Harvesting Moss Side

9 are at the table. One says: ‘I have a strong spiritual side, leadership, respect.’ They are deciding how they are going to harvest Moss Side. There are 9 of them at the table. They are all fairly hippy. One has blonde locks. They’ve all got style. They aren’t stinky like the old version of hippies. It’s the older woman that has mentioned Moss Side. She’s still stylish. With her collar turned up and streaked blonde hair. I think it is her husband, beside her with see through green glasses. Not your off the shelf kind. You can, I can, imagine their houses.

How are they keeping a straight face? What a load of bullshit. ‘I have a strong spiritual side.' It is fucking impossible for anyone to have a strong spiritual side, or a non-strong spiritual side. Fuck off. When you are dying, or told you have cancer, or you fall in love, or you see a beautiful waterfall, or your stoned out of your mind looking at a sunset, you tell me who hasn’t got a strong spiritual side.

Oh, he’s talking at the moment, him with a strong spiritual side. They’re looking at him really intensely. They’re nodding their heads in interest, in agreement, with the brown haired girl. I can’t hear her because she has her back to me. I am so like my mum. I fucking hate them.  I can see right through them. Unlike my mum, I have a platform to say all this on. My poor fucking mum. She’d be out on our street, pissed out of her head. Shouting in the street what she could see. They weren’t quite farming us then. They hadn’t seen the potential. Maybe the potential came after the riots. That’s when treaties started being drawn up, and they came to the table.

They were gonna, supposed to be, make a difference to Moss Side after we burnt our shops down. I dunno why certain things make me laugh. Sarcasm. Just like my mum. So, we’ve burnt our shops down, and we’ve given them the opportunity to get on our case. The Moss Side we knew then is now unrecognisable. Remember our Moss Side. So it probably began in the 80s, after the riots, the idea that they were gonna save us. I go missing on a journey of my own. I am gonna save myself. First me and Tom buy a house in Rusholme, because you could for a grand, as long as your brought the repairs in on budget and the builder hadn’t ripped the grant off. Then I began to do an hour’s meditation every morning. 1989. Still do to this day. I don’t leave the house without it. Then I kill myself to be a writer from 1996 to avoid being in that post office with the shelves, I told you a few blogs ago. 2001 I have completely transformed myself. John McGrath, the AD of Manchester International Festival now, makes me the writer in residence of Contact Theatre then. I haven’t wrote a single play. But I am fierce. I am me. I am clearly from the ghetto. I’m gonna be like the mum. And he’s gonna be like the dad, and we’re gonna give Moss Side kids a chance.

So I have my first assignment. I bring in 20 kids. Aged 16 to 18. I remember what it was like to be 16 to 18. I was down the Reno. I am gonna allow them to tell it like it is. It is gonna be revolutionary. Long story short. My co-workshop leader asks the teens to draw round their hand in glitter. Okay, let me stop you there. Right, imagine yourself in the Reno, and all that entailed. Now imagine there is an art institution nearby. And they invite us in, all us Reno Regulars. They are interested in our story. They are interested in us. We think we’ve been given a break. And when we get through the door, there’s a mad fucking bastard, I’m really laughing, who ain’t middle class or white, but she’s been assimilated, which means she is more middle class more white than the middle class white, and she presents us with some glitter and says, draw around your hand. Really think about that. Even if we wanted to, stronger than that is not wanting to look a cunt. Who is gonna be the first to pick up the glitter. I don’t think so. I’m really laughing.

Assimilation. You do it our way. We don’t give a fuck what you’ve got to say. You play our game. They know, always know, what is good for us.

‘Fuck off,’ the leader of the pack says.

Then they’re all not doing it.

And I’m not doing it either.

I think I’ve told you this story before.  The next thing they’ve robbed a scooter. Hate the other tutors. Spit on the rest of Contact staff sat at the tables 3 floors below. The only thing I’m sorry for is I’m over 40, and I can’t join the gang. But I have in spirit.

Then began the next phase. A consortium are gonna save the negro. I’m really laughing. They’ve unsuccessfully saved the Moss Side teenager. And they still haven’t learnt their lesson: there are no representatives from our community at the super spiritual guy’s table of 9. They’ve unsuccessfully saved the Moss Side teenager in 2001, in the same year they are gonna save all the Negro playwrights. And I’m one of them. I needed the money: story of my life. So I join and let them drag me by my nose through the stereotypical imaginings they have of us and our needs. Running out of steam. More tomorrow. You’re gonna have to wait for your fascinating bit Gail Allott. It didn’t come up naturally today.   

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