Manchester, so much to answer for.
At the weekend travelled with Allison to Manchester for a two day break. I love nothing better than a coach trip with a bunch of people that are complete strangers, and who then become faces that are recognised in a crowd over a couple of days. This was mainly a shopping excursion (not my idea, lol) but it gave a little taste of a city that I only briefly touched once before on a visit to Old Trafford. Even though I was born a country bumpkin in the farmlands of Suffolk and went to college in a hidden village called Mattersey and lived for five years in the suburb town outside Leicester and now live in the Valleys, where I have been for the past 20 years, I love the city. I love the sounds of a city and the sites. I love sitting on a seat just watching the colourful mix we call the human race. I love the fashions, I love trying to work out people’s stories from their expressions and bits of captured conversation as they walk by. I love people. All unique, all fearfully and wonderfully made, all with a story to tell whether it be from brokenness or redemption or probably both. Have you ever stopped for a while sat down and just listened to the sounds of a city or are you a part of the sound?
Noise Pollution or Redemptive Cry?
As we turned off the light to go to sleep the city was still well in the flow. To those of us schooled in the realm of ‘holy living’ it sounds like a rebellious noise of the excess of alcohol, the screams of what we lovingly call the ‘cows of Bashan’, the sound of the human race out to get out of their heads or laid as much as possible. It can be a sound that can make us cringe and thank God that we are not sinners such as these. But while we separate ourselves the city lives on. The music continues to pound, the people continue to party to forget the week at work, the broken relationship, the debt issues. Maybe the sound is not such an evil one if we listen closely. Maybe it is a cry of deep calling out to deep. Maybe it is the sound of the city rising up to heaven as a prayer, a plea, a seeking for the redemptive gift. As I lay there listening I finally gave in to sleep until I woke again at 3 am. The city was still in full flow. While we sleep and slumber the city still breathes and shouts and sings. The clubs still play the thumping music, the traffic still rattles by, humanity still lives for the weekend. The church sleeps for Sunday. Maybe it is time we woke up and listened. Can you hear the sound? I love the sounds of the city. Finally awake in the morning the only sound we hear apart from a bit of traffic is the road sweeper, cleaning up the mess of the night before. The mess of a messed up humanity, of which we are a part. Then slowly the city comes to life again.
From the Hollies and Herman’s Hermits through the Buzzcocks, James and the Smiths, to Oasis and the Stone Roses, Manchester has always had a sound. The rainy city, as it is known, had to produce something from the bedrooms and homes because it was often too wet to go outside. The sound of Manchester was then heard through out the world. Bands that were rooted in the city itself. Bands that struck a chord with ordinary people. Something that resonated in the pain and in redemption. I love cities and nations that produce a sound. I love the sound of Scandinavia with people like Sigur Ros and Bjork, I loved the sound of Coventry with the Specials and two tone, I loved the sound of London with the punk invasion. All these sounds connect at a deeper level than paint by numbers music. Manchester connects at that deeper level. To me the Smiths and Oasis are full of redemption because they connect at a deep level. It is the sound of a city. That does not mean it all sounds the same but there is something there that speaks of Manchester and life and the people within that city. Sound is everywhere. The city, the valley, the suburb, the farmlands. When is the last time you listened to the sound of where you are? When did you sit and watch the world go by without looking at the phone, having headphones on, the telly, talking? Find a spot, sit and listen. What do you hear? At first you may not hear very much but after a while you may just hear a redemptive sound of humanity or life slowly or briskly passing by. I love the sound. I loved the sound of the city, because the sound says it is alive and if it is alive it has hope. And if it has hope the sound of redemption is not far away.