Photographer and bride… but there was no groom in sight, so either these two were preparing some photos for a wedding at a later date, or this was a fashion shoot of some kind. The lump of rock behind is the big glacial boulder that stands in the Old Quadrangle of the University of Manchester.
After a good and enjoyable weekend — the comedown. Rain all day and the streets of Manchester still empty, this is a city with a lot of ‘recovery’ needed; and at the moment it’s not happening. From next week there’s more of a chance but there are a lot of political interests who, seemingly, would rather it didn’t — for whatever reason. “The struggles of the past have resulted in great gains”, quotes the Guardian (via its sponsored deckchair). Not this one, so far.
The bee is the symbol of the city of Manchester (something to do with ‘industry’), so it seems appropriate that this guy and his colleagues were busying themselves on campus this afternoon — certainly they are showing more industry than the human inhabitants are at the moment.
One year ago today, 30th June 2020, I was ‘allowed’ back on to campus for the first time since all the shit started, and took the picture linked here, of a student sat among the lush June foliage, alone, wondering where his future had gone.
One year on, this photo is taken from more-or-less the same point, and little has changed, has it? The huge Manchester campus still just sits there, mostly unused. Maybe my managers, our ‘leaders’, would like to ask, what am I complaining about? These people are still going to get their degrees are they not? They’ve got what they paid for? Yeah, well, if you reduce the experience of getting an education to a pure cash transaction then yes, they have indeed. But what a wasted year it has been, and I mean that also in the sense of wasting away, eroding, no longer vital and healthy. This is not because of some virus, but because of fear and paranoia, a desperate urge not to do anything that could see fingers pointed.
But I say this again, sorry to be repetitive but it deserves repeating. There were more than 40,000 people in Wembley stadium yesterday afternoon. This proves that if the will is there, this ridiculous fear can end. Is it so impossible to accept that once you are vaccinated, and the guy next to you is vaccinated, and the people who can’t get vaccinated (like those under 18) brush off this thing as if it were water in the vast majority of cases — then there is no longer any need to live life in this state? The most worrying thing for me is that such views now seem to be considered subversive. There are groups out there who are quite happy for most people to be frightened of shadows, and they’ve won.
Since the start of the Great Fear it’s been the cities, like Manchester, which have felt the most alien and empty. Shoppers have come back, but not yet tourists nor office workers. Whether or not those latter groups will return, and how, is still an open question. But this stage, being built for the Manchester International Festival is, to me, a sign of optimism — yet there are still so many lockdown-loving lunatics out there (most obviously in the Labour Party) that we may never be sure of anything again. Covid ain’t going away, anyone. We will be catching it, ‘testing positive’ for it, for the rest of our lives. Get used to it.
These ‘pagdoas’ have sprung up around campus recently. At least we have more spaces in which we can start getting back to face-to-face. This is one of those shots where I worry that the symmetry is not quite what it could be. But it doesn’t matter too much.
Booth Street, Manchester. This is the most public of workplaces, floor to ceiling windows on the ground floor. It has lain empty for 15 months now. Today, the lights were on — yet still no sign of occupancy. The ‘evacuation point’ sign seems somehow meaningful.
It’s always nice to see Canal Street, in the centre of Manchester, actively live up to its name. Lock open, rather than lockdown. Perhaps I could have stood a bit to the left and made this a more symmetrical shot, but never mind. The guy at the gate has busted the photographer.