Manchester Piccadilly. Platform 13. This place is fucking huge. Now come and get me bitch before I get totally lost.


On some of the holidays I have taken with various people over the years, the places become more navigable as time goes on. This increases tenfold, of course, if I have been to the place before. My mission to introduce bits of the UK to my immigrant wife has been fascinating, insofar as what I actually know and what I think I know.

Bath, for example, is very simple. It’s a historical city and also my favourite city, and every time I go back, it is a world unchanged. The same streets; the same layout. I know Bath. Brighton, when not waylaid by storms, is a bit of a maze, but at least I know where the main bits are. I was slightly thrown by Nottingham, since I spent three years there and they’ve massively changed it since, but at least I kind of knew where I was.

As for Manchester… I have no clue.

I’m walking through Manchester on the way home from Blackpool. Are you all right?

I’m not well – in bed with ‘flu (well, you have to be in bed with something on Valentine’s πŸ˜‰). Happy V-Day, anyway!

Yes, happy Valentine’s!

ILB to H, via text

The problem here is that, in all honesty, I thought I knew Manchester. I’ve spent some of my best and some of my worst times there, but the general feeling about it is positive. For every death stare and overpriced railway ticket, there is a table for nine to have pizza, or a weekend spent having sex in a YHA near Oxford Road (following plans to book into a YHA in which to have sex). I’ve even been there recently – last year, for a gig (even if that was a little bit of a flying visit).

Long story short, I thought I knew Manchester. In my mind’s eye, I could picture the street down which I walked and sang the lyrics from Evita at maximum volume. I could visualise the YHA (no, another one) in Salford Quays and even the layout of Oxford Road. Manchester, I told myself, is focused around one big road. You can walk down it. That’s where the Pizza Hut is with the Bella Italia opposite. Easy.

Reader, it wasn’t easy.

Is there anyone from Johnny Roadhouse or A1’s here?

Tim Booth

As it turns out, what I’m familiar with is the Manchester of twenty years ago. Things appear to have changed since then. If I didn’t imagine the road I knew, then either it isn’t there any more, or it’s been redeveloped. Navigation, for a non-resident, is impossible; it’s much easier to get lost, especially when you don’t know where you are going.

But, throughout the week, at the very least we managed to work some things out. We knew how to get back to our hotel. We knew how to get places from the Arndale and how to commandeer the trams. We even managed to find our way back to Piccadilly Gardens (which has changed the most; last time I went there, you could walk through the centre!) when we needed to.

And that’s okay.

That’s really all we needed, as it turns out.