People hanging out of flats with phones posed as though for signal
And shops blaring out alarms like mourners at a funeral
Kids like these have instinctive passions to fight and flight and argue.
They’ll say fuck off and then kick off when it’s five quid to Salford Central.
They’ll shout and ball and make a fuss they don’t care about the public.
They like the sound of their own voices and like the strength in rhetoric.
But that’s kids – I know that being adult isn’t just being older
And sometimes it’s best to bite your lip not be aggressive and full of anger
You can’t just batter some shop keeper because his prices don’t suit you,
Or hurl abuse at the police, because they take the laws too literal.
When you grow up you can’t walk around hoods up watching fear in faces
You see your grandma and your mother petrified and intimidated.
You hear the swearing on the station and can’t protect your children,
Because standing up to them would mean a battering for speaking.
And the passion and vigour dissipates as you get older,
But it has to go to let you grow into a responsible contributor.
And you find amongst the dirt and grime, amongst the work and debt and struggle.
Amongst the petrol prices, utility bills, food costs and office restructure,
Amongst the marches, Middle East, the crime and the terror.
That the people who you love are the things that keeps you together
Their safety and their happiness and their lives in the city.
And that city, which surrounds you is your opportunity
And its size and its longevity makes you think things will get better
The fact it’s rained on everyday and still shiny is a hopeful metaphor
And now these shits smash the shops and buildings like they’re Lego
They’re smashing places that I love, feel safe in and feel stable
Where you like to meet people who’ve come from other countries
And say Manchester? It’s where God’s from and what other cities copy
They’re rioting with their hoods up because their ashamed of being scallies
Ashamed of being nobodies too shit to try for better
And yes they’ve had it fuckin’ hard but not as hard as others
If Manchester is anything it’s working hard with not much starters
And if London’s a big melting pot then Manchester’s a blender
Full of art, culture, music, food and drink and leisure
And nationalities, religions, gays, lesbians, transgender
It’s just an urban area, just buildings and busy roads.
It’s just brick and stone and tarmac, arranged as the city grows
It’s just tiles and chain restaurants and KFC and shit.
And sales and tat and shoe shops and overpriced football kit.
But this is the soil in which I’ve laid my roots, and these faces are my people.
These are the buildings where my parents worked and where my grandparents struggled.
This is where we joke about the IRA and the old Arndale’s dirty toilets.
This is where we read about Peterloo and the blood which spawned our freedom.
I watch the footage in horror at these kids violent abandon
The police were everywhere and nowhere since the kids were moving quickly,
Pulling trainers out in handfuls lighting fires out of dresses.
Hoods up, tracksuits, sports casual now violent and aggressive,
The police dressed in body armour like futuristic lawmen.
The blues and twos, the squealing vans the sirens and the choppers.
The war zone that is Manchester filled with kids and coppers.
This is my city that you’re shitting on, and you’re smashing more than windows
A safe-haven that we arrogantly pointed out doesn’t have them kinda problems
Where Saturdays I just get the train and watch from Costa Coffee
Because this city breathes a heady mix of belonging, pride and dignity
And you can buy anything in these shops if you only earn the money
Stolen trainers aren’t worth shit if you wear them feeling guilty.