You may have noticed that the zedders have not been out very much of late. No journey lasts forever, we have been having our own separate adventures which leave little time for visiting random locations. As this is the case, we probably won’t be picking up our A to Zs in the near future.
I’d just like to say thank you for reading, and for all your lovely feedback and encouragement. I’ve really enjoyed zedding; the city has been kind, you’ve been a wonderful audience and Liam was a worthy fellow adventurer. I’m venturing off the map and into unknown territory, I would like to share with you things I have Seen in the street. Come with me if you like…
You may remember the lovely people at Urban Earth, who caused me to walk across Manchester in the dark and then across Leeds. Last weekend they organised Urban Tweet Day, with people in loads of different cities tweeting about their days.
Mainly, it was all about the snow, surprisingly enough. There were some really pretty, poetic posts though – if you’d like to see it all, check out #utday on Twitter, or see a condensed version of the whole thing at the Urban Adventure blog.
We still haven’t quite got the hang of tweeting, but I had a potter around Chorlton and tweeted some thoughts. I was feeling a bit disappointed that I’d not seen anything interesting, when the zedding gods smiled on me.
What appeared to be the entire cast of a pantomime wandered across the road, to much honking from passing cars. You really couldn’t make this stuff up.
Eventually the cold became too much for me and I went for coffee indoors. Looking forward to the next thing, though: Urban Sound Week.
Regular readers will know I find gargoyles impossible to photograph. I finally managed to capture one when out with the LRM today
On the first Sunday in October the Manchester Zedders were pleased to join the LRM for a loiter around Didsbury. We had already zedded the gates to hell so no new squares for us, but it was nice to do it as a group.
Fletcher Moss and his haunted house were already known to us, his house had apparently had quite a reputation before he took it on. Servants refused to live in it because of noises in the night. We had heard that this was later shown to be caused by tightrope-walking rats pitter-pattering along the cords for the servants’ bells, but according to Alan, facilitator of this month’s wander, the skeptical Mr Moss found no logical explanation for the strange goings on in the haunted parsonage and concluded that his dog Gomer was freaked out by a spirit.
Alan had some info on the church nearby. In the 12th century it was recorded as having “antiquity beyond memory”. The very phrase just thrills me. Say it out loud to yourself, savour it, whisper “antiquity beyond memory”. I love it. We have good reason to think that a church this old was probably Christianising some ancient holy site. Did the ghost of some spirit, no longer given homage, return to bother poor Gomer? We will never know.
We took a look around the parsonage gardens, we found this stone.
Perhaps another clue about our mill by the Mersey. We told other loiterers about our quest to find a mill which had disapeared from the A to Z between 1997 and 2005.
The parsonage gardens had a lot of yew trees, as is right and proper for a holy site with antiquity beyond memory. As we wandered, the fallen berries mixed with fallen needles to create a substance a bit like…well… jam. It stuck to the sole of our boots in a layer an inch thick and was difficult to remove. Jam Jam Jam. Walking on Jam is a weird sensation and I was glad to scrape the stuff off me and move on into Fletcher Moss Gardens, where we were looking for mushrooms and berries. In France, so I’m told, if you pick mushrooms in the wild you can go to a pharmacy and the pharmacist is required by law to tell you which are edible and which are not. We love that they take their food that seriously, it tells you something about the priorities of a nation. The Germans, bless em, have laws about beer that are older than their country. Anyone want to tell us about any endearing British laws?
it had some lovely detail
Very nice. I like this because of how different it is to other memorial benches. It is a collection of someone’s favorite things, an attempt to hint at a person’s personality and in so doing keep their memory alive in those it delights.
I have a fear of having a memorial bench dedicated to me, and then the inevitable dereliction of my bench as I am forgotten. Liam is going to endeavour to prevent any bench dedications, should he survive me. This will not help, of course, if we are both killed in some horrific zedding-related accident. What disturbs me about some memorials is that they seem to underline the reality that the person has faded from memory. As a student, I lived in William Thompson Halls of Residence and the only time I paused to wonder who Willy Tom had been, was to reflect on the irony that no one seemed to know. No benches please. Not even lovely ones.
It may also be worthy of mention that the café in Fletcher Moss Gardens was once home to the headquarters of the Plumage League. “What was the Plumage league?” we hear you cry. Founded by women in 1889, it campaigned against the slaughter of birds for feathers to be used in the millinery trade. At the time, nearby Stockport was the hat-making centre of the known world, so it is fitting that the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds should be able to trace its origins here. Plumage League tho, a better name I think than RSBP.
Having worked up a thirst, we headed to The Didsbury for refreshments.
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.
The Shrieking Violet is another great Manchester blog. It’s anonymous so I don’t know if we’ve met the Violet herself in person.
Anyway, you may have noticed that we keep encountering gargoyles in our meanderings, but never manage to photograph the buggers. Shrieking Violet has captured many of Manchester’s best specimens on film, and eulogised them beautifully here: