Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Our Friends in the North

I'm spending two days working in Manchester. Not doing guided tours (definitely not my area) but chairing study days for A and AS Level students.

It's interesting work. Today was a study of Bram Stoker's Dracula. Tomorrow it's the Russian Revolution.

I seem to be spending a lot of time in Manchester doing this lately and I'm actually becoming rather fond of the place. I've never really subscribed to this Birmingham v Manchester rivalry stuff. It is (shock, horror) possible for two cities to be "great"; it's not something exclusive.

Okay so Manchester has some pretty grotty bits even in the centre (but then so does Brum). A lot of the new developments of which Manchester is so proud are actually pretty bland and don't stir me in the least. (How can people get so excited about a bloody Arndale Centre?!) And their German Christmas Christmas Market isn't a patch on the real thing (ie Birmingham's).

But they have a decent and growing tramway system and Piccadilly Station is an absolute credit to the place. Especially if you compare it to New Street! (Although it's not nearly as well sited as the latter.) And the old addage is true: people are generally friendlier the further North you go.

I wish I had more time to explore, though. The Art Gallery is splendid (not the Lowry, over in Salford; the Art Gallery which - Brummies take note! - also has a fine collection of Pre-Raphaelites). And being a mercantile city, some of the Victorian commercial buildings are just jaw-droppingly beautiful.

We are lucky in England to have so many wonderful cities and I count myself lucky that I get to visit so many and that I'm blessed with the interest to get so much joy out of "experiencing" them.

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