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Blessings undisguised: final part

Submitted by on June 7, 2010 – 2:19 pmOne Comment

Chorlton gets a bad press from many who throw clichés at you about vegetarians and lesbians and bicycle lanes and tofu, but it also has some decent boozers, good transport links, independent shops, The Barbikan and on its doorstep is a lovely nature reserve.

There are also a couple of festivals each year – the Beech Road festival in July and recently the Chorlton Arts Festival, which I sampled during my final day of a week of doing something different every day, in my desperate attempt to stave off the boredom of not working.

Gideon Conn was the highlight of the festival and he played a gig in St Clement’s Church with singer Josephine Oniyama. I saw Badly Drawn Boy in the same building a few years back before I left M21 for pastures new. In fact, I crossed the road and in the matter of 20 yards I set up home in Whalley Range. Three years later I moved a further 200 yards and was in Old Trafford. There is some funny geography round those parts and if you stand near the bus shelter where Seymour Grove becomes Manchester Road (it later becomes Barlow Moor Road) you can actually take a single step in three directions to be in three different areas. There is a concrete bollard to highlight this fact with the names of the three areas on the correct sides. Only in Chorlton, err, Whalley Range, or Old Trafford…or whatever Trevor (Arms).

Anyway, back to the badly dressed boy. I thought his first album had some good moments and it was worth getting me mate Colin’s dad Les to sort us tickets courtesy of his ace record shop, just to hear The Shining reverberate around a church. The man (Badly, not Col or Les) has always struck me as a div and I haven’t really listened to anything else he’s done since.

But that gig whetted my appetite for music in churches (even the weird branches of the Christian faith) and when I heard Gideon was performing I snapped up the tickets.

Gid and Jo did a mix of their own songs and ones they had written together, so we had the benefit of watching completely new material. Josephine has a beautiful voice, it did the unusual setting justice. A lovely space for a lovely voice, you could say. Gideon punctuated his performance with the usual anecdotes – one of which I am going to try and get our resident computer nerd to put on this website with this article, but bear with me.

He ended his set with Eccentric and the mix of people, which did include vegetarians, lesbians, cyclists and tofu eaters, rose to their feet and clapped along. It was a nice moment.

I coincided my visit back to the old hood with a walk to Ivy Green. I love the area beyond the Bowling Green pub and within five minutes you are in the midst of nature. Even in the blistering sun you are protected by the trees, yet you have the opportunity to step out into any number of clearings to take a breath and catch some soothing rays. We used to walk down there for a smoke when it wasn’t so socially accepted as it is now.

It was very peaceful and a nice end to a week that saw me take in sights I walked past for so many years without ever paying them attention. There are plenty more to see and I will see them as my workless state continues. I might write about them to keep my lazy mind active. Or I might spare you all.

I would recommend it to anyone – take a week off if you have a job and make a vow to get up and get in to town or wherever else and see these wonderful buildings and experience these great destinations that we take for granted.

You go to Rome, you go to Paris and if you’re not on a stag do, you might call in an art gallery or a museum, so why not do it in your own city? It’s ours to enjoy. These blessings are on our doorstep and they’re far from being disguised.

I’m off to the pub for an afternoon pint, not to make you workers jealous or owt…

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