For all the trouble in England right now, a country on the brink of potential anarchy with a contentious EU departure in March 2019, there are moments of repose. Manchester, famous for its football and music, is still something of a marvel. Just make sure you’re there at the right time to capture it.
It rains a lot in England. And Manchester isn’t always the most inspiring place to behold when it’s heaving it down and you’re freezing your ass off on the way to work. But the evening always arrives (of course – fool!) and often brings with it a rather special sunset, bathing the city’s older architecture – already rustic red – in an orange hue.
Then those shadows drag out, the lights come on, and all of a sudden you realise that Manchester is effortlessly goddamn cool. That’s where the whole Manc swagger comes from. But we do have a touch of class beyond getting drunk and starting football riots.
Our esteemed editor, Mr. Wapojif, walks to work these days. It’s a new hobby, but one that ensures he gets to see some interesting sights across the city. Autumn was a particularly cool time of it.
And alongside this we have the German markets here in force to sell German stuff. But! Many buskers line the streets, too. Some of them are crap (think rap music), others are good. Others are bloody excellent. Like, why don’t you join an orchestra, mate?
But Manchester is also one of the cheaper UK cities to live in right now. That’s not saying much in a country with a crippling housing crisis, but it stands for something with the ongoing national divide between the north and south.
Indeed, thousands of Londoners, disgusted by the impossible cost of living, have fled the capital over the last five years. Many settle oop norf in a bid to try to find a livable environment. Manchester is a great option. You don’t lose 80% of your wage up here renting a 10ft by 10ft room.
That’s increasingly slipping away even here, too, but for now the city has the sense of a safehaven. Especially for young people who need somewhere bloody affordable to live.
At present, in this strange country, there’s a growing sense of national divide. Brexit has caused mayhem. The Conservative party is in turmoil. And we’ve been here before! The 1970s were even worse, but throughout the 1980s Thatcherism really kicked in. And despite our former colleague John claiming she’s the best Prime Minister we ever had… she really wasn’t.
And Manchester played its part in progressive history when, in 1988, Margaret Thatcher triggered Clause 28 to crack down on homosexuality. Manchester fought back with a protest march (attended by the band below) that led to major progressive reforms in the UK.
We’ve not seen any response to the socioeconomic turmoil just yet, but the country is on the verge of mayhem come March 2019. And if it hits the fan, you can guarantee Manchester will play a part in it. One way or another.
The Stone Roses
For a city steeped in a history of working class poverty, it’s astonishing so much creative spirit came out of this. In the 1980s, against Margaret Thatcher’s Tory regime, The Stone Roses emerged as a band ready to tell her (and even the British monarchy) to piss off. Simultaneously, the group found beauty amongst the horrible depression of the time.
There’s Oasis, of course, part of the Britpop explosion. The Fall. The Happy Mondays. But Joy Division remain Manchester’s secret pride, whilst The Smith’s are nothing but a Hipster’s dream (in our moronic opinion).
But The Stone Roses’ anti-monarchy, anti-Tory eponymous debut album stands as something of a middle finger to the establishment right now. The band, after a much documented (and unexpected) reformation now appear to have called it a day again. But the songs certainly stand as a reminder to the elite their actions have to improve – immediately.