O Little Town of Batleyhem

Jem Tovey

Written for and read at the Batley Community Choir Christmas Concert 19/12/18

‘Twas the month before Christmas, and all through the town
Not a resident of Batley, was wearing a frown.
A small Yorkshire town, right proud of its past;
Where wool and its weaving meant that we grew up fast.

Seven miles from Bradford, the same distance from Leeds,
Our Victorian forebears, spent the proceeds,
On a neoclassical town hall, all parapet and pilasters;
In fine Yorkshire stone to withstand disasters.

This year’s the 150th we’ve stood proud as a borough,
Ne’er mind Kirklees Council, we still plough our own furrow.
Our Mayor Gwen Lowe is a proud Batley lass,
And her letters to the Dandy, are top of the class.

Helping Gwen, grapple with vexatious bureaucracy,
Are these other stalwarts of local democracy.
Shabir and Marielle representing the West,
Fazila, Habiban and Mahmood do the rest.

Tracy Brabin represents us as our MP,
A star of stage and screen, but even better in 3D.
Whether in Batley or on benches green,
A more passionate orator can rarely be seen.

We’ve got Batley Festival and Run For Jo,
A community’s for life, not just Christmas y’know
We’ve got Batley Smile, Batley Man and Batley Paul,
Friends of the library, the station and Kumon Y’All.

Of course there’s Batley Poets and I might be biased,
But their lyrical skills must rank with the highest.
With Bards of Batley published to mark the “150”,
Of a town built on shoddy, friendly but thrifty.

We have Interfaith Week, taking place in November,
And of course, Malcolm Haigh who helps us remember.
Judith Greenwood brings alive our brave Catherine Exley,
With her fascinating diary, in all its complexity.

There’s the Community Choir, Gary Skyrme directing,
Waving his baton and harmonies perfecting.
And in addition to concerts aplenty,
They’ve just done an opera, for the cognoscenti.

Not forgetting the Christmas lights and the big switch on,
It’s quite a production, almost a phenomenon.
There’s a market, a fairground, Santa in his grotto
With mince pies but no sherry, so I’ll not be getting blotto.

With Martin, Mark and Irfan; our own Holy Trinity,
We’ve pretty much cornered the market in Divinity.
This year in Batleyhem, we have live Nativity,
And services aplenty to mark the festivities

It’s all happening in Batley, this proud Yorkshire town.
We won’t have whingers and cynics bringing us down.
We’re all well prepared for this festive season,
We just love a good party, whatever the reason.

As we gather together in our little community,
Let us all share the gifts of peace, love and unity.
Keep these ten words in mind as you celebrate Christmas,
We have more in common than that which divides us.

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