Frankie’s Estate

is all pedestrianised –
the council blocked it with concrete poles
to stop lads in cars. Paddy says
They nash down the back lanes
knocking the wheelie bins all ower.

The corner shop doesn’t have any windows,
it’s metal bars or chipboard
it was burnt out last year.
Some of the lampposts are smashed
they’re hung with bike tyres.

The postie doesn’t always deliver
round the estate, because of the dogs;
sometimes Frankie goes to the post office,
moans to Mam:
It’s hard getting your post if the sour-faced wifie’s on,
she pretends she doesn’t know you: Where’s yer ID?

Dad says: If yer believed the newspapers
you’d think we don’t have proper jobs –
it’s all moonlighters, charvers, crims or dole fiddlers.
Frankie knows the council and the polis
describe this place in numbers.
He says: One in two unemployed,
half are dealers.
There are ten rats
for every mobile phone
in the estate.
It’s just numbers.
You can make them up.

Paddy and Frankie stand at the top of the street
look over the new flats,
the industrial estate,
they can just see the river
grey and wide,
the Metro Centre
glinting on the other side
and green hills beyond.
Dad tells them
Once upon a time
this street ran all the way
down the bankies,
from the West Road
across Elswick Road
Armstrong Road
Westmorland Road
and over Scotswood Road.
I could ride me bogey
without stopping
till I got to the river –
there was less cars then.
Yer Nan says once a man
got the wrong side of the neighbours
they put him in a barrel
sent him down
without stopping
at all.

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