About Coincidence in Runcorn

Coincidence took place in Runcorn from Monday 28 March until Sunday 3 April, with 190 local residents taking part. This was the first time that Coincidence was performed.

Artist Laurence Payot met with local groups to ask them what they would like to do when given the opportunity to question and transform the town’s daily routine. 7 actions were selected for the 7 days of Coincidence, and each was sent daily to all the people taking part. To read about each individual performance, please go back to the Runcorn page and select a day.


Below is how participants described the way people are in Runcorn, and further down, actions that they suggested could be performed for Coincidence.


In the streets of Runcorn, people…

Walk around. Go for a take away (Runcorn is a ‘Take Away City’). Eat pasties all the time. Love sausage rolls. Go to the library. Go to the church. Walk their dogs along the canal bank. Feed the ducks on the Manchester Ship Canal. Go to the pubs. Get drunk. Urinate on walls. Throw litters on the floor. Don’t like walking so they use cars. Drive to the city. Take a bus. Run. Skip. Play football. Have their hands in their pockets. Fold their arms. Slouch. Hunch up. Look at their feet. Look down and kick cans or rubbish around. Listen to music on their headphones. Swagger and try to look cool. Fix their hair, fidget with their clothes and keep their hands busy. Talk on the phone. Text friends. Dress the same as their friend. Make assumptions and stereotypes from the way people dress. Think that people wearing hoodies are up to no good. Use a certain body language if they want to have a fight. Walk with dogs as big as cows to protect themselves. Use dogs as ‘babe magnets’. Are two-sided. Look at advertising posters. Look at shop windows. Sometimes see something weird, somebody who wears something different, or people with funny hair. Stand leaning against a wall. Sit on a bench. Look up and sometimes see airplanes. See flocks of starlings over the bridge in the evening. Look away when someone looks at them. Feel daft if they are in a daydream and end up staring at someone by accident. Give dirty looks. Are nasty to each other and call each other’s names. Fear to be robbed, and secure their houses. Put “Beware of the dog” signs on their doors. Look at someone up and down. Make eye contact. Stop and comment when they come across something unusual. Help each other sometimes. Give money to people playing music in the street. Create bonds with shop owners. Recognize certain faces and say hello or nod. Say “Hiya”, “All’right” or “How is your day?”. Talk more when it is sunny. Talk to other dog walkers. Smile at people they know. Shake hands. Stop and have a chat. Talk about the weather. Like to gossip and talk about each other’s business. Say “Sound”, “Like”, “Tar”, “Erm”. Say “that’s ‘R’ Callum”. Link arms with their friends. Can be a bit ‘clicky’. Keep things secret. Bump into people they know, especially on market day. Don’t like the term “Old Town”. Say “go down town” and “up the new town”. Have lived there for generations. Moved in the New Town in the 70’s. Remember about the people who committed suicide on the bridge. Always use to go shopping in the old town. See Runcorn as an industrial town with a lot of pollution. Are sad to see old and derelict buildings and empty shops. Miss the fields. Miss the old way of life. Are not has happy as they used to, they don’t really say hello to each other anymore. Are in a rush. Remember when the Queen came to the opening of the Shopping city, she had a beautiful skin. Remember the Beattles playing at the Scala. Used to place empty glass bottles on their garden fences so that the train driver would throw coal at them for free. Remember the old sweet shop, which had a secret recipe for humbugs sweets. Remember the delicatessen that used to smell of freshly grounded coffee. Used to say things like “I’m scheming”, “stop thrusting”, and “Runc’on”. Are proud that Runcorn has its own bridge, like France has its Eiffel Towel. Are proud that Runcorn has been the set for a lot of films. Like the fact that in Runcorn you don’t have to act hard. Like where they live because the town is nice and calm, it’s not too busy. Think that Runcorn is more innocent than Liverpool. Are friendly. Are honest, you get what you see. Saw some dolphins in the canal but apparently they were small sharks.. Have seen ghost, weird things happening in a lot of different buildings. Some shops are built on top of an old graveyard that has been destroyed years and years ago and some graves are now exhibited in Norton Priory. Heard that some people saw an apparition of a little girl running across the hall in the Masonic pub, and they believe this is a ghost.  Heard that some people saw an apparition of a cavalier in the Royal. Saw the apparition of an Old Lady on 11 Saxon Road. Have seen kettles turning themselves on, and glasses falling off shelves. Are still talking about Poltergeist, house number one Byron Street, which people believe was haunted. Regularly see UFOs in the sky.


