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Tea, cake and song

Submitted by on July 11, 2011 – 8:39 amNo Comment

Tea, cake and song. A secret café, hidden away under a railway arch in the centre of our glorious multicultural artistic city. A one-off Not Part Of Festival event, apply online, invited by email.

This auspicious occasion took place on the back balcony of a shop overlooking a section of the River Medlock as it briefly emerges from underground and then resumes its journey under the shops and offices of Manchester.

I’m glad the river is no longer an open sewer as I think my pleasant afternoon listening to acoustic music in the sun would not have been such an agreeable experience.

Engels’ account of the conditions that our working-class brothers and sisters had to endure to allow us to sit comfortably in a voguish abode sipping tea was very different.

‘Right and left a multitude of covered passages lead from the main street into numerous courts, and he who turns in thither gets into a filth and disgusting grime, the equal of which is not to be found – especially in the courts which lead down to the Irk, and which contain unqualifiedly the most horrible dwellings which I have yet beheld. In one of these courts there stands directly at the entrance, at the end of the covered passage, a privy without a door, so dirty that the inhabitants can pass into and out of the court only by passing through foul pools of stagnant urine and excrement’.

Greeted, signed in and chose a cup-cake, which is always a good start to any event, eating cake. People working, peering into computer screens and tapping keyboards occasionally. Not sure whether this was part of the art installation or if they were really working. One of them a friend that I hadn’t seen for ages, it was turning out to be a nice afternoon and I hadn’t even got into the secret café yet.

Led up stairs by a bright young thing, is always gratifying, walking past a full size model horse, then by a chaise longue, through a oversized white wooden door and onto the salubrious balcony. Cushions strewn casually around atop fashionable rugs.

Odd stool-like items and a deck-chair taken by a long scrawny blonde entity meant I was consigned to the lotus position for the second time within 24 hours. I tried to convince myself that the back pain added to the appreciation of the art. But you know, it doesn’t.

The scouser on the guitar gained much kudos, informing us that he preferred Manchester because his scouse brethren are not able to sit and listen, having to swan about, chatting, giggling, farting and generally ignoring his music. Whereas in our cultured, civilised, genteel city we listened, clapped and appreciated. I didn’t feel too sorry for him, I mean he is a scouser after all.

The female Mancunian singer-songwriter was far superior, playing a mix of original and covers. But why she sings with an American accent I can’t imagine. I know there was a time when American singers mimicked UK artists mimicking American artists.

There was a time when the fashion was to sing in a cockney accent. Although I doubt that many of the London born and bred singers were Cockneys. To be a Cockney you need to be born within the sound of the Bow Bells. Unless you were born in Bow and had a home birth you are probably a Londoner not a Cockney. Unless you are a dog and then you can be born within a thirty mile radius of Bow Church and still hear the bells.

There must be more Cockney dogs than Cockneys.

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