Driving around Manchester and finding places such as this, off Rochdale Road, reminded me of boyhood. Walking to school, shops, on idle Saturdays, I would find quiet places where I could retreat to. There was an abandoned area near home dense with brambles and small twisted trees. I waded into it once and saw the tiniest bird I’d ever seen which I think was a wren. My brother and I found a place amongst trees where we built a camp. We found a small piece of carpet and I made a shelf from a piece of wood wedged into the base of a tree. We found clay too. I don’t know why it was there. I made a little model head and left it on the shelf. When I returned everything had been smashed up. Why, I thought. I think exactly the same now. The feeling is unchanged. What has changed is my understanding.

Last week I read a report of a family grieving the loss of a still born baby. Mum, Dad and child had buried the baby then gone to a park. They released some red balloons for ritual, healing, and remembrance. A pack of young teenagers burst the balloons and a fight ensued in which the family were injured. I know all about that. The police and the judge will say why. The boys will say I don’t know why. It’s not rational but has something to do with seeing tenderness in others whereby something is important to them, and a kind of jealousy ensues because you have nothing. So you destroy it. I remember thinking you could have enjoyed our camp too. I wouldn’t have minded.

There’s a tremendous growth of flowers here. In the road, on the pavement, thrusting through cracks, the other side of this fence. It’s disruptive but beautiful. No one cares about this place so wild flowers grow. The yellow line won’t stop them. The other side of the fence there’s a large raked over area where there must have been a building. No one wants it. “In the mountains, there you feel free. I read, much of the night, and go south in the winter.”


Manchester Wild Flowers: Abandoned

Sunday August 10, 2014