One of my favourite photographs shows two handsome women, elegantly dressed in black, with mantillas draped over their heads. They’re talking animatedly to a smiling male figure dressed in white. He’s wearing a skull cap. A sense of warmth and ease radiates from the photograph. The three figures are clearly enjoying their conversation.
Visitors are drawn to this picture. ‘It’s the Pope,’ they say, ‘Pope John Paul’. ‘It’s the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress of Manchester’, I retort. ‘My Aunty Winnie and my Mum, Agnes´. And the Pope, of course. ‘It’s because of them’ I explain, ‘that the Pope came to Manchester in 1982.’ If you look at the picture carefully (yes, Aunty Winnie was the Lord Mayor), you can see that it would have been hard for the Pope to resist the petition of these two outgoing Mancunians – Agnes and Winnie, Winnie and Agnes – Manchester’s formidable delegation to Rome.
Like so many others, my family had left their distant homes and travelled to Manchester to find a new place for themselves. As a child of the Irish and Jewish (more…)