Manchester . I’m loving the Malmaison hotel, but the enter place is air conditioned and the windows won’t open. The freedom to open and close a window is only obvious once it is taken away, much like family and other air filled things. Still, this is my hotel of choice when staying in Manchester. It’s close to the station and hip. Myself and Megan leave in the morning to film the poem of mine which is laid into Tib Street near Piccadilly. City Life the magazine of the time ten years ago at least reviewed the art piece when it was first laid “you can read Lemn Sissay’s poem or simply walk all over it”. City Life disappeared some years ago but the poem remains, in remains. The poem reads over the one mile walk of the street. But as the inlaid verses have become chipped they have been replaced by Tarmac. The poem is called flags and is about the cracks between the flags and how they are what keep society together. There is where there is life. It seems ironic that the verses disappear as the area around it develops. Still, there are some verses and my signature in the street We then move onwards to The Landmark Poem Hardys Well on the side of the public House Hardys Well inside the infamous Curry Mile of Rusholme. My god friend Shobna Gulati turns up and is interviewed. Then where off to Contact Theatre to interview the director John McGrath and the acclaimed dancer Benji Reid and the young artist Yusra Warsama. More filming at my poem RAIN on the side of a building above Gemini takeaway. Most of the public art poems can be seen here.
The day’s been gorgeous, throughout people stop me on the street to talk. My Palestinian brother, a private taxi driver, beeped his horn and waved . “Free Palestine” I said to him he frowned at me paternally and waved again. Megan and I later got inside a black taxi and the driver piped up. “Lemn Sissay, you wrote that poem on that wall. That’s good that is”. We were on the way to “that wall” and then interviewed the taxi driver too. I asked him about a black cab driver “Tony Bradley” he said “with the pony tail”. I replied in the affirmative “he’s well” said the driver “you know why he wears his pony tail?”. He asked.
You know what a black cab looks like? It looks like this . Between the cab and the passenger is a grill, they don’t use them so much anymore, its all reinforced plastic now. Tony took a group of young men on a job. When they got to their destination they simply got out of this cab and walked away without paying. Unbeknown to Tom they had sneakily tied his hair to the grill behind his head. He laughed for the entire evening and since then has only worn a ponytail at work. The filming goes on until about 9pm. By ten I am back at the hotel leafing through the conference papers. Tomorrow is the Association of Directors of Childrens Services Conference for which I am the poet in residence. Outside of parents these are the most influential people upon the life of the child in Britain. Hundreds of Millions of pounds are distributed through the people at tomorrows conference. At some indefinable but crucial point a paper slides off the bed sheet and like a rocking cradle swishes to the floor as I fall sound asleep upon the lush marshmellow bed.