Ladies and Gentlemen, this is Matt, one of my friends from my time at Manchester, and one of the people I didn't expect to see this weekend, considering he works in London:
Strangely, by the time this chance reunion occurred on Saturday afternoon, Phil and I were ready for just about anything. We had seen sheep and a cow in Albert Square, watched a a silver clad man in stilts chase after girls, waved at a gondola containing two men dressed up in 1920s Oxford clothes, watched a street show fronted by Japanese Yakuza pranksters, and puzzled over a man and a woman having a pillow fight in a transparent tent.
It was a weekend of weirdness. For instance, did you know that Selfridges sells chocolate-coated scorpions and ant encased in peppermint? Before you ask, I didn't try them; I know I should be open to new things, but there are limits. Phil also took me to a bunch of shops and cafés that I'd never seen before, but had been around while I was living there, which made me feel pretty dumb. On the other hand, I introduced him to the delights of Vinyl Exchange.
The centre of Manchester has been in constant flux since the IRA bomb in 1996. While I was at university there, the bomb site was cleared, and new buildings began to spring up; now there's a host of shops, seating areas, and a huge IMAX-screen cinema to be found where rubble once stood. Having finished with clearing up the bomb site, the city now seems to be revamping the 1960s-style Arndale Centre and expanding the Northern Quarter (the trendy part of the city). Here's some pictures:
I saw three films over the weekend: Buffalo Soldiers, T3, and Legally Blonde 2. The last one was not my idea. Buffalo Soldiers was quite funny, and came complete with GIANT TANK scenes, although quite a few of the scenes suffered from some really bad dubbing (and that the projector was out of focus for the trailers and the first few minutes of the film). But a GIANT TANK more than makes up for that. T3 was better than I thought it was going to be, but I'm still trying to scrub the horror of Legally Blonde 2 out of my mind. Oy.
Interesting Manchester fact I learnt over the days I was there: apparently, there's gunfire in Moss Side every night. But, according to the police, they're really bad shots. So, don't be a random passer-by near Maine Road…
After that boost to the Manchester tourist industry, I think I'll just leave you with a few more pictures; it really is quite a nice place, honest.