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Posts Tagged ‘Manchester’

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Allotments, Chorlton-On-Medlock

 

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University of Manchester, Oxford Road

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PTDC0001The BBC World Service broadcast a short 30 minute documentary on the 17th November for it’s faith strand, Heart and Soul, about the aftermath of the Manchester Arena bombing, which happened six months ago.

The programme’s title is Being Muslim in Manchester – One Love? and, while short, it packs a lot in and is very powerful.

What I like is that it manages to be neither sentimental nor sensationalist, and it focuses on a number of different individuals and families who were, in different ways, caught up in the Arena bombing or did truly beautiful and altruistic things in the aftermath of it, or were victims of anti-Muslim hate crimes as a result of the bombing.

The documentary seeks to look beyond #onelove campaign and #WeStandTogether to examine what was happening in the days, weeks and months following the bombing.

I really recommend that you listen to the documentary, even if you’re not living in Manchester, because it has a lot to say about interfaith communities and solidarity and is incredibly moving as well as sometimes shocking.

It reminded me of a very sad phenomenon I observed between late May and the end of July this year as I travelled to work by bus each morning. My commute coincides with the school run and, gradually, particularly after the terrorist attacks in London, and especially after the attack on the mosque in London, I began to notice more and more Muslim children being escorted to school by their dads. This was occurring at a time when any major concert or public event in the city had a strong and noticeable police presence, whether it be tweenagers at a day time pop gig at the Academy one Saturday or a post Ramadan Mela at the Appollo.

I don’t imagine that this phenomenon was unique to Manchester this summer, but it made me extremely sad at the time that it had come to that. That children were having to be escorted to school in Manchester by their parents because either they or their parents did feel it was safe enough for them to travel alone any more.

You can listen to Heart and Soul, Being Muslim in Manchester – One Love? on BBC iplayer 

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It’s occurred to me this week that, while the Manchester worker bee has become much more widely known in the past month, many people may not be familiar with the history of the bee.

I did consider writing a blog post about it, but I figured it was highly likely that such a post would have already been written and that it would just be a case of looking for the right one.

In a nice surprise, I found the perfect piece courtesy of friend of Too Late For Cake, Natalie Bradbury, writing for Creative Tourist on this occasion. The piece (published in early 2013) provides you with an overall history of Manchester’s civic bond with the bee, but doesn’t touch on the cultural side such as Elbow’s song ‘Lost Worker Bee’, (which was, after all, not released until 2015) or the worker bee tattoos, which were very definitely A Thing even before the Arena bombing in May. (A casual trawl of tattoo parlour Instagrams in the Manchester area will back this up.) In the wake of the bombing, street art has started to appear, featuring the bees, and you can see pictures of some of these pieces here.

Transport For Greater Manchester meanwhile, in a very touching video, have unveiled The Spirit Of Manchester, a dignified and thoughtful response to the Arena bombing.

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PTDC0001Dear London, thinking of you, love Manchester

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PTDC0001I spotted this poster up on the barriers erected around the building work going on opposite Manchester Apollo on Stockport Road.

I actually took it at 25 past 7, not 25 past 6, but I haven’t adjusted the time on my camera yet for British Summertime.

 

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In case you were wondering what Santa did for the other 364 days of the year, he was driving the 192 tonight.

Which means that Santa drove me home.

The guy upstairs vaping a cannabis flavoured e-cig I could have done without though.

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UoM%20scanned%20documentJust over a week ago I had the unexpected pleasure of visiting Everyday Austerity: An Exhibition of Everyday Life in Austerity, a collaboration between Dr Sarah Marie Hall of the University of Manchester and Stef Bradley the zine maker, which was drawn from research compiled by Dr Hall on the subject of family life and austerity.

This was a beautifully executed, simple but effective, exhibition that was both smart and thought provoking, but never, ever miserable.

People think of austerity in simplistic shades of sepia and grey, and in doing so, they miss the complex, technicolour reality of it: It was how the six families were represented that was the really refreshing thing.

Each section of the exhibition made use of written introductions to the families, their own particular situations, and how austerity had affected them. These were set alongside a carefully arranged display box of visual representations – photographs, carrots from an allotment, a recipe for a bulk batch of veggie chilli, a book on how to cope financially in times of austerity, which was due to be flogged on eBay along with old children’s toys to raise funds… There were lists of worries, lists of things to buy that could be afforded that week… and these visual items were equally as powerful, as thoughtfully placed, as evocative, as the notes, and sections of the interviews, which could be listened to on iPod mini’s.

The interviews themselves were frank, honest, candid and refreshing in their neutrality. There was no steering of interviewees towards a particular narrative, no aggressive questioning, because this is research, not journalistic vox pops, and it was part of the patchwork of field work, a long story, not a short, knee jerk story impulsively yanked from the unsuspecting.

We were asked to answer questions regarding our own views of austerity before, during and after viewing the exhibition, the idea being to measure if people’s views changed, and if so, how.  While my own views hadn’t shifted too much, what the exhibition brought home to me was the amount of creativity and ingenuity being brought to bear on the unyielding sanctions and limitations of austerity by those most affected by them. Oh, not in a Blitz Spirit ‘Let’s all pull together’ kind of way, more in a ‘Batten down the hatches, lets work through this bastard’ kind of way.

What this work does is provide a multi faceted, complex picture of austerity in the UK. It is not Benefits Street, but nor is it Das Kapital, it is – in many ways – refreshingly neutral. Which, as a position, is needed.

There are plans to create a zine from the exhibition, using the research, which might seem an odd concept but, in the context of the seismic shifts of perspective zine making has undergone these past ten years or so, with writers and creators increasingly focusing on areas such as psycho-geography, on cities and the writers relationship with the city in which they live, it perhaps isn’t so surprising to find a zine concerned with austerity.

Daniel Defoe’s A Journal Of The Plague Year, George Orwell’s Down And Out In Paris And London… Why not a documentation of the realities of austerity? State of the nation, or kitchen sink, dramas are no longer written. There will be no Love on the dole, or The Manchester Man, nor even no Ruined City, but Everyday Austerity: The Zine will fulfill a similar role. It won’t be done for entertainment, nor will it be done for titillation, or voyeurism, but for knowledge, for education, for remembering, for empathy and understanding.

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