Nearer the time we will give clearer details but for now we are going to use three emails that were sent to three turns as an insight as to how things work/may work/definitely won’t work. The first email sent was in late November and there was one particularly stubborn leaf on a tree outside my window that wouldn’t go as I was writing. I was very proud of it. Someone always has to be last, and that’s usually considered a negative thing, but not so with Leaf Garrett. She did well.
The emails have been rejigged and redacted in parts so as not to toecully confuse the reader. Some of the things mentioned below will not happen, many will, some will be altered from how they were first envisaged but that’s organic learning and when the final details are posted that’ll be what’s happening. For example, we sourced an archery target and asked our contacts on the board if we could have axe throwing competitions in Malcolmses. Seerz, it’s a legitimate thing. However, those of a certain age will remember the Stretford End being closed because of that knife throwing incident onto the pitch in 73 and we sort of went quiet on it. We may regret our conservatism when it catches on.
If you read the three emails below you’ll be fine, promise. If you don’t you’ll be finer. Promise.
LETTER ONE: Confusingly it was sent after what is going to be called LETTER TWO but there is absolutely no need to make things simple…
I asked xxxx if it was alright to contact you and obviously you said yes, so thank you. You’re on holiday you potty sod, what are you doing working? Read it when you get back into work. Below is a cut and paste of an email I sent to xxxx, I just couldn’t be arsed changing it as my iPad is fiercely independent and has very loose definitions of efficiency. Like horses know when you’re a tittylongstocking so it is with my iPad. It knows I’m a child of the abacus and treats me with disdain. I don’t mind.
Within the email’s wending walls it tells a tale of an entertainment event at FC United of Manchester. The event has run since 2006 and is called Course You Can Malcolm. It has featured turns that have varied from Wu Lyf to the Halle Choir singing the rude football words to Christmas carols – posh people swearing, always funny – to the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign with all sorts of wonder in between.
We’d love to invite you for the Malcolmses on the 28th of January.
The email to xxxx sets out roughly what’s happening on the day and the basic thrust of what a Course You Can Malcolm is. The name stems from when we were told by the FA that we’d never form a club in the summer of 2005, using an advert catchphrase from before your time whilst obviously referencing the Glazers. Ask your mam and dad. The strap line to every Malcolmses is ‘Where love is the licensee’ so you can tell we’re not the gruftiest of audiences.
It’s the FA Cup weekend on the 28th. United have got the second leg of the League Cup on the Thursday so that’s highly unlikely they’ll be playing on the Saturday. We’re also playing Salford City. A cordite-cordiality mixed with a two-different-ten-toe-paths acknowledgement.
We’d love you to get up and do a few mins about being a reporter on a wood-sliced-thin publication or tell some football stories or your thoughts on us and where we are. Or anything you fancy really. When you read the email below you’ll realise that it’ll be quite pertinent as we’re doing a section called ‘Rubbing It Red’ with representatives from Red Issue, Under The Boardwalk, A Fine Lung, the nit nurse unfriendly Joe Royle’s Head, Mudhutters Media, TSIO, our programme editor, the radio station, our TV station, our communications lot and many more including our young activists who communicate via their frequent banners ie ‘No Tory Photo Ops’ or the ones seen during the protests on the televised game against Chesterfield. It’ll be comradely and honest and will give an insight into our current impasse but riven through with our last-minute-winner-possibilities.
You played an honourable role, at a crucial time, in the history of our club and you will be warmly thanked for that. If you do take to the stage you’ll be stood on a little piece of United. I don’t know if you were at the game where the United players paid for a huge, huge flag that got passed around the ground? It’d be before 2005 obviously. Anyway the flag went all around the ground eventually finishing up in J Stand. J Stand was seriously Beswick/Collyhurst/Miles Platting in nature and daftly they ripped the huge sleeve off the shirt. That huge shirt sleeve now covers the stage that people stand on. Romo tripe but lovely too. Come and rest awhile.
Confusingly, I sent the email to xxxx via xxxx from the xxxx as she had xxxx’s email address. Anyway here it is. Get a brew, some Jaffa Cakes and two Anadin…
LETTER TWO: this was the one sent late November as Leafy was hanging on being last…
Hello youngster and may I firstly apologise for the circuitous driv that is going to descend upon you if you read this. It’s not read-on-your-phone friendly. Sozster and that.
