Manchester Evening News
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 26, 2015
The Portico Library on Mosley Street in Manchester is a fabulous place. Its mainly 19th Century collection covers a wide range of subjects, which reflected the culture of its Georgian and Victorian members during a significant period of Manchester’s history.
It is also completely contemporary, with patrons including Mike harding. Mike is a proper Manc through and through who, during his extensive career, has remained true and close to his roots.
he was at the Portico this week for the launch of his latest book, The adventures of The Crumpsall Kid. This memoir describes the days when there were hardly any cars, no central heating and often, in Crumpsall, no indoor sanitation.
There were no expensive trainers – just black plimsolls with those thin rubber toes which wore away to nothing by the time you’d used your feet to stop your bogey going too fast down the hill. If you had a dodgy eye, you didn’t go to an optician, you simply stuck a plaster on your glasses (over the good eye to get the lazy one working).
harding explains that he came into the world at 3am on october 23, 1944 and lived with a large extendedfamilyat38hall road.
Before finding fame as a playwright, musician author and broadcaster, he tried his hand at being a dustman, bus conductor, road-digger and carpet-fitter. he made some extra cash singing and playing in pubs and folk clubs and in 1975, having studied for an education degree, his record The rochdale Cowboy thrust him from folk singing into mainstream entertainment. I’ve been a fan since then, and since we discovered we shared great respect for Fr ‘Foxy’ reynolds, an english teacher at St Bede’s.
he says in his book that almost 60 years on he can still smell the leather of his school satchel and feel the bus pass in his pocket. Fr Reynolds aside, I don’t get the impression that Mike Harding enjoyed his time at St Bede’s but he has been true to its Latin motto – Nunquam otio Torpebat, which translates as He Never Relaxed In Idleness.
The adventures of The Crumpsall Kid is testament to Mike’s work ethic. Beautifully written and marvellously evocative. If you are a proper Manc of a certain age, you’ll love it. It’s published by Michael o’Mara books.