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Zoe Mulford: Postcards (Blog)

My Neighborhood: Not Nearly As Bad As It Used To Be (Click Header for Full Entry)

Posted on March 9, 2010 with 1 comment


Our apartment is in Hulme (pronounced “Hyoom”), a neighborhood of Manchester near the University. We are on the cusp of urban renewal. Hulme’s recent history includes dire high-rise council housing, neglect, and gang violence. A good deal of the neighborhood was simply bulldozed to put up cute little modern units like the one we live in, and the new neighborhood is described as “up and coming”.

What you see now is recently built low-rise housing, a good bit of foot traffic, a smattering of convenience stores, schools, churches, and take-away restaurants. A number of open, weedy lots are slated for development by Manchester Metropolitan University. It is not trendy or charming; it’s just a place to live.

Our neighbors include students, pensioners, Afro-Caribbeans, Polish immigrants, gay people, Jehova’s Witnesses, community gardeners, young professionals, and a remarkable number of musicians. We see lots of parents and kids out taking the air - multigenerational Muslim families all out together, moms with prams, flotillas of small multicolored children on bicycles. There’s an after-school centre, a public park, and two primary schools within a 5-block radius.

What people say when you tell them you live in Hulme:

a) “Oh... Well, it’s not nearly as bad as it used to be.”
b) “Oh really! I lived there/ my mum lived there/ my granny lived there....”

My favorite recently, from a folkie who gave me a lift home was:

“When in Hulme, do as the humans do.”

Historical note: Charlotte Bronte lived in Hulme at one point. She brought her father to Manchester so that he could be treated for cataracts, and they took lodgings in Hulme. While living here, she received a publisher’s rejection for her first novel and began writing Jane Eyre.

Bijan Parsia

March 9, 2010

We should have Jane Eyre day!