Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Do I look like I own a gun?


This is a picture of one of my favourite shop fronts in Manchester.

It's only a couple of streets away from one of the places I work and I walk past often. It reminds me of the way the whole area looked 15 years ago when I moved to Manchester. It's squeezed onto the corner of a little run of shops that consists of a 'vintage magazine shop' (dirty book store), a goldsmith, a cool second hand book shop, a newsagent that scares me and a shop that sometimes specialises in putting fake fur on chairs and sometimes not.

The whole area is slowly being ‘regenerated’. The Arndale centre is swelling to one side – shedding its scabby tiles and breaking out in a rash of cheap glass plates and ‘non-structural’ girders. On the other, the Printworks – sort of a cross between a late night entertainment complex and hell is getting higher and higher. Above it, the new Metrolink ‘Interchange’ (glass car park with integral big bus shelter) is starting to emerge from behind the scaffolding. I don’t think the shops will last much longer.

Anyway, at weekends the shop attracts a strange mixture of people: kids in hoodies and half-length tracky bottoms pressing their faces against the windows, looking longingly at the various weapons and means of harm-causation; middle aged men who look like they’d just missed out on parts as extras in a second rate (was there a first rate?) version of ‘Lock, Stock…’; and really old men who just look a little lost – regretting the days when you could simply shoot a neighbour, apologise in the morning and forget about it all with a bottle of stout in the local labour club.

So I thought I’d take a photo as I walked past this evening. A part of me worries that I will have no memories if I don’t capture them somehow. Then I remember that I don’t have a camera and only got a decent ‘phone last week, so it’s hardly worth worrying about at this stage – whatever. There I am – camera in hand. Squinting against the evening sunshine and trying to look competent yet quirkily detached in front of the gangs of people outside the Hard Rock Café and Tiger Tiger. Some kids walk past and look at me – saying nothing. A couple of guys in their 20s cross over and walk around me. Then two girls point and walk up the street behind the shop – glancing back at me. Perhaps they think I’m the sort of person who might be researching where to get a gun from in Manchester. Or that I might be planning to take my revenge on a gun shop that had sold me an unsatisfactory model of weapon (one whose bang was not up to scratch, or that did not give a suitably masculine kick-back motion on firing – I have seen lots of Cagney and Lacey and many episodes of Murder She Wrote, so have a fairly good grasp of such things).

Then I realised they probably thought I was a copper and decided to high kick it into the gym before I got lynched.

It’s a pretty shop front though…

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