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Edinburgh festival 2012: Sarfraz Manzoor tackles Bruce Springsteen

01-09-18




In April 2013, nine months before I made it back to Prague, I drove from Llanrwst or Llandydno in North Wales, to Manchester to catch a show by Sarfraz Manzoor. I had heard about his autobiography, Greetings from Bury Park in a session at a literary festival in Birmingham which focused on work by British people of Pakistani origin. I would get out of North Wales as often as possible, going to book launches in London and Liverpool, writing courses and theatre trips out in Mold. Here, though, I was to make a resolution. The rather strained premise of Manzoor's show was that all of life's problems can come back to lyrics by Springsteen. He had once resolved to get out of Luton in part because of Springsteen's lines in Thunderroad: "it's a town full of losers and I'm pulling out of here to win". At the end of the night I approached him for a signature - it was one of several books I had bought after that course and not got around to reading - and asked him to sign to the effect that Llandydno was a town full of losers. Being there, I was running away from myself. It was one of many hundreds of places I would go, on my own, to try to feel a little less alone. But, whatever the truth of that, it worked. For good or ill, I pulled out. I may still be waiting to win at anything much that matters, and Prague has never meant for me what Manchester evidently did for him, but still and all, if I could likely not say in earnest that I have too few regrets to mention, getting out of Britain for the second time isn't one of them. For that I thank him.





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