have begun to appear on the streets of our fair city. Oh there's the usual nativity stuff, stars of Bethlehem, wise men, the occasional camel, a manger, donkeys; but in a less popular quarter of town and suspended over cobbled streets lurks something quite different. It's not that the denizens of Back Midden are unchristian (though many are) but every year they like to develop a different seasonal theme and this year it's the great banking crash of 2008.
Flossy Street, Back Midden's main thoroughfare is stuffed with shops, stalls, arcades and the odd booth from where it remains possible to hire orphans for chimney work. The Pevsner Guide to Manchester among other things describes Flossy Street as "unreconstructed." Suspended the length of the street between gas lanterns are 11 representations of events leading to this September's catastrophe and a 12th one about hope. The first tableau, designed in black and red shows a big bellied banker evicting ragged children from a property he wants to develop for apartments. The second tableau hanging between The Gnarled Penny, a gin palace, and Jobson's Offal Shop (If it's Offal you want...) shows the same children buying a gun and directing dirty looks at the now fatter banker. Tableau three shows the banker laughing as a school is bulldozered and in tableau four the ruddy faced oaf picks his teeth with the bones of dead infants before tossing the remains to a wolfhound salivating at his feet. Continuing up the street we see this outrage further developed in tableau five that shows a smaller group of children agreeing that they might need a bigger gun, and maybe a machete.
On Flossy Street my favourite eatery is part of the Big Suet chain (If it's an early death you want...) where lard is revered. Opposite Big Suet stands Maggie Nolan's Toys for Tiny Fingers that sells minute copies of popular brands like Lego and Action Man, in truth though it's really an emporium of choking hazards. Between Big Suet and Maggie's hangs tableau six in which the fat banker, getting bigger and fatter, flattens a factory using only his belly. Some workers mistaking the event for an eclipse fail to flee and are crushed. Tableau seven shows the banker bending to light his cigar on flames licking up through the rubble. Halfway along Flossy Street on the left is Sodden, an alleyway once popular with those who enjoy gin but now occupied by a stall selling bootstraps with which it's possible to pull oneself up, or so the banner declares. This stall is popular with Britain's New Labour Government.
In Back Midden coal remains the favoured fuel. Most shops have a roaring fire which is curious given you get more glow for your bucks with nuclear. Indeed with nuclear everything glows and nearly forever too. I read that in Russia the old Soviet government issued nuclear stoves to people living in the frozen tundra. No one survives there now but the stoves remain, easy to locate because they melt the surrounding snow and nothing will grow near them. Such simple machines and still working after all these years. Is that not a marvel?
The ever popular Gloves, a double fronted store selling gloves is situated opposite Scarves. Gloves and Scarves are owned by brothers who no longer speak. Linking the two stores is tableau eight in which a convention of portly bankers listen to one of their number complaining about not being fat enough. Tableau nine, hanging from the Cathedral of Simon the Zealot (Zealot by name...) majestically sweeps across Flossy Street to Hooks the hook shop and depicts a pig with its head in a trough that leaks. In tableau ten, giant bankers stride the globe oblivious as people rush towards an armaments shop through whose window we can see ragged children bickering over the calibre of an artillery piece.
Legend has it that Muck End which bisects Flossy Street at the top was once a popular haunt of razor pigs until the nuns came. A statue cast in stolen lead and celebrating this important catholic victory still stands outside The Bride of Christ Public House. Attached to the raised fist of Sister Therazor (for it is she) is one end of tableau eleven which shows the fat bankers losing not only their shirt but everyone else's shirt on Mucky Meg who failed to show in the 3.30 at Kempton Park. Across the street and providing the other anchorage point is a huge bronze of Harry Pig, Leader of the the Muck End Redemptors, who is portrayed showing the finger to Sister T.
Beyond those contradictory examples of civic pride lies Muck End Corner with its Post Office on one side and Old Alf's Old Shop on the other. Muck End Corner marks not only the conclusion of Flossy Street but also the conclusion of this year's theme. The good citizens of Back Midden are nothing if not positive and in their final representation, the final cartoon so to speak, seemingly remorseful bankers weep crocodile tears and apologise profusely to a huge crowd, they also swear never again to mess things up. In reply the angry multitude shout "Fucking right you won't!" before parting like the Red Sea to let through some children pushing a cannon.
Monday, November 24, 2008
Bang" an attractive sculpture erected in East Manchester to celebrate the 2002 Commonwealth Games is coming down. In truth its demise began almost as soon as it went up when spikes separating from the main body plunged earthwards skewering a group of nuns. The holy sisters, and how ironic that now sounds, all celebrants with The Venerable Order of "Redemption through Pain" were in town for a convention.
The impaled postulates were not popular except with local flagellants so won't be missed, unlike "The B of the Bang." Boo hoo.
Not being keen on the name "The B of the Bang" I suggested to the City Council as an alternative, "You could put someone's eye out with that." They never replied.
Sunday, November 09, 2008
Saturday, November 08, 2008
Dark Matter hits the news. Although a puzzle for sometime because it cannot presently be detected scientists now seem on the verge of proving the stuff really exists. Last week I burned my favourite pan and Dark Matter appeared. Took me bloody ages to scrape it off, had to use three scourers. The sooner they get this thing sorted out the better. In my opinion.
Sunday, November 02, 2008
Sunday Independent, the most glamorous goat in all Arabia. And a fine looking animal it is too. Meanwhile The Observer reviews Richard Holmes's "The Age of Wonder" in which he describes an experience of Alexandre Charles, the 18th Century balloonist. Landing after one successful flight the confident aeronaut invited his assistant to step out of the basket. Liberated from this extra weight the balloon rocketed skywards reaching a height of 10,000 feet before returning safely to earth. Later Mr Charles's assistant described to waiting journalists his receding master's bewildered face.
I think the goat has some of that look.
I think the goat has some of that look.