Much Love this Monday for Manchester. I thought long and hard about this track and so I will have to do three over the next few Mondays. Today, Much Love Monday is brought to you by James with Laid.
There is nothing like a little Booth to put a spring in your Monday step. Even if he is from the bad side of the Pennines.
This track reminds me of 1995 when I travelled up through France on the old SNCF trains through a warm Nantes and a wet Rennes. I got the ferry back from a few weeks with Phil, my boyfriend, and it was pretty much the end of our relationship. We’d been together for four years, but as I came up to the beginning of my teaching life, Phil hadn’t yet decided where he was going with everything. I grew out of him and I’m sad about that. I never had such a love again. I had grown-up loves and they were never as intense as that teen love where you feel like the world will end if your love dies.
That’s true of all my loves though. They all leave me different.
Anyway, I had an old tape player with eight tapes. It was all I could manage to carry with all my other stuff. I had Depeche Mode, Arrested Development, James and a few others, but as I fell asleep on the ferry out of St Malo, I was listening to Laid and it will forever evoke memories of that last trip as I left my teen years behind for good. I slept on the floor in my sleeping bag, listening to One of the Three and it just seemed to capture the moment in ways that none of the others did.
Of course, something about being confronted with people from another country always makes me go all Manchester. So much so, in fact, that it makes them wonder why I ever left the gritty city. It’s been 20° here today and the cherry tree is in bloom, and that is mainly why.
I think I am mainly filled with the need to put people right about how Manchester is really the home of all that is magnificent about England, be it sport or be it music. Let’s face it, Manchester has had more than its fair share of musical talents. If you count the huge and massive bands I don’t even like in there, like Simply Red and M People, Manchester must have more gold discs than any other city in the world. Maybe even more than LA.
And, if it doesn’t, it should.
We watched 24 Hour Party People over the weekend – a film about Tony Wilson and Factory Records. Of course, nothing says Manchester like “mad fer it!” and I was trying to put into some kind of loose order the Manchester bands that I liked. I thought I’d put the Stone Roses at the top, but then I’m open to suggestion. Then there would have to be Joy Division. The Buzzcocks would be in there somewhere. New Order would be as well.
The Happy Mondays, of course, the sound of my summer as a 16 year old.
The Smiths. They’d have to be in my top 5.
The Fall. The Inspiral Carpets. Oasis. It’d be rude not to.
I couldn’t even leave out Take That.
Let’s face it: Manchester music is, by and large, the best music on the planet. We even do boy bands that turn into likeable man bands. Who else can claim that?
And the Bee Gees might have ended up in Australia, all healthy and suntanned, but they were straight out of Chorlton-cum-Hardy. Who could say what they would have become had there been no Manchester?
And as Tony Wilson, a tragic hero if there ever was one, says in 24 Hour Party People…
” Most of all, I love Manchester. The crumbling warehouses, the railway arches, the cheap abundant drugs. That’s what did it in the end. Not the money, not the music, not even the guns. That is my heroic flaw: my excess of civic pride.”
I know how he feels.
Now I think of it, perhaps Tim Booth is referencing my relationship with Manchester when he sings that Manchester is like a disease without any cure.
Doesn’t everyone feel like that about their home town?
So, here’s to the Irish Centre, the Polish Centre, the Arndale Centre, the Stretford End, Cheetham Hill, Curry Mile, Wilmslow, Chorlton, Stalyvegas, Chinatown, Spring Gardens, Deansgate, the Trafford Centre, Old Trafford, LCC, The Kippax, Affleck’s Palace, Eastern Bloc, Castlefield, Canal St, Oxford Road, the Coop building, Victoria Station, Piccadilly Gardens, Ardwick, Ancoats and Albert Square.
Upon reflection, I have come to realise something. Like Thatcher, Manchester is such a part of me that it might as well be my other parent. So, here I am… profligate offspring of Maggie and Manchester. A woman who was more manly than most men and a town named after a boob-shaped hill.
It’s no wonder I’m mixed up.