Wednesday 20 November 2019
As part of my working week, I am sent on a course that involves a ‘cultural tour’ of Manchester. What a memorable day! It showcases the industry, the creativity and the inspirational spirit of equality that has shaped my home town. It also challenges my thoughts about the sort of future I want to fight for. Not so much for the teens, their futures seem full of excitement and of endless opportunities … but for me.
We start at the Whitworth Art Gallery, deep in University land. There is gallery upon gallery of stunning displays: photography; textiles (in honour of the proud industry of “Cottonopolis“); a Cezanne exhibition… but the gallery that really blows me away is “The Reno“. This celebration of the famous Moss Side club, not only charts some significant shifts in societal attitudes during the 1970s, but also sums up the journey we all make from youth into adulthood and responsibility.
“What was your club called?.… Where it mattered if it rained cos your hair wouldn’t hold up. And what was his name? Before your wage. And the person you became. That bears no relation to the person you were then. When you believed in magic. Ours was called The Reno “
Well mine was called The Hacienda or The Cellar at Uni. And I was a very different person back then. But gosh … do we really stop believing in magic… do we really give up on happy endings…. is our teenage self really lost forever?
My mind is still whirring with this one as we stride off to visit other Mancunian treasure. The Manchester Art Gallery, the National Football Museum and finally The People’s History Museum. We see great objects, some beautiful, some innovative, some highly emotive. We watch film archives and listen to iconic commentaries. We relive the struggles of women, of working men and of ethnic minorities for acceptance and equality. It’s a treat for our eyes, our ears …. and our hearts.
At the People’s History Museum, exhibitions are united around the theme of ‘Ideas worth fighting for’ and the contribution that ordinary people have made to building a fairer world where all are valued . It’s inspiring and very much epitomises Manchester and these streets that have seen Peterloo, Emmeline Pankhurst and the founding of the Co-op Group. For a Mancunian, there can be no better way to close our cultural tour.
And so ends a lovely day. But in a few weeks it will also be the end of a decade. As we welcome the start of a new one; and one in which my role as the primary carer for 3 children will end, I ask myself ‘What will I be fighting for?’ And I just don’t know. But I am sure that I want to make the most of the time I have left and try to make a story…. a story about ideas worth fighting for or just a story about making mischief? I really cannot decide. But I do want a story worth telling. In the words of ‘The Reno’,
“We are all pages in the book of our time on earth.”