To The Girls Of The Malt Cross, Nottingham

The Malt Cross is a former Music Hall on St James Street, Nottingham. It opened in 1877. Many of the top stars of Music Hall, such as Marie Lloyd, played there. It ceased to be a licensed premises in 1914 after problems with prostitution. It is now a bar and mixed arts venue.

Whatever happened to the whores of old?
The girls in the shadows of the text,
Hinted at in the facts and figures by Mayhew,
Or mentions – nameless, or as good as…
Polly, Molly or Meg – in some narrative
Of a more celebrated personage
Who entertained himself with their sex?
Pox riddled, clapped out, too old, too drunk,
Beaten, cheated, grasping through a life
That dealt them a hand that would never play out,
Or elevated to unwanted fame by murder…
Maybe glimpsed in an old photograph,
Or a workhouse record, a Magistrates report
In some discontinued rag,
Before the quiet rest of the grave.

Waiting for what? Redemption and resurrection?
Judgement passed on the men who used them?
This their one last throw of trust?

God, Time is a bastard to us all
But more so to the sparrows that fall
Nameless into the dust.