The 8:15 From Manchester and Other Stories

Room A14, St. Anselm's Hall, Manchester. 20 years later.

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It was odd going back to Manchester twenty years after starting university. Above is my room of three years, looking pretty much exactly the same as it did all that time ago (aside from the carpet, I guess).

Manchester itself has changed considerably since I was last there - the sprawl of glass buildings continues apace (not on the scale of London, which seems to be inflicted with a terminal case of this, but much more than previously), and everything has moved more upmarket. But the Magic Bus still runs down the Oxford Road, even if BBC North and the Odeon no longer exist.

Or Halon Menswear, for that matter.

If wandering around Rusholme trying to find a path to St. Anselm’s Hall through new building was problematic, the Kilburn Building hasn’t changed all that much, aside from losing the Maths Tower entrance1. Before I entered, I was hoping not to bump into anybody, due to Britishness. As I wandered through the various different levels, that changed, and instead I ended up on the final floor hoping that I’d bump into somebody, anybody, that could remember me and validate my existence.

Then I bumped into Professor Carol Goble. Okay, so she didn’t remember me, which was a touch sad given as she was the first lecturer to call me by name in a lecture…but it has been twenty years and I wasn’t exactly somebody who lit up notices at the department. She did at least humour me and ran through a bunch of ‘where are they now?’ notices.

All in all, glad I went, but it has made me nostalgic for university and pondering a Master’s again. That obviously leads to a path of sadness, but…still…

Impressively, Affleck’s Palace doesn’t seem to have changed much at all; it is the university experience encased in amber, no matter where or when you actually went there.

But! Manchester was not the only part of my week-long tour with Tammy! A round-up:

And now, a concrete break!

Just before it goes…

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Goodnight, sweet Prince.

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The Brutalism Tour went quite well, I thought, with particular emphasis on Welbeck Car Park and Robin Hood Gardens, as both will likely not be there the next time I visit London. The latter is a tragedy, especially when you see the designs for the Blackwall Reach5 and how vapid they are.

And the thing is…RHG feels so much more…human when you’re actually standing there. Yes, there’s the scale, but you also get the sense of quietness in the central garden space that the bloody thing was designed to do in the first place, and it feels like as much as a community as Avon Crescent or Redmoor Court did and do. Which is more than a set of ‘standard luxury apartments’ that can only claim to be ‘close to Michelin-starred restaurants’ can ever be.

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A Pelican book on post-war British economic policy bought at the South Bank. This may be the most on-brand photo I have ever taken.

All in all, a wonderful trip. Great company who didn’t kill me even after I made her walk nine miles in a single day (oops!), mostly good weather, and so so much food. I may need to live on the exercise bike for the next month…

  1. The loss of the entrance down to losing the Maths Tower. Rather careless, I think. [return]
  2. With hilarious results. [return]
  3. Of course, it didn’t stop me… [return]
  4. The prices, though, were even worse. £6 for a pack of Pop Tarts? [return]
  5. The website leads with “Formerly a pioneering 1960s urban estate…”, which made me want to fly back and slap people. [return]