30 October 2012

Heaton Park: Fire at Night!

A few weeks back, Aaron, a friend of mine who does crazy things like running up steps for charity, invited me to a 'fire garden' event at Heaton Park. It was called Heaton Sparks, because DO YOU GET IT? I'd heard a lot about Heaton Park, but never been because it's a short ride away on the tram. Now that I've written that down, it doesn't feel like a valid excuse. Anyway.

So, on Friday night, I met Aaron at a little pub in town, called the Port Street Beer House. It's the friendly hipster's wet dream, tiny and filled with great beers, charming bar staff. Though it is a little expensive, I find myself there fairly often, largely because you can trust it to not be filled with dirtbags (because it is a little expensive). And because the beer is FULL OF WONDER. In a lot of ways, the Port Street is the one thing I couldn't really find in Sydney. Though people tell me that's changed since 2008.

We met up with some of Aaron's friends at another pub, and wandered into the park. It was dark out, and because we were a little way from the city, the sky was brighter than usual. Aaron insisted the North Star was to the East. I told him that bright star was probably a planet. He said it was in the Big Dipper... I got out Google Sky Maps. It was Jupiter. My god, Jupiter was bright that in that dark night sky.

The park was so pretty. Lanterns flickered and sculptures flared and warmed the surprisingly cold night. I made a mental note to visit during the day, because though I couldn't see most of the park, I could tell it was huge and lovely.

This little grotto, while less spectacular, was very charming.

There were these metal tree sculptures everywhere, with burning branches. Stunning. 

There were a lot of fire sculptures set up at shorter heights, too, so you could warm your hands. It reminded me, strangely, of the nights Craig and I spent in New Orleans, that cold December after Katrina. We'd gone to help. To gut houses and distribute food. But once it got dark, we'd go back to the gutted, cold church where all the volunteers slept on the concrete foundations, because concrete didn't hold mold, and we'd sit in the parking lot, eating our MREs and warming our hands by a metal rubbish bin, mesmerised by the fire against the darkness, and wishing everything around us was different.

There were firedancers throughout the Heaton Park site, twirling flaming hula hoops, and suddenly I remembered Kristi Deville, a friend I've long lost touch with. She used to work at Javamonkey with me, and she was a firedancer. She once did a show for my birthday. And she's the one who started calling it NIJAWEEN... a tradition that has stayed with me all this time. I hope she's well. In fact, I'm going to try to get in touch with her again. Last I saw her, she'd just had a little baby named Neva.

At the end of the Heaton Sparks event, there was a little fireworks show, which started with the three firedancers shooting flaming arrows at a structure shaped like the National Trust Symbol, setting it alight. The National Trust don't own Heaton Park, they just held this event there, and the park is owned by Manchester City Council.

The fireworks show at the end was lovely and breathtaking, the way fireworks simply always are. The thing I especially loved about this one was that the moon hung in the background, outshining the whole show.

Also, there was a tiny little marching band. It made me laugh, because I went to a normal American high school, with an enormous marching band that won awards for its marching and its banding. But I suppose the little kids thought it was pretty awesome.


Then, Aaron and I headed off to a Halloween party. I think maybe because Halloween is my birthday, I got turned off fancy dress parties early. Or maybe it's because I've seen other people put so much money, time and effort into their costumes that I decided if I couldn't win Halloween, I didn't want to dress up at all.

I will never forget the guy who came as Teen Wolf to the Brickstore Pub's party. He rode in on a car. His mate drove him up, real slow, so he could surf in, just like Michael J Fox. Come on.

I can't beat that.

Or maybe it's because, growing up in Western culture, most of the film/TV characters and cultural icons I wanted to dress as were all white. I couldn't identify. And to be fair, other people couldn't identify me either. I once dressed as Margot Tenenbaum. I had the dress and the eyeliner. I had a little wig for the haircut, because my hair was probably a mohawk at the time. I did THE WHOLE THING.

But no one got it. RACISTS.

My most successful Halloween costume EVER was when I dressed like Storm. And that was awesome. But it required an amount of pleather that I simply do not own these days.

Therefore: I am not a big fan of fancy dress parties. Usually, I go as myself, and say my costume is my birthday. I know. It's disappointing.

This year, a friend (Mark, a different Mark) invited me along to a fancy dress party, which it turned out Aaron was going to, as well! I had contemplated, earlier in the week, not going, so I wouldn't have to think of a costume.

