Commerce On Tuesday I visited Leeds for the first time since 2003, when, you'll remember, my mission was to visit all halls and houses I lived in during my undergraduate degree. This occasion was to see For All Time: Shakespeare in Yorkshire at the University of Leeds's Brotherton Library, a small display of items from their special collections including the First Folio (which I've added to the list here). There's also a copy of A Yorkshire Tragedy, attributed to Shakespeare on the title cover but actually, analysis suggests, by Thomas Middleton. Imagine having your work out there with someone else's name on it (although there's a fair few screenwriters for him this is their career). Middleton would also rewrite Shakespeare plays; it's thought the versions of Macbeth and Measure for Measure we have are his adaptations.
The exhibition only took about half an hour so I spent the rest of the day walking the city centre, something I neglected to do thirteen years ago, not wanting to spoil my memories from the mid-90s, the version which appears in these old videos. In the fundamental ways, it's exactly the same, the overall structure of the city just the same. But there are still signs of modernisation and homogeneity, with large sections of the shopping centre having been demolished to make way for giant shopping malls, some architecturally gorgeous palaces, some giant, soulless edifices. Independent shops do endure at the fringes, so I was able to do some Christmas shopping here and there, unusual items not available elsewhere, from shops which don't have outposts in Liverpool.
The big disappointment was the Kirkgate Market, which other than Morrisons was the place where I did most of my food shopping, eaking out a whole week's meals for £15. The market was full, dozens of food stalls, the gift market including the stand which only sold tins, loads of clothes places and a general sense of visiting a typical city market but much, much greater. Now that's all but gone. Huge empty spaces, plenty of the stalls and shops are not let and there's a general sense of watching managed decline. It's apparently in the process of being refurbished, but the addition of an event space just seems to be a way of filling an area which was once otherwise buzzing with commerce.
Kirkgate Market was the place were Marks & Spencers was originally founded back in 1884 (sort of) and recently, tying in with an exhibition which has opened at the chain's archive which is housed near Liverpool University, they've opened a pop-up stall inside the market, possibly on the spot where they were founded. There's a small exhibition and they're selling the kinds of items which would have appeared back then, jams and pickles, tea and biscuits. There's also a small cafe stand. I thought you might like to see some photographs.
However tempted I was to buy some marmalade, I quickly remembered that it would be the same stuff on sale in Liverpool, so there wasn't much point in carrying it home.