I begin the day meeting Karen Gebay a friend and TV and radio producer in Manchester. We meet acoss from the bbc Manchester. The front windows of the building are coloured red iwth large pictures of local BBC personalities. To the left of the entrance door is a massive picture of a presenter called Heather Stott with a very alrge speech bubble that says something like “Life Coaching”. Next to it is a picture of Anthony H Wilson feb 1950 – August 2007. I point out this incongrous to Karen.
Was on television BBC4 today or yesterday or recently in the repeated ROO|TS
documentary. This week I am in Manchester devising a scratch-show for The Hammersmith Lyric called Why I don’t Hate White People. It’s a fascinating process with director John McGrath. The end piece is only a twenty minute glimpse which is why its called a scratch.
Today John is in Liverpol doing an appraisal for contact so it gave me chance to catch up on some stuff. I saw the show Susan and Darren which was in re-rehearsal and produced by Quarantine a couple of lovely theatre producers in Manchester. And then in contact bar I met Anwen Lewis who was adopted. Her birth mother found her. Anwen is navigating the rapids beautifully and heading for
clear water full to bursting with brightly coloured canooes filled with happy people that can all call themselves family. In the past week anwens family has doubled in size.
Edgar walks past but I’d forgotten his name so . “ excuse, I know I know you but can’t think where from”. I hope for a response, being Manchester gives the sense of do I know you. Edgar and his wife Marie met in Germany. Marie was a ballet dancer and is now a teacher. My poem is painted on a wall in Manchester. That wall is owned by Marie who was approached, for permission, by the painters of the poem. The coincidence? Years before this Edgar had interviewed myself in Germany at Hamburg University when I was on tour. The poem has now become a landmark.
Inside the contact theatre café enters Finlay Quaye throws his coat down and sits. Finlay is smiling and looks well “Lemn you coming to the gig Friday night” he asks. I’m afraid I am not as I got to get back to London. From nowhere, he then starts to talk about that same poem called Rain on the side of the wall. You
can see the poem on the public art page. What I am amazed about is that after travelling the world so many times, performing in front of millions of people – it’s at least ten years since I saw him. He remembers me clear as day, from his relatively short time in Manchester. He is doing a homecoming performance.
Rumour is rife about Finlay and Mancehster is harsh to him. While at the peak of his fame Finlay found his real father. ANy black artist in Manchester – finlay is mixed race which though in America is termed “black” is not neccasserily so in Europe – gets the rumour treatment once they have any success. Hero worshiped or demonised, no inbetween. Mancheser eats itself on its own gossip and unfortuantely it can’t see it’s own racialising – black or white. Meanwhile talent like Finlay simply Rise and Shine.