But I've been trying to embrace this whole single woman in the city thing. Single women go to parties, right? Even if they have to wear fake blood to do so?

I decided some fake blood and fake wound stickers would be enough. It was.

And then I promptly forgot to take any pictures. I know many people who have tried to convince to dress up for Halloween over the years will want to see it. Do not panic. I will be reprising this costume on proper Halloween, so get ready to see a very fake bloodied Nija!

28 October 2012

A woman on a wheel

Bicycles loom large in the history of women's liberation.

American suffragette Susan B Anthony said, "I stand and rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a wheel...the picture of free, untrammelled womanhood. The bicycle has done more for the emancipation of women than anything else in the world."

And she ended up on a dollar coin, the first circulating U.S. coin with the portrait of an actual woman rather than an allegorical female figure such as 'Liberty.'

My grandmother was the first woman in her whole group of friends to learn how to ride a bike in 1930s Mumbai. My grandfather taught her how to ride, but he didn't know he'd spend the rest of his life with her yet.

For me, bicycling is a sort of new thing. Sydney's the town I properly learned to cycle in. My bike was gorgeous. A pinkish orange beach cruiser, with a coaster brake and a kickstand. Her name was Eleanoura, and she matched Sydney's sunny beachy lazy pace. When I remember riding my bike in Sydney, I remember watching jacaranda blossoms waft into the street and hot days and freewheeling fast down Erskineville Road. Riding through Redfern Park on warm nights.

I loved her. Sydney's terrible transport system made cycling the best way to get around town. And Craig being an avid cyclist and an excellent bike mechanic made it easy.

Since I've been in Manchester, I haven't really felt the need for a bike very often. The transit isn't great, but it's doable. It's expensive and often very slow, but now that I live right in the centre of town, I can walk most places with no problem.

But I missed cycling. I missed the exercise and the way a bike lets you go places you'd never walk to. I missed the feeling of freewheeling down a street, watching the leaves flutter by.

And I figured if I could learn the way to MediaCity, I'd save money on tram tickets.

So I bought Champion.

He's a single speed, super fast road bike. He's lighter than Eleanoura was, and he's pretty and the fact that I've decided he's a boy allows me to make all sorts of dirty innuendo-filled jokes that make men cough a bit. WHAT COULD POSSIBLY BE BETTER?

I've been taking him out on the weekends, going up the canal, zipping about town, and generally goofing around with my friend Cormac, who also just bought a bike recently.

But last weekend, Creative Tourist's Manchester Weekender included a bicycle tour of 1910s Manchester.

Avid readers of this blog will already know what a sucker I am for walking tours. Up, then, Brave Women, which has recently become a book, was one of my first walks around Manchester.  In that same post, I covered the Tales of the Manchester Dead walk. I've also done the Red Manchester and Underground Manchester walks, as well as the Ancoats Peeps and several Psychogeography walks. An Alan Turing walk I didn't document, because I thought I was going to make a podcast of it, but the recording was filled with wind and microphone problems. I've done the Jack the Ripper tour in London THREE TIMES. I've taken a tour of a clock tower, FFS.

Led by Emma Fox of Manchester Guided Tours, this bicycle tour started in town, went through Salford, over to Media City, through Trafford Park, and back into town. Keir, who used to be my MA supervisor, but is now a figure of no authority in my life and a friend, came with me, and between seeing new parts of town, learning new stuff, gorgeous weather and getting a bit of exercise, I think we could not have had a better day. AND THEN WE ATE LUNCH AT PANCHO'S. So it was the best day ever.

Because we were on bikes, I couldn't really take any notes, so my memory is a touch hazy. We stopped at this church to talk about WWI memorial in it, too. I think it might Salford Cathedral. Keir's the one holding my bike for me.

At Victoria Station, Emma showed us an out-of-the-way, unremarkable gate known as the "Gates of Hell," next to which is a memorial to the men who walked out those gates to war, and never came back.

Emma showed us various parts of the Manchester's canals that were enhanced or built during the 1910s. She showed us evidence of Manchester's rudimentary sewage system, involving horrifying thoughts like nightsoil (look it up) and Manchester's Midnight Mechanics (don't).

