“You coming?” Frances asks Hassan.
“No, I’ll drop off in Moss Side,” he says.
“Why don’t you come?” I say. “It’s for everyone. Anyone can come.”
Frances and I eventually persuade Hassan to come with us and he goes off to get changed as Frances irons his trousers. I entertain Mia who is by now sitting on the floor showing me what she can do with a multi-coloured piece of plastic. I’m quickly reminded how time intensive babies and toddlers are: you can’t take your eyes off them for a second. It’s exhausting.
Hassan is ready, looking smart.
We talk about cars pretty much all the way into town, prompted by Hassan’s disdain for my rather old, rather dirty Toyota. He concedes, at least, that Toyotas score points for their reliability, but that’s about all. “We’ll get a Honda CR-V when I win the lottery,” says Frances.
I offer to drop them at the town hall and then park. They won’t have it and say they’ll walk with me so I park near the site of the Haçienda and we walk the rest of the way. We pass dickie-bowed musicians on their way to the stage door of the Bridgewater Hall; office workers heading for an after-work pint, and hopeful Athletic Bilbao fans beating a path to Old Trafford. Frances, Hassan and Mia don’t look at all out of place and yet I’m guessing this might be the first time the whole family has been on a night out like this. For them, this is an occasion.
The banqueting room is quickly filling up and after we have said our hellos to the Reclaim team, we install ourselves on one of the round tables near the door. The proceedings begin and I jump around the place, taking photos. The two-minute film in which Frances and Mia both feature is premièred and Frances hides her embarrassment by holding her daughter in front of her face. As the credits fade the room explodes with applause and whoops.
There are moving speeches, accolades and an award presentation. As with every other Reclaim event, the onlooker is left energised, convinced beyond doubt of the capability of young people.
After the formalities a hot buffet is served and Frances fetches the food for herself and Hassan. As the socialising begins, readers of our blog introduce themselves to Frances and ask to hold Mia. They ask how her mum is, and how she is getting on at college. Frances is made up: it’s like being famous!
“That was great,” she says as we walk down the ceremonial staircase on our way out. “Really good.”
Hassan has enjoyed it too but is frustrated that someone of his age isn’t able to tap into a source of support and inspiration that is clearly so beneficial to teenagers. “Maybe I’ll tell my little brother,” he says as we head back to Wythenshawe.