The GardenA blog by yours truly

A jolly good show: tidbits from Manchester

Hello. I鈥檝e been to Manchester. I thought i might tell you about it. Wait no come back i promise this isn't just showing you my holiday ph

The last time i went to that wonderful southern city, i was hardly ten years old, and hadn鈥檛 much of a chance to explore 鈥 a mistake i was itching to rectify this go around. Over the next few days i鈥檒l be sharing some of the things i saw, heard, and third verb goes here.

First things first, our trip鈥檚 raison d鈥櫭猼re: Sigur R贸s were on a world tour, and though they might not have been schlepping up to Newcastle, i sure as hell wasn鈥檛 going to miss the chance to see them.

A case with some tea and incense strewn about, branded "Flotholt: Sigur R贸s 脳 Fischersund"

Sigur R贸s are a post-rock band, and their gig made clear that it鈥檚 with a strong emphasis on the 鈥減ost-鈥. It was an all-seated audience, with vanishingly little banter from the band (one has to imagine they鈥檙e not 100% confident in their English), excepting a brief pantomime bit at the end of 鈥濧ndvari鈥. No complaints from me, though: a laid-back, almost classical atmosphere quite befits their 忙theral soundscapes. I mean, could you imagine people going wild in the pit to 鈥濾aka鈥?

As 鈥濸opplagi冒鈥 came to a close and everyone shuffled out the venue鈥檚 doors, i noticed a curious item at the merch table: an officially licensed Sigur R贸s tea and incense kit. What a world we live in. (I didn鈥檛 buy it 鈥 there was only one left, and i probably wouldn鈥檛 be the one to make the most use out of it.)

A Google Earth render of the skyline of Manchester, containing a modest few tall buildings

As an official, Lisa Nandy鈥揷ertified resident of a Town鈩, i was left slightly dumbstruck and intimidated by the dense forest of tall buildings that is Manchester鈥檚 city centre. Sure, it鈥檚 not like i鈥檓 a stranger to the idea of a city, but of the two big cities i have most haunted over the years , Newcastle only has a stumpy luxury apartment and a few council houses strewn about the suburbs, while Amsterdam鈥檚 skyscraper district is sectioned off behind the other side of a ring road, far from the centre of town.

But Manchester? Nay 鈥 Manchester is England鈥檚 second city, and they鈥檒l show it any way they like! Dozens upon dozens of architectural phalli jut up from the ground in all directions, a veritable orgy of capital. I pray thee, have we as a species learnt nothing from the tales of Icarus and the Tower of Babel? Nothing鈥 This is hubris writ large, i tell you!

Or, you know, something like that. Their green spaces don鈥檛 even have cows.

They both serve the same purpose, really, but i just want to rub in that where we up north has a fully-fledged metro, Manchester merely has to do with trams. Sure, ours might be delayed every five minutes, and theirs might be uber-reliable and extend throughout the urban area, but who鈥檚 really winning?

Montage of portraits of Emmeline Pankhurst and the brothers Gallagher
(I don鈥檛 actually know or care which Gallagher is which. Apologies.)

Manchester has no shortage of iconic residents 鈥 Morrissey, Danny Boyle, Burgess, Wanksy 鈥 but Mancunians have taken it upon themselves to idolise two people above all else. Everywhere you look, there are statues, plaques, and posters in their memory.

The first is Emmeline Pankhurst. An early leader of the suffragette movement, she and her allies often used violent tactics to get their way, from breaking windows all the way up to arson. You can see why the left-wing, industrial city, birthplace of the labour movement, would be proud to honour her.

The other is Noel Gallagher.


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