Street Life: Coming Out, Ready or Not

The built environment was a big factor in the games we played. For instance, ‘thunder and lightning’ or ‘knock and run’ was a torment particularly reserved for the residents of terraced houses – too much chance of getting spotted running away where there were gardens.

The terrace gable end was also a favoured spot to accommodate a couple of girls playing ‘two balls’ side by side. But the constant thump, thump of the balls was guaranteed to fetch out a large woman, typically wearing a wrap-around overall, who would bellow ‘go and play in your own street’.In the summer these same gable ends had cricket stumps chalked or painted on them. But when too many strikes from a ‘corkie’ thudded against the brickwork, the street cricketers received the same admonition from the flowery pinny brigade.

The council houses where I lived were built around two grassed areas we called ‘greens’. The road bisected them and on our side the green had a fine gravel path, ideal for bikes and scooters. The smooth surface around the other green was perfect for whip and top, and might account for why its popularity lasted so long with us.

Boys used ‘the greens’ for football and ‘split the kipper’, a game that was played with a penknife or other sharp blade.Flagged pavements were good for hopscotch and skipping where our preference was for a rope long enough to accommodate half a dozen girls.

Some of the rhymes we chanted were a little out dated but stayed popular because their actions called for timing and agility. One such was ‘I’m an ATS girl dressed in green’. As far as I know, The ATS wore khaki but it didn’t bother us when we were touching the ground, turning around and doing ‘the kicks and splits’ which the rhyme dictated. Other rhymes featured film stars such as Betty Grable and Charlie Chaplin who were old hat by the 1950s.Our junior schools were single sex, so I suppose that was the reason girls and boys rarely played together. Marbles, or ‘alleys’ as we knew them, was a ‘mixed’ game, and we sometimes joined forces for chasing games such as ralivo, kick can or hide and seek. Firmly defined boundary restrictions were imposed to make sure the games didn’t go on indefinitely.Readers of The Perishers cartoon strip might recognise another mostly male activity which involved a vehicle the Daily Mirror called a carte. Variously called soapboxes or trolleys, in Manchester the homemade contraptions were known as bogies or guiders. These gravity racers required a sturdy wooden soap or apple box, old pram wheels or sometimes roller skates. The frame had a rope fixed to the ends of a steerable bar at the front.

Our fairly quiet street sloped down towards Church Lane which was a main road. Consequently Honister Road was adopted as an ad hoc race track where the idea was to perform a sharp right turn at the bottom. But only the most sophisticated vehicles had a brake. So to prevent the basic model guider from shooting out into the main road, a driver had to rely on a boot sole scuffed along the pavement.I don’t recall any fatalities, but I expect some poor car drivers lost years off their lives when a guider, travelling at high speed, shot across their bows after failing to make the turn.

Boys and girls both created dens. Ours were for playing ‘house’ or ‘shop’ while the sole purpose of a boy’s den seemed to be a secluded place where they could build a fire.

‘Den’ was also the word for the base in a game of hide and seek or similar. We called out ‘bounce’ or ‘kickstone 1 2 3’, to signal getting back without capture. I can’t recall the Moston word chasers used when someone’s hiding place was spotted, but according to my mother it was ‘whip’ in Collyhurst. In a chasing game, a halt for a loose shoelace or ‘stitch’ was achieved with a cry of ‘ballies’ while holding up both thumbs.Playing shop

When we moved to New Moston, our playground was the middle of three interlinked ‘frying pan’ cul-de-sacs. The narrowness of the roads and the almost complete absence of traffic lent itself to ‘Grandmother’s footsteps’, ‘What time is it Mr. Wolf?’ and ‘Farmer, farmer may I cross your golden river?’ – games not usually played in Moston’s streets.

There were also seasonal factors to some of our games. Conkers or sticky bud (burdock) fights were autumnal, and snowballing and sliding obviously required a good freeze. On dark winter nights we raided the wood stocks other kids had assiduously ‘logged’ for their own bonfire. But natural seasons aside, how did we know when to make the change from skipping to hopscotch? If there was some mysterious formula, I was never in on the secret.

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Carers Week 2019

It’s like waiting for a bus. You go ages doing the same old thing, week in week out, then everything happens at once. That’s Carers Week for you. Good fun but I’m half glad it’s over, I’m knackered!

First off, a trip to the Bridgewater Hall for the Halle Orchestra performing The Lark Rising, including a mini tour and buffet. What a treat. What a spectacular building and how lucky are we to have such talented musicians in our city. The ice-cream tubs (I mean it would be rude not to) were divine.Next up, Walking Football at Manchester City Training Stadium. Walking Football, if you didn’t know, is an actual thing that people do. The game has its own set of rules, even its own league and the Man City trainers run these sessions twice a week. It was a brilliant afternoon, the training facility was awesome and the buffet… delicious.The third event on my list was an Italian meal at Dom’s Tavola Calda on Deansgate. I decided to make a day of it and took an early tram into town. Had a rare mooch around the Arndale before meandering through M&S to the restaurant.Tucking in into Italian??