We stopped at Ordsall Hall, this amazing Tudor mansion, which is supposedly one of the most haunted places in the UK. They do spooky overnight stays. I might do one. We'll see.

The strange thing about Ordsall Hall, though, is that it feels like it's from another world. It's this gorgeous old building, plonked down right in the middle of one of the most deprived areas of Salford, which is a pretty deprived town overall. Salford is dirtier, poorer, more crime-ridden than Manchester, and the recession hurts more here.

But Ordsall Hall, with its wooden swan and swanling sculptures, seems to deny all of that. It's like a miracle. An oasis.

As we rode along the canal out to Media City, we also stopped to notice some public art. David Appleyard's Factory Girls are a cast iron and enamel tribute to the women who went into factory work to keep industry going while men were at war, and thereby likely did more to emancipate women and win the vote than the suffragettes ever managed, not for lack of trying. Too bad he didn't put them on bikes!

The ride back from Media City was a harrowing narrow trail along the Bridgewater Canal. I have never felt so stressed in my life. The path was about 2 feet wide at best, and branches and thorns reached out to scratch your face. If you avoided them, you'd land in the water. On your bike. Other riders had worn a dirt trail into the path, which was about 6" wide. The canal was constantly threatening to suck me in. I was seriously terrified.

It might have been the first time Emma took a bicycle tour out, because we got a bit lost on our way back into town. We wandered around Castlefield, trying to find our way back over horrible cobbled streets. Hopefully that won't happen next time!

It was a great way to spend a sunny Sunday, and I can't wait for the next bicycle tour of Manchester-- so long as it doesn't involve the Bridgewater Canal's narrow muddy trail, that is.

25 October 2012

The Return of Manfester!

In October 2011, at almost exactly the same time of year, I told you about how Manchester explodes into autumn with festivals. 

This year is no different. The Manchester Weekender was, as usual, absolutely brilliant. Creative Tourist really know what they're doing!

On Saturday, I decided to finally get my bike's extremely squealing brakes sorted out. While the Bicycle Boutique worked on it, I thought I'd catch an exhibit devoted to one of my ridiculous passions: Artists' Books! The Manchester Artists' Book Fair was right near my local bike shop, on Oxford Road. Ahh, Oxford Road. A regular haunt during my MA, it's a street I (thankfully) almost never have to ride on these days. When I first moved to Manchester, the BBC was still running a lot of its northern operations from the 70s modernist monstrosity on Oxford Road. I remember gazing at it wistfully as I walked into town from school, wishing I worked there. Of course, by the time I started working at the Beeb, these offices were moved to Media City UK, over in Salford. Much prettier buildings!

One of the first stalls I saw was Big Jump Press, run by a lovely Sarah Bryant. She's a recent immigrant to the UK, by way of Alabama and upstate NY, so we had a lot to chat about. So much, in fact, that I forgot to take any pictures! But, if you look at her blog, she has many images of her work. Beautiful, delicate pieces.

This book by Mellie Lane blew me away. I love how the purple gets darker as you look further 'back' into the city. I love the precision of the cuts. I wanted to buy it, but I cannot spend £30 on a piece of art that I don't even have the bedroom space to display.

This flagged book, by Heather Prescott, did something that I think is truly amazing. It is an artists' book that is filled with meaning and politics, both personal and public. It examines how the word 'cuts' is used, in so many areas, and how nearly all of those usages hurt. From self-harm to austerity, cuts undercut our lives. (See what I did there?) Simultaneously, as a physical object, it is nearly impossible to touch without getting a papercut, and so it manifests its meaning on your fingertips. And the book also makes it clear that cuts caused by austerity do not currently have a treatment plan in place. 

And this book drew me in through its sheer physical cleverness. Created by Gemma Lacey, it's true brilliance is that this book is some sort of undercover mobile. To see this book's full form, it must be held up in the air.

It starts as a closed book, with some lovely ribbons. Nothing exceptional there.

You can see a yellow printed sun begin to break through the inky blue 'night' of the book. 

And then, once you fully open it, the covers can be tied together, and the pages form this 3 dimensional sculpture of night and day!

I still had time before I could pick up my bike, so I walked up to The Cornerhouse, which was another Weekender venue. On the way, I noticed a huge gap in the buildings that line Oxford Road. It's strange to see, because Oxford Road is probably the most developed road in Manchester, so a gap in the view, a place for the sun to get through... is unnerving. It turns out the BBC Manchester building was nearly gone. I was a bit sad about it, but I'm glad I'm working at the Beeb anyway now!

