Friday 1 August 2014

New School, Old Building

“Sometimes, if you go through that door,” said my colleague, “you find the library. And sometimes you don’t.” We were sitting in the canteen that in true Creative Café Project fashion is not just a place that serves food and drink; it’s a place for the meeting of minds.  
He is quite right. The Adelphi Building at the University ofSalford is a little like that. Frequently I’ve taken the wrong turn out of the staff room and ended up in a corridor I didn’t recognise. Or I’ve accidentally gone down to the basement and thought I’ve entered another universe.
It is mysterious. You’re on the first floor and suddenly you have to go down a flight of stairs to the other bit of the first floor.

On another bit of that floor where I often teach and where many of my colleagues have their offices there is a notice: “Please note this is not a rehearsal or teaching area.” Yet still some mini-tutorials take place and what you might think is a heated argument is in fact a group of performance students rehearsing a scene. I actually rather like it and it is really no different from teaching in that room round the corner where you can hear a rock band or some such rehearsing in the basement.  
Then there’s the pigeon who attended every one of my Intro to Children’s Literature seminars. He landed on the windowsill every week at the beginning of the session and only moved off as we did. He sat very still and listened to every word.  That’s one pigeon that knows a lot about children’s literature now.
Perhaps the most magical of it all is the corridor with the music practice rooms. I nearly always have to walk along it to get to my office. Well-performed music can be heard as you walk past the oak panelling, sometimes from every door, and there’s nearly always something going on even early morning and in the evening, non-teaching weeks included.  
Hogwarts, you don’t compare. Think the Ministry of StoriesMonster Supply Store or Pirate Supply Store. We’re the School of Arts and Media and I’d almost like to rename us the Academy of Stories. All of this may seem a little flippant but behind it there is a striving for academic and artistic rigour with an emphasis on experimentation and innovation. This pays off as we see how our graduates go on to work in the creative industries and it was very clear at our recent Create festival. Somehow the quirkiness of this building helps.
English has been made very welcome and as a creative writer and a programme leader who is also responsible for drama, I feel very comfortable here in the School of Arts and Media. Our building is a little faded. It used to be a factory. It is kept safe, however. We may be moving to a new building soon. Other colleagues within our directorate are based in MediaCity UK. We actually deliver some of our Masters’ classes down there. And that wonderfully futuristic building is just as quirky even though it is so much newer.     


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