it is a 100 years since Ewan MacColl ( 25 January 1915 – 22 October 1989) was born in Lower Broughton. He had a love/hate relationship with the city- mostly hate. This is one of his most famous songs, it’s about Salford, of course, Dirty Old Town. Love the film that goes with it. MacColl is known for being a singer and songwriter but his career in the theatre was outstanding, in particular bringing the theatre to the people and making it relevant to their lives. Looking at the next show at the Royal Exchange you can see the entirely opposite view of working class people in “Scuttlers”. More cardboard cut outs of working class people with a tokenist reference to the 2011 riots. MacColl would throw up in disgust! You can find out more in Ben Harker’s excellent biography. Class Act – The cultural and political life of Ewan MacColl
Listening to this song reminds me of Bertolt Brecht’s comment:
“In the dark times
Will there also be singing?
Yes, there will also be singing.
About the dark times.”
Listen to a wonderful version of this by Chumbawamba see
Find out about….
a new book; Payday Lending: Global Growth of the High Cost Credit Market. The author, Carl Packman, is a writer, researcher and blogger, join him at this meeting to discuss his research. The book asks questions about the growth of the payday lending industry at a time when millions of us are facing financial hardship. Packman offers strategies to challenge this predatory industry and stop the exploitation of some of the most vulnerable people in society.
4 February 5pm – 6.30pm (doors open at 4.30pm) 24/26 Lever Street, M1 1DZ Manchester
Further info see
Mad in Pursuit by Violette Leduc. She was the “illegitimate” daughter of a servant but she went on to write novels and an outstanding biography. This is the second volume ( 1945-49) which I found on the internet as most of her books are not available. She writes like a poet, it’s surreal, fantastic and beautiful. Don’t get her obsession with Jean Cocteau but totally understand her hero worship of Simone de Beauvoir. It was Simone who encouraged and promoted Violette’s books which led to her national prominence. Here is an example; “1947. An autumn evening. Seven in the evening and autumn in Paris. I was light, I was dawdling over the city’s roofs. I was tipsy without having a drink, I hugged the chimneypots in my arms.” There is also a fabulous film made in 2013 called “Violette” which is worth getting hold of. see
…to an evening of exciting music with the BBC Philharmonic: Saint-Saëns’s Organ Symphony, Beethoven’s Symphony no. 8 and Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in A major. The conductor is the charismatic Gianandrea Noseda and there is a pre-concert workshop; Journey Through Music at 6.30pm which is free to ticket- holders with children aged 8-16 year olds. Further info see