Wednesday, 29 June 2016

STEPZ II – Extracts

STEPZ II: Between the Rollerama and the Junk Yard

STEPZ II will be launched on the 22nd July in time for the start of the Loitering With Intent exhibition at the People’s History Museum in Manchester. At the exhibition itself you will be able to pick up a limited edition hard copy of the John Cooper Clarke/Manchester inspired zine and see the accompanying artwork. On this blog I will make available a pdf for you to download for free. You can read the editors' letter here and read a bit more about the zine here. A free copy of STEPZ I can be downloaded here.

Here are a few extracts from the upcoming zine as a taster:

Umbrellas in the Port and Cottonopolis: A snapshot of Red Light Districts in Liverpool and Manchester
By Sarah Crewe

The streets that lay underneath Manchester Piccadilly station appear to be a nest of twigs, offshoots and debris that the town planning team forgot, or to add a twist of cynicism, decided to leave unturned in order to appease the sex tourists that the area is somewhat infamous for. It is very much the land that time forgot. The Star & Garter pub looks exactly the same from the outside as it did in the late ‘90s, when I was attempting to channel Gaye Advert as a bass player in a punk band. I recall even then that the pub was known as a refuge from the archetypal Mancunian drizzle for women who were in the sex trade. The grey, the rubble, and the reputation remain. The streets here seem to have the most ironic names: Fairfield Street, Temperance Street. While there are no working women out - and it is afternoon so perhaps not so much to be expected at this time of day – I am interested in how there is just so much symbolism here. This is clearly a zone charged with history and former expectation, the amount of red brick is testimony to that. Used for 19th century buildings with either industrial potential or sites for education. There are shattered windows, and the ghost site of a former railway station, Mayfield, closed to passengers in 1960 and yet still very much a presence in the city’s landscape.

“Quick as Lager Turns to Piss”: The Privatisation of the Smallest Public Space and a return to Victorian values
By David Dunnico

So in 2010, Manchester followed the example of other councils and launched a “City Loos scheme”. This aimed to persuade shops to take down their “Toilets are for the use of patrons only” signs and replace them with purple “You’re welcome to use our facilities” notices. At its launch, Councillor Pat Karney was pictured peering through a toilet seat, reckoning the scheme would eventually have “about a 100 toilets available”.6 They launched with eight and now have seven. One member, the Arndale Shopping Centre (once dubbed ‘superloo’ after its tiled facade) only stopped charging for their loos when the Trafford Centre opened and didn’t. Another ex-charger was the disastrous Triangle re-development of the Corn Exchange. Following its re-re-development as a posh version of the Arndale’s food court, they got rid of the public toilets altogether – although the Council still advertises them as being a member of the scheme. The participants are the places people have always nipped to if they needed the loo. All the City Loos scheme has done is confirm that the private sector will not provide a service if there is no profit to be made. Even meeting a basic human necessity involves spending a penny. We are more Dickensian than Victorian.

Ancoats and the Quiet Whispers of Change
By Lucy Sykes

It has been said before that Ancoats is to Manchester what Manchester is to England: the birth place of an industrial monster. It was the cog which churned and churned, eating resources, swallowing labour and spitting out enough textile garments to feed the world. It was an empire built out of red brick, where chimneys were seen as spires and smoke was seen as success. Productivity screamed from the streets as Manchester claimed its position in the global market. Economic decline and neoliberal outsourcing was, however, to deal this kingdom a cruel blow. The 20th Century saw Ancoats chopped and changed. Mills became redundant to new economic demands, boundaries were redrawn, and the place become void of activity as population catastrophically dropped. Less able to brag about its commercial success, Ancoats withdrew behind its high and mighty walls.

There’s Something in the Water…
By Morag Rose

In Castlefield we keep an admiring but respectful distance from geese protecting their young families. We decide to head towards the pub for a convivial post dérive pint, documenting the towpaths mundane flotsam and jetsam on the way. It’s beautiful here but people leave traces: footprints, desire lines and oceans of litter. Shoes, keys, marbles, wrappers, an ancient lamppost, a hundred parties worth of bottles. There’s a demon dog buried under the bridge between Salford and Manchester. We are safe for 999 years but which side of the river will it emerge from? A loiterer told me about a beautiful ice maiden, trapped under frozen water, becoming a celebrity amongst ghoulish thrill seekers. Broadsheets and folk singers lamented Manchester’s Ophelia but she wasn’t a myth. She had a name. She was Miss Lavinia Robinson who went missing after an argument with her fiancée on December 6th 1813. A personal tragedy turned into entertainment; dead girls sell papers, especially if they are pretty and ‘good’. Water keeps flowing, some things don’t change, although routes are lost, culverted, twisted and diverted. Once we traced the River Tib and all the water we saw was in puddles or expensive bottles.

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