The day to day ramblings of a 30 something Lancastrian. If you want to read my views on life, the great outdoors, what I am listening to and where I think people should go, then read on. If you wish to contact me please mail stewood(at)gmail.com
Wednesday, 28 February 2007
On the way into the workhouse in a morning, I like to flick through the channels on the radio, in order to try to raise a smile before the drudge begins.
Sometimes I listen to national radio such as Talksport, but as it is fast becoming the Daily Star of the radio, its time for something else.
Now as a fan of many music genres but particularly Manchester music, I have been cocking my ear to XFM. Now I know it is a part of a national group but I when it started I expected it to reflect the local area and culture. I listened on its 1st morning, it listed the greats of the city, good start, The Stone Roses 1st song, going well. Now? Wall to wall Razorlight and Keane. Indie music for delivery drivers and salesmen. Bet Alan Partridge loves it.
So now onto The Revolution. Again I started on this pretty early, and it was poor, same music as all the others just with a bad reception. Then it started. "We play what we want!" Yes yes yes, and you know for about 18 glorious months, it did and it was superb. Clint Boon in the afternoon, on pc at work, headphones on. Superb. Rebellious jukebox, oh aye.
Then it started......first Smug Roberts, Boon left (to join XFM!!) then an influx of Manc comedians and now? Well its just seems to be a chat station, well an unfunny joke station, full of comedians who don't actually know what they are talking about (Its Kooks with an oooo not with an uk, John Warburton!!) and it seems to be lurching into XFM territory.
I'll keep with it for a bit, but its soon going the same way as XFM if it isn't careful.
So what is left?
You know what I regard as the best programme coming out of Manchester radio is at the moment? The Terry Christain breakfast show on GMR with Michelle Adamson.
Its funny, the banter between Terry and Michelle works well. Christian has a good grasp of current affairs and encyclopedic knowledge of the local area. All this means that the hour sitting in the A580 traffic in a morning is spent listening to a BBC chat station. Who would have thought it in the days waiting for XFM to start? I even have a dabble listening to Heather Stott on the way home (but only breifly I have to say)
Having said that, Michelle Mullane at weekends on XFM and Gay Garveys payola on a Sunday also on XFM are worth a listen.
But its safe to say the days of KFM and Sunset 102 are long long gone.
Wednesday, 21 February 2007
What was it that Ray Davis sang? Something about as long as he gazes on Waterloo sunset he is happy? (I may be paraphrasing there.) Well sod that. That may satisfy him, but I need more, I need to see something more than a poncy ball of burning fire in the sky, over a grotty London station. I need buildings, I need architecture, lots of building work going on that shows the vibrancy and forward thinking of where I am.
You know where I get all this? It’s the stretch of railway track between Salford Central and Victoria, there is no finer place in the world (well there probably is, but I have yet to find it!!)
I love it. When the train gets towards town, beyond the high rises of Salford, I look forward to that part of the journey and just gaze out of the window, it never fails to give me a glow. I agree some of the buildings may have seen better days, they may even look ugly, some of the newer buildings may lack character, style even, but put them all together and it’s a view to behold.
Let me take you on a journey.
The 1st buildings that strike you are the Lowry Hotel and The Edge apartment block. The 1st you get to see of the new Manchester, the 1st 5* hotel in the city and a new block of apartments built for the upwardly mobile and well to do. Both signs of Manchesters’ affluence, of how Manchester has moved away from its reputation of grimey industrial Northern city.
As you move down the track, the next building of note to hover into view is the Renaissance Hotel. In contrast to the Lowry, this harks back to the days when this was one of the top hotels in the city, but now a symbol of Manchester past, especially with the plethora of new modern hotels that are springing up in the metropolis.
As the train gets closer to Victoria, new Manchester jumps out at you, with the department stores and, currently, the big wheel of Exchange Square. To some this is a consumer nightmare, maybe even capitalism gone mad, but to me it shows how far Manchester has come since the bomb of 1996, how the much needed regeneration of Manchester has been a success. Old meets new here though, with the Corn Exchange building coming into view, now a collection of shops, bars, and restaurants, but from the outside, it is a sign of Manchesters glorious architectural past. Of course in the background is a sign of Manchesters not so glorious past with the tiled building of the Arndale, least said the better. The Premier Travel Inn building comes next into view, a converted 60s office block, bright white in colour, awful to look at with its strange windows, but with a character all of its own.
Behind this white carbuncle though, comes a view a little bit of a green oasis, yes, greenery in the city centre, located just behind the ski slope shaped Urbis, which dominates this area of the city with its glass façade and shape. Again, old meets up with new as the Printworks can be seen, now an eating and drinking centre, but once the bastion of newspaper printing, even now you can imagine the newspapers rolling hot off the press.
One of the best buildings on view at this point is Chethams school, with its beige coloured outside and library that is important to the history of the city.
But the part of the skyline that cannot be ignored at this point is the huge, CIS building. For many, the 1st thing looked for when approaching the city. I know if I have been on a train journey back from London, when I look out of the window and see the CIS, I feel reassured that I am nearly home. This building has been dominating the Manchester skyline for as long as I can remember, though its domination is under threat from the new building going up on Deansgate, the CIS buildings’ place in Manc history is assured, a Manchester company and its building dominating the sky line like that, its enough to make you fill up.
