I spent my Bank Holiday Monday afternoon at Longsight Neighbourhood Festival, helping to run a stall. We were inviting people to attend our Church and highlighting the new gardens that the Church want to build (and open for the wider community to use). Work should be starting soon.
I found it a little daunting to hand out Christian literature, in an area that is 70% Muslim and where quite a few women even go so far as to wear the full veil. I didn’t want to upset or offend anybody. I need not have worried, as everyone was very open to our efforts and most tolerant and polite. Many Muslims came and looked at, or picked up, our flyers. In fact, most very religious Muslims embrace the opportunity to study other religions. I think if we had been doing the same thing in an area of similar economic deprivation but where people were of no religious inclination at all, we would have faired worse and possibly had a strong negative response to our presence.
Of course, most people in Longsight do not wear the full veil ( and I presume even those that do don’t wear it at home), so many of the stalls were selling absolutely beautiful dresses and scarves. There was a stilt-walker, the Mayor came to visit (with his wife) and our local MP, Gerald Kaufman, showed up. Kids were running around everywhere with goldfishes in plastic bags, which was a bit sad but they were thrilled to have won something so precious! I don’t know what they had to do to win them but it must have been quite easy. Tiny fish-tanks were on sale at the same stall for £4 each… I think I can see where the profit on letting kids win came in – many begged £4 from their parents as the bags got annoying to care for.
There was live music (of variable quality) and the queue for Face Painting grew so long that the man doing it seemingly fled – leaving a miffed crowd of parents and children. The kids that were painted looked amazing though and kept coming over to say “hello Sir!” to Father Stephen, as he preaches at the school.
I’d have liked a CHAIR but other than that, it was great fun. What?! I’m OLD.