At the Cornerhouse, I intended to go to the Sketch-O-Matic, look at some artwork, and call it a day. What, in heaven's name, you ask, is a Sketch-O-Matic? Well, dear reader, the Sketch-O-Matic is a delightful take on the classic photobooth. With the Sketch-O-Matic, you sit in a booth, facing a one-way mirror, drop a £1 coin in the slot, and an artist on the other side draws your portrait in 5 minutes! 

Some of the portraitists did sketches and some did 'poem portraits.' I found the experience a little bizarre. Thanks to a fear of being vain and actually hating the way my face looks, I have not sat in front of a mirror for a full 5 minutes in about 17 years, I would roughly guess.
I kept looking around, and though I managed to not get on Twitter for the entire time, I couldn't help taking a photo of the coin slot and the indicator above the mirror.  

And this is the portrait I got! 

I absolutely love it. I think the reason it looks like someone else is 'portrait-bombing' me is that I was really fidgety and probably started out looking at the side of the booth. What I love, though, is that it reminds of how I looked when I had a mohawk-- so it's like a portrait of my past and my present. Also, the artist caught the moment when I was taking the photograph, so you can see my fingers splayed over my rectangular phone. 

My only wish? That the Sketch-O-Matic had a publicly available roster of artists, so I could know to whom to attribute this work of art!
I meant to just go home after that, but a friend came by and offered me a ticket to a Q&A with artist David Shrigley. I didn't know anything about Shrigley's work, except that he had an exhibit on at the Cornerhouse. I figured, "Free ticket!"I'm really glad I went along. David Shrigley is one of those very lucky characters who manages to make a living being an artist, while not having to bend his style to advertising, but rather gets to bend advertising to his style. He does goofy drawings with text, and generally his work seems rather pointless. 

But what I really liked about his talk was that he didn't take the "I get paid to do stupid childish drawings all day, it's the best! I can't believe people pay me to do dumb drawings!" route. If he had taken that route, I would probably take his drawings about as seriously as he did and think he was an overpaid wank who is taking the art out of art.
But I don't think that. Because he does take his work seriously. Yes, they are little cartoons. But they say something. He said he spends every day working at his drawings. That they look little throwaway doodles, but he throws out a bin bag of them a day. He works. Hard. It looks easy. But looks mean nothing. And he also doesn't take his work too seriously. I think he would acknowledge that they are goofy drawings. But goofy does not mean unimportant. I really enjoyed his talk, and I know I'll recognise his work in the future... and be excited about it! After his talk, I did have to rush to the bike shop to get Champion before closing time. Happily, his brake pads have been changed and he no longer screams at me every time I tell him to slow down, take it easy, stop now, we have all night.

A great day, well spent, and errands done, too. I might just be ok with the single life in Manchester, after all!

23 October 2012

Ask her to marry you. For me.

So, recently I was talking to Allen (and for those of you who don't know, Allen is a woman, and her parents just spelled her name that way and I've never gotten a really good reason for that), and the thing is, I end up talking to her all the time about things that I meant to never tell anyone. I can't help it with her, because she is the best. The absolute most awesome*. And she always has a joke ready for your bad day. Allen is the kind of capable, strong, brilliant, funny, confident woman I want to be when I grow up.

I told her that I'm feeling like a failure because I'm pretty much 31, and I've never been asked to be a bridesmaid (see previous post for more mentions of this).

Honestly, it does make me a bit anxious. I wonder if I'm the kind of woman who can make really good women friends. I worry. If you're basically 31 and you've never even been asked to hold someone's dress up while they pee on the most important day of their lives (as far as they know), then... maybe you haven't really been a good friend to any woman you know. Or maybe the cynicism of that little "as far as they know" comment seeps into your everyday attitude, and your friends think, "Nija's awesome and smart but she wouldn't make a good bridesmaid."

And they might be right. I might be a *really crappy* bridesmaid. But right now, I desperately want to help plan someone else's wedding and tie a hundred squares of lace into little packages around candied almonds. Though I will not be able to stop myself suggesting that candied almonds are actually totally gross and jelly beans would be better.