And so onto the final part of the journey, the approach into Victoria Station, and two things stand out here, the station itself and of course the adjoined MEN Arena. To be honest, the MEN is pretty much a characterless affair, but its place as Europes largest indoor arena is yet another feather in Manchesters cap. Then finally, the final building on the journey, Victoria station itself, with its large Edwardian façade which was designed by George Stephenson. There is something about Victoria, that I can’t quite put my finger on it, maybe it is the iron and glass canopy that runs around the outside of the station, or maybe the map of the route of the Lancashire and Yorkshire railway which used to run from the station until the early part of the last century, a railway that of course is important in the history of Mufc and of course FC United. The only problem I have with the station is trying to keep my feet on the concourse on a wet Mancunian day.
Well I hope you have enjoyed this short journey looking at the buildings and the skyline that makes the city of Manchester so great. Join UTB next time, for maybe a trip round East Lancashire mill towns…….or erm…..something.
Friday, 16 February 2007
Its the open mouths and the look of shock on their faces as if you have totally offended them and they are mortified. I have even been told to go forth by one guy on St Anns Sq when I said I didn't want one.
And the papershops are even worse. There is one I go to, we call it the Betamax shop, if you see it and look in the window, you will know what I mean. I go in about 3 or 4 times a week for a can of pop and some choccie and its the same everytime.
"Aye go on, just the one."
"You sure you only want one?"
"Yes, just the one"
"You sure, take one for your friends"
"I don't have any, I only want the one paper please"
"Go on have a couple"
"No just one please"
And lo and behold, when I open my bag of goodies back at the workhouse, there are 3 MEN's in there.
Now that is one surefire way to really annoy someone. Suppose it isn't the MEN's fault but I am sure they wouldn't be too happy at this "sales" ploy. I know that the paper has been on its arse for a little while, hence their move to be a freebie, but all this will result in is annoying people and so they wont even bother with a free paper.
Still I don't think they will be that bothered, as long as it doesn't get in the way of following footballers around the city and reporting on cats being stuck up trees in Beswick.
Thursday, 15 February 2007
I was shocked this week to hear that Tony/Anthony/Anthony H Wilson had got kidney cancer. I was even more shocked to see an interview with him on BBC NW where he was bearded and gaunt looking, his polo shirt was hanging off him.
He is one of those people who totally polarises opinions, you either love him or hate him. He seems to thrive on this and fair play to him. I usually see him quite often as he has an office on the same site as where I work, and I find myself muttering "tosser" to myself, then remembering that actually I quite like him. End of the day, he is just a contrary bloke, if everyone agreed with him, he would probably argue with himself.
I have only really met him the once, he was the questionmaster on a quiz programme I appeared on for a small hardly watched satellite channel. After taking the piss out of me for coming from Leigh, he proceeded to stop the filming and made the producer change the autocue, as it said Tony and not Anthony H. Course he could of just said Anthony H, but no, he stopped everything and wouldn't carry on. Again I thought "tosser" but I was also laughing as well as it just summed him up.
I send my best wishes to him and I hope he gets over it soon.
I read this week that Afflecks is under threat. The lease may not be renewed and it may become "luxury" apartments in the summer.
Now is it just me, or is there someone somewhere determined to erode Manchester and let it become just another identikit city? Starbucks appearing everywhere and bars where the bleeched blonde fin haired boys can strut about looking for faked tanned halfwits, and if they don't find them then spend the night bottling anyone who dares not to fit into their stereotype.
Can anything be done to stop this? Manchester is in danger of disappearing up its own arse, filled with chain stores, coffee shops and theme fun pubs.
Surely it is time to fight back, champion the cause of the small indie shop, the local cafe the good old fashioned public house and try ot save places like Afflecks.
The fight starts here people, wander round the Tib St corridor (what actually is the Northern Quarter and does anyone from Manchester actually call it that?) and look at the amount of small shops that are there, spend your coin in there, go for a pint in places like The Castle on Oldham Street and if you want a proper bit of food, get your arse to the Koffee Pot on Stephenson Sq.
Use these places people, use them or they may not be around for too much longer and trust me, Manchester will be a worse place for it.
Last week I started Lancashire- Where women die of love by Charles Nevin, and a good read it is too so far. Basically he is an exiled Lancastrian (well from St Helen's, but that in itself is part of the tale) who comes back and travels round Lancy, but old Lancy taking in Manchester, Liverpool and the Lakes.
If you are a fan of travel writing, come from Lancashire and want to learn more or just like a damn good read dig this one out it is well written (in my humble view) and gives you the full flavour of Lancashire and what makes the county so great. Well it would be if the cricket team could actually win the county championship, but that is a story for another day.
I mean this blog to be more my meanderings on life in general, the rolling hills of the North West, what I am listening to and where I am going. If you like what you read, please visit regularly, if not, let me know(keep it quite clean please!!)
Please visit some of the blogs I have linked on this page as well, they are well worth it.