Thousands of books are being given away in Piccadilly Gardens this weekend as the city centre’s magnificent ‘Big Ben’ sculpture is dismantled.
Big Ben Lying Down with Political Books – a 42-metre sculpture made from 20,000 books arranged in the shape of London’s iconic tower – has been residing in Manchester for the past two weeks as part of Manchester International Festival (MIF).
After a fortnight exploring the monument, people are being invited to take home their own piece of history when it is taken down on 16 July.
From midday on Friday until Sunday (18 July) the literature within Big Ben’s walls will be given away.
Poetry, fiction, biographies and essays will all be handed out – covering topics such as race, class, gender, disability and societal injustice.
Manchester writers and activists from Anthony Burgess, Elizabeth Gaskell, Shelagh Delaney and Emmeline Pankhurst to Hafsah Aneela Bashir and Lemn Sissay are amongst the authors, along with publications from contemporary writers Akala, David Baddiel, David Olusoga, Nikesh Shukla, Naomi Klein, Caitlin Moran and Bernardine Evaristo.
Classic literature from George Orwell, D.H Lawrence, Charles Dickens and Doris Lessing will also be up for grabs.
The oldest book in the collection is Common Sense by Thomas Paine, published in 1776 – the most recent is Marcus Rashford’sYou Are A Champion: Unlock Your Potential, Find Your Voice and Be the Best You Can Be, published earlier this year.
Any books left over at the end of the giveaway will be distributed to schools and libraries across Greater Manchester.
Each book from Big Ben is stamped with a drawing created by Minujín.
“People need this!” explained the artist.
“We need new ideas and new places where people meet. By taking a book, people create the artwork.
“The people of Manchester will create a new Big Ben that the UK will never forget.”
John McGrath, Artistic Director of Manchester International Festival added: “As MIF nears it’s close for 2021 we’re delighted that the people of Manchester can take home a piece of the Festival to remember this momentous year and this playful symbol that landed in the centre of the city.
“We’d also like to thank the organisations and individuals that helped it to fruition.”
Manchester International Festival is the first major event to take place in the city since before the pandemic – featuring 18 days of flash mobs, movies, artworks, food stalls, live performances and exhibitions.
The bumper festival programme is running until July 18 – and you can learn more about what’s still happening here.
Football fans call out ‘tone-deaf’ FA TikTok for mocking ‘life-threatening’ head injury
Football fans are calling out the official FA Cup TikTok account for mocking a serious head injury suffered by a Stockport County player earlier this week.
The Hatters beat Charlton Athletic in fine fashion with a 3-1 victory on Wednesday, 7 December, with Will Collar’s hattrick (the club’s first since 2019) sending them through to the next round of the cup.
However, another notable moment from the night was right back Macauley Southam-Hales’ collision with advertising hoarders after a shove from Charlton captain George Dobson.
As the likes of County fan Joel Ward wrote on Twitter, many online were quick to slam the clip for joking about an injury that hospitalised the player, the consensus being that it isn’t a “great look” for the FA.
While many reacting in the comments recognised that Dobson didn’t intend to hurt Southam-Hales by shepherding the ball out of play, the Stockport defender does hit the predominantly metal structure with some force and was left in clear discomfort following the smash.
The video itself has since been removed from the official account following the backlash but people are still reacting as the clip continues to be reshared on social media.
The clip was branded as everything from “disgusting” and “disgraceful” to “simply unbelievable”.
What’s most concerning is that despite the recent push to promote awareness surrounding concussions, brain trauma and even heading the ball – which, historically, haven’t been properly monitored in football – whoever posted the video on behalf of the FA didn’t consider the very serious nature of the incident.
As alluded to above, perhaps what makes the post even more shocking and tone-deaf is that it comes just weeks after Bath City player forward Alex Fletcher was placed in intensive care following an almost identical accident.
The 23-year-old underwent life-saving brain surgery and although he has since been discharged from the hospital, he is said to have a “long road to recovery ahead of him”.
County confirmed that despite being the all-clear pitchside, Southam-Hales was taken to the hospital as a precaution after he suffered significant swelling around the neck area. Nevertheless, as we know all too well, it could have been much worse.
As for the FA, they have now apologised for the inappropriate attempt at humour, confirming that they have removed the video from all official accounts, admitting that “it should never have been published and assuring that they will “review [their] processes to ensure this never happens again.”
You can watch the full highlights from Stockport County vs Charlton Athletic HERE but we’d recommend you watch Alan Shearer reminding everyone who plays football to be more vigilant when it comes to head injuries.
Andy Burnham wants to help more girls get into football
Andy Burnham has urged schools to do more to encourage young girls to get into football.
The Greater Manchester Mayor was speaking to Sky News‘ Kay Burley on Thursday, 8 December as he discussed the importance of promoting more women in football and sport, in general.
Burnham said that himself, the FA and notable women’s football advocates like former keeper Karen Bardsley are “determined” to make sure the buzz following the Women’s Euros isn’t just a flash in the pan.
With the England men’s team currently trying to replicate the Lionesses‘ success as they prepare for the quarter-final of the 2022 World Cup, he went on to emphasise the lasting memories football can create on a global scale.
The Mayor went on to say that with the help of schools across the UK, they hope to “make sure that the success the Lionesses had in the summer becomes a permanent legacy”, imploring schools, the sporting community and the nation at large “not let those summer memories fade”.
Insisting that he already feels the heroics of Euro 2022 have already had an impact when it comes to inspiring more girls to get into football.
He said that the uptake among “women in football” since the tournament has been “amazing” but warned educators and parents not to “leave it to chance” and provide the support to make “real change”.