And start the year by being inspired by northwest writer and socialist Jim Allen at a retrospective at Home.Jim would have hated it. In the 80s he did make an appearance at the Cornerhouse (now Home) but he said a few words and then scarpered back to Middleton in time for last orders at his local pub. Jim believed that drama should make people angry enough to want to go out there and change society and this message is writ large in his films. From the historic Days of Hope to his one-off dramas which seem very up-to-date including Spongers and United Kingdom. Central to his work is his politics as a socialist and that is why the working classes are at the core of all the stories. Jim believed that its only through them that society will change. And today in 2016 Britain that is a radical message; one that many on the Left have still to grapple with.
At Turn Sideways in the Wind: an exhibition about the Roma (gypsy) community in the northwest. Local photographer and journalist Ciara Leeming has produced this fascinating exhibition at one of my favourite art galleries; the Salford Museum and Art Gallery. Unfortunately its not that easy to find the exhibition, and when you get there, you find the photos are displayed spread across the walls of two staircases which makes reading it difficult. Through photos and text, Romana, Lubos and Lida tell their story, about their lives in this country and reflect on their lives in their homeland. The project is a collaboration between Ciara and the local Roma community and this is shown in the intimacy expressed in the photos. Find out more from Ciara’s blog see
About women’s history on, one of the few adult education courses still left, at Aquinas College in Stockport: Radical Women 1914-1979. Taught by radical historian Michael Herbert so it is a course that will hopefully inspire people to get active in present day campaigns. In this 10 week evening course, which will begin on 4 January, you can learn about women as diverse as peace campaigners during the First World War to the fight for equal pay and the rise of the Women’s Liberation Movement in the late 1960s. For more information or to book places, please contact Sheila Lahan; firstname.lastname@example.org. Tel: 0161 419 9163. If you are a member of a trade union you may be able to get funding from your union for the course.
A New Manchester Alphabet; an illustrated collection of poetry. Edited by Jean Sprackland. In 1906 Roger Oldham, a member of the Manchester Society of Architects wrote and illustrated a small booklet called; A Manchester Alphabet. They were reproduced as postcards and sold in Manchester Art Gallery for many years. I have always loved them and have sent them to friends as a truly unique message from Manchester. 2015 was the 150th year of the Manchester Society of Architects and to mark it students from the Manchester School of Art and The Manchester Writing School have updated it with their modern view of Manchester life. Unfortunately the original MA included derogatory comments about working class areas such as Ancoats as well as pandering to the elite of Manchester with its inclusion of Bowdon (actually Cheshire) and eulogies to the Lord Mayor and Robert Peel. But I love his descriptions of Belle Vue Zoo and Shudehill; the real heart of the city as far as I am concerned. The new Alphabet brings us into the 21C with references to the new football elite (boring!); Alex Ferguson and the Etihad Stadium as well as the bohemian Afflecks Palace and Johnny Roadhouse . Loved the new illustrations although, like the original, the poems are a bit naff. Buy it at