Friday, 31 July 2009

August Communique: A summer of rage, rain and concrete alchemy

Dear friends and fellow loiterers

I trust this finds you in fine fettle. Thank you to everyone who took the time to get in touch after last months communiqué to say how much they supported the idea of unity amongst those who love the city and the need to redefine risk.

I also appreciate those who criticised me for idealism; yes The LRM does have unrealistic aims but at the risk of sounding like a bumper sticker (ah recuperation! If only the bards of Paris 68 copyrighted their work) “Be realistic, demand the impossible….I take my desires for reality because I believe in the reality of my desires” but we are not a band of naïve hippies: far from it.

A basic tenet of The LRM manifesto is of course that webelieve there is magick in the (increasingly apocalyptic) Mancunian rain but also that advertising, blandness, commercialisation and gentrifiication make us sad. And frankly, recently I have been crying many tears of rage for what is happening. To quote a friend ‘sometimes this city needs a slap, not a hug’. Truly I believe direct action gets results and we ignore the dark side of the force at our peril.

For all its regenerated glories Manchester has many areas full of social deprivation and retains a woeful record on public health. I’ll get round to putting some statistics up on the website soon: suffice to say the post bomb nirvana never materialised for most residents but I guess you know that already. If you can’t wait for the synopsis email me and I’ll send you links for some jolly reading.

On a personal level this has also been a time of pestilence and heartbreak for many loiterers myself included. I have been reminded once again that there is strength in comraderie and just, well, doing stuff. I truly believe most things are better after a cup of tea and a wander across town. With the modern plagues of home entertainment and cars and headphones we increase alienation and become weaker and ever more isolated. One of the things I love most about First Sunday is the way it brings together so many disparate people, all inspiring in different ways and creating new connections, new ways of travelling which subtly changes the synapses of the city.

August will see a different kind of derive: one based not just on creation but also on destruction, on the metaphorical level at least. Often one requires the other and we should not be scared to acknowledge hurt, anger, sadness and fear: this is the first step to transformation and joy. Politics is in the streets and change is in our footsteps.

Please join me on a cathartic stomp this Sunday, August 2nd. We shall go abanishing and vanishing and conquering – afterwards when we have our traditional post walk pint we can discuss what we can do to improve things. Self pity and whining is NOT the loiterers way: anger is an energy and we will harness it somehow….

We’ll be meeting at 1pm in The Britons Protection, Great Bridgewater Street (its child friendly) probably in the back room or beer garden if it’s sunny. A fortifying drink is recommended as we may well enter alien territory for The LRM: 3 years of exploration and we have never once ventured into the dreaded Arndale Centre.

If you’re new just look for the short lass with pink hair. We’ll be off about 1.30; the route will be devised using arcane methods: please get in touch or arrive promptly if there is a site you especially want to visit or rant about and we’ll try and include it. I would love to know what (and where) you hate in and about Manchester, although of course no-one is obliged to share,

Please note I am not advocating any form violence, damage, disrespect or criminal activity: The LRM has always been and remains a law abiding and peaceful group. Everyone is welcome as long as they respect this and the rights of other loiterers. Remember also you are responsible for your own safety; please look out for everyone else too. This shouldn’t need saying: there have never been any problems with any loiterers but of course I am aware this email gets forwarded far and wide and I want to make this absolutely clear.

I hope you can join us, it would be splendid to see you. If you can’t make it on Sunday some kindreds also have some interesting events coming up this month. There are more Street Training sessions at Cube – see their website for booking details - and the wonderfully titled walk The Mancunian Way: The Alchemy of Concrete takes place on 27th August.

This walking tour offers an unconventional perspective on the geographical and cultural impact of the Mancunian Way on the city and its people. It starts with a short introductory presentation at Manchester Metropolitan University at 3pm, followed by the tour itself which lasts approximately 2 1/2 hours. At 6pm, as part of the URBIS Urban Research Forum, there will a public debate about the Mancunian Way and the impact of postwar Modernist planning and architecture in Manchester.

Email Steve Millington ( for further details. The event is designed to coincide with the annual Royal Geographical Society Conference which is taking place in the last week of August; there is some other great stuff happening around then too so do keep a look out.

