going.

Every summer, along with my friends, I'd eagerly look forward to getting tickets for the annual club trip to the seaside.

Skegness, Mabelthorpe, Cleethorpes, Great Yarmouth.

I visited all of them one year or another on the club hired coaches or charabancs, as my nan called them,

A convoy of twenty or so vehicles making their way to what seem like very distant beaches.

Dinner, meaning lunch, vouchers and a few free fun fair tickets are handed out to us as we bump through the flatness of Lincolnshire towards the coast.

How long can the last remaining working men's clubs hang on? Times are tough but with a free juke box every Friday and disco karaoke the last Friday of every month along with live entertainment the likes of New Parks Social and Bellhouse WMC are determined to carry on.

the coach driver's tip
candy floss, dodgems
and vomit both ways

Paul Conneally
Leicester 2013

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Claustrophobia - Limited Edtion Print - Paul Conneally

'Self Portrait Great Malvern Priory Road North Car Park' 
Paul Conneally 2009

A new edition of 20 prints of this self portrait car park ticket by artist Paul Conneally from INVIGILATOR : MALVERN (2009) on used envelopes is now available.

Each numbered and signed print is on a different sized and type of used envelope and although an 'edition' each is essentially unique.

Price unframed including delivery is £15

 Contact: Love and Barley at

Friday, November 22, 2013

Pigeons and Tinsel

In the early evening, Town Hall Square has a two hour period stream of families on their yearly pilgrimage to see the Christmas decorations.

It's a wonderful place that the children will remember when they, years later, bring their own children to the same space, same time of year.
Much later, as Leicester's night time economy starts to close down and clubs spew their punters out on to the cold streets it's a different story.

An altercation of fists by the nativity. A couple canoodling and more behind a plywood Womble.

the long walk home
after the office party
pigeons and tinsel

Paul Conneally
Leicester 2013

Paul Conneally

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Sky Bus Home

Just for a change we go to the match on the bus. The Sky Bus from Loughborough to Leicester.

It's called the Sky Bus because it travels at least once an hour every hour of the day and night between Leicester, East Midlands Airport, Derby and back again calling at Loughborough in both directions.

It's £5.50 Loughborough to Leicester return.

The match was a disaster for us with Leicester City losing to local rivals Nottingham Forest. The day though was good with pints after the match in The Swan and Rushes and The Globe. We even had a steak and tiger pie each in The Globe. Yes a lost match but a good father and son day out.

The Sky Bus is a single decker with wi-fi. It leaves from St Margaret's bus station. It's about ten to eight when we board the bus. We sit towards the back where the seats are raised a little higher than those at the front. The kind of seats that little boys and men gravitate towards. The further back the better on a single decker whereas on a double decker, for me at least, the front seats upstairs are the bee's knees.

The bus fills up and just before we set off, as the bus driver turns her engine, a young woman, maybe 19 or 20 years old, gets up from her seat at the front and starts to walk down the aisle.

She has in her hand a brown paper bag which she proffers to each person she passes as she makes her way towards us and the back of the bus.

She's asking people if they'd like a sweet. Almost everyone takes one, little jelly coke bottles.

There is a buzz on this bus. People are talking and the ride is a happy.

We get off by the Territorial Army centre on Leicester Road, Loughborough. I notice that the bag of sweets has been placed by the driver for anyone getting off or on to take one.

