2021

Beginning

A poem about us, the great volunteers

We’ve been coming together for so many years

Welcome to all, both returning and new

No volunteer party, so you’ll have to make do

 

Two very long years since the last time we met

Two years that not one of us will ever forget

An out of depth politician with stage managed hair

A protective ring round the care homes, which just wasn’t there

 

Next slide please, with charts of numbers galore

If they’d really tried hard, they could have done so much more

Two metres and masks and test and trace apps 

The nurses need money, not Thursday night claps

 

But Manchester’s the place which helped us to thrive

With Rashford and Burnham helping many survive

We’ve been waving to relatives as they sat in their rooms 

And putting photos as backgrounds in comical zooms

 

We volunteered to shop and help people go out

And the vaccinators deserve a massive shout out

Some of you helped in vaccination queues

It’s not going to hurt, just feels like a bruise

 

We weren’t sure MIF would happen this year

What a relief the festival is ready right here 

And now it’s all planned and the volunteers are set

It’ll be a festival of wonder, one hard to forget

 

We’ve already watched the fantastical Dream

And The Long Goodbye was finally seen

Festivals in houses and Factory Consultation

Traineeships and help with Online conversation 

 

We’ve been shouting in public about political books 

Big Ben lying down will get plenty of looks

Labelling bags in the shop for Eart in Shude Hill

Avoiding any awkward white powder spill

 

A Sea Change down Deansgate will be a great start

An organism of dancers, a gathering of art 

Captions and Postcards and the Patience of Trees

Arcadia and Love Letters and some Notes on Grief 

 

There’s Cillian and Pattie and then Arlo Parks

And Lemn and Hans with poetry and art

Portraits and Homecoming and Studies of Clouds

And Damon Albarn again, to bring in the crowds

 

Cathedral Gardens is the new Festival Square

With DJs and music, with lots of us there

Honest Crust and Heathcote, Stellar and more

With family events and interesting tours

 

Phil Cat’s on the team, strangely not underground

Lee and Esther in the office and everywhere can be found

The t-shirts are turquoise or some might say teal

It doesn’t really matter because they make it all real

 

We’ll follow the rules on Volunteer hub

About masks and distance and giving hands a scrub

And lateral flow tests have become the new trend

To make sure of safe shifts so we can attend

 

We Dwell in Possibility of what this year will bring

The festival as usual will make our hearts sing

We’ll all do our jobs under safe Covid rules

And the memories we make we will treasure like jewels

2021

End

The festival has finished but wasn’t it great

All the volunteers now are the best of mates,

Forget all the shows, we just needed to talk

To real people, not zooms, and have a good walk

 

Volunteers worked so hard as many had before

But this time disguised with the masks we all wore

The T-shirts were lovely, but they caused a to-do

I waved at some turquoise, but got Deliveroo

 

Transforming Wahaca, was a new Netflix hit 

Removing the dust and a year of old grit.

Flying higher than the Arndale was the MIF flag

But that might just have been a Phil Catling brag

 

They all worked so hard, Lee, Phil and Esther

And all we did was annoyingly pester

Every day with questions and visits for tea,

But great meeting up and a fun place to be

 

Hub heroes were many with tickets and shirts

And answering questions ‘bout new shift alerts

The test and trace app and lateral flow tests 

A ping or a positive and the week was depressed

 

Sea Change dancers, both professional and not

Powder on Deansgate in eight coloured blots,

After a few hundred yards they could take it no more

And spent most of the time lying down on the floor

 

Poet Slash Artist with so much to say

A variety of writing and art on display,

It’s a crime to live with someone you don’t love

But is it a crime, with someone you Don’t don’t love?

 

Big Ben Lying Down with Political Books

People shouting outside, with quizzical looks,

It was Mancunians who chose and that was the thing

Many feminist books and mostly left wing

 

On Wednesday and Sunday in Festival Square

England played football so no-one was there, 

Manchester players made up most of the team

Each one of them loved, in their England dream

 

The Queen passed nearby but forgot to check in,

But Shanahan was there with selfies and grins,

There were DJs and bands and new musical acts

A place to eat pizza and calmly relax

 

Pattie Smith couldn’t come ‘cos of travel bans

But she’ll be here again to the delight of her fans

Arlo Parks and Damon Albarn filled up the slots

But volunteering for them was like drawing lots

 

Manchester Central was a venue to love

Music and lights from the stage and above

Patience of Trees with the Natural World power

Violins and percussion for an immersive hour

 

If I don’t talk about it, it cannot be true

Notes on Grief told us what we already knew

Not seeing relatives for months at a time

And some didn’t survive, which seems like a crime

 

Portrait of Black Britain in the Arndale displayed

People’s lives, all different, in photos portrayed.

Homecoming championed African creativity

And collaboration with MIF and future festivity

 

Cillian Murphy was sorry for so many things

With pylons and trains and fluttering wings

It was fun to find out where exactly he walked

He tramped through east London and just talked and talked

 

I Love You Too with cut hands and Alsatians

The views of life from a different nation,

We tried to entice people in off the square

But skate boarders and buskers didn’t really care

 

At the Jewish Museum some women reminisced

And talked about things that they all now missed,

Dancing in clouds with pigeons as heads

Textiles and embroidery and sewing with threads

 

City Captions were checked, walking long in the heat

Or you could drive to the marina, if you wanted to cheat

And the plane flew above in the Manchester sky

And some of us watched the caption fly by

 

The Eart shop was stunning in black and in white

With pastel pale boxes for a minimalist sight,

Plain labels stuck on, again and again

But the resulting non-brands were wonderfully Zen

 

Arcadia arising in the new Factory site

Poems and voices, with tents glowing bright

The natural world in the heart of the city

That natural world where the rain wasn’t pretty

 

The festival was full of such variety and choices

Diversity and inclusion and many new voices

Let’s hope the next one will be socially near

And I can read the poem, with all of you here

 

In Twenty Twenty-Three we’ll have a new open world

Where Covid is subdued, and new politics unfurled

Marcus Rashford will be king and Andy Burnham PM

And we’ll all wake from the nightmare of Tory mayhem