We’re just back from a bank holiday weekend up north. In Manchester. A city of old and new. Traditional and modern. Beautiful and ugly. Well-conceived and total disasters. You could say the same of the architecture.
It was great to have a break from the dreaded job-hunt, and to be soaking up some northern sunshine with some friends for a few days. I was in blogger bliss, watching everything going on around me, eavesdropping like you can’t believe, and soaking in the northern humour that is in such great supply. Everywhere you go.
We watched the Manchester Pride 2010 parade through the city centre on Saturday, and walked through the market area and on to the live entertainment area. My eyes nearly popped out of my head at some of the sights and some of the T-shirt slogans I saw (If you think my attitude stinks, you should smell my a***), but it was an amazing and significant celebration for so many. We saw drag queens, bears and muscle marys and everything in between; loads of flesh and plenty of flesh we wish we hadn’t seen. More fake tan, false eyelashes, hair gel and cargo pants than could sink a ship. People standing up for their rights, and others who could barely stand up at all.
Manchester trams provided a great source for loads of my entertainment. We were sat on a tram home on Saturday, behind a mum-who-had-just-turned-40 and her two teenage sons. After loudly snooting down her nose at the new, public, plastic urinals that had been installed on the pavements next to the tram station – I guess to stop drunken people relieving themselves on war memorials, which has happened in the UK of late – her elder son let her down with, “Mum, how can you complain about that? You washed your shewee* in the dishwasher!”
Understandably indignant, she justified, “But I had rinsed it first. I just wanted to sterilise it in the dishwasher.”
“Remind me to eat off paper plates tonight, Mum,” her son said.
As we were on our way home from Manchester Pride 2010, most of the tram commuters were wearing the tell-tale purple Pride 2010 wristbands, and hear what at our mum-of-the-year had to say, as the tram passed the Bridgewater Hall: “’’oo was it I sor there the other day? John someoneorother? Whatsisname again? The queer one?”
I also heard a young guy in central Manchester say, as he emerged from a newsagent, empty-handed, “I’ll not buy anything from him. He doesn’t speak English.”
And as we trammed into the city centre yesterday, to catch our train home, a bunch of less-than-sober youngsters, aged about 14, gave an interesting, expletive-filled reflection on life, friendships and the future of the British nation. As we passed a cheap hotel, one of the youngsters piped up: “Ooh. You know, we could all go and stay there for a tenner. It’d pay for our room, food, everything.”
His friend joined in the conversation with, “Ooh. I loove food.”
We also visited the Lowry theatre complex, home to the work of Lawrence Samuel Lowry, a northern artist famous for painting scenes of life in the industrial north during the early 20th century. He had a distinctive style of painting and is best known for urban landscapes peopled with human figures often referred to as “matchstick men”. While we were there, I had the pleasure of an impromptu dance lesson: a delightfully sprightly octogenarian was giving free dance lessons in a coffee shop at the Lowry, and I learnt the 1920s London Stroll! What fun!
I really loved Manchester. It’s dead loovleh! It is an interesting city, is home to a not-too-shabby football team or two, the people are very friendly, the accent is just woonderful and the architecture is truly outstanding. Despite what everyone says about the weather up north, we enjoyed mostly warm sunshine and blue skies. It doesn’t get much better than visiting a new city with good friends and enjoying a whole bunch of new experiences. Add in a backdrop of inane conversation, and I’m pretty much in seventh heaven.
Sunshine signing off for today!
*Shewee: a portable urinating device that is a moulded, water repellent plastic funnel that allows women to urinate whilst standing or sitting and without removing clothes.