Big Shout to Malmy Hatchman

I vaguely recognised the name of the Brigantine queen, the ancient founder of this city whose settlement was just down in Castlefield. Still, I had no idea what Hatchman was really on about.
So I followed him.

Down corridors, through doors, a spiral staircase and another corridor. Musty air, mildewed paper, grimy cases half covered in sacking. Ancient, tarnished paraphernalia of state piled in a corner heap. There wasn’t a living soul about, just a clammy stillness only broken by the rasp of Hatchman’s feet along the flags and the reek of his filthy roll-up.

The end of the corridor loomed. It had apparently been bricked up long ago. On the left a wooden staircase disappeared into an almost palpable blackness. Hatchman disappeared into the alcove underneath and threw aside a heap of discarded hessian.

I saw him bend, release a bolt with difficulty and hoist a trapdoor that was flush with the grimy flags before vanishing from sight and flicking a switch which created enough light for me to grope my way down the ladder.

Hatchman waited at the bottom and motioned me towards the room with a courtly sweep of the hand. Words – bar one profane expletive – failed me utterly. Instead of the glory-hole or cluttered den that I had been expecting, I was in a large, fusty, vaulted room. It looked as though it might once have been a wine cellar or even the bowels of a church.

I gazed transfixed upon Hatchman’s ‘utopia’.

Cartimandua spread before me; all 50 feet of it receding back into the darkness. It overwhelmed any concept of space or sense: glorious, celestial, impossibly gorgeous and utterly deranged. The model, its edifices painted in uniformly creamy or roseate colours (Hatchman favoured good local sandstone and marbles), shimmered in the uncertain light and drew you into it like a whispered promise of impossible rapture.

‘That’s my heaven – that’s where I’ll go when my day comes,’ he said. ‘D’you know that the old plague pit and graveyard of St Peter’s surrounds us down here? The folk who never made it – thousands of ’em, all pressing their faces into the loam trying to see this. Their New Manchester, the one the bastards wouldn’t give ’em. This is for them and for the ones that fell at Peterloo just over there and when my day comes we’ll all live together in Cartimandua. Safe… always safe.’

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7 Responses to “Big Shout to Malmy Hatchman”

  1. December 18, 2008 at 6:38 pm, David Flindall said:

    Interesting but maybe a bit obscure

  2. December 19, 2008 at 6:09 pm, Craig said:

    Fantastic! Best story on here yet!! I loved it!
    Looking forward to seeing more of your work Anne!….

  3. December 20, 2008 at 10:26 pm, Marion Hewitt said:

    Brilliant – I want to see the film – who’s got Tim Burton’s number?

  4. December 21, 2008 at 4:13 pm, Peter said:

    Captures and conveys the dark mood of ye olde ratHall…enjoyed reading this tale.

  5. December 25, 2008 at 11:17 pm, Joel said:

    It’s exactly how I see the Town Hall and all the buildings around there. Whatever’s new is built on something old, and for every ‘success’ there are many more of us ‘failures’. Very true story

  6. February 08, 2009 at 12:29 pm, Cousin Ken said:

    A touch of Le Fanu with a dash of Victor Hugo for good measure! Well written cousin. xxx

  7. November 13, 2009 at 1:12 pm, Olthwaite said:

    Thrilling! There’s something about those town hall corridors when it’s dark and deserted…


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