So, we reach the last day, the last post. A post about the sense of touch and feel.
Manchester feels like edges.
Some of the edges that are warm and nice to feel. Run your fingers over them, push your face into them. Snuggle up.
Some of the edges are a bit sharp. A bit rough. But you get used to them. It really wouldn’t be the same here without them, so don’t go wishing they weren’t here.
Manchester feels like the edge of a wall. The edge of a wall in Piccadilly Gardens. Or, to put it a slightly different way, Manchester feels like the edge of the bony shoulders of an upset old man whilst you look at the wall in Piccadilly gardens. Let me explain.
In 2002, a brand new Piccadilly Gardens was unveiled, featuring a controversial concrete wall designed by Japanese architect Tadao Ando. A few days after the wall was unveiled I stood there admiring it. I liked it a lot. l I touched it. Let my fingers drift over the cold stone. I walked around it. I smiled.
An old man in threadbare trousers and a black blazer stumbled over to me, and fixed me with a steel gaze. “This is horrible,” he said.
“I like it” I replied. “I think it’s good.” Those words were also what my wife and I jokingly said to each other about the disease SARS. Although I think we actually ripped it off from someone else, but there you go.
“No. It’s awful,” he said, vehemently. He began to shake a little. “How long,” he continued, his mouth foaming slightly, like a rabid vole, “How long will it be until this wall is all around Manchester?”
He beat his puny fists against my chest for a moment and let out a low sob “How long will it be until they use the wall to keep us all trapped in here?”
I’m a bit socially awkward. I didn’t really know how to answer him. I felt a bit like giving him a hug, but I only put one arm around him, like I was helping him across a road or into a taxi because he was a bit drunk.
We stood there for a few seconds before looking at each other awkwardly and then walking off in opposite directions.
Even if he was talking metaphorically though, he was wrong. I’ve never felt that Manchester is a city that has barriers up to people coming or going. Everyone is welcome.
(Guess what?) Manchester feels like my City. (Join in now…) Because it is.
Today is my final post. It’s been a blast. Thank you to everybody who has looked at my ramblings. I really hope you’ve got something out of it, and I very much appreciate you taking the time to read. Thank you very much to Chris Meads for asking me to be involved. He is a man amongst men. Thank you also to all the previous Guest Curators. I’ve enjoyed each and every post and I’m sure I will from those to come in subsequent weeks too.
Last week’s curator Jonathan Greenbank asked me: “Using the other cities’ Liver Buildings, Coles Corner and the Tyne Bridge as reference points, where are the most romantic places in Manchester?”
And my answer would be:
It’s not a cop out answer. It’s not.
My question for next week’s contributor Michael Duckett, writer of the marvellous Zine-it-Yourself blog, is this: “If you could bottle up the senses of taste, smell, touch, sight and sound of Tyne & Wear and sell it as a fine wine (or beer!”) what would you call it and why?”