I have long since noticed that I get more Scottish when I’m not there. Not that I’m a nationalist or anything like that, just that I get more patriotic and tend to get Scottish songs in my head. This morning, in Manchester, I discovered that in addition I become more of a Hibs fan with ‘Turnbull’s Tornadoes’ going through my head as I walked towards Piccadilly Gardens. It’s not out of any Anglophobia or anything, it’s just how I get. I can’t quite explain it.
When I make a long journey down south, I tend to get a couple of newspapers before setting off. I read my news almost exclusively online but for some reason I go on a train with a paper. Thus it was that I was on the train down this morning, just after Carlisle, reading about Hibs getting beat by Brondby last night in the Edinburgh Evening News, which apparently you can purchase in Glasgow city centre at 7am. We need to stop calling them evening papers when you can source one, even in a city 40 miles from where it’s published, before the start of the working day.
The journey south this morning was relatively uneventful. The journey from Glasgow down through Lanarkshire, Cumbria and Lancashire is quite familiar to me now though still fresh enough to still feel like an adventure. My chariot was a TransPennine Express train, as ever vastly inadequate for the number of people on it and of course their luggage. How in the name of David Gray can a company with most of their services going to Manchester Airport get away with that? I’m sitting writing this on the way back and it’s full, mostly it seems of Lancashire commuters. Unfortunately going to Manchester requires the use of TransPennine Express at some point and I give not a whit that I’m sitting mildly comfortably in my reserved seat while many other folk are standing.
Soon after I hit Piccadilly, I walked through the shopping district, grabbing a bite of lunch on the way to the People’s History Museum. Bizarrely, the PHM is near a quite swish business quarter, complete with an Emporio Armani outlet. It’s also near Manchester Crown Court. One of the main buildings looks like something out of the Third Reich. No sooner had I thought this but I heard some other dude voice the exact same observation.
The exhibition on railway stations was a brief display of old photographs from stations that are still there but in a vastly different form, most notably London Euston and Manchester Piccadilly. Euston is now a dark and horrible concrete affair but prior to 1961 it was incredibly different with an elaborate arch and grand hall. It reminds me of reading of the demolition of Penn Station in New York, which was similarly swish, to make way for Madison Square Garden. The 1960s urban planners really didn’t have a clue, did they?
The Wellcome prize photos were also excellent, including a cracking colour-altered shot of the insides of the brain and a close-up of a henna-tattooed arm coming out in blisters due to an allergy. That one’s better seeing than trying to describe it.
Afterwards I headed to the Manchester Central Library where I spent a few minutes sitting in the reading room, the quietest and most serene place I have been in a long while. It was almost like sitting in a church.
There comes a point in any day when you’ve had enough. I reached it at the Manchester Art Gallery. There were some cracking artworks from Cameroon but I truly couldn’t give a fuck about Vogue fashion photographs so I gave them a bye.
After dinner, I headed to the Alan Turing memorial, which is in the Gay Village. The Gay Village featured lots of purple flags and bunting, which I gather was to do with the transgender community. The Alan Turing memorial is a statue on a bench with a wee plaque underneath. Turing’s story always makes me angry at society of the time for failing a pioneer of technology who had given so much. There are some who think Turing had Asperger’s, which only makes me sadder at the circumstances he lived with.
On a happier note, one of the best things I saw in the People’s History Museum was in the display about LGBT rights, namely a badge which stated ‘How dare you think I’m heterosexual?’
So, that’s the story of today. I started writing this on the outskirts of Manchester and I’m now just outside Penrith. The train is a fair bit quieter though there’s still an hour and a half to go until home. Incidentally, to follow up from the Manchester post from the other day, I managed to both follow my nose and be an OU nerd. The studies were taken care of by the PHM and by working through some notes on the train down.
Before I forget, I’m going to take a writing break for a couple of weeks, probably until I come back from Northern Ireland in mid-August. It’s going to be a busy old time in the interim and it will keep me away from my keyboard for a bit. In the meantime I would like to recommend some of my favourite posts from the last few months: Cutting the lemon, Holmwood, Seeking light, Three reasons and Struck home. The last two are a wee bit more personal since both are about being autistic in one form or another. I’m signing off now, putting down my pen just as the train crosses the border, edging ever closer home.