Wednesday, 26 June 2013


I stood before the Museum of Science and Industry, contemplating going in for a look. Before I did, I happened to glance down the road and received for my pains a figurative kick in the memory. Bewildered, I looked some more.

No idea what the memory was trying to tell me.

I decided to wander along a little and suddenly I knew I was supposed to turn left.

So I turned left. I was utterly disoriented by discovering a Roman fort ruin and reconstruction of a gate of some sort. This, according to my head, was all wrong. Maybe I should walk past, under the railway arch. That too, I thought, didn't look promising. Also, I was dressed like a hobo and if I was murdered under the bridge no-one would look twice. Therefore, I decided to stay in the open as much as possible.

I wandered around the fort, reading the signs (I usually like those signs, they're deeply interesting, but these didn't capture me. Possibly because I had slept very badly the night before) and generally trying to figure out what my brain was so insistent on finding.

In the end I threw it to the fates and stepped wherever my feet led.

It took five minutes and a little walking in circles before I reached the canal. I sat on a bench, watching the world go by, until my head became too insistent to ignore. I felt I should not cross the bridge that the jogger ran over, instead I should wander over to the right.

This led me to wondering what the hell was wrong with me because I promptly found myself on a wobbly, creaky bridge, in a dark tunnel, next to a sandy wasteland about to be threatened by geese.

I persevered, as my head was sure it was OK and I was too lulled by the lapping waters to argue. I crossed the bridge of terror, skirted the geese of death, got sand in my shoes and was rewarded with a conviction that I should see lumps on the ground.

Lumps in the ground.

Really? That's all you're willing to suggest? Stupid brain.

So, I walked a while. I strolled around a hotel, and down a slightly alleyway type thing, but I wasn't getting a strong urge in any direction and my bag was getting heavy. Since there were picnic benches out the front of the hotel, I returned there and dumped my bag. As I stood there (trying not to pant in the face of the smart business men casually strolling past) I looked down a flight of stairs.

And I saw them.

Along the canal at this point are mooring things. Lumps of iron that you tie ropes around. And I remembered.

Last time I was there was my last birthday before my wedding. My brother was getting married that weekend, and I was getting married five months later. My fiance had recovered completely from the surgery he'd gone through, he had been employed for a few months, we were able to afford our wedding and everything was going well.

For the first time in several years I was relaxed, happy and looking forward to the future.

On that day we went in to the spa attached to the hotel and had manicures, pedicures and massages in preparation for my brother's wedding.

Within a month or two, my fiance was unemployed again, I was afraid for the wedding and I'd had a canoeing incident that made my body unreliable. I was scared, and everything was falling apart.

I haven't spent much time up North since my marriage ended because I was afraid of being reminded of all the negative stuff I ran away from. But when I revisited Manchester, the thing I was pulled to was the place where I had been at the time I was happy.

I sat for a while being grateful that I'm happy now, despite all that has happened to me since then. I did pause to be slightly creeped out because I realised I'd talked about this place with my sister the previous night at the Josh Groban concert when he mentioned his hotel was on a canal, but I reassured myself that the entirety of Manchester is on a canal and the likelihood of that being his hotel was miniscule.

Then I tried to get a manicure but they are closed on Monday. So I went to the Museum of Science and Industry and had a very large coffee instead.

A lot has happened over the last few years, but I never missed the North with the kind of longing that I'm missing it now. It's home...


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