And today I wake up in Manchester at the Malmaison. It’s a lush affair if hotels float your boat. After a bracing walk through town I stop for a smoke outside the gothic town hall
of Manchester, the venue. Guy Garvey walks past and across Albert Square. He walks like he is meant to be nowhere else in the world but where he is. Guy is the Guy from Elbow, the band du jour. It’s as good a sign as any. I know him to say hello to but for some reason I don’t. I flick my cigarette on the square and skip up the steps: there’s work to do.
At 10.30am I am on stage for Unison, in one of the many splendid rooms inside this ornate cake decoration of a building. This place was built in all its grandeur in 1887 and is often used as a film set. I spend an hour talking and reading poetry for a committed audience and then I take questions and comments from the audience. Then I run off as there’s a train to catch to London. I keep forgetting to eat whcih leaves me at the mercy of train food.
I arrive in a few hours, fully burped, back into London. It’s about 5pm and then I bounce across London to Millbank, to Tate Britain another astounding building opened in 1897. It stands on The Thames it’s columns like the arms of a great ape. “we’ve had to move the timeslot forward” the organiser says breathlessly ushering me towards the stage “you’re
on now.” The audience is full of young people in care, their foster parents, arts workers and social workers and this is an awards ceremony for those young people of Westminster and I’m the special guest speaker and it’s a wonderful gig. Both the readings today reminded me why I do what I do. After I finish reading I am presented with a large bouquet of flowers.