In which they do not star in The Wireby Marie
We decided to spend our Sunday afternoon zedding. We had an invitation to go look at a brand new baby so we packed our knitted booties and fairtrade babygro, and like the guardian reading lefties we are, set off to walk there – thereby eschewing public transport and nasty cars. A pleasant stroll through some parks and… Gunchester!!! …Britain’s bronx!! The urban no go area that is Moss side!!!
Um.. sorry.. I don’t what came over me there. I seemed to think I was writing copy for a tabloid newspaper. A similar madness recently possessed Chris Grayling, the shadow home secretary, MP for… um I don’t know…somewhere leafy down south…
“Liam…could you google for me where the nice man comes from?”
“Epsom, Surrey” I’m blogging this in real time, Liam is reading me stuff about how many posh schools there are there. So to be fair, poor Chris must have felt uneasy coming this far north at all. For those of you not keeping track of Manchester news. The zedders were amused that Mr Grayling had recently suggested that there was an “urban war” going on in Moss side. It is “The world of the drama series The Wire”. This excited Liam, Liam loves The Wire, and now it is on his very own doorstep.
I haven’t got into The Wire, “What is about Liam?”
It’s set among gangland violence in Baltimore, a city with a murder rate the same as that of Manchester.. and Glasgow …and Liverpool… and Sheffield… and Epsom added together.
“What else happens Liam?”
“Sometimes opportunistic politicians exploit disadvantaged communities for political gain”
Nothing like Moss side then. Let’s go take a look…
There was an interesting religion sandwich on the A to Z: Church – Temple – Church. There was a Gurdwara, between a Polish church and an nice red brick church, a smiling family in pretty clothes were going to worship there.
we saw some pretty stuff outside a mosque.
Hare Krishnas later in Whalley range as well. Seventh Day adventists and then we saw the Brotherhood of the Cross and Star. Aim: Love one another. Nothing to argue about there.
We are all in favour of people having the religious freedom to love one another. “I’m gonna find them on the ninterweb when we get home” said I. Liam said that he didnt think they looked like they would be keyed in to the the web 2.0 generation. But no, The brotherhood of the cross and star are sooo on the internet. You can go read about how His Holiness Olumba Olumba Obu has been revealed (to himself) to be the reincarnation of Jesus. But you probably don’t want to.*
Liam wanted to show me these historic houses as he knew I’d like them, I do like them and can’t find out what they were. If you goggle the street name you can find lots of opportunities to help the police with their enquiries. What can I say to you? It felt like a nice stroll out on a Sunday afternoon, at no point did I feel like I would end up helping the police with their enquires.
Then we went into the grid of smart little terraces. They were the next model up in terraced houses from the one I grew up in. They had pretty tiles in their porches. Historically Moss side was a bit more well to do than more working class Hulme. The first Afro Caribbean immigrants to the city settled here. We were looking for Steve street, because we thought that was quite a funny name for a street. We couldn’t find it tho, a friendly man asked us if we needed directions, which we politely declined, I just couldn’t face explaining. Liam says he remembers noticing how ethnically diverse the area was. People of all colours were out on the streets, unlike similar areas of Birmingham where sometimes I notice that I am the only white person in the street. Interestingly, when I first moved from Birmingham to Manchester I remember noticing how the people in the city centre were mainly white, which gave me a sense of unease for a while, like a significant proportion of the population had just disappeared.
So we saw some boys on bicycles, according to myth, they should be drug running. If it was The Wire, Liam knowledgablely informs me, they would be called hoppers. They could of course, have just been boys on bicycles. They didn’t do anything to suggest they weren’t. We did however, find evidence of a crime problem in Moss side:
We can’t wait for the episode of The Wire about that.
We wandered, admiring the hanging baskets, we saw this:
“I like the way that the streets around here smell of hops”. And it does, Ms Finch is quite right. This is another story-fragment the city has given us. This and no more, we don’t know who Ms Finch is or why her delight in the smell of hops has been immortalised in street art. I love that it has tho. I hope she is a Moss side local.
We saw an ice cream van but it was too fast for us. Having heard the chimes, like Pavlovs dogs, we went into a shop a bought ice cream and sat on a grass verge to eat it. Liam’s ice cream fell off its stick which isn’t very interesting for you but upset him at the time.
