Previously I’ve written about my desire to go on a scavenger hunt in and around Manchester. My ideas were miniscule compared with Chris Smith and Liz Peel’s ambitions:
You see, whilst my hunt was limited to our very own Manchester UK, Chris and Liz’s ‘scavenger hunt’ is to visit 52 Manchesters in 52 weeks in 5 continents, sharing knowledge, memorabilia and experiences and building bridges between our cities:
- 52 Manchesters
- 52 weeks
- 5 continents
You have to admit, my hunt is trivial by comparison.
Chris emailed to tell me about ‘Finding Manchester’. He wrote “It’s a crazy research project (in a good way!) to create a permanent archive of 52 Manchesters for generations to come, celebrating each of them as they are at this moment in history.
“We’re going to be interviewing people connected with the Manchesters, photographing the places and collecting memorabilia. We’ll also be taking with us ‘boxes of Manchester UK’ to the other Manchesters.
“The boxes will include things that are ‘Manchester’ through and through, such as interviews with people from here (well known and not so well known), images of the city and people today, emblems, technology etc.)
“Before we go we want to pull together a selection of interviews with people who are passionate about Manchester!”
I read and re-read the email. The project sounded fantastic. I could see the potential and it gripped my imagination from the start. When at the end I read “How about an interview sometime?”, well, you can imagine my reaction.
HOW AND WHEN
I asked Chris how the interview would take place. I hoped it would be nice and informal, over a few drinks in a pub perhaps, with him taking notes as I answered. I even thought we might do the interview via email. I thought he could send the questions and I could compose a reply at leisure. No such luck.
If you’ve been reading Manchester Meanders for a while you’ll remember my radio interview and the sheer terror I experienced leading up to it. That was live (LIVE!) but at least they could only hear my voice.
Regarding the Finding Manchester interviews, Chris wrote “we like to do them face-to-face so that we can record the audio in WAV (the adopted technology format for the British Library to ensure that the recordings can be listened to in many years to come and doesn’t become redundant). We also like to video the interviews where we can too. People like to put a face to the voice.”
(Video? They want to video it?! Eek!)
After several emails back and forth we finally set an interview date. We arranged to meet at the Manchester Museum one afternoon after work. The plan sounded simple enough but on the day I missed every sensible connection; I missed busses, got stuck on trains; I ended up running across Manchester city centre rather than risk any further mishaps, which wasn’t easy as I was breaking in new hiking boots at the time.Two and a half hours after setting off I arrived for my interview glowing with sweat and panting for air. It wasn’t really the best look for Manchester UK.
As we were running out of time we launched straight into the interview. Still gasping for air, without checking a mirror for streaming mascara and without combing my hair, I answered personal questions off the cuff without thinking. To be honest, I hadn’t realised we were recording.
The plan, according to Chris, was to “capture what it is I love about Manchester and give people an impression of the person I am – as a person who lives in Manchester today.
He said: “Think of it as telling someone about your life in Manchester who has no idea what the place is like or who it is that lives there.”
I’m not sure how well I achieved that. If it was a job interview I wouldn’t have got it.
I don’t know how long the interview lasted. The staff at Manchester Museum were waiting to lock up but they patiently (and generously) let us record for half an hour past closing time, after which we slipped into the museum’s café for a brew until they threw us out too.
I answered questions about relationships, how long I’ve lived in Manchester, why I moved into the city centre, how I met my partner, how long we’ve been together, what I studied at University, how my career has changed over the years, where I want it to go from here… None of that actually made it into the final cut. The final cut from the interview is all about this blog, making it appear like a shameless advertisement for Manchester Meanders! That wasn’t my aim! Hopefully I’m just being paranoid.
I might be able to show you the interview on Vimeo sometime in the future but until then check out the Finding Manchester website. Show them your support! It’s a fantastic project and suggestions and donations are welcome.
Chris and Liz hope to leave Manchester UK to visit 52 Manchesters in 52 weeks in 5 continents shortly after the Manchester Day Parade. (Sunday 10th June at 2pm).
* For more information on their previous adventure (through the Amazon, in search of the small South American village called Manchester) visit The Manchester Museum Website.
Extract from the Manchester Museum archive: “Chris Smith and Liz Peel came across the village of Manchester on a 1950s Russian air map of Bolivia. Intrigued by this, they set out on a canoe along the Rio Manuripi River in the Bolivian Amazon in South America to find it. Liz and Chris spent four months on the river, negotiating tropical storms, eating piranha fish and aided only by basic equipment, before reaching the small village. Home to less than thirty families living in huts around a football pitch, the village was founded in the late 1800s when Anthony Webster-James, a young Mancunian engineer, moved there to set up a rubber smelting plant in the height of South America’s rubber boom.”
All comments are welcome.