Thursday, April 5

 
 

 
 
 

Martin Harris Centre, 10:12

 
 

I started the day wilth a full English breakfast. I then got a taxi to the venue, the Martin Harris Centre, where I had a ridiculous coversation with the driver. I could not pay with a card because I hadn’t said so at the start of the journey. He couldn’t give me a receipt because he only gave those to customers who paid by card. We went round in a circle for five minutes until I paid with cash and got out without a receipt.

I met Alison and Gerri and gave them my Powerpoint presentation which started a second dance. My usb stick wouldn’t work so I had to download a previous version from Dropbox, having uploaded it to Dropbox to my iPad. I then had to edit that into shape on Alison’s computer while people walked in and settled down,

Sophie Hope goes first and I photograph the early arrivals as she sets up her slides. About eighty to ninety people attend and I recognise about eight of them from what I try to avoid calling “the old days”. Hearteningly I have never seen most people here before and at lest half of them look less than forty years old. I have “known” Sophie from email correspondence but I have never met her before. She will prove hilarious company.

I will finish the morning session with a presentation that attempts to link the past with the present. I will get a warm reception that leaves me in two minds. I cannot decide whether I should now assume that the work we did actually had some effect and made some contribution to an ongoing argument, or I should feel like Gerry Marsden dragged out to do his greatest hit one more time. I will attempt to feel both at the same time and see where that gets me.

The day will finish with the official book launch for Culture, Democracy & the Right to Make Art, the book that has drawn us all together. The launch will consist of several speeches, some sandwiches, two glasses of white wine, and a lot of pleasant chatter. Three people will ask me to sign their tattered copies of Community, Art and the State, and I will recognise Lorraine Leeson, who I last saw about twenty five years ago when I asked permission to borrow a detail from one of Pete and her murals for the cover of Digital Creativity.

I will not want another taxi adventure so I will join Brendan, Lorraine and Sophie in a taxi to Piccadilly station, where I expect to find one of the two free buses that will take me to within several metres of the hotel. I will get to the station at 20:10 to discover that the last free bus of the day left at 20:00. I will decide to walk to the hotel.

I will know the general direction and set off looking for signposts. I will find it impossible not to notice the number and variety of people sleeping out in the streets, or getting ready to do so. It will seem obvious that those doing this encompass a wide range of ages and classes. Very few will look like alcoholics or junkies and I will feel depressed as I pass them every five metres. I will notice a sandwich shop closing and the staff handing the remaining pies and cakes to those they know.

I will walk past the road to the hotel in order to stop at a fine fish and chip shop I had seen yesterday: Wrights in Cross Street. I will have haddock, chips, mushy peas and a large mug of tea for just less than £10.

I walk out of the chippie slower than I walked in.