Before we leave Moss side, I guess this is the place to say it, what we saw was that people cared enough about their houses to put hanging baskets outside, that they were willing to give directions to lost looking strangers, that ice cream was for sale and two Guardian readers can wander around taking photos without fearing for their lives. We don’t mean to be glib about the drug and gun problems which must have destroyed the lives of so many mothers’ sons; each one is a tragedy. What we do want to illustrate is that sometimes fear is much worse than the thing you fear. The people of Moss side have had to put up with being their area being talked about all over the national media as a scary place to be, yet they have been growing flowers and buying ice cream and falling in love and having babies and doing all the beautiful ordinary things of life. I went to Moss side. I saw flowers.
We walked through Alexandra Park. Its park keeper’s cottage is all boarded up, it must have been a nice house once when this gnarly tree was young.
The peaceful air was punctuated by the loud crack… of leather on willow. Yep. It is Sunday afternoon and the young men of Moss side are playing cricket. Just like they do in Epsom, eh Chris?
We saw a group of young men further up the path and, I’m ashamed to say, I put my camera in my bag out of sight as we passed them. As we walked by they showed no interest in us and carried on talking about the smell of their own farts.
Then we passed into a magical autumnal glade were golden leaves floated slowly to the ground. On that side of the park there is a wonderful promenade for the folks of Whalley Range to come out of their lovely villas and to march up and down seeing and being seen.
We saw a church that had been converted into flats and had it’s steeple truncated. Liam reckoned that looking at the cars he probably couldn’t afford the flats. He is looking to move if anyone wants to offer him a nice one bed flat with character in a nice area. Extra points if it has a spiral staircase or is in a converted church. Or a balcony, he says, but actually he is picky about balconies, he likes to be able to see how they are held up, sturdy buttresses only please.
Next door was Mayfield Mansions, which I had insisted we see because it was named the Mansions. It looked like the place Poirot lives, maybe he did, it had seen better days.
And there was St Bedes, which was gloriously excessive. It is a Catholic independent school, with some uncared for statues adorning the porch. There were carvings of things you might want to grow up to do like wearing a silly wig, or bad tights, or writing with a quill or unloading ships. There was a latin inscription that Liam attempted to translate, but some of it had fallen off, I didn’t even try, I went to a comprehensive. Doctor Who went to school here, or Colin Baker did. There were some very scary stone men watching us, I think they thought we were up to no good.
Just round the corner, where we were looking for a place to sneak into the school grounds, a sad looking little boy approached us and politely enquired where he might find a park near there. We were delighted to direct him back to Alexandra Park. We hope it cheered him up.
Then we headed to Trafford to see the baby. On the way we saw another even more truncated stepple. We didn’t get a photo but I swear we saw a sign saying “Spire hospital” obviously in great demand locally, maybe that is where the steeples have gone.
We saw a nice sunflower
And Lowry’s birthplace. Strange that Lowry, who was born in Trafford and lived and painted in Salford is synonymous with Manchester in the mind of the rest of the world.
We passed through another park, where we paused to write down a list of things we had seen on our travels on the back of a train ticket in case we forgot them. As we did this some boys of about 10 passed us talking about explosives. We did not report them to the department of homeland security, sorry. If there is a major terrorist incident in suburban Trafford next week you can blame us. We are not the sort of people who check our neighbour’s bins.
The list contains:
- shrieking public toilet
- mime getting someone to take his photo on a mobile phone
- whining dog on bus with very prominent testicles
- woman with purple dreadlocks on a bike
- dog crossing a road on his own
- tutankhamun doorknocker
- boys talking about their farts
Date zedded: 13 September
A to Z: Page 109 and 108 F3 E3 D3 E4 D4 C4 B4 B3 A3
Target square: G6
Getting there: Once again, one of the multitude of 42, 142 or 143 buses down the Oxford Road.
Squares this expedition: 9
Running total: 135
We have had a correction sent in by an eagle eyed reader of our facebook feed:
One minor correction: as I read their website (this reader did want to!), His Holiness Olumba Olumba Obu was revealed as the reincarnated Jesus not by himself, but by the Brotherhood’s founder, his confusingly named father, Leader Olumba Olumba Obu, Supreme Holy Father, sole spiritual Head of the universe, and perhaps (it is both hinted and denied) none other than God the Father physically manifest on the earth plane since 1918. (And as further evidence of their web-savviness, the Brotherhood turn out to even have a facebook page!)
So, our apologies to the brotherhood. It was revealed to his Dad that he was the reincarnation of Jesus. My misunderstanding was clearly silly. Thank you Robert.