Manchester! It's totally ZUZU!
I feel good. I just wanted you to know in relation to the previous blogs. Life is good. I haven't had a drink for nearly four months. People will often say "oh I didn't know you had a problem with drink". But I didn't say I had a problem with drink. I just stopped and it made a difference is all. I'm off to manchester now. Yay.
I arrive at the Malmaison hotel and meet Maxine Wrigley MBE in The Northern Quarter,a very hip part of Manchester. It's like parts of Soho in Manhattan, believe it or not. We go to The Bay Horse. Maxine works for A National Voice that works for children in care run by people who were in care themselves. Within ANV there’s Supersonic which waslaunched at The cinnamon club in Westminster a while ago – it’s in the blog somehwere. Supersonic is a short film and website about people who were in care and who ahve gone on to be leaders in their fields, barristers, television presenters, top footballers etc. The best example of supersonic success is Ivor Frank who after leaving care went from being a bin man to a barrister. Mr Frank has been a central motivator in the achieving of The Children in Care Act which will be ratified by The Queen in October.
As myself and Maxine are chatting a small fifty three year old white woman in a hat withan overly large scarf that drowns her neck and face waddles in to the Bay Horse. This is Carol Batton a poet and Boho I have known for twenty years. She seems to be sucking her thumb. “lemn” she says scuttling towards me catching her breath “I just told Fatz you’re here. She’s got a shop across the road”. That fatz knows Carol is new to me. They are seemingly from different worlds. Not true. This is Manchester and this is what it’s like and how it should be. I scoot across the road into another world.
Fatz a fashion designer, is too cool for school and gorgeous too. She is a fashion designer and we always click. Fatz is hard working. When I was in Manchester we wouldnormally meet at The Circle Club in the early hours where the spirits would always rise just as she entered, normally with a group of friends who looked like the sugababes. Fatz is hip Her shop is ZUZU. She’s a designer so the shop’s one of those independent stylish things launched only last week. She sells vintage clothing and her own designs. There’s a workshop in the back and it’s all very cool. Very chic! At the heart of it is a stylish intelligent smiling black woman and it's all good.
I leave ZUZU and walk five minutes to Victoria station through the newly built 21st century Shude Hill Station. I hear a commissioned poem of mine has been emblazoned on the building. Maxine and I go a huntin’ for it. Hunting for the poem! I can’t believe it. They’ve used it twice. They, being GMPTE the original commissioners. I’ll put the picture of it on the public art page. Love it. I’m over the moon.
All of this happened within one hour of being in Manchester and none of it was planned previous to being here. I get the train to Rochdale. I’m leaving the city now, entering another darker part of my past.
I am reading at a small independent bookshop called Bright Books which is why I came to this part of the world in the first place. Their USP (unique selling point) is that theyserve over one hundred and twenty local authorities in England with books for hire in foreign languages for prisons, education and others including books in the ethiopian language Amharic. I loved Rochdale as a child. It’s where my foster grandmother lived. We used to visit on Sundays. This reading is two minutes from my foster grandmothers home. I wish there were more bookshops like this in England – independents!
There’s a good listening audience and it is a fantastic gig. Magic happens. There’s thispoint in every reading where you just know that we could be anywhere in the world. Creativity is the universal language, the transporter of idea, emotion and form. Without it we would die, literally. Our receptors would close down. No. I’ll never get tired of what I do. How could I. Every time I write a poem or read it to an audience it is an act of verification, of life, of living.