Graveyard in Blackley

The Jewish graveyard that was vandalised late last week.

After Porajmos (pt. 8)

Again, slightly different style to what I’ve been doing previously, but I think this one has turned out better than I thought it would.

After Porajmos (pt. 7)

This Years End Of Year Show

Just a post to say I’m really proud of all my comrades-in-arts, the show was excellent, and special congrats to Emily and Dodge for winning those prizes.

After Porajmos (pt. 6)

Tried a few different methods here. I think there may be too much exposure…

Door of the Duomo

Milan Voyage

Duomo, Milano (Italia)

Duomo, Milano (Italia)

So I went on a spontaneous adventure to Italia. As it was a last minute thing, the cheapest way was over land via. bus. This meant a long voyage from Manchester to London, London to Paris and Paris to Milan- passing through the Alps, which are so beautiful with snow at the top, grapes at the bottom and all these little brightly coloured churches dotting the mountains.

The villa where I stayed turned out to be really fancy and I felt so out of my depth- especially when the staff kept addressing me as ‘mi’dam‘, as I arrive after 33 hours of coach travel with worn out rucksacks covered in anti-nazi and anarchist pin-badges.

Now Milan is absolutely great – apart from the street harassment. This is – as Lisa and Valentina explained to me at the show, why Italian women all seem to walk around in groups. I was already attracting enough stares as it was being so pale and wearing my anti-mosquito skirt with is covered in dangling bells. But I could not pass a street corner without some proposition being made, kissy noises and forget about trying to sit down in the park by yourself!

Fortunately, I had one important Italian word at my disposal before I left, and that word is ‘Vaffanculo‘. Very important word…

At the gig, I made new friends and saw some familiar faces, including the honourable Miss Alison Clarke, a very, very talented photographer (check out her stuff here). I was determined to dance and jump around so much that the next day, 33 hours on the coach would seem a blessing. There was also a dog loose that kept running around the stage in circles causing some minor hysteria amongst the heavies.

The magic over, me and my new friends hurried to the water pump outside (which then descended into a water fight) and after much mither got pizza and chips between us and dined on the grass, in the dark, with our fellow gig-goers and the mosquitoes before going around the over-priced stalls, selling goth jewellery and patchwork harem pants before parting ways.

The following day I went around Milan, and on the instructions on hermano Nico, to act like a complete tourist in the Duomo. I kept at the back, zooming in on all the interesting architecture while mass was preached and hymns were sung over the clicking of cameras. I always feel a bit uncomfortable doing stuff like that though. As a united fan I understand how the parishioners must feel about all the tourists, but it is nonetheless a very impressive structure. It was just too bad the roof was closed.

Outside I met Pigeon Man who poured seed into my hand so I could feed pigeons like on Beauty and the Beast. Everyone I’ve told that story to are surprisingly shocked that I would allow pigeons on my hand but I thought it was real fun and I’m not a wimp.

On the bus back to Paris, I befriended a Romanian Roma mother and her son who very much surprised that I spoke their language and I showed them photos of my adopted Rrom family in Manchester. They shared their food with me and said they want to come and live in Manchester as well, and apparently God sent me (I’m adding that to my CV by the way).

I got so sick of all the passport control on the way back. I can’t understand why they have to check you on both sides of the line at one end of the country, then again at the other side. Can’t they just radio over to each other saying, ‘yeh, they’re cool’?

Appropriately, the Swiss/French border control was situated either side of a big, jagged, spooky looking black mountain. We were held for ages while one of our Algerian passengers was taken away for verification (in fact I noted that only our Roma and Muslim passengers were so thoroughly scrutinised the whole voyage). However, the Algerian was cleared eventually and we passed through the tunnel onto the other side of the mountain to contend with the French border agents.

The French were not satisfied with his story and detained him leaving us one passenger short.

I meanwhile, almost translucently white with a bio-metric British passport (which is indignantly tugged from it’s padded cover which reads : EUROPEAN BRITISH ENGLISH MANCUNIAN! by impatient border agents at each side of the line), journey to the UK and resume my duties- waiting for word that one of my people has come out Dallas Court okay, hoping this friend’s letter isn’t going to be another eviction threat, and then hurry across town to another solidarity protest…

“…this is what the border means – “Welcome back to your punishments. Welcome home to the permanent absence of peace that is the long wait for war. Fill in your disembarkation cards and declare yourself and your possessions. Let the X Rays rule your bags and your body, and the foul breath of the immigration officer be your first inhalation as you make your way home.” The border is the mark on the ground which tells you that wherever you are on earth, hell begins close to home. And you are never far from a border. It doesn’t matter in which city, continent or country you are in, the border seeks you out in the end. Not even in a landlocked city like the one in which I live, hundreds of kilometers away from the frontier, is the border a distant reality.” – Shuddhabrata Sengupta



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