Manchester - part two
Manchester feels like a big city. Itís got big city stuff like a gaybourhood, a financial district and a Selfridges. Itís got two premiership clubs, it hosts political conferences, and (most metropolitan of all) votes on congestion charges.
Iím not going to get into the recently failed congestion charge vote because frankly I donít know much about it as I didnít get here in time to vote on it anyway. I donít know how much money they need to overhaul the train system in this city or what percentage of that total the congestion charge was meant to cover, but I will say this: Surely, they can spare a pound or two to switch the seats around so youíre not face-to-face with some fat guyís crotch every time you get on a train. Who thought that was a good idea? I suppose it works if there is a fat-guy-crotch-buffering-table in between you and a guy whoís about a big mac and a half away from a massive coronary, but on the train Iím on every day, there arenít even any tables to lean on. Just fattyís Johnson. Playing footsies with this dude as he tries to find a comfortable position in a seat about 12 sizes too small for his rotund backside is not my idea of a good time.
Manchester is different from Nottingham in many ways, but the first one that struck me is the fact that I am no longer a novelty. There are tons of North Americans here. Most locals upon hearing my accent ask me "Where are you from?" instead of "Which part of the US are you from?" like they did in Nottingham. Mancunians seem to know that Canada and the US are actually two different countries. There are even North American bloggers here with more hip and interesting blog names than mine. Blogs like The Manchizzle (run by a blogger called the "Yankunian") and The Marple Leaf are annoyingly good. The Marple Leaf guy even has a spot on BBC Radio Manchester as their resident CanuckleheadÖ how depressing. His blog is so grown up and mature, he even uses big words like mendacious. He must be from Toronto or summat.
Where walking around the city centre still feels quite foreign, my job at the former UMIST takes me back to my days working at Nottingham University. I forgot how horrible it is to share toilets with students. I love standing at a urinal while the kid next to me is horking and spitting into his piss stream. There are many differences between male students around the planet, but spitting into your piss stream and leaving without washing your hands are two traits that unites them all, regardless of race, place, colour, country, county or creed. (B-Boy badness to the highest degree--word).
Having said all that, itís not too bad, this Manchester lark, I suppose. I mean, yes, I have a face full of fat crotch every day, itís expensive and itís rainy, but itís nice to have a proper Chinatown again, (I havenít had a decent Pho, pork bow or piece of sushi in years) and the Northern Quarter looks about 8 shades of rad, so weíll see.
Watch this space.