Wednesday 23rd January 2019, 7.15am (day 2,708)
What am I doing in Manchester city centre by 7.15am on a winter’s morning? I should still be asleep. Like the guy in this sleeping bag, though hopefully in a more comfortable and less public place.
I’m tired of the endless destruction and re-capitalisation being wreaked on Manchester city centre. The yellow hoardings on the right surround what is to become a boutique hotel, called “Brooklyn” — or actually “BKLYN”, clearly this was exactly the configuration of letters which wasn’t already a hashtag — scheduled to open some time in 2019 it seems.
However, an objective assessment of the local building stock leads me to conclude that Manchester is already well-supplied with hotels, boutique or otherwise. What it seems to lack are beds for a growing population of rough sleepers, that anyone who walks through the city centre on a regular morning basis will agree has increased substantially in the last year or so.
Welcome to your neo-liberal marketised future.
For the second time in a fortnight, the photo of the day that I find most pleasing visually happens to include a guy sleeping on the pavement. As the numbers of pictures accumulate on this blog, each being a snapshot (literally) of a moment in a day, statistically it comes to reflect the patterns of my life, where I am the most, the times of day I do things, the things I see around me. And there are more men and women sleeping on the streets of Manchester around me than ever before. It’s a fact.
This is easily the most interesting photo I took today both in terms of its appearance and any semblance of social commentary. On the other hand it opens me up, not for the first time on this blog, to the accusation of voyeurism. But I suppose all photographs, at least, of people, have an element of this: the question is whether the spied-upon assents to or is even aware of the spying. In this case he is not. Yet in a small way does something come from it? I claim this blog is not political, but that’s not always the case. I get angry that a society with pretensions to high civilisation can’t at least find beds each night for a certain number of its people. This man shouldn’t need to spend the night on a pavement in the centre of Manchester. Maybe by showing it I keep it, even in a very tiny way, as an issue for public debate. But perhaps that’s all just rationalisation after the fact.
Since the addition of a 6.32 train service from Hebden to Manchester in the mornings I have been braving the earlier start more often as it is a civilised train with leg room. Hence the recent run of 7:00 – 7:45 shots from the city centre. I like the trilogy of red/orange on this shot. The social implications, less so.
China Lane, Manchester, was until relatively recently part of the old warehouse district. However, due to its proximity to Piccadilly station, in the 21st century it has become full of apartbouhotiques and bars where you can buy £7 glasses of Lithuanian stout with plates of felched scallop on the side. But at least there are still places to sleep.
I try to keep this blog apolitical, but it’s not always easy. I was educated into the idea that we were making steady progress toward some better future. In 2016 that is a view of the world that, at best, has taken a severe blow. But at least someone is here with this guy.
I have been giving some thought recently to this blog and what I want it to be. To cut a long story short I’ve decided to try and be more of a photographer than a blogger — and will try, as much as I can, to let the image stand alone, speak for itself (with the addition of a title and some tags, I guess). For a trial period I’m therefore going to stop posting little commentaries alongside the daily image, though I might still provide some basic information on the location.