Tag Archives: Stepney Words

Boarded Up

From Stepney Words II, 1971.

Boarded Up

Just down the road
Is a boarded up shop,
I don’t know how long,
It was like that when we moved here.
Skinheads have kicked some planks in,
Leaving holes for the rats to creep in at night.
It was owned by Mr. Sternberg,
And he used to give Green Shield stamps,
The notice is still there,
The shop is number 46,
I wonder how it’s still there?
I wonder what Mr. Sternberg looked like?
I wonder? I wonder?

Cheryl Tovey


Not West Ham!

Another football poem from the 1971 collection of East End schoolkids’ poetry Stepney Words II.

One night I dreamt that one
day I was in the crowd
watching England v France.
It was such a boring game
that nearly everyone was
leaving. Whn a player
came off, Sir Alf Ramsey
was just going to send some
one on when I jumped over
the fence, ran to where he
was sitting and begged him
if I could play. The ref
went and consulted Alf, but
he said I could play. The
game went on and I done a
solo run up to the goal
line. I didn’t want to
become too selfish so I
passed it to Geoff Hurst,
and with no one in the goal,
not even the goalie, he
walked it up to the line,
ran back a little way, shot,
and it went wide. I stood
there wondering why Alf puts
stupid West Ham players like
him in the team. With five
minutes to go and the score
0-0, I collected a pass just
outside the area. I turned
quickly and shot. It hit
the bar, then hit the post,
then it went in. Everybody
cheered. At the end of the
match I received my first
England cap.

Peter Goodman

West Ham!

From Stepney Words II, 1971.

Sometimes when I am lonely
playing football in the park,
hoping to train myself to be a good player
play for my football team WEST HAM
then England or Cyprus.

The only thing that stops us is,
the barbed wire everywhere.
There have been about hundred
balls busted at least. They put the
barbed wire there because the ball
goes over and sometimes smashes
the windows of the sweet shops …

George Georghiou


Poems from 3 schoolgirl sisters from Stepney Words II, 1971.

I am different from my sisters,
I am the tallest of them all,
I am 4 ft 11 inch, but the tallest don’t forget.
I have got the same eyes, nose and mouth though
But not the fattest even yet.
I have got longer legs than them.
The people stop and look
Even the teachers can’t tell the difference,
My name is Pat, don’t forget.

Yet even my family cannot tell.
When I walk down the street, I think how
The people must feel,
Of how they wished to be us.
To me I am different, to others I am not,
But some of them say ‘yes I know them.’
But really they don’t, all the same.

Pat Conway

I am different from my sisters
I am the prettiest of them all.
But I’m only 4 ft 10 1/2 inches tall
And I think that’s the lot
I walk the same
I talk the same
And people stop and stare.,
Thy’ll never find the difference
Only from what I’ve put there
My nan can’t tell the difference
But she could if she tried.
The only problem is though,
I don’t really know why,
As I go walking down the street
I get a funny feeling
That the people all around me
Will never stop staring.

Barbara Conway

I have got two sisters,
I’m the smallest of the lot,
I am only 4 ft 10 ins,
I’m the smallest of the lot.

I amthe smallest of them all,
I am different from them all,
People stop and stare, and say,
‘Look at them over there’,
Even my own family can’t tell us even yet
They say ‘Who are you’, I say ‘Susan –
Can’t you tell us yet?’

Even my own sister gets us mixed up
She says ‘Come here Barbara’,
I say, ‘I am not Barbara I am Susan.’
I don’t really find the answer to what this problem is,
To me we are different
To all other people we are the same,
I just cannot find the answer, why they can just not tell,
When we go down the street on our way to school,
Everybody always stops and stares
I have a funny feeling no one is there at all.

Susan Conway

Pictured are the Tagg triplets, aged 8, from Leytonstone; Dorothy, Iris, and Myra.

George Lansbury’s Dream Of Poplar

George Lansbury (1859 – 1940) was a socialist politician who represented Poplar in the East End. He was jailed in 1921 with 30 fellow councillors for the Poplar rates revolt.
His granddaughter is Murder She Wrote actress Angela Lansbury.
Chris Searle is the teacher whose Stepney Words anthology led to the school strike in 1971. This poem is from his 1980 collection Red Earth.

George Lansbury’s Dream of Poplar

In our beloved triangle
Midst cut and docks and Lea.
I dreamed a future happiness
Of the people strong and free.

There’s not much grass in Poplar,
The soil is pressed by stone,
But earth made rich by the flowing Thames
Has a wilful people grown.

Our riches are our people,
The jewels are in their eyes.
Their hands have built a city
And their work made a future rise.

The times we marched together,
Striking evil at its root!
We sang, spoke and persuaded,
Seized power from the brute.

The people of the spreading world
Share our doorsteps now,
Our massive strength must forge a life –
One blood, one love to sow.

To own those things we always made,
To organise our power,
To plant new work in dying docks,
Strike the workers’ eternal hour!

Fifty years after I still dream on
And the mist clears over the Thames.
The vision still embraces my heart
And sends the past in flames.

In our beloved triangle
Midst cut and docks and Lea.
I dreamed a future happiness
Of the people strong and free.

Chris Searle