I went back to Manchester over the weekend to the city where I lived for longer than I want to admit and where I had not only a very interesting and inspiring time working for the legendary and ground-breaking TV company Granada Television but where I also had a lot of fun too.
It could have been a rather melancholy and sentimental visit as, next year, Granada is leaving the iconic building where it had been since its creation in the 1950s. It will join the newly created outpost for some of the BBC’s traditionally London-based departments in what is already known as Media City on the site vacated by the great industrial buildings that used to line the Manchester Ship Canal.
It was difficult to feel sadly sentimental though when Manchester itself was bursting with new life whilst, as far as I could see in a brief visit, the old spirit of the city that I knew was still very much in evidence.
The massive buildings works going on over there in Media City is nothing if not impressive in its ambition – let’s hope that a similar heroic spirit livens up the, dare I say it, rather dull and unadventurous television programming that has been the recent output of those mighty monsters now settling into their new home.
Let’s hope that television scoops up some of the excitement of my old home town where the city centre has survived several depressions, an IRA bomb and much Southern cynicism to become as lively and as
varied a place that anyone out for a good time could imagine.
The three nights of this long weekend were enlivened by the new generation of pubs and clubs which were always a Manchester speciality. Manchester folk have always had a healthy respect for fun as well as music (from The Hollies, The Smiths, The Happy Mondays, The Stone Roses, The Inspiral Carpets and Oasis to the present) and both were in evidence as I wondered around town.
It was great to see, long after my debut in such things, hordes of people putting on the style and getting out there dressed and ready for whatever took their fancy.
Great too that all those Chinese restaurants around Princess Street are still thriving and that I could still weave my intoxicated way in time-honoured Granada tradition to the Kwok Man restaurant – the scene of many a very late night sojourn.
The, for me, new and brightly gay Canal Street development fits naturally into Manchester’s lively society too and it was wonderful to see the place so full of unrepressed energy.
Old traditions too have maintained their style in Rusholme, Manchester’s Curry Mile – still one of the best places to eat Indian cuisine anywhere in the World outside of the Indian sub-continent.
So thanks Manchester – not just for some immortal memories but for your brightly forward-looking face. Good luck to you and all who sail in you. I won’t leave it so long next time.
If I have to play one track that sums up Manchester music for me then it has to be This Is How It Feels by The Inspiral Carpets. It spawned many followers.
It is now available as a paperback or on Kindle (go to your region’s Amazon site for Kindle orders)
…or from Amazon:
My God! Kwok Man – I'd forgotten all about that! God knows when I was last there – 1980 I expect.
I was there too remember…the guy with his head in his bird nest soup!