I am starting to think about dropping the psycho – its meaningless – because geography is quite sexy and sensational enough. Oh yes.

With glittery love and creative rage

Morag x

Thursday, 23 July 2009

a message from hulme community garden centre

we have two upcoming important events at HCGC.

First up is a consultation event this Friday between 2.00pm and 4.00pm, here at the Centre, with Manchester Metropolitan University in regard to the proposed new campus development of Birley Fields.

This is YOUR opportunity to find out exactly what’s going on and a platform to engage with the University and Manchester Council and get your views heard. We’re hosting this event because we want to provide a forum for debate and we urge anyone and everyone to turn up here on Friday and get your point of view across.

HCGC has obvious concerns about the environmental impact of this development so I know we have a few issues to raise but there will also be a wider impact on the area and we want as many people as possible to have their say and get the answers they need. This is our opportunity to get involved in what’s happening in our area. Please forward this to all your networks and let’s make sure local communities have a voice.

Secondly, we have a FREE event about CODEX. What is Codex. I hear you splutter? Well, it affects the food we eat and could have a massive impact on our lives very soon. Run in conjunction with Alternative Answers this event will feature talks and a film about Codex before going on to learn what individuals and communities can do about it. The event is on Saturday 8th August from 1.00pm until 4.00pm.

Friday, 17 July 2009

a picnictastic artarama of a weekend

It is boring to talk about the weather but forgive me just this once if I say I am hoping for a sunny weekend. A couple of our favourite co-conspiratoprs have organised events that sound splendid and will be so regardless of the rain, but there’s no denying they will be most delightful if soggy sandwiches can be avoided…

First up on Saturday those lovely land girls and single cell are hosting Picnic “showcasing the talent of Manchester’s rising stars and highlighting the lonely plight of forgotten wasteland, inspiring public recalamation of urban green space" Hooray for that we say.

Look for the bunting in Hulme between Bonsall Street and Rolls Crescent (near Old Birley St) between 3 – 5pm. I believe the 1940s theme means costumes are encouraged and plan b in case of emergency (or torrential storms) is decamping to The Yard Theatre.

Wear your socks and sandals with pride, prepare to extol upon the virtue of scones. There will be cakes and lemonade galore, acoustic music, comedy and poetry from Julie E Gordon, Quiet Loner, Paul Leeming, Dominic Berry Aidan Jolly and band plus art activities, rounders and more... Fundraisind for the Swat Valley Crisis Appeal

On Sunday we are thrilled to be accepting an invite to the first Manchester modernist society tea party

“being a most cordial invitation to luncheon in the grass, in the shadow of Gustav Metzger’s Flailing Trees, Manchester Peace Gardens, St Peter’s Square, Sunday 19 July from 2pm, and then on to Procession: An exhibition at Cornerhouse, 4pm- 6pm.

Manchester is currently in festival fever with music, exhibitions and activities literally spilling out of the buildings and into the streets. It’s the perfect opportunity for even the most jaded of city dwellers to re-invigorate those humdrum routines, find new nooks and crannies lurking in the familiar and examine the everyday landscape we all too often take for granted with a more curious eye?

What better way we thought to enjoy the dying embers of the festival and reflect on the installation’s poignant message before its removal to the Whitworth Art Gallery than with a spot of afternoon tea under its temporary shade; our own modest celebration echoing the doubtless more lavish Festival Feast taking place round the corner in the Albert Square pavilion!”

See for the full text (and erm where we procured the wonderful picture above from)

So – a weekend of inspiring people, subverting public space, first class art (well, apart from those flailing trees of which more later) and scrummy cake. Sounds like heaven in a wild city to me and will hopefully banish my childhood conviction that to picnic meant sitting in a car at the bottom of beachy head looking at the sea and feeling sad.

Friday, 3 July 2009

July Communique: joining the dots and celebrating the city

Dear friends, foes, faeries and fellow loiterers

Merry July! Apologies for my recent tardiness regarding the blog and late notice of the forthcoming First Sunday. As some of you know June was a tricky month for me; but I have emerged battered and bruised and still breathing (sometimes that is no small triumph) and as ever during the tough times some truths emerge amidst the clichés and the pain.

