Barbara’s ( Babs ) Funeral

Practical work isn’t going well. Actually its not going at all….I needed time to recover after the Liverpool trip.. that was last weekend.

Then on Tuesday afternoon, after work, I headed up to Salford for my mother’s cousin’s funeral the following day. This was ‘quite a do’, as they say. I haven’t been to Manchester since 1983…. or there about, apart from to change trains once when I went to Huddersfield to see David Blackburn  at his studio.

I’ve been through on the train, of course, but latterly this was to go and clear out my parents house….almost 15 years ago now. So, not only a funeral but more than the usual associated ‘box of memories’ was opened.

I’ll have to regard this journey and the funeral etc as ‘ practice’ as although affected, I was doing that ‘observing thing’ that I think we all do….

So this was a day or more of taking part in a ritual process of autobiographical and collective memory with reference s to ‘place’ and ‘space’ if place and space are  defined by and created by  social relations .

The location was important as I haven’t been to Barbara’s house and Salford for over 30 years. Salford is NOT the same as the community will tell you. There are still lots of people  ‘Salford born and bred’. I think there’s a Facebook page too… but there is for everything isn’t there.

Key points of my visit from a memory/ performance/ritual  pov.

  • Being met at the station by Wayne. He used to visit my house when young so remembers my family and family home (very few people I know now can do this )
  • Talking about individual memories of our chldhoods. Lots of not quite shared recollections…fragments which almost fitted together and some ‘plasticity’.. A Piano in my bedroom! No. My grandma’s dark glasses…Yes… but I had forgotten.
  • Talking about my parents made them ‘present’ again… rather than just memories of my past they were also such a large part of Wayne’s but his recollections ‘ brought them back to life’!
  • Going to his house. Would I recognise anywhere… Did he still live in the tower block?
  • Tower blocks demolished. They were built in the 60’s/ early 70’s?
  • Scenes of Salford, see below. I bought my chips from this Takeaway. I had a tour round Salford to find a chippy open on a Tuesday night.
  • Going to Barbara’s house which has just been refurbished by the council. It has already had a new street name....why do they do that…?
  • Meeting Lorraine after many years and her daughters and discussing common memories
  • Sharing memories with Barbara’s neighbours even though we had never met before…to my recollection.
  • Ritual of flowers and hearse.Following to crematorium and service,
  • Agecroft Crematorium- certainly a Site of Memory ( Pierre Nora) – kept (just about) for restoration
  •  Individual touches of a common ritual...A solo acapella version of “I will always Love you”, “Simply the Best”, Balloons outside for Babs and her brother Peter.
  • Food, Prosecco and karaoake at the Wellington
  • ‘That’s life‘ and Andy Williams- ‘Can’t get used to losing you’
  • Bus to our Wayne’s in the rain.
  • Walk across the Red Rec to pick up the car
  • Back to Mancs and walking through Victoria Station ( memories of trips home to B’pool and visit by Angie..) the Arndale centre ( memories of the IRA Bomb ), Piccadilly Circus ( nights out and queuing for taxis in the early hours).

I was deeply aware of the strong  sense of community, which sounds patronising, but  was palpable.

It was comforting to all those present including me but associated with this there can be problems, as there are in Salford with family ties leading in some cases to problems which have been demonstrated over recent years.

The effects of repeated ‘re-generation’ of poor housing have really affected the people living here as can be seen in this report

in the Salford Star .

What I couldn’t understand was how some of the old terraces ( like the one Barbara managed to buy as a single parent in the 60’s) had been compulsorily purchase and the owners rehoused in council houses ( ditto) but some of them are still standing and in reasonable nick whereas the tower blocks which replaced them have now been demolished too….

I was distressed by what has happened to this ‘place’ and so also to the community, and the violence which now defines the area.

Rant over but travelling round in the car, by foot , on the bus and following the hearse… Doreen Massey and Lefevbre were echoing in my head.The website below was interesting too and has an interesting article about and this article about Archaeology and Place-Making

Worth another look.

Here are some photos and a couple of really crappy  phone videos… Well, I was in the pub at 3 o’clock in the afternoon… You’d expect it to be a bit wobbly.

I’m putting them here to remind myself of the event and the space created by Babs sudden absence.

That’s life: – tiny clip bad edit

Can’t get used to Losing You:



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