Most importantly of all it’s imperative that I let you know that xxxx has, for a person who usually oscillates mildly, done the full spectrum from mortified to horrified with all the youcanfuckrightofffieds in between to try to stop us writing to you. We’ve done our best ‘aww, go on’s and endless pokings with a stick to try to persuade her to let us contact you. She replies with something about data confidentiality but we weren’t listening, we were too busy mithering. If this does find its way to you, it’ll only be because she’s a war baby and doesn’t like any waste, even written waste. Either that or we’ve used her Achilles heel of Gary Neville in someway.
What do we cheekily want? Well you’ve played Course You Can Malcolm at FC United of Manchester before. We are now back within the borders of Manchester and in our own ground. Would you come and reprise your MIF role and read for us at our ground on the 28th of January?
You are well justified in your thinking ‘cheeky bggrs’ as you now are but let me try and lull you in…
If you did play you would be playing on a stage with a banner behind you with Jeyaben Desai’s ‘We are those lions, Mr Manager’ emblazoned across it. Its sister, the ‘Manchester: we are all immigrants’ banner would be by her side.
We have Cabbage playing. They go on tour on the 1st of February and we get them for freemans just before they do. Their song ‘Uber Capitalist Death Trade’ is whacking it around the BBC6 play lists. They sing songs with the words ‘I was born in the NHS and will die in the NHS’ and have a good go at Trump. However, my favourite from them is when they were asked by a music journalist where they would be in three years’ time and one said ‘I want a border collie.’ A ‘Manchester at its finest’ reply.
Also we have Shelagh Delaney’s DNA on the stage in the form of Charlotte her daughter. She’s just working through her play with Moston Active Drama and she’s going to do a few mins for us. Obviously, like I know every bricklayer in the building industry due to the nature of my trade and my Colwyn Bay mate knows every person in Wales due to the nature of his Welshness, you’ll know Charlotte as you’re in the performing arts. If you do, you’ll know that she’s lovely. Toecully three-socks-tapped but lovely. And we’re playing Salford City that day, so that’s a smartacus twist. I’ve never had the heart to tell her that the bus journey at the beginning of ‘A taste of honey’ doesn’t make sense.
We’re asking for a pop-up-shop from Rosso Bianco Nero which is two Mancunians who formed an independent label. They concentrate on United/Manchester clothing that’s not Glazer-embarrassing. It’s more than fine for you to have not heard of them but last week they did a pop-up-shop by the side of the Black Lion on Chapel Street in town and at seven o’clock in the morning when they opened, there were 75 people in the queue. That’s seven o’clock in the morning. I have no concept of what that means. They are meaning something in our city though, so it’s nice that they should be asked.
You get to play a venue that had a 200 person lock-out by one o’clock the last time we did a Course You Can Malcolm in November. And the October one was a lock-out too, and that was only with Terry Christian talking, so goodness knows what we’ll get this time.
You’ve probably met Selina Todd but if you haven’t she wrote ‘The People’, the 2015 history book of the year. She spoke at our Malcolmses do in August and she is a fine, fine woman and just so smashing that she redefines smashing. I love swot-bag-Bamber-Gascoigne-boffins being on our side, it makes the tories life harder and our hope that tidgey bit more elucidated. We can all batter a Bullingdon with a piece of three-by-two, but sometimes it’s nice to have prose written on it when we do.
You’d get to meet Pam from The Hummingbird Project, who bonksly load up a huge van with clothing for refugees in Syria … and then they drive the bleeder there. My mam’s wheelchair went from Openshaw to Aleppo, aww. Admittedly Openshaw is probably more bear’s arse than Aleppo but still. Pam will be doing an appeal for women’s and children’s underwear, socks and sanitary goods. Sometimes seeing what we face can make your shoulders flag. Pam is a working class coat hanger, she firms you up and makes you upright. Cut her in half and she’ll have ‘A better world is possible’ written through her.
You’ll remember ‘The 8.15 from Manchester’? Well on the day we are having an ’11.22 from Manchester’ ie we’re starting early at 11.22 with a discussion called ‘Rubbing it Red.’ Stood by the bar area, in front and behind, will be representatives from Manchester fanzines and progressive communications folk. The FC United of Manchester co-op has, for a myriad of complex reasons, been suffering of late. The discussions we will be having will be about facing forward and keeping the scarlet standard fluttering against the footballing odds. We’ll finish before Football Focus goes off on the telly, as we don’t want to be associated with the knob who presents it as he scabbed when the BBC were on strike in 2012. We as a little club, who could have done with that oxygen, refused to go on the BBC when asked. We have a pit-village-memory.
