Saturday, 12 September 2009

sunny, lovely, cuddly manchester

© Tom Jolliffe

It's days like this I'm happy to just wander aimlessly around Manchester like a tourist. From my beautifully overgrown, tree-filled adopted home of Whalley Range to the various beautiful and striking buildings and views in the centre, Manchester stuns on a sunny day.

I went into town for a dull 5-minute errand this morning, and ended up staying most of the day - hopping between coffeeshops across town, sitting outside each one for an hour or so reading another chunk of novel and watching sunny people meandering by.

© temjin

I wandered into St. Ann's Square to find one of those peculiar markets that always sells the same things, whatever theme it claims and wherever it's meant to be from. Basically fudge and wool. And stollen if it's a German Christmas Market. A few elderly people were listening to a female guitarist sing some sugary ballads, clapping politely between songs and smiling serenely, probably thinking how nice it was to see a young person who wasn't stabbing someone to death in a drug-fuelled craze. Families were happily being fleeced at the fudge stalls (my favourite is covered-in-fluff-because-it's-been-out-in-the-open-all-day flavour), and young women were dragging their boyfriends around the clothes stalls cooing excitedly about bargains while said boyfriends nodded absently, calming their thinly disguised irritation with memories of just how much she put out last time it was this sunny. The advance guard of this year's gay freshers was also in town, looking oddly sweet in their identikit Top Man clothes, each one's eyes like saucers at the opportunities for moral turpitude; many salivating at the thought of binge drinking and casual sex, some salivating at the fudge. They'll figure it out.

© mijoli

On the fringes of this jolly scene there was a man shouting at the happy people as they milled past, causing brief expressions of confusion to pass some of their faces - what was this incongruous dog turd of hate in our collective mixed salad of summery fun? Ah - after a few sideways glances (never look a madman in the eye) the confused passer-by spots that he is carrying a book. That explains it - he's one of them. Yes, the one man in the square who isn't remotely happy is the one who's found the love of Jesus. I don't understand why St. Ann's Church doesn't send out some kind of hit squad to deal with him. There is a man stood next to your church, clearly demonstrating that God's love is corrosive and malignant. That can't be good for business. Surely this is the Christian equivalent of a man stood outside a Scientology shop handing out leaflets on dianetics and vomiting into a bin? "I used to be stressed but scientology fixed me - BWWUUAARRGGGHHHH - no, come back.."

I was sorely tempted to stand next to our man in St. Ann's, loudly shouting extracts from my own currently-beloved book. Unfortunately it's "Making History" which is largely about Hitler - rather difficult to precis without people thinking you're a Nazi. Perhaps next time I'll try with a Robert Rankin..

(By the way, Manchester also looks lovely by night - yowzer!)

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