Nothing is ever truly lost…
In early 2001, I spent six weeks working in Manchester as part of a public transportation project. It was not the most joyous time of my life. Manchester was dank, dirty, occasionally flooded, and possessed of a social climate best described as mild despair punctuated by occasional outbursts of moaning. And it was at the height of the foot-and-mouth epidemic, so the whole countryside was awash with piles of burning livestock, trays of disinfectant, and grim-faced farmers. They should have issued a special set of Ordnance Survey maps that year, saying “Here Be Misery” for any place off a paved road.
I did not have much in common with my colleagues, the work I was doing was not terribly interesting, and my accommodation strove for Victorian charm and generally only achieved Victorian food, amenities, plumbing and hygiene.
I quickly exhausted Manchester’s main charms – Salford Quays and the Museum of Cotton Mills (or whatever it was called). Then I started to roam elsewhere on the weekends. I went to Conwy in Wales, and Chester, and spent a wonderful easter weekend in Oban (the Scottish Dunedin). I attempted to visit Alderley Edge (fans of Alan Garner will understand), but it was closed owing to the F&M, as was most of rural Britain. I went to where they found Lindow Man. He was of course long gone, but they still had quite a nice working cotton mill.
And I went to York. I have vivid memories of York. I walked the walls, and visited York Minster and the Chapter House and the Magna Carta. And I thought I took quite a lot of photographs. But when I scanned all my old 35mm and 120mm photos a few years ago, all I could find was one roll of black & white, and a few poor-quality digital shots.
Last summer, I did a major cleanup of my study. In the process, I found two small packets of colour negatives. I assumed they were something boring from the 1990s and tucked them away safely to scan later. For the past year I have been trying to remember where I put them. Yesterday they turned up in a box of spare watercolour pads, Moleskines, and other things that one writes upon. I don’t know why I put them there. My filing system would baffle an expert in the history of programming languages.
But I found them. I think I probably take better pictures now (certainly far less hairy), but they are a vivid reminder to me of a place seen once and possibly not ever again.
Please enjoy a sample.