Manchester Evening News
My Kind of Place
A new adventure
Friday July 15 1999
by Tania Branigan
Tracey Sanders-Wood, is a community artist and part-time lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University. She moved to Manchester from South Wales 17 years ago after sticking a pin in a map of the UK. She lives in Moss Side
If aliens landed in Moss Side tomorrow, how would you describe the place to them in a couple of sentences?
They should get a Mr. Benn video out -that's how I see life here. You only have to walk a short way and you're in another adventure. And they should go up to Claremont Road School and they'd find out about every culture and different lifestyle; they wouldn't have to take their space ship anywhere else in the world.
If you had three wishes to change Moss Side, what would they be?
The houses would have bigger gardens. I'd also like more facilities for younger people - especially for small children. And I'd like a library.
What makes you choose to live here?
The diverse range of cultures and educational life. And I grew up on Coronation Street - I still want to be an extra on it. Just for two minutes, that's all!
What are the best and worse times you've had in your own life since coming here?
Several years ago I was really ill - but you're able to cope because all the hospitals are right on your doorstep. the best times have been doing my MA and PhD while having really small children and still being able to take them to school, pick them up and be with them again until bedtime, again because the universities and colleges are on your doorstep. And the people you become involved with in community arts projects are just amazing.
What if anything would make you leave Moss Side?
A nuclear bomb. A set of one way tickets to the Caribbean.
What do you normally do at weekends here?
We see a lot of friends and go out. We do a lot of child based activities. Everything is on your doorstep so you can go to any gallery or museum, there are neighbouring parks, and the Moss Side Leisure Centre is really good. And I go to the Sand Bar - It's the Metropolis of the world to me.
If you were given £10m to turn Moss Side into a "Town for the Millennium", what would you spend it on?
A large snooker club so I could practice my break of at least 42. I'd open a park with animal-related things in and a library. And with Princess Parkway dividing the area it needs more of a centre, but £10m is not enough really.
What are the worst things about living here?
The traffic pollution and the effect it's having on a lot of the children. But the main thing is the reinforced negatived image that the national media put forward. You could be anywhere in the country and everybody knows Moss Side. It's completely incorrect; a lot of other areas I work in have far greater crime problems. There's a massive racist element in that.
What are the best things about living here?
The strong community atmosphere; everyone knows everyone else. The creativity of the area. There's always something happening - and there's always a major party atmosphere.You're uplifted just walking down your street; you go past all the houses and they've got different music playing.
What has changed in Moss side since you have lived here?
The back allies have been tarmaced over and wheelie bins have been introduced.
Who was your favourite person in this area?
It would have been my next door neighbour but he recently died in a car accident. He was so friendly; it could be tipping down with rain and your mood would just change after he said hello. He always reminded me of my grandfather.
What do you know about the history of Moss Side?
Moss Side has a history of strong women - the Pankhursts came from around here.
PHOTOGRAPH: Tracey Sanders-Wood resents the negative image of Moss Side put out by the national media