NYC Alternatives, Day 2: Manchester and The Reservation

This week, I was supposed to be having my dream trip to New York. I have been wanting to go for the past 6 years, and finally had the courage to go alone, so I booked my flights, sorted a sublet and got EXTREMELY excited.

Then a hurricane hit, and so my trip got cancelled. Sad Smith.

I hope it goes without saying that my thoughts are with all those affected on the East Coast, and I wish them a speedy recovery. This, however, is what I’m doing to keep myself busy and not too sad about the whole affair.


Original Plan:

Today would have been my first full day in New York.  I imagine I would have woken up in a very excited mood, and head out to pound the streets with my eyes wide open, head tilted skyward and my mouth ajar in amazement and wonder. I imagine Central Park would have been on the hit-list today. As well as Harlem, given that I’d have been staying near it, and it’s integral to the history of so many of the things I love.

I’d have TOTALLY shim-shammed on the site that The Savoy Ballroom used to sit on.

It’s also Halloween, which I am not usually a fan of (the ONLY good thing about it is pumpkin carving). However, I know that Americans go all-out for the spooky holiday, and so I imagine (whether I wanted to or not) I’d have got wrapped up in the celebrations. I had planned to watch some of the parade (really, what’s more American than a PARADE?! Sadly, I note, Sandy got the parade cancelled too…) then perhaps go and watch a film with Molly (whilst hopefully persuading her to carve a pumpkin!)

Alternative Action:

Seeing as I thought I was going to be wandering the streets of an unknown city today, I thought I’d do just that…

Other side of the Atlantic/other side of the Pennines – totally similar.

Not completely unknown, granted, by my knowledge of Manchester consists of Epernay, a handful of places I’ve gigged, and the Manchester Lindy venue – all relative geography unknown. So I thought that would be a good place to start. Wonderful Wendy Wandapops had tweeted me:

@tessasmith Go and see David Shrigley exhibition at the Cornerhouse in Manchester. Big smiles for the lady xx”

when I’d asked Twitter for some suggestions on Monday, and so that seemed like as good a place as any to start…

I set off this morning around 10am to catch the train. During my journey, I asked Twitter where I should go to find exciting (and well priced) vintage clothing. A unanimous answer came back: Afflecks Palace.

So, off I popped to try and find it. Upon my approach, I noticed an awesome Saxophone-ish structure… The photo isn’t great, but it was rather fun to find!

I entered Afflecks and proceeded to get lost in wonder (as well as in the shops!) What an incredible place! (Just like Birds Yard in Leeds, on a very large scale!) I consequently bought a few items that I hadn’t been intending on…


After quite a while, I headed off to find food, via the Art Gallery. Things started feeling a little like they were mocking me…


And then I saw the Statue of Liberty! Albeit on a sign above a pub, but still!


I took a very quick visit to the Art Gallery, but by this point I was pretty hungry, so I didn’t stop long to look at The First Cut things..

My lunch was at a veggie cafe that I’ve followed on Twitter for a while – Eighth Day. It was very delicious and the staff  were wonderful. 🙂

Then I headed to The Cornerhouse for the David Shrigley exhibit: How are you feeling?

Truthfully, I didn’t know who/what this was going to be, but I can honestly say I think it was one of the best exhibits I have ever been to, and EXACTLY what I needed. I took many photos, but don’t want to clutter this post further (- I’ve put them on my Facebook in a ‘public’ album, if you’re interested..) but there were napping stations and a gong and loads of pictures and a film and mirrors and a whiteboard and it was ACE!!


After that (and having bought his book, and lots of postcards in the shop!) I wandered round Manchester to try and piece together the parts of the city that I already knew. I visited the Cathedral too.


Then I found a lovely place for a piece of cake – the craft centre (?) in the Northern Quarter, before heading back to the station to catch my (delayed) train back to Leeds for my evening’s plans.


A member of my choir was putting on a piece as part of ‘The Grief Series‘ called ‘The Reservation’. It’s a ‘show’ for one person at a time, and shaped by you, the ‘audience’.

Now, I have to admit, I had my reservations (lolz) about this. I don’t really like interaction within plays – it puts me on the spot and I get nervous. Not only that, but The Reservation addresses loss which is a bit of* a trigger for me, and I didn’t really want to break down in tears, in a hotel room, during a performance…  Yes, it took place in a room The Wrens Hotel (I’d never been before – it seems rather nice!)

And I didn’t really know what I was letting myself in for… a therapy session? Counselling? I had to take a photo of someone I loved and lost… a seance?! (It is Halloween, after all!)

Well, it wasn’t any of those things really… It was an extremely well-thought-out and well-executed piece, and a lovely conversation, and a space to reflect and remember. And a glass of Port.

I’d really like to speak more about it, but I’m not sure that I should… I think you should really try and go yourself. Or ask me face to face – I love to talk about it. However, I will say this: it wasn’t as terrifying as I thought it would be, though it was just as emotional. And I’m very glad I went.

There’s a blog on Culture Vulture about it HERE and there are a few performances left.

Anyway, then I came home and made pumpkin soup! And thus my second Really-I-Want-To-Be-In-New-York day was concluded.



(*Understatement. It’s a HUGE trigger for me)





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