Sunday, 23 July 2017

... and from Manchester

The Manchester I'm familiar with is the one from before the IRA bomb ripped through the Arndale Centre back in the 1990s.  I got a job in St Helens and left to join the "plastic scousers" only a few weeks after it went off. I had been labouring under the impression that my old stomping ground had been "gentrified" in my absence.  There had been talk of something called "the Northern Quarter" where the dodgy army surplus shops and sex shops used to be.

I have been pleased to find that gentrification has not happened.  Manchester is still gloriously Manchester: a shambolic but proud, busy but laid back, scruffy yet mighty impressive and friendly city. 

I'd forgotten how utterly miserable the statue of Queen Victoria looks in Piccadilly gardens; as ever garlanded with pigeon droppings and looking decidedly overweight. I'd like to think she was the inspiration for Douglas Adam's Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz, about to destroy another planet and give a dreadful poetry recital. It is an "end of Empire" statue, and the Empress is weary.  Manchester seems too brazen for her.

OK so the Corn Exchange is not what it was.  Tib St is also far tamer.  A lot of the clubs have folded or fallen down (and so they should).  No place should trade on its past.  Manchester moves on.  It nods respectfully to its past but doesn't dwell on it.

Oh and the people smile.  What a joy: to be able to smile and see others smile!

I suppose if things don't work out for me out East, I could come back to live here, I could feel at home; one mongrel amongst many.....

..... and the Manchester Oratory is the business...... it really is everything an Oratory should be....

Our Lady of the Air Con: pray for us.

Happy Feast of St John Cassian: a good boy from the western Black Sea area who helped make Europe great, at least in part by inspiring St Benedict and having a profound understanding of human psychology. He also taught me how to fight, and for that I am forever grateful.  It was only today that I found out where he came from, he will now join St Roman the Melodist as a patron of my impending "adventure".

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