"End to End via the Margins"
After a noisy, uncomfortable and restless night at Manchester's Youth Hostel (for which the YHA is not to blame), I set off early in the direction of the hills beyond Oldham. Deansgate, while not totally deserted, was quieter than I'd ever seen it before, and felt completely different from its usual self. Just off Deansgate is the memorial to Manchester working people's sacrificial stand with Abraham Lincoln and the abolitionists against slavery. It was sacrificial because their livelihoods depended on the cotton trade.
I walked past flats, houses in red brick, huge industrial scale public buildings a century old, many of them churches and many in disrepair, and textile mills, more as I approached Oldham. These are the mills to which many Bangladeshi people, most with experience in the trade, were attracted some years ago. Since then, most mills have stopped working in the textile business, and people are not well off. Far behind me, as I climbed the hill into Oldham, another world was visible, the Cheshire Plain and Jodrell Bank.
On the far side of Oldham, in an ordinary looking community on the main road, was a house splashed with white. Someone had painted NF on the wall, with the downstrokes joined, and had got as far as NIGG.. before they dropped the can on the pavement.
Janet and Hannah picked me up a mile from my destination, took me to a family baptism, and returned me to the road. Slightly bizarre, but very welcome. That's the end of them until next weekend. No more bag carrying. I'm going to miss them. I think they work harder than I do on this jaunt.
As I walk this road, a massive cross is clearly visible on top of Besom Hill. I'm glad. It's a bit more than just the "badge" of Christianity. We may take our place along with the other faiths, but the cross is what we're about. We're not going to force anybody to be like us. We won't use our power. The cross teaches us the opposite, for the Romans were the power.
There have been a number of people on the streets these last two Manchester days, many of them young men, and most of them look hard and I'm a bit wary. But appearances can be deceptive.
On top of the airy hill near where I'm staying is Bishop's Park Pitch and Putt. More like "Bishop's Park Pitch and oops my ball's just blown into Yorkshire".Pictures from today...
we pray for fair and harmonious relations
between the races in our ountry,
and between faiths.
Teach us how to be true to you
and fair to all.
And where people are hurt, insulted and killed
because of their race,
we ask for healing and justice.
|© Bob Warwicker. The words here may be reproduced freely, but not for gain, or without attribution. All alterations must have the permission of the author.|