Friday, 22 March 2019

Putting on my dancing shoes - well, sort of!

I woke in the night with cramp in my feet. This is what happens when you give in to the temptation to wear “pretty” shoes. Not even high heels, just a teensy bit fancy. I never used to have a problem when I wore ‘pretty shoes” every day, striding up and down the corridors of the college in my smart work gear, sometime wearing high heels even. But as most of my walking is around the bridle paths and country lanes around here, fancy shoes don’t get much wear. My feet have got out of the habit!

However, as I was going out to meet the number one granddaughter, a supposedly grown-up 21 now, for an evening in Manchester I decided that “pretty” shoes were called for. So I got off the tram and walked the length of Deansgate - even my “pretty” shoes are fine for city walking - and waited for her outside her place of work. She works in Sunlight House, a grade II listed art deco building, very elegant as well as having a splendid name. Here, I hope, is a picture of it.

We went and ate at Tapeo and Wine, a rather nice tapas bar on Deansgate. The food is good but it is not cheap. £8 for half a dozen, admittedly very tasty, ham croquettes seems to me a bit pricy. But then I recognise that I am influenced by the fact that I know places in Spain that would offer you that for free along with your drink. Well, in Vigo anyway. As ever, what pushes their prices up is what they charge for drinks : £3 for a diet coke is a bit of a markup on what they probably pay for it wholesale. They do serve an most admirable Tarta de Santiago though, served with a dollop of vanilla ice cream, just the way I like it. We are often disappointed by this almost cake in Galicia, even in Santiago, where it is often too dry. I can recommend the one they serve at Tapeo in Manchester.

Having eaten we set off walking again, over towards Saint Peter’s Square, where we stopped to admire Manchester Central Library, and then continued past the Bridgewater Hall and the G-Mex Centre, Manchester Central Station in a previous existence, “Oh, was it a station? I didn’t know.” said Granddaughter number one as we gazed at the green-lit front of the building. “Oh yes, you can tell,” she went on as we walked past the longer side of it. Of course it still looks like a station. You can see a picture on the Wikipedia site. It’s another grade II listed building. Manchester is a fine place.

We were not just in a tour of listed buildings, or even just fine buildings, however. We were headed for Home, the theatre and cinema and arts complex which replaced the old Cornerhouse, a place much visited by me with groups of student in a previous existence! We had tickets for a one-night-only showing of a film of Joni Mitchell’s 75th birthday tribute concert.

Granddaughter Number One was by far the youngest member of the packed audience. The majority of us were pretty much contemporaries of the great Joni herself. Quite probably most of us all have vinyl versions of most of her albums. The great and the good of the music world, some of them Joni contemporaries also, Emmylou Harris, splendid in a blue velvet coat, James Taylor, looking a bit frail himself now, or even former lovers in the case of Graham Nash, got up and sang versions of Joni songs. Well, Graham Nash sang the song he wrote for her, “Our House”. Younger generations were there as well, Rufus Wainwright, Seal, Norah Jones. Los Lobos, a group I have not thought about in decades, were there. And Kris Kristofferson, in his eighties and looking a little lost and bewildered, sang “A case of you”, ably assisted by Brandi Carlile, a singer I had never heard of but whose voice matched Joni’s very well.

Joni was involved in the selection of artists, all of them important to her in some way. At the end she was on stage - ill health stops her performing - for a birthday cake. And everine sang “They paved paradise”.

It’s interesting to hear other artists sing songs you know well from one performer in particular. Sometimes you listen to the words afresh. And I was reminded that I like to listen to Rufus Wainwright but that I much prefer to hear him sing other people’s song rather than his own offerings. Granddaughter Number One was pleased that Diana Krall sang “Amelia”, my granddaughter’s favourite Joni song. (We seem to have given the child a good musical education!)

After two hours of music, I saw Granddaughter Number One into an Uber to take her safely home and went off to catch the tram.

A good evening!

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