VI in the City

Image of inside Manchester Cathedral. Dark gothic pillars, candle lit.

Hi lovelies,

As many of you know, I am a very proud Mancunian. My city is my queen! It is full of so much wonder, joy, creativity, music, laughter, kindness, and northern soul. There is so much to do in Manchester from eating out to shopping to concerts to green spaces.  Yes, I said it, there are green spaces in the city.

With so much choice how does one choose what to do? Well, it is always nice when you book something in the diary with a friend or you are given tickets as a gift. I received tickets for a concert at Christmas and the date for the gig had come. The tickets were for Coldplay by Candlelight. This is a series of concerts held in Manchester cathedral that cover different artists over many genres. They have had Pink Floyd by candlelight, Carols by candlelight, Katy Perry by candlelight, the list goes on. I think they perform in other cities too such as London and Birmingham.

Let me set the scene – Manchester Cathedral is 603 years old, it is a grand church with a steeple and clock tower. I remember how it looked from when I had sight. It is made of a red/brown stone and is gothic looking. The architecture was amazing or should I say is. With spires and angels and gargoyles on arches and giant pillars framing the internal space.

It is kind of hidden, tucked away amongst modern towering buildings, shopping centers and apartments. It sits in its own cute traditional corner next to some oldie world pubs, Sinclair’s Oyster House and the Wellington as well as the Royal Exchange. These have existed for hundreds of years and I love that Manchester keeps this historical element of the city tied in with the modern.

We were walking through what is called the triangle, the mixture of shops, bars museums, apartments, and the traditional pubs when my friend said, ‘I don’t know where the cathedral is’. I was like, ‘Come on! You’re a Mancunian, you must know!’ Anyway with my mind mapping and memory we got to the vicinity and he said, ‘I’ll check my phone’. Next minute he said, ‘It’s right in front of us!’ I couldn’t resist replying, ‘Use your eyes!’. I got us there with no sight and he didn’t use his. I have to admit it is frustrating when people take their sight for granted. I know I used to do it myself! My son is always doing it, this is a typical scene in our house,

Me: ‘Dylan find the remote.’

Dylan: ‘I can’t find it, I can’t see it anywhere.’

Me: ‘I found it, it was right here on the sofa, open your eyes!’

As soon as we walked through the cathedral doors the damp, musky, old smell hit my nostrils. It was powerful and immediately I had respect for the building and the fact that it is still standing despite all that had been thrown at it. We were guided to our seats and were sat right in front of a giant pillar which gave me the opportunity to feel it and get a feel for the grandeur of the space and the material of the building. My friend described the space, there were candles around each pillar and all over the stage and walkways. This immediately made me a little nervous. A blind woman in a space full of candles, eek! He reassured me they were the battery-operated ones. He gave me one to feel and it had a little metal dancing flame that lit up, how clever!

Sitting there, having an image of my surrounding the music began to play. I felt a sense of wonder. A connection to the building, the space, and the music. It was amazing!

A wonderful hour later the concert finished, and I was so relaxed. It was such an enjoyable experience, I highly recommend it. We wandered to one of the oldie pubs and enjoyed a glass of red to warm the cockles as it was rainy outside, I mean it is Manchester! I want to thank all my friends without whom I wouldn’t get to experience the wonderful things this city has to offer. As someone who has lost their sight, it can be challenging to do the things you love alone. As much as I want to be independent why would I not except the offer of a friend’s company to do something magical. I see it as just that, not as help, or someone having to do something for me. We both enjoyed the company and activity as much as each other.

It is things like this when I reflect on my disability, and it makes me feel less disabled and more me! Yes, society disables us with many barriers, but I think our outlook can also be disabling. Don’t get me wrong there are times I can’t face the world and its obstacles but there are also others times that I think, what the hell I am a part of this world, this life and this city!

As always these are my thoughts and experiences, please do take the time if you are in Manchester to experience them for yourself and maybe share back here with me.

All my love,

Nina xxx


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