During Manchester International Festival, I went on an amazing guided walk by Hayley, aka Skyliner. We went north of the city centre and she spoke laods abou the history of the area and its “regeneration”.
we went to collyhurst and saw an amazng huge green space, and in the middle of it was a statue we didnt have time to visit.
a couple of weeks later i got an appointment for my second vaccine, which i was to receive at a community centre up that way, and i thougt ‘oh i’ll walk up there and look at that statue on the way and do a bit of casual psychogeography’
walking through the overgrown park on my own, i felt exposed and wary. the area was quiet, and i don’t know it well. being a woman walking alonee i felt like i had to take no risks, go as quickly as possible and not linger. i don’t think in reality i was particularly in danger, but i was always weighing it up. and i was aware that if anything bad did happen, the first question a lot of people would ask would be “well why was she walking through there on her own?”
i love walking on my own in places I don’t know. while i was on this walk i wanted to linger at interesting looking points, to veer off the footpath and see what else was nearby.
i don’t know what the lesson is here. about a week later, i asked my partner if he wanted to come and see the sculpture, and he did. we went for a brilliant walk, and found an amazing hidden footpath, which went over a bridge with amazing views, and snaked alongside the traveller site in the Green Quarter, before coming out by the retail park in Cheetham Hill.
i recently read an amazing book called Flaneuse, about women walking in cities, and how many women in history (Virginia Woolf Agnes Varda, Jean Rhys) had experienced cities and navigating around them, and how their experience shaped their work.
i rarely feel unsafe in a city now, especially not one i know - London, Manchester, New York. but the most interesting places to me are the unloved places, the untended part of a city. The park in collyhurst is an amazing example. These are as interesting as a city, because they’re what happens when a bit of a place where people live is left its own devices. That’s the most interesting thing to me, and I want to live in a world there I can explore those places.