I reckon my sister would have asked me, but she had a Hindu ceremony, and Hindu ceremonies essentially just include THE ENTIRE FAMILY rather than just a select group. There are no bridesmaids. And I wasn't even able to help plan any of it, because most of the planning happened in India, while I was in my sophomore year of high school, or over the summer that I spent at nerd camp.

Yes, I believe nerd camp may indeed have had something to do with the bridesmaid problem in my life.

Anyway, I was talking to Allen, who was my neighbour for, what, 5 years about this the other day, and  she said, "Tell Lance."

Lance is her boyfriend. They have been together for over a year and they seem awesome.

I thought she was half joking, so I said, "Wow! Y'all are serious!" and left it there.

Then, the other day, when I posted my bridesmaid anxiety on the blog, Allen left a comment that is just Lance's email address.

Now, as hilarious as that hint is, we all have our lines, and I won't publish someone's personal email address on this blog, because that would be a cruel thing to do, especially since I know my legions of fans** would flood his inbox with anything from insistence to exhortation that he ask Allen to marry him.

But I will publish this post.

Lance. Dear Lance.

Ask Allen to marry you.

I need to be a bridesmaid.

And more importantly: Allen is the absolute most awesome.

Any comments exhorting Lance to propose will be published.

*That is some turn of phrase, hey? I sure can turn a phrase until its neck snaps off like some mafia-trained gangster with an order to murder phrases because they're horning in on my territory.
**almost no fans

20 October 2012


Don't worry, it's not a post about Sarah Palin. Hmm. Why did that feel like a *really* old reference?

Lately, I've been doing lots of cool cultural events in Manchester. I have been keeping myself too busy to think at all about the fact that I'm not dating anyone, and I'm nearly 31, and I have never even been asked to be a bridesmaid. Yes, I know that part of the reason for that probably has to do with the fact that I make friends and then I leave the country, so I am never in the same country as my friends' weddings. Still.


In the past few weeks, I've been to a lot of literary events, as you might expect. After all, the Manchester Literature Festival is on!

I got to see Michael Chabon give a reading/interview! He's one of my favourite novelists. When I read his books, I find myself slowing down through the last few chapters, forcing myself to stop reading, just because I don't want to get to the end. I don't want to say goodbye to his characters. With Kavalier & Clay, I had read the entire book in a fortnight... and then it took me another fortnight to finish the last two pages. I just kept thinking, "If I keep reading, it'll be over..." And I never want his books to be over. And he was a great speaker, as well, though I suppose after over 10 years as literary wunderkind, you must get good at talking. Or turn into a hermit. Regardless. He was funny, and honest, and serious about his writing.

I also saw Jon Ronson give a talk at our local giant book-selling chain, and he was brilliant, though not part of the MLF per se. He was funny, too, but in a different, kinder, friendlier way than Chabon. Luckily, I got to meet him a few moments before his talk, and he was kind and friendly. Exactly what you'd expect. He told me his son had just met someone from Atlanta. Because we're everywhere. Go buy his new book. Then call me on Skype or something and we will giggle about it together.


My world is mostly filled with words, it's true, and if you find me on Words With Friends (psst! I'm nijabird!), I will try my hardest to *murder* you with my awesome wording. But I have not only been bookish these past few weeks.

In fact, I have also been arty. It turns out that the old, seemingly derelict warehouse across the street from my place is actually an undercover art hive, called Rogue Studios. (Whoa!) The entire warehouse is filled with artists' studios, and they occasionally hold open nights. They sell wine for £1/flimsy plastic cup and let you wander through the studios. Sometimes the artists are there to answer questions and sell work. Sometimes, the art sits in its studio, alone, abandoned, with no one to answer for it.

The change in light is the first thing to strike you, as you step into the warehouse off the street. From a sunny afternoon, you find yourself in a dark, damp, cold and gloomy stairwell, layers on layers of thick paint peeling off the walls and ceiling. There is so much paint, you start to wonder if the building even has walls. There are five floors of studios, each one a slightly different size and layout. You get overwhelmed. You won't be seeing everything tonight. You will be lucky if you see, really see, one floor tonight.

My flatmate Natalie (of the amazing Shrieking Violet) has a very sweet boyfriend, Daniel Fogarty. I know, some people get the best surnames. Dan's one of the artists at Rogue Studios and he works mostly in concrete, making strange abstract shapes. I like his stuff, though I admit, I don't really understand "what's it's saying." I think it's just mostly about abstract shapes. Or... maybe it's about using a material that's designed to be useful and making it into inherently not useful things? Maybe it's a whole statement about the usefulness and validity of art! Oh, I am on a roll here!