Yes, a lost football match but we all gained something on the Sky Bus home and it was more than a sweet.

between stops
red berries
on a leafless ash tree

Paul Conneally
Leicester 2013

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Up on the Roof

“When this old world starts getting me down,
And people are just too much for me to face—
I climb way up to the top of the stairs
And all my cares just drift right into space …”
Up On The Roof – Goffin and King 1962
From now on it’s the roof for me when parking. Even in the rain.
There are not many outside free access urban vantage points to beat the top floor of a multi-storey car park.
This is Newarke Street Car Park, Level 10, the roof.
It’s currently my car park of choice for visits to Leicester City Centre.
I best like it empty.
I like it full of parked cars too.
I never take the lift.
Before a heavy meeting I always take five minutes or so by the margins looking out one way or another.
It sets me up proper for what might be coming and raises my mood.
Same after but one can’t linger as much as your car park ticket won’t raise the barrier to get out beyond ten minutes or so of paying.
That said there’s always time for at least one verse and chorus of “Up on the Roof” thrown up and out onto the Leicestershire breeze.
Today it’s not The Drifters running around my head but Kenny Lynch

“On the roof, the only place I know
Where you just have to wish to make it so
Let’s go up on the roof
Up on the roof”
Paul Conneally
Leicester 2013

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Next Door's Drive


Newarke Street Skyline from Newarke Street Car Park, Leicester 2013

In Leicester for a Holocaust Memorial Day meeting, I park on the roof of the Newarke Street Car Park.

It's a beautiful bright November morning and I look out from the roof across Newarke Street towards the centre of town.

I notice for the first time the pattern in the cast concrete frontage of what was once a textile business but is now Voluntary Action Leicester. Beyond it some of Leicester's skyline.

Concrete has been around in one form or another for over a thousand years. The Romans made and used versions of it,  even here in Leicester.

It's a much maligned material but when made and used well can be wonderful in both form and function.

Some say concrete has had its day but there is surely still scope for new types and uses as we creep forward into this still new millennium.

after all these years
mum's footprint 
in next door's drive

Paul Conneally
Leicester 2013

Holocaust Memorial Day - Voluntary Action Leicester - Paul Conneally 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Every Street

There's an Every Street in Ancoats in Manchester, and one in Bury too, but this Every Street is in Leicester.

How does a street get a name like Every Street? In Leicester, Every Street runs along one side of Town Hall Square, between Horsefair and Bishop Street. It was made in 1879 when the then town (it was given City status in 1919), full of civic pride, set out and built Town Hall Square with its fountain and gardens in front of the entrance to Leicester Town Hall. 

The councillors of the time gave this little street an impressive name to reflect its position as part of the political front face of an economically growing textile, hosiery and shoe manufacturing community. It was called Municipal Square East.

The name was hardly ever used by Leicester's residents. They all called it Every Street. Why? Well almost as soon as the square was completed a cab firm set up in Municipal Square East. The firm placed a large sign on the wall saying that anyone could get from this place in the centre of town to 'EVERY STREET' in Leicester by their cab service. Before long everyone referred to the street as Every Street.

Eventually the Town Hall politicians scrapped the Municipal Square East name and the street officially became and still is Every Street.

Paul Conneally
Leicester 2013

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The First Time

the first time
I left my son alone
seat G 110
the West Stand
Walkers Stadium
was a big moment
for both of us
a pukka pie and a coke
Paul Conneally
First published at Football Poets 2004
Photograph: ‘The Only Way Is… Pukka Pies’ Paul Conneally, Leicester, 2013

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Between Floors

a glance
between floors
the leaf on her shoe
Paul Conneally
Photograph: Newarke Street Car Park, Leicester – Paul Conneally

Sunday, November 03, 2013

In the Kitchen at Parties

after a few drinks
we get on to the subject
of weird dreams

Heather brings out a book
of dream interpretations
but there are no examples
of dreams as strange as ours

we each have a go
at solving the mystery
of the dreams 

all our efforts fail
the meanings of
these dreams it seems
will stay inside our heads

three thirty a.m.
the lady of the lake
drags me down again

Paul Conneally
Loughborough 2013

Photograph: In the Kitchen at Parties - Paul Conneally

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Women in a Web - Paul Conneally & Roberto Amoroso


Women In A Web - Paul Conneally & Roberto Amoroso 2011

Teachers and TAs taking part in a Splacist Workshop to explore and promote Learning Outside The Classroom.