Because it’s so early we’ll be asking the board if it’s possible to do ten bob brews and puzzle toast – that’s just toast cut in half but not in a straight way but in a puzzle shape so you can split it on your plate and go ‘oh’ when you do … and ‘oh’ again when you put it back. Ace. Also we’ll be asking to do a red, white and black breakfast. That is oats from Aldis with fresh blackberries and raspberries added. I said ‘Aldis’ there on purpose without an apostrophe as Manchester, as we know, says ”Asdus’ and ‘Greggsys’ so it’s traditional.
We’re going to enter into discussions with Abbey Hey Donkey Sanctuary for a borrow of two donkeys. We have to convince them that we’re not going to purloin them. I’d be lying if I said it hadn’t crossed my mind. We are going to have red, white and black ear warmers and leg warmers knitted for them by our members. Then auction them off. Who wouldn’t want to own a pair of donkey leg warmers? ‘No one’ would be the answer to that. We wish we could have seen the face of our elected board member when he got the text – ‘From memory, do you think our club lift could fit a donkey in it?’. We’ll have to compensate ourselves with putting the donkeys in front of the Jeyaben Desai banner and seeing their faces go ‘Fck, who’s got lions?’. They are so lovely but so gullible.
In the background to all this, and tying it all in a big red bow between the turns, will be vinyl from the ‘Hidden Gems’ soul DJ Scott Taylor using his 7,000+ LP collection. The first 22 that he’ll be playing will be…
Holland & Dozier Why Can’t We Be Lovers.
Teddy Pendergrass Somebody Told Me.
The Dells The Love We Had Stays On My Mind.
Esther Phillips Home Is Where the Hatred Is.
Debbie Taylor I Don’t Wanna Leave You.
Donny Hathaway Someday We’ll All Be Free.
Walter Jackson My Ship Is Coming In.
Freddie Waters I’m Afraid to Let You Into My Life.
Z.Z. Hill That Ain’t the Way You Make Love.
Phillip Mitchell There’s Another In My Life.
Bobby Womack I Don’t Wanna Be Hurt By Ya Love Again.
Terry Callier I’d Rather Be With You.
G.C. Cameron A Night Like This In Georgia.
Bessie Banks Try to Leave Me if You Can.
David Ruffin Walk Away From Love.
Sam Dees Troubled Child.
Peabo Bryson I Can Make it Better.
Smokey Robinson A Silent Partner In a Three-Way Love Affair.
Aretha Franklin Angel.
Beloyd Get Into Your Life.
Minnie Riperton The Edge of a Dream.
Lamont Dozier All Cried Out.
I defy any lovers to keep their drawers on after playing that. Scott’s nickname is Grumplestiltskin. I can only put it down to Marx’s theory of contradictory consciousness that such a moaning get can be so soulful.
We realise you’ll be mowed-out-busy but come home for the weekend and rest awhile. Put your bottom ends up and glow. If the above attempts to woo you fail then we’ll default to this … we’re handy. We’re only in Moston. You could moon walk it from Piccadilly Gardens before your blob from Yates’s has gone tepid . Or go to the pick and mix side of Woolworth’s on Oldham Street and get a 181. You may be too young for those last directions.
As CP Lee said, any artist that plays at Course You Can Malcolm, will play in a unique venue. Not ‘nearly unique’ nonsense but an actual unique venue as in that, in the whole of world football – that’s the world – no artists ever play within a football ground. A club night in the afternoon. Play in pubs nearby? – of course. Concourses outside? – of course. Inside? Only us, a one member, one vote, fan-owned club. And it’s here in our city being all pissed-up-May-queen-softy-sausage-romantic and salt-and-pepper-chips-sage.
That’s about it. Again my apologies for taking you for a very long and arduous literary walk but it’s important to our fan-owned club, it’s important to the first industrialised city and it’s important to all progressive movements that those that emancipated themselves from below at their football, survive. If we go face down in the Irwell it’ll be a retrograde step, we need the Irk and the Medlock to hold us tight and tell us that love always wins.
