I’d just got started when I saw a tweet from Tom Fletcher (the writer, not the McFly guy) about Hulme, Manchester and remembered I had to be in Hulme too, later in the day, to have my photograph taken and to read a bit from my novel at an event organised by the excellent (and excellently named) Ra Page from Comma Press. But first I had to rehearse the extract and have a shave and find something half-decent to wear that didn’t look as though it had spent the winter in Creaseville before travelling to Deansgate to get a mock-up of the cover done, which took for ever to sort out.
Hulme. So named because it’s surrounded on three sides by water (the rivers Irwell, Medlock and Corn Brook). The Old Norse word for island is hólmi. Morrissey came from Hulme (he produced a VHS/DVD of promotional films called Hulmerist… see what he did there?). He also, apparently (and this is pre-The Smiths), wrote a play called Eating Toast in Hulme. He gave the only copy he owned to Tony Wilson and asked for his opinion. Wilson lost the manuscript and they fell out over it. Didn’t Tony Wilson fall out with everyone? I didn’t like him because when Bill Shankly resigned as manager of Liverpool Football Club, Granada TV sent a reporter to the city centre to conduct vox pop interviews with some of the fans. The reporter was Tony Wilson, and I remember he gleefully upset a lot of young LFC supporters who weren’t aware of the news.
Anyway, I decided to walk from Deansgate to Hulme for this appointment at Kim by the Sea. I’d navigated the traffic island beneath the Mancunian Way and, noticing that I couldn’t proceed down Princess Road without descending into the subway (don’t like subways), I decided to cut through the housing estate. I emerged opposite a little park just by the eye-catching Hulme Arch Bridge. There were about a dozen guys sitting at the edge of it, shirts off, whip-thin, with the kind of scary-looking dogs that look as though they’d be much happier spending the day rootling around inside your body cavities than chasing balls or sniffing other dogs’ backsides. They all, men and beasts, turned to watch me walk by.
Sometimes it means nothing. Sometimes it’s just a bunch of guys people-watching while they bitch about work. But sometimes it could be that you made the wrong choice and you’ve wandered into a place you don’t know at a time you shouldn’t have. The only thing you can do is make sure the A-Z is rolled up and hidden in your pocket, open your body up and look as though you know where you’re going. While getting ready to motor if someone shouts out: ‘Hey, you! Knobhead in the creased clothes!’
Note to self: when talking to a printer, don’t expect him to understand what a ‘B’ format paperback looks like.