Commemorating the Suffragettes with a Dose of Performance Anxiety
On Monday I attended the relaunch of The Suffragette Magazine in the glorious Central Library in Manchester.
The event was created by Women's Words Manchester, who are building a new archive of life writing by women living, working and growing in Manchester. The project partners are The Pankhurst Centre, Manchester Libraries & Archives, Wordplay Community Arts and Soroptomist International Manchester.
Having been chosen to have a story included in the reimagined publication as part of the a programme of events celebrating the centenary year of some women receiving the right to vote, I knew the event was an important mark of respect but still struggled to allay my abject terror at reading my story to the assembled crowd.
The crowd and performers comprised some of Manchester's brightest, loudest and most uncompromising female voices and supporters, including Claire Mooney, Alex Keelan, Rosie Garland and Dr Helen Pankhurst. How unstoppable these women are. How do they do it? I must find out.
I can't thank the people involved in choosing my story for publication enough - both for the support I received and for the opportunity to push myself.
The suffragettes endured, fought, scrapped, protested and even died for my voice to be heard.
I hope I did their sacrifice proud.
With permission from The Pankhurst Centre, here is my story:
I came from a small town in Ireland, of around 7,000 people.
My friend Chris got a job in Manchester. He said, ‘Join me. Try it.’
I’d never been before but I had nothing to lose, and he was my number one.
I moved to Manchester on 30th April 2009. I was 25. I loved the tall buildings. There were no tall buildings where I came from. I remember walking down Ducie St with the buildings rising up either side of me. I was in love with the sight of city lights in darkness, thousands of bulbs lifting the night.
I got my first real job in Manchester, writing for the internet. I started earning properly for the first time. Welcome zeroes.
Later that year, I met a man, Jon. We met on a friend date outside Piccadilly station. Three years later we were married. I was 28. We’re still friends.
Chris moved on to London but I stayed here. We learned, we worked, we grew together, me and Manchester. More tall buildings. More restaurants. More people. Momentum.
I worked in Ardwick. I worked in the City Tower. I worked near the universities. I danced on Canal St. I lived in Ancoats, and in Castlefield. I drank everywhere.
Three years ago, we moved to Sale. My family life began. We bought our wonderful Victorian terrace, with true Manchester red brick. Two up, two down.
I went to Wythenshawe hospital when the first baby went away. Only nine weeks.
I went to Wythenshawe hospital when the second baby arrived. Over nine pounds.
Some of the most important things in my life have happened to me here. Some of the most important things in my life happened because I came here.
It’s been over 3,000 days since I first came to Manchester. I left home to come home. Manchester gave me freedom, love and work. I owe her everything.