I travel a lot.
I don’t mean I have loads of holidays. I’ve never been Island hopping for the summer. Never gone Skiing. Never been in a gondola. Never had the urge to find myself whilst back packing around Asia. I found myself a long time ago in Siberia. Not the country but a dark, dank rock club in Bury, Lancashire where I remember stumbling out of a toilet cubicle pointing at my reflection and slurring ‘You! You’re alright you!’ I think everyone spends their formative years a bit of a wanker but that doesn’t mean you should go and inflict yourself on the good people of another civilisation. For example Columbus, the world’s first backpacker. What a wanker.
I should probably say that I travel a lot…in my car. Oh yes, as a comedian I frequently hop around traffic Islands, drive past indoor Ski slopes, canal barges and I’ve backpacked my way across the M1, m6 and M62. Currently my cup holder contains biscuits, toothpaste, some half eaten fruit pastels and a flat can of diet coke. This means I spend way too much time in my car BUT it also means in a post apocalyptic world I would be the Queen!
I think you know you spend too much time in your car when you have a favourite service station…according to genre. Yep I like my service stations like I like my period dramas. Clean, non-threatening and with a dyson air blade.
I actually find service stations very comforting. I also find riding in cars very comforting. You put me in the passenger seat of a car and within minutes I’ll be snoring like an Asthma ridden Bear Gryills. This is probably a result of spending so much time travelling about in cars when I was little. As a child I used to travel around the country’s theatres with my Ma and Pa. Often to Seaside towns. Ones I still hold in the same earnest and innocent affection despite there current disrepute. I think by the time I was twelve I may have been to almost every town and city in England.
There are often times now, where I’ve driven somewhere for a gig, somewhere I think I’ve never been before but when I’ve arrived I’ve felt a surprising familiarity. A bit like when you hear a forgotten song on the radio and suddenly you get a Rocky style montage of that Autumn term you were in the school play, or those first few weeks of courtship with your now wife.
The song ‘Again’ by Janet Jackson reminds me of a lovely Christmas spent in Belfast with my family. In fact the same Christmas my mother managed to convince me that Father Christmas had escaped onto a helicopter via the patio doors because he’d heard me on the landing. This was a few weeks after she’d informed me that the staff at Argos were Santa’s elves. Yes Argos, a posher man’s cash converter. I’ve been in more magical bus stops. My mother must either have had a Bond Villian’s talent for deception or I was a very stupid child. (Don’t answer that.)
I write about these travels because I think, after all the places I’ve been to, I still love Manchester the most. Now before any of you get all Statler and Waldorf on my ass by pointing out of course it’s my favourite! I live there! Hold your horses and let me explain why.
There are loads of fabulous places in our fair land. In all the fair lands, in all the universe! And I’ll be honest from the off…I’ve never been to Guernsey, Bournemouth, the Isle of Man or Jupiter (I almost did a Uranus joke there but I think you are better than that). I could list all of these fabulous places and their glowing attributes but I’m no Michael Palin. The BBC aren’t going to commission a travel programme with a presenter whose adjective vocabulary is limited to the words “Belting”, “smashing” and “cracking.”
I wanted this blog to be about why I love the city that I call home. This is why…
Manchester is a Goddess. A big, beautiful cobbled teethed Goddess.
Oh yep, she’s a she alright. Anyone thinking otherwise probably only sees Manchester in regards to football divisions and league tables but she’s so much more. She’s a survivor.
To me, Manchester is like a Mum whose been through the mill.
Tough as nails and gobby as hell. Who will whack you over the head with a tele mag using one arm but then squeeze you tightly into her warm, red bricked bosom with the other. She’s not fussy but she’s got taste. She can be hard faced but then a softarse. She’s friendly but uncompromising. She doesn’t question who you are or where you’ve come from, only if your getting the round in.
She loves taking the piss but hates piss takers. She bursts with pride but she’s not proud. She’s cleverer than people give her credit for. She’s warm and quietly cool. Alright, she makes a bit of a song and dance about her kids (especially the ones with guitars) but what Mam doesn’t? She may not be as grand as some of the other Mams but what she lacks in beauty she makes up for in humour and in heart.
People (I’m looking at you Chloe whatchamycalld) say she’s grim. Really grim. Buy y’know, she wears grim so very well. Because even when she seems grim there’s always a brightness to her. A light, a spark however dim. It’s always there shining, out of every crooked staircase and every cracked doorway. Out of every stained alleyway and broken window. I love her because she laughs through the cracks. Through the dark. Manchester is a survivor.
In her, there is a light that never goes out.
Oh and Chloe?
She couldn’t give a shit if you don’t like what she’s wearing.