Muscle and Blood
By Max Dunbar
Location: Withington Village
In which our hero hits Fuel, Withington on a slow Monday evening to check out a show. What was happening was some kind of art installation night aimed at (according to the fliers) creating ‘new, autonomous social spaces, as opposed to commercial “social”’ spaces like pubs and clubs’. These revolutionary spaces were to contain vegetarian cafes and prayer rooms. Best put a bar in there, Anderson thought, or else the whole thing will never get off the ground.
The show itself consisted of a five-minute soundscape followed by a raucous pub quiz. Anderson spent the entire time drawing with felt pens on a sheet of A1 set aside for this advertised purpose. He drew a pair of monkeys watching the sunset, an image he’d had in his head for years. Then downstairs for more drink, at some point a long discussion with the high-functioning autistic who hung out here, complaining that all the men in her Northenden support group kept hitting on her. Then it was time to leave the soul kitchen for another night, for some reason this C & W song from the Mad Men soundtrack in his head:
Some say a man is made out a mud/A poor man’s made outta muscle and blood…
For some reason the far lane of Wilmslow Road had been replaced by a rich green bayou. The OneStop and Canadian Charcoal Pit were only just visible in its shimmering mist. Anderson thought what the fuck, what the fuck, I can’t be that drunk – but he couldn’t remember his last straight day. You could even smell the illusion, something coppery and organic.
Ignore it, he thought, move on, you load sixteen tons, what do you get, another day older and deeper in debt, so he set his face ahead against this new river and reached the station by Withington library. There were already a gaggle of rough-looking women at the bus stop. A 42 drew up, precluding conversation.