I soon spotted someone I knew, plonked myself down and had great time. Fabulous atmosphere, like being on a works do. Finished with a tiramisu as light as air, washed down with a glass of vino blanco – bellissimo!

Finally, and much needed after all that food, the week rounded up with a brisk walk, courtesy of Manchester and Salford Ramblers, around Salford Quays and Media City. It was easy to get to on the tram and the weather was perfect.

The walk took us past the Imperial War Museum and Ordsall Hall, both of which are free. I had a meander through the Blue Peter Garden and a nosy around the Lowry Shopping Centre. Thoroughly impressed and I’ll definitely go back.Somewhere near Salford Quays

There were lots of other things going on that week that I didn’t get to but a massive thanks to the organisations involved for their time, funding, facilities and hard work.  I’m truly grateful for the opportunity to get out, have some fun and meet new people.My fellow walkers outside Ordsall Hall

Carers Week isn’t a one-off. There are regular meetings, trips out, free training sessions, coffee mornings and activities going on all across Manchester all through the year and you can easily access them as well as get advice, information and support.

Not sure if you’re a carer? This might help…If you are local to Harpurhey/Moston, workshops run by Manchester Carers Network have been held at Broadhurst Community Centre. Manchester Carers Forum hold monthly meetings at The Avenue Library and Learning Centre in Blackley, Age Exchange run an activity club at EachStep on Charlestown Road and there are rumours that Manchester Carers Centre will be running sessions at Harpurhey Wellbeing Centre on Church Lane starting next month.

Further information on other localities and details of future events can be found by clicking on the links below:

Manchester Carers Network, Manchester Carers Forum, Manchester and Salford Ramblers, Manchester City Walking Football, Broadhurst Community Centre (FB)Imperial War Museum North, Ordsall HallAge Exchange, Bridgewater Hall.

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Moviecals – North West Theatre Arts Company at its best

It’s a treat going to the theatre and I sensed we were in for something special. I told my husband so…and I’m never wrong.

As we settle into our seats and the lights go down the usual announcement is made saying the performance is about to start. “Switch off your phone, no flash photography and enjoy the show…”, etc.

My husband whispers “Jesus! You didn’t tell me Idris Elba was going to be here.” You can imagine my expression. I think he’s serious but you can never tell.

I shake my head and study the playbill. Moviecals is a showcase of hit songs and dance routines from the movies covering a range of genres; from the comforting lullaby “Hush-A-Bye Mountain” (sung by Owen Maudsley) to the seductive “Cabaret” (Eva Carty), the cheeky number “Pick A Pocket” (Liam Watson), melancholy “Tomorrow” from Bugsy Malone (Poppy Evans) to the inspirational “This is Me” (full company).

It’s a preview evening. We’re privileged to be here. I’m excited but nervous knowing this is the first time the show would run in front of a live audience. Tension is in the air. I hold my breath for the first few minutes and feel nervous for everyone, front stage and back. So much responsibility.

But….they were fantastic! We were treated to full on dance routines that make you think you can dance too and songs that ring in your head for days. It was uplifting, emotional and magical.

Comedy didn’t get left out either. The links between numbers were covered brilliantly by Laurel and Hardy aka the multi-talented James Valentine and Jonny Molyneux – hilarious. Steve Cougan and John C Reilly watch your backs, these two were an absolute treat.

Jonny’s rendition of “If I Were a Rich Man” was also outstanding. Both he and James had us in stitches.

If you’ve ever been on a Disneyland theme park ride this was just the same except it stopped off at the West End and Warner Bros on the way round. I wanted to climb off and join in.

Across the 44 songs and routines covered, there was a chance for everyone to take centre stage and shine. We thoroughly enjoyed every minute.

The curtain came down as mist from dry ice filtered through the emptying seats. We drifted into the bar area and passed by the technicians whose lighting, sound and stage management skills helped bring it all together.

In the bar, front of house positions were held by students of the theatre’s stage school playing their part in making it an all-round special experience.

I applaud you all.

Was Idris Elba there? No, was he hell as like! He too should watch his back though. Apparently, my husband reckons, Prab Singh (Director…and announcer) sounds just like him.

For information about NWTAC including What’s On, booking tickets, North West Stage School and more, click here.

There may still be tickets left for Moviecals but, if you’ve missed out, sign up for their mailing list.

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