Middleton … An Evening with Claire Mooney … Times Gone By



The Olde Boars Head

Our visit today was to the Parish Church of St Leonard, a Grade I Listed Building. The church is considered to be the oldest continually inhabited building in the Manchester area. But before our visit we had refreshments in the Olde Boars Head, a rare example of an early timber framed building, acknowledged by Historic England as outstanding. It claims the title of the oldest original public house in England.

We enjoyed good quality pub food – the homemade cheese and onion pie was great – and after an hour or so we walked up the hill to St Leonard’s. Unfortunately, we found out that the church was closed, so instead of seeing the spectacular stained glass:

Saint Leonard, patron saint of Middleton Church

Saint Leonard, patron Saint of Middleton Church is depicted holding Middleton Church in his right hand and chains (he is patron saint of prisoners) in his left hand.

Stained glass window in the Assheton Chapel

We only saw the outside! We also missed out on the secret passage from the church to the Boars Head. In Henry VIII’s reign the priests used it to escape persecution.

However, it was a good day out, and photos can be seen here.

Claire Mooney

Claire has been a professional musician for over 30 years, and together with a couple of poets presented “An Evening with Claire Mooney and Special Guests” in the Performance Space at Manchester Central Library.

Ten of us were lucky enough to get tickets for the sold out gig to see the singer, songwriter, composer, compere, radio presenter (gosh! Is there anything she can’t do?) Her songs, accompanied by guitar, are varied bringing light and shade and she invites audience participation. Who could forget “The Fleece Song”? – “It’s the one that doesn’t crease. You’re never really fully dressed unless you wear a fleece”. For the last song I was invited on to the stage to shake a bun-shaped rattle! With five others on bells and rattles we rocked the place.

Time Gone By – LGBT+ History:

Leslie Cheung

Leslie Cheung – 12 September 1956 – 1 April 2003

Hong Kong heartthrob, pop music and film star Leslie Cheung first gained attention after capturing second place in the 1976 ATV Asian Music Contest. However, it was not until signing with Capital Artists in 1982 that he became a bona fide star with songs like “Monica”, which ushered in the Cantopop music craze.

In addition to a prolific output of hit music, Cheung began making films. His performance in John Woo’s “A Better Tomorrow” (1986) and its sequel made him an indisputable movie star. Other notable Cheung films of this era were “Days of Being Wild” and “A Chinese Ghost Story”. In the years that followed he won several top Hong Kong film Awards.

In 1989 Cheung announced his retirement from singing and held 33 continuous nights of concerts before moving to Canada. In 1993 he starred in “Farewell My Concubine” – the first Chinese film to win The Golden Palm Award at the Cannes Film Festival. In it he played a Beijing opera singer who finds fame playing female roles. In addition to his hot film career, he returned to making music in 1995.

This period marked a clear shift in his public stance on his sexuality. During promotion for a subsequent film, “Happy Together” (1997) – about two gay lovers in Argentina – Cheung came out as bisexual in TIME Magazine. That same year he revealed Daffy Tong Hok-Tak was his romantic partner. Balancing films and music he remained at the forefront of Hong Kong entertainers with hugely successful tours in 1999 and 2000.

In spite of his outward success Cheung, who had been battling clinical depression for several years, ended his life – stunning his nation. Tong – his “most beloved” – was listed as his surviving spouse in the full-page Hong Kong obituary. Over 10,000 attended his memorial service and his popularity remains undiminished

Alain Locke

Dr Alain LeRoy Locke – 13 September 1885 – 9 June 1954

Born into a family of teachers, Alain Locke completed Harvard’s four year program in three years, graduated second in his 1907 class, was elected into Phi Beta Kappa, and won the school’s most distinguished award, The Bowdoin Prize.

Afterwards, Locke became the first African-American to be named a Rhodes Scholar and received his scholarship to Oxford. After receiving his PhD in 1917, Locke became philosophy professor at Howard University, an African American School, where he remained until his retirement.

In 1925 Locke was actively promoting his theory of ‘cultural pluralism’ which maintained that a democratic society should value the uniqueness of the different styles within that culture, thus encouraging African-American artists to embrace their ancestral and folk traditions. A gay man himself, Locke also helped gay African-American artists like Countee Cullen, to whom he was romantically linked, and Richard Bruce Nugent find pride in their heritage.

In 1945 he became the first African American president of the American Association of Adult Education. In 1953 he secured a Phi Beta Kappa chapter at Howard University, a major milestone in the history of African American education. In 1954 he was still working on The Negro in American Culture, his definitive study of the contributions of African-Americans to American society, when he died of a heart ailment at age 68. 

Rest In Peace – Queen Elizabeth II – 21 April 1926 – 8 September 2022

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