A poem inspired by Danny Boyle’s Olympic Opening Ceremony
Isles of Wonder
These Isles of Wonder,
these precious stones set in a silver sea,
We looked into our story,
Through the mists of time, our history,
From bucolic idyll, to pandemonium,
Satanic Mills thrusting high,
Smoke billowing into the sky,
To those who marched for a better life,
The ghosts of the Pankhursts, Jarrow came alive.
We looked inside ourselves,
Our eccentricities, our humour,
Mary Poppins, Voldemort from our stories,
Yet a dream snaked through like the veins in our hand,
A dream of a new Jerusalem through effort, endeavour, through sport,
A dream of a new Jerusalem for all, in our pleasant land.
I, like many others have graduated this summer. Dressing up in strange robes may be outlandish, but graduation is celebrating with family and friends the end of a journey of extremely hard work and effort. Yet when the champagne runs dry, when the robes and hat are returned, one major question remains- what next?
This is a question which is becoming increasing harder and harder to answer at the moment. Not just graduates but all young people, as youth unemployment is at 1 million. The routine of repeatedly applying for numerous jobs will no doubt become very familiar for all of us. We feel like we’ve failed, we feel inadequate, abandoned, and lost.
So what are politicians doing to find a solution? Acknowledging that this problem is far from confined to our shores, Labour leader Ed Miliband is to become the first senior British politician to hold talks with Francois Hollande at the Elysee Palace.
In the meeting in Paris on Tuesday, the pair will discuss plans to tackle youth unemployment in Europe after it hit record levels, with more than half of Spain’s young people jobless, and 22% in Britain and France.Labour said “We now need to work together to have a co-ordinated plan for jobs and growth. We cannot allow the future of the European continent to sit idle because of the failure to deliver the jobs young people need.”
Fine words and sentiment but we need concrete actions. We need more jobs and more help to get into work. We need this in order most of all to restore a sense of self worth to a generation in danger of being written off as ‘lost’. Counter to the stereotypes, we are NOT feckless and lazy, we just want to be given a chance to work and contribute to society. We need employers to give young people a chance and see past their age. To those who reject a job application based on lack of experience, I ask the question, how do we gain experience if people don’t give us a chance? I don’t claim to have the answers, but I predict that whoever does will reap the reward of the keys to the kingdom from a bright and vibrant section of the population. The question I have for the politicians- are you up to the challenge?
On the sixth day,
God created Manchester they say.
Always knew we were blessed,
Always knew we were heaven sent,
Sending us musical prophets,
Oasis, Happy Mondays, Stone Roses,
Morrissey’s dulcet tones,
sending us leaden skies and rain,
That soaks us to the bone.
A city one of a kind, a city divine,
A worker bee, a beating heart never ceasing to pound,
Pankhurst and Engels dwelled among this revolutionary crowd.
Yet if he created the city,
The rain soaking to the bone,
Did he create our spirit,
independent, proud, a spirit all our own?
No, we did it when he rested,
We did it ouselves,
On the seventh day!