Very little can’t be relived by a stroll through the city (I can suddenly hear Petula Clarke singing through the ether) and the intergalactic bonds formed by comrades in loitering are a tremendous source of strength and inspiration. Thank you all.

I’ve love to know what’s been happening with you and in particular your thoughts on a few questions I’ve been pondering: Where do you feel safe / unsafe? What is your favourite psychogeographic art? How should The LRM evolve? How is technology helping and hindering your sense of space? Answers on a postcard or in an email please…. Also, massive thanks to the ever inspiring Alan for curating June's splendid adventure. If you have an idea for a First Sunday please do share and we can make it happen.

The LRM will be embarking on something of an art crawl this Sunday, joining the dots between a few of the many exciting creative endeavours lighting up the city at the moment.

We’ll be meeting at John Rylands library café (on Deansgate) at 1.30pm I suggest getting there early to have a look at the splendid sounding Mapping Manchester: Cartographic Stories of the City' Mmmm maps... how they limit and liberate and intrigue….

Then we’ll be (very promptly on this occasion) heading out to enjoy Procession which one of the LRMs heroes, Miss Euphemia P Niblock describes as the highlight of the (Manchester International) festival, the everyday, plus a little bit of flaneurie = an archaeology of now!! perfect...

At 2.30pm we will reconvene under our beloved giant map in Victoria Station. This is one of my favourite places in town; I love the energy of railway stations and the million stories you can glimpse (or invent) in the bustle. We may be a little late so if you are lost or unsure where we are do please ring/text the hotline 079 749 29589 and remember our ramshackleness is part of our charm.

The ensuing derive will be tactile, sensuous and playful: I want to concentrate on the senses that we tend to ignore or repress when traversing the city. And no I am not being perverse: this will be a walk, as ever, suitable for all ages and dispositions. It seems to me society as a whole is becoming over cautious; fear of fear is a dangerous enemy to the loiterer. Chance and chaos and risk can be liberating and beautiful: let’s be delightfully silly and concentrate on touching and feeling and being joyous. Consensual hugging is optional but very welcome.

This is not an official event; we have no corporate sponsorship, no membership fee, no tickets, no exclusions, no copyright notices, no insurance policies and no dogma. Ignore me if you like but please remember advice given by some of our illustrious forbears ‘Forbidding is not allowed’ and ‘As long as it harm none’ between those two sages lies the heart of The LRM.

Our wander will finish at CHIPS so we can be dazzled by Trade City, Contemporary Art Manchester’s launch event. Pedants may note we are not embarking on a true derive because the end point is defined but I say so what. We have no idea of what the travelling will entail and the journey can still be sweet.

I daresay then we shall find somewhere to share stories and imbibe refreshing beverages. Even as we revel in the art there will doubtless be despair at the redevelopment of Ancoats and debate on the contradictions inherent within the LRM; so resolutely embedded and in love with the city and yet hating so much of what is happening to it. It’s a shame The City as Gymnasium exhibition at Cube isn’t open until 9th July; I think there will be much to savour there too especially Lottie Child’s Street Training.

I hope one of the subtexts of a walk between and betwixt spectacles will be a rallying cry for solidarity amongst the many artists, organisations and individuals whose work overlaps with ours.

We may disagree on many things – I am a contrary bugger and lest we forget the LRM is about revolutionary fun and wants nothing less than the city of our dreams - but like a giant Venn diagram at our core we are all exploring and celebrating Manchester in its multifaceted and frustrating and wonderful glory.
The city is big enough for us all and I despise the insidious sense of competition certain quarters encourage; but of course I reserve the right to expel corporate whores and untruthful prophets when The Loiterers Republic of Mancunia is finally established!

Just time to heartily recommend a couple more kindred’s who I can not envisage ever banishing: The fledgling manchester modernist society is blossoming into a Very Good Thing and the next issue of The Mule newspaper (its full of proper, inspiring, trustworthy journalism) will include an article about The LRM and how playing in the street became subversive.

I do hope to see you Sunday or perhaps in one of the secret grottos I’ve taken to hiding in of late. No of course I’m not revealing where they are - it wouldn’t be a secret network then would it - but there again is the paradox: most sacred LRM spaces may feel private but are very public. The portals are there for anyone to discover if only they are looking the right way….

Glittery love, power and joy

Morag x