A change of scenery

Bit late, but hey, that’s Monday

It’s Monday and it’s a miserable Manchester. James just couldn’t be more fitting. Funny, this track always reminds me of sailing back from St Malo in 1995 with a Walkman and four cassettes. James was on one side and Depeche Mode on the other. I miss making mix tapes.

I’ve Much Love for Manchester, of course. Who wouldn’t? These streets are in my blood. It’s a bit like looking at someone after a facelift, remembering what was once where. It’s not the gritty city that it used to be. I think you need to be old to appreciate stuff. You need to remember those stinky, smoky seats on the Bury-Manchester line, the pawnbrokers and jewellers in the tiny shops as you left Victoria… I was in a hotel near Piccadilly, a building that has risen from the ashes of the Manchester Employment Exchange, which you can see photos of here. It really was a horribly grim building, but I think it very much speaks to Manchester’s resurrection. I love this post about it on the Skyliner.

Other than rainy Manchester, spending hours in Waterstones and passing the hours uncovering the murky Christmas Present of some of my school friends, Much Love also to catching up with my Nana, who looked more marvellous than the Queen, even if she didn’t have a hat on.

I confess it’s strange to feel lots of anniversaries weighing in. I’ve been marking GCSE papers for 20 years. We didn’t spend our time in marker meetings in the Piccadilly Basin in those days. Canal Street was just reaching its sticky glory days and it’s strange to think that the age of consent was only equalised in 2001. We’ve come a long way in those twenty years. Even so, walking back down Minshull Street and Canal Street yesterday, it really did make me realise that there is still a long way to go. Whilst we debate how Canal St should move forward, the Orlando shootings make it perfectly clear that there’s a lot of ground to cover. The flags lowered, the sombre atmosphere…. it’s hard even so to think of freedom and safety when you’re in the relative security of a cosmopolitan city.

Coming home on the tram, I accidentally got onto a tram past Heaton Park, where it was Parklife 2016. The tram was packed, but there was a fantastic atmosphere. It might have been wet, but nobody in Manchester cared. It might have been loud and lairy, there might have been more people on the tram than I’ve ever seen before, but it felt like Manchester. Nobody even cared that the tram was stuck for twenty minutes. It made me really, really miss that magnificent melting pot that is Manchester. Funnily, I’ve been reading Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers about how circumstances conspire to make fertile grounds for genius and growth. Manchester definitely had all of that. I do love you Manchester.

As for the rest of the week, it’s a short sharp shock of high-speed catch-up and lessons, then standardising before marking starts. Not quite sure I’m ready for it, but I’ve had my Starbucks fill to top up my caffeine levels in preparation.


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