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Poetry Friday -The Manchester Man

The Manchester Man

In my twenties
I sold manchester 
Irish linen
Quality towels 
Nifty napkins
I rose to become 
No. 5 best salesperson
In the whole of Australia
-for one week

The office staff
Tina and Marjorie
Charming and cheerful
Smiled broadly
Whenever I entered

Upon my resignation
They burst into tears
So I stood in the doorway
And sang loudly
Don’t cry for me Marge and Tina.

By way of explanation:
Manchester is a word commonly used throughout Australia to describe bedding, sheets, towels, pillowslips, table linen and similar items, yet this is not the case elsewhere. In fact, the use of the word Manchester is one said to be unique to Australia. During the 18th and 19th centuries, settlers in Australia needed to import bedding and other cotton goods from overseas.

In Great Britain, the Industrial Revolution was quickly turning Northern cities into productive zones. One of the cities most influenced by this up-turn in industry was Manchester. The sheer number of textile mills in Manchester led to a large proportion of the cotton goods exported from Manchester at this time ending up in Australia. Merchants and traders would wait at the Australian ports for ships to arrive and buy wooden crates packed with cotton items. Each of the crates, chests or boxes would have been marked with the word Manchester.

Merchants found it easier to use the term to describe the  goods. Manchester soon stuck as a word to describe a wide range of cotton goods and remains one which is widely used today. So, I sold manchester...

The poem is a mix of truth and fiction- a hodgepodge. The ingredients were shaped to enable me to create the last line. 

What synchronicity! I'm off to see 'Evita' tonight.


  1. Love this poem and loved learning a bit of the backfround behind Manchester. Enjoy Evita!

    1. Enjoyment and a bit of new learning Kimberly. Glad to have delivered in this way. Evita was excellent.

  2. What a clever/witty ending. Loved hearing the backstory to it, too. I'm surprised - because it sounds so very British!

    1. Glad you liked it Kat. Like you I love the backstory or origin of words. It adds a deeper dimension to our language.

  3. Thanks for this poem and the story. I had no idea. I enjoyed the not know the truth from the fiction.

    1. My pleasure Jone. I'm also glad a little mystery remains around my poem and its component parts.

  4. HA! That last line cracks me up. Thanks for the education about the word manchester in Australia!

    1. A bit of cracking up is good for all of us Mary Lee. Glad you were so affected. The information regarding manchester- well, consider that a small gift.

  5. Aren't word and term origins fascinating? Love that! And I laughed out loud when I got to Marge and Tina! -- Christie @

    1. Word origins are indeed fascinating Christie. So pleased you found delight in the final line.

  6. I enjoyed the poem and the word history behind it. My daughter had the opportunity to visit Manchester last spring during her semester in England.

  7. Thanks Kay. I find myself wondering if your daughter bought any manchester in Manchester?


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