The workshop was led by Paul Conneally and Roberto Amoroso at Forest Lodge Education Centre, Leicester.

We will make exchanges.
We will make adventures.
We will reveal beautiful moments.
We will reveal the ugly.
We will hold your hand.
We will whisper in your ear ‘let go’.


Under the Spreading Chestnut Tree - Fruit Routes Loughborough


As walkers on the Autumn 2013 iteration of artist activist Anne-Marie Culhane's Fruit Routes walk at Loughborough University they find Paul Conneally, once again taken hostage by nature, stood below a sweet chestnut tree, a board hung around his neck with these words chalked upon it:

under the spreading chestnut tree
I sold you and you sold me

George Orwell '1984'

He says a few words about chestnuts, chastity and hope and then reads not Orwell but the words to an old big band song urging the gathered to get their smart phones out and "tweet tweet tweet" at the appropriate point.


Underneath the spreading chestnut tree,
I loved her and she loved me,
There she used to sit upon my knee
‘Neath the spreading chestnut tree.

There beneath the boughs we used to meet,
All her kisses were so sweet,
All the little birds went “tweet, tweet, tweet,”
‘Neath the spreading chestnut tree.

I said, “I love you, and there ain’t no ifs or buts,”
She said, ”I love you,” and the blacksmith shouted “Chestnuts!”

Underneath the spreading chestnut tree,
There she said she’d marry me,
Now you ought to see our family
‘Neath the spreading chestnut tree.

Orwell alludes to the song, also a Boy Scouts campfire favourite, with actions and both Orwell and the song allude to the Longfellow poem The Village Blacksmith:

The Village Blacksmith

Under a spreading chestnut-tree
The village smithy stands;
The smith, a mighty man is he,
With large and sinewy hands;
And the muscles of his brawny arms
Are strong as iron bands. 

His hair is crisp, and black, and long,
His face is like the tan;
His brow is wet with honest sweat,
He earns whate'er he can,
And looks the whole world in the face,
For he owes not any man. 

Week in, week out, from morn till night,
You can hear his bellows blow;
You can hear him swing his heavy sledge,
With measured beat and slow,
Like a sexton ringing the village bell,
When the evening sun is low. 

And children coming home from school
Look in at the open door;
They love to see the flaming forge,
And hear the bellows roar,
And catch the burning sparks that fly
Like chaff from a threshing-floor. 

He goes on Sunday to the church,
And sits among his boys;
He hears the parson pray and preach,
He hears his daughter's voice,
Singing in the village choir,
And it makes his heart rejoice. 

It sounds to him like her mother's voice,
Singing in Paradise!
He needs must think of her once more,
How in the grave she lies;
And with his hard, rough hand he wipes
A tear out of his eyes. 

Onward through life he goes;
Each morning sees some task begin,
Each evening sees it close
Something attempted, something done,
Has earned a night's repose. 

Thanks, thanks to thee, my worthy friend,
For the lesson thou hast taught!
Thus at the flaming forge of life
Our fortunes must be wrought;
Thus on its sounding anvil shaped
Each burning deed and thought.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Friday, November 01, 2013

Almost Diwali

Leicester Town Hall from 10 Bishop Street - Paul Conneally

I'm waiting outside the Christian Book Shop on Bishop Street for Tony Nelson. Tony's the chair of Leicester's Holocaust Memorial Day committee and I'm meeting him for the first time before he takes me to the committee meeting itself.

Even with the building work going on in Town Hall Square the Town Hall still exudes a faded civic pride. A flag flying from its highest point.

An African woman stops in front of me, looks from a piece of paper to me, to the paper and back again.

"Are you for the nature group? I'm looking for the nature group"

"No" I tell her "I'm waiting for the holocaust committee" and help her look for a white door, she doesn't have a number.

almost Diwali
somewhere in the scaffolding
a builder's whistle

Paul Conneally
October 31 2013