Feel free to correct me, Dan!

I also really liked Naomi Kashiwagi's work. It's really playful art, experimenting with what materials can do and evoke. For example, her graphite dust drawings, to me, are about Rorschach tests and mirrors and shadows. But also, the images created make me think of otherworldly creatures, aliens, SciFi, and the surface of Mars.

Andrew Lim's kinetic sculpture of a fan with a loop of regular old household string had me mesmerised.

I thought it was a metal hoop at first, made of very thin metal twine. Everyone thought so. But it's just the magical concurrence of a wall, a fan of a certain power, and the perfect circumference of the perfectly weighted string. Of course, whenever any of those things were nudged, even slightly-- say, by a door slamming down the hall, the magic failed. The string fell. But Andrew, like a sorcerer, could just bring it back.

Here's another angle.

I didn't get to see as much as I would have liked at Rogue Studios that night. Like I said, there were 5 floors of studios to see, and I suffer art fatigue easily. So I'm looking forward to their next open night!

13 October 2012

It was only an idea

It was probably foolish of me to attend a Manchester Literature Festival without properly reading the promotional blurb for it. It was probably ridiculous of me to attend said event with the intention of blogging about the event as well. In retrospect.

Last Wednesday, I wandered down to the International Anthony Burgess Foundation for an event titled "From St Petersburg To Manchester." How apt, I thought, thinking of the Russian-inspired futuristic language of Burgess's young droogs. I picked up a free badge, featuring an illustration of Alex, and thought about mailing it to my high-school Lit teacher. I wondered where she was and how I could get in touch with her. Luckily, the event started before I got too lost in dreams of the past.


The event, I presumed (having not properly read the blurb), would feature a Russian author and a British author, both with experience writing about St Petersburg. I was wrong.

But I wasn't disappointed.

The event actually featured Heather Reyes, the editor of City-Pick Travel Guides, and Edward Docx, award-winning novelist & author ofSelf-Help/Pravda, based in St. Petersburg. The IABF's hall is narrow, but airy, with high ceilings, big windows and brick walls. Antique furniture lines one wall and the room is focussed around a a simple, utilitarian stage. Sitting in the second row, I noticed the seats were placed so close together, I was feeling little claustrophobic. I took an aisle seat and scooched my chair a few inches into the aisle to get some space.

City-Pick Guides are city-based travel guides that include excerpts from literature about the city in question. Thus far, Oxygen Books have published guides on New York, London, Paris and many others, including St Petersburg. 

Heather and the moderator kicked off the evening with quotes about St Petersburg from Tolstoy, Nabokov, Dostoyevsky and other illustrious names, creating a contradictory literary portrait of the city.

Then Edward Docx started reading some short excerpts from his novel Self-Help. Midway, he realised we'd need a short history lesson on St Petersburg before his story made sense. Peter the Great, in the 1700s, needed a port, he told us. So he captured the territory from the Swedes, built a fortress, brutally conscripted peasants to build the city, and then decided to make it the new capital of Russia, thereby forcing his entire court to move there, too. St Petersburg is outstanding, Docx told us, because it is that rare thing: a city that began as an idea. Not by convenience, or accident. Not by trade. Just an idea and sheer vicious force of will.

Reyes discussed the process of editing a travel guide, and they took questions from the audience. I was impressed by the number of Russophiles clearly present in the audience, as a discussion about the merits of Moscow vs St Petersburg started with the first question!

Docx described St Petersburg as a city of facades and, behind them, courtyards, linked alleyways, outward beauty hiding secrets within. Between the quotes from City-Pick's anthology and Docx, I found myself adding Petersburg to my list of places to be, one day.

And the evening ended with a strangely delightful treat! Docx's publisher, Picador, is celebrating its 40th Anniversary, and  Docx summarised some of his favourite novels in exactly 40 words. It was a fun bit, as Docx performed each story with a relevant accent-- The Great Gatsby in an American accent, for example. I can't judge all of the accents he did, but the American accent was fairly good. A light-hearted way to end a fun & thoughtful, wanderlusty event.

This post also appears on the Manchester Literature Festival's blog.