Geralyn, my love – her mam named her after an obscure nun in the Catholic Novena urf, urf – has the most beautiful, beautiful autumnal-oil-well eyes. At the end of Jungle Book, Mowgli is following that young woman, mesmerised by her. She turns and closes both her eyes slowly and then opens them again and Mowgli is a goner. She drops something and Baloo says ‘She did that on purpose’ and we all know she did but we want that happiness to happen. My love and her autumnal-oil-wells can mix those levels of just knowing, of peace, of humanity, of kindness, of everything with sniffing her arm pits when she’s got her hands on the steering wheel driving the motor car and saying ‘Do I smell?’ and even though I have fallen asleep the night before, absolutely certain of the impossibility of being able to love my darlyn Geralyn any more as I ‘d burst, I fall in love with her even more. My charming nana used to say ‘Never put your shovel where there’s no shit.’ She meant never go where you’re not wanted. You’ll be beyond wanted, youngster. Love’s like that…
LETTER THREE: in the deluge of emails, we got talking about a mutual mate who was in Singapore…
My dad said that during the war they stopped off at Singapore – he was in the navy, he wasn’t hitching it or anything – and a local snake charmer on the dock offered feet sucking services to get rid of bunions and corns as everyone had boots on without socks, so their bottom-ends were in ribbons. Everyone said it was brilliant so he said he eventually did and he never had a corn ever again.
My mam’s brother – who sailed with my dad – was proper Beswick tackle and apparently if it wasn’t nailed down on the ship he’d flog it on the dock. You know those ‘renegades’ in the cowies that sold Winchester’s to the native Americans? Like that. They armed local insurgents. For few bob, mind. It was a year or two before he became a socialist. He was only 17, he had forged his age, so we have to let him off for his jibbing. All their lockers were apparently stuffed to bursting with cash. They insisted whilst they were stationed there for a month that they became millionaires in local currency. They all had enormous plans that fell apart as they got moved overnight for another operation and all their wedge was left behind.
All this Singapore tripe is getting us no further on what we want you to do Charlotte. Mostly because it’s just so smashing that you have said you will come that we’re still letting it sink in. We have to be honest and say that just you turning up with the DNA that you have in you, would fill the place. On different levels that would be so funny, you could just do a shadow puppet of an Alsatian chasing a rabbit or something and go off. The loveliness of Malcolmses is imagining the audience leaving and having to go to the pub that night and try to explain odd things to their mates ‘I saw Shelagh Delaney’s daughter, Charlotte, today at the game’ ‘Oh aye, what was she doing?’ ‘A good Alsatian chasing a rabbit impression it has to be said.’
I’m fully aware that we can and should and will push the MAD stuff but in a microcosm, microcosm, microcosm way I’m like you Charlotte. No matter wherever I went as a young bricklayer in the building industry I was always my dad’s lad as he was an absolute superb bricklayer, very, very fast and ridiculously neat. He was called an artist many, many times. He combined this with decades of being a building trade activist, a principled man who was blacklisted for those socialist principles. He was also a blokeys’s bloke who never worked a Monday afternoon as he’d go onto Oldham Street and get pixelated with the hod carrier as Oldham Street was the street for building trade workers then. I loved him for being able to combine all that, the pest. It’ll be the same when we ask Brian McClair’s son to play. He’ll always be Brian McClair’s son and hopefully he’ll be very proud of that. We are all aware of the greatness we come from, pay loving homage to it but define ourselves.
I tell you what I’d like you to do but we can’t – I’d like you to bring your horse up, take it onto the stage and then show the audience how to get on a horse. Backwards. By backwards I mean so that they are facing the arse end when they are sat down. Audience participation would tickle ribs. Aww, and we’d be lovely to the horse, Charlotte, all gentle and patty. ‘I saw Shelagh Delaney’s daughter, Charlotte, today at the game’ ‘ Oh aye, what was she doing?’ ‘Teaching reds how to get on a horse. Backwards.’
I can do an impression of a dripping tap. Seerz. That doesn’t sound that exciting but you’ve not heard it yet. You’d be annoyed/desperate to turn it off/dying for a wee within a few mins if you had. I’d love to let you have a think of what you’re good at that might transfer to stage – a party trick, a loving story, both. You might think it’s rhubarb, we might think it’s fantastico. We’ll get there with something. It’s just working that something out.
And that is the end of the ‘Last leaf’ letters. Charlotte is doing something brilliant. She’s going to be talking about her time at 77 Duchy Road. Many other emails were sent to others and we plod onwards. We hope that we’ll knock out something nice but if we don’t at least we tried and it’ll be free and all done by volunteers. That’s not the worst thing to be.