North Mancuian Meander – God is a Manc
After the publication of Mancunian Meander in 2006 and I felt as if I had only done half a job really. I’d only written about an East South Central Manchester an area I grew up in and had a deep affection. But I always knew that there was another side of town that was fundamentally different in nature character and personality.
I was fortunate enough to have spent some time with a group of mates I’d met on a holiday. I spent time in Crumpsall, Moston, Blackley, Beswick Harpurhey, Miles Platting and worked in many of those areas helping to set up Homework Centres for Manchester Libraries, an organisation I worked for and still do the odd job when called for.
Me Mam worked in St. Patrick’s and my two sisters went to St Margaret Clitheroe.
The first musical gig I ever did with a band was in the Miles Platting Youth Club but I’m afraid that was the peak of the bands commercial success. (We didn’t want to be commercial anyway)
My Granddad, John Nash (cool name or what) was the landlord at the Plough on Red hill Street in the 50’s and my Auntie Maureen has fond memories of the pub and of working at the Ancoats hospital in the laundry –I think it was one of her first jobs.
I was born in Chorlton on medlock on the next street to Elizabeth Gaskell. I had a large extended family that extended around the surrounding 10 streets, it was very tight knit. Some of my family were not always my family. They became my family by the love and care that they shown me. That was the nature of the place.
I moved to Fallowfield as part of the slum clearance and from the age of 6 spent much of my time around south Manchester.
North Manchester is Different to the south – the people the places the views are fundamentally different – I never could put my finger on what it was and why it was but I was keen to investigate and in some way this is how this whole project started.
I’d done bits and pieces for the radio before. I read some stuff on radio 4 and was involved in a debate on performance versus page poetry. I did some commissions for Radio Manchester, writing poems for the 50th anniversary of the Munich air disaster and a commemorative poem for Tony Wilson ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7wcPWsRUw6A. ) So when I was approached by BBC radio Manchester and the arts council to continue the Mancunian Meander taking in the north of the city – I said yes without the slightest hesitation.
For the last months 4 months I have been spending lots of time in north Manchester getting to know its geography, people, history, culture and the very DNA of the area.
I have been working with a number of groups of all ages – asking them what their knowledge of the area is, what it is they like or dislike about the place. I have sat in cafés, libraries pubs, and parks absorbing its aura.
I’ve been to places I have never visited before – Clayton – I never knew it at all, didn’t even know exactly where it was till June. So I’ve spoke to people at the Wells Centre, Friends of Clayton Hall, I’ve been to fun days in the park, chatted with the brilliant library staff, stood with bus drivers and lolly pop ladies and just chatted.
I’ve photographed, video, sketched, written poems and short stories that aim to capture the nature of the range and diversity of the north of Manchester and one thing I have discovered is that Moston is different to Harpurhey and Crumpsall is not like Blackley and Newton heath is no miles plating – they are all unique entities with they own unique histories and voice and what I am trying to do with this project is capture the nature of each area in the form of poetry.
The following poems are some of the results of the journey.