For Coincidence, people suggested that they could…

Make less noise when other people are asleep. Only go out if they’re a girl, stay home if they’re a boy. Be quiet for a day. Stop speaking. Smile at someone and ask this person to smile at someone else. Smile all the time. Randomly wink at each other’s. Always say hello. Wave at the same time. Talk all the time. Have pleasant conversations. Say some nice things. Tell people that they look nice. Be nice to each othe(If someone’s tell you a lie and you know it’s not true, you could just say it’s ok). Share and give things to each other. Make friends with people with sparkly headbands. Make each other laugh. Help each other’s. Take an interest; ask people what they are doing, if they are ok. Ask a neighbour for sugar. Give a present to a neighbour. Ask for people’s autograph and if they ask why, say “ because you might be famous one day”. Tell people they look like someone famous. Tell people the time for no reason. Listen to each other’s conversations. Follow someone on the pavement. Guess what are other people astrological signs. Be happy. Be nasty just once. Eat MacDonald’s. Buy lots of sweets. Eat chocolate for one day all the time. Ask for mince pies in the bakery, because it would be nice to have them all year round. Find out what happened to the secret recipe for the humbugs. All have tea at the same time. Try out a new recipe created by the cooking group. Ask for a particular item in shops. Go to one shop at the same time. Carry bags from a shop that doesn’t exist. Be on the phone whenever they go somewhere. Look at their watch all the time. Tie their shoes regularly. Ride bikes. Fall over. Run as fast as they want. Walk along the canal in one direction. Wear odd shoes. Wear colourful clothes. Wear the same colour T-shirt. Wear black. Wear unusual clothes. Wear 60’s clothes. Stop wearing chavy clothes. Stop being judgmental. Hum the same nursery rhyme. Hum the same advert, like Go Compare. Say I’m confused.com. Sing like a little blue bird. Whistle. Clap. Play music. Listen to the same music. Do tap dancing while walking around. Do a belly dance down the high street. Skip.  Spin around when they walk. Stand on one leg. Twist themselves about. Do the funky chicken. Start a conga in the streets. Go crazy. Get naked! Act as if they were in a film. Say a sentence from a film, like “Always look on the bright side”, from Monty Python. Dress up as a superhero. Dress as if they were from Star Wars. Wear “where is Woolly’s outfits and hide. Walk with an umbrella when it is sunny. Wear sunglasses when it is raining. Mime a mime. Make frightening faces. Stop and pose, as if they have seen a ghost. Freeze every 5 minutes. Stand still. Curl up on the dirty floor. Crawl around. Play the lying game: lie down in strange places until someone notices, and worries. Start a yarn epidemic. Pick up litter. Stop throwing rubbish and chewing gums on the floor. Clean the street. Dress up the streets. Lean against a wall or a post and look around/ Sit and look around. Look at the sky every hour on the hour. Point at something that’s not there, but pretend it is there. Stare at something until someone else notices, and if they are asked what they are looking at, say “shush, look”. Ask people: “is it true that Prince William is coming to Runcorn?” Point at the Runcorn bridge. Gather on the Runcorn Bridge/ Walk across the Runcorn bridge. Ask “how long does it take to walk across the Runcorn bridge?” to make people talk about the bridge, or wonder why people want to walk on Runcorn bridge (there’s a charity race across the bridge every year). Say that they have seen a big animal in the Mersey by the brigde. Say that the bridge is going to be painted orange as part of a new Easy Jet campaign (their planes fly over Runcorn). Ask for directions for a particular location that doesn’t exist anymore or never existed to begin with. Ask for directions for something that’s not there anymore: the whole town. Ask: “Where is Runcorn?” Say “Did you see what happened in such and such street?” Go to places they don’t know. All take a particular bus. Go to the church at the same time. Talk to god. Protest with banners against the doll on the new bridge. Go on top of buildings. Leave notes in the streets about things they’d like to change. Make a wish for Runcorn. Write a song about Runcorn.