Sheffield FridayNightRide

we have nothing to lose but our chains

2015/10/23 Lyrics

Ride report
A Lyrical Sheffield FridayNightRide

Sincere thanks to all who turned out to join in a companiable, joyful Sheffield FridayNightRide where we celebrated our city’s creativity by reading and listening to Sheffielders’ lyrics.

It was a mild, still night as we all got together in the gloom. By 6.45 a total of 61 people started the ride (and we finished at 62 as a woman out on her bike joined in). Our first hop was from Barkers Pool to the steps of the Town Hall where there is a star for Joe Cocker in Sheffield’s pavement Walk of Fame. A small company of nightriders had prepared lyrics as verse and Laura and Mick started with a reading of Joe Cocker’s first big hit (a no1 in 1968), With a Little Help from My Friends. Then it was a short trip down to West Bar and up Scotland St to Furnace Hill close to the site of Edward Carpenter’s Commonweal Cafe. In 1886 Carpenter was one of the founders of the Sheffield Socialist Society and he wrote a socialist hymn (it even got into hymnals) England Arise, which people could sing to seek inspiration and be resolute in their political struggle. For a time it was up there along with The Red Flag. Mick recited five of the many verses and got all to join in, cued by the raising of his clenched fist, on the refrain that is the final line of each verse, “Arise, O England, for the day is here”.

We carried on down to the bottom of Shalesmoor, through Kelham Island and across to Millsands to the park on Nursery St in sight of Lady’s Bridge. And as the Don with its dark glass surface reflecting the lights of the city slowly flowed past, Greg talked a bit about the background to the song, written at the time of Richard Hawley’s father’s death and then read the lyrics of the melancholic Lady’s Bridge. We needed cheering up so we rode across the Wicker onto Blonk St and up Exchange St parallel to Dixon Lane where Peter Stringfellow had his last Sheffield club, The Penthouse. An anachronistic choice with the next lyric to be versified but it was a good spot us all to gather and for Lyn to read, with feeling, ABC’s Poison Arrow. It resonated with many nightriders who spontaneously joined in after Lyn’s pained delivery of the phrase “Who broke my heart?” with “YOU DID, YOU DID” and then made sure they were part of the reading by carrying on with “STUPID, STUPID”. Wonderful.

Bouyed up with that togetherness we rode up Castle St (Truelove’s Gutter is either this street or the side road, Castle Green) across to Bank St, up Meeting House Lane and through York St to emerge on High St next to the entrance to the past Sheffield club Crazy Daisy for Dave and Lyn to read Don’t You Want Me Baby? The Crazy Daisy was where Phil Oakey asked two schoolgirls Susan Ann Tulley and Joanne Catherall to join his recently reduced band, The Human League. And they did; promptly dropping out of school and going on an international tour in 1980 and now 35 yrs later are still in the band. We hopped over to High St to Fargate and, just to make sure, explained to all the site of the HSBC bank was the site of the original Cole Bros store and hence Cole’s Corner and used by Sheffielders as a meeting place. Laura read wistfully and, ultimately, sadly Hawley’s Cole’s Corner under the city lights glowing.

Back on the bikes to head up to the Barkers Pool taxi rank where we all crowded into the garden on Balm Green for Dave to praise Alex Turner’s lyricism before he launched into the Arctic Monkey’s Red Light Means Doors Secured especially relishing the rhythm and alliteration of, “… she was beyond belief, But this lad at the side drinking a Smirnoff ice came and paid for her tropical Reef.” We pedalled down and across Pinstone St, round the side of the Peace Gdns to turn off Norfolk St and stop just inside Peace Gdns near the fountain. There is no longer the fountain at the top of Fargate which was referred to in Pulp’s Disco 2000 so we used this one instead as a location to listen to John explain that in 1995 Jarvis thought a song with 2000 in the lyric would maybe keep selling until at least then before he expressively read about meeting “ …up in the year 2000”.

Then we headed down Norfolk St, turned sharp right below the Crucible to go under Arundel Gate and emerge up by the Odeon and head off down Howard St, turn left up Pond St and then into the bus station by the cafe. Greg chose this spot to praise Phil Oakey’s well-crafted and under-rated lyrics before he read Human League’s Louise having explained that the song was about the characters in Don’t You Want Me Baby?, 4 years further on meeting at a bus station. The lyrics had originally been masked by the upbeat music and the re-interpretation by Tony Christie maybe better at bringing out the song’s pensive yearning (embedded below). So with few passengers about we rode through the bust station and out the automatic doors to cross Harmer Lane and Sheaf St to assemble on Sheaf Square. Mick praised Pulp’s 95 album, Different Class, and read Common People, Jarvis’s satirical song that Sheffielders have taken to their hearts because, unlike his Greek girlfriend we don’t “… think poor is cool” but, we DO want to live with common people like US.

End of ride: pub.

Next Sheffield FridayNightRide
23 October 2015
6.30pm Barkers Pool

Theme: Following on from last year’s Poetry Ride we are participating in the Off The Shelf Festival (OTS) and doing a ride of Sheffield Lyrics – sung and/or written by Sheffielders.
OTS are concerned about the safety of cycling(!) and they have asked me to ticket it and restrict numbers to 60
Tickets are free and can be had here
At the time of writing none are left and I have set up a wait-list
Tickets are free and my experience is that not all who sign up for free tickets turn up so there will be places on the night too
I’m sure it will sort itself out.
If demand is massive then we will have to do another one!
Event listing:

It’s not far to cycle but I reckon we will be out for about 2h – so dress for the weather and I will keep a weather watch​
Heads up! Definitely bring lights and locks. Sheffield roads and paths so tough tyres – we’re not stopping for mechanicals (unless its mine)
​No mid-ride stop.
Keep an eye out for bikes all around you and when we stop please move if asked to – getting everybody to see and hear needs the consideration and cooperation of everyone!
We finish at Sheaf Square outside the station.

Indicative Content: We are riding to a spot, assembling, and we have a small company of us who are taking turns to READ the Lyrics as verse (we hope)
Its a different way to listen to lyrics and it can give new meanings and interpretations
and we reserve the right to amend lyrics as we see fit
​​Content is indicative and there is no guarantee that any particular lyric will be read.
Content is here

Beautiful badge – original idea from a nightreader and realisation by Stu Ritson