Category Archives: Manchester 2005

Manchester 2005

Soon to be leaving

My time in Manchester and England is almost up for this time. Tomorrow morning at some ridiculously early hour, I’ll journey towards Manchester Airport and from there to Copenhagen.

Since this afternoon is my last great chance to swoop for souvenirs and what-have-you’s for friends and family, I won’t delve to deeply into the great status report of my exchange here, but rather go out and enjoy the sunshine.

I can imagine that I’ll get to meet most of my readers within the next couple of days, so: see you soon!

England 1 Denmark 2

Wednesday sent me on another field trip. This time to Blackburn via Bolton to experience the high-tempo football and electric crowd intensity of a women’s European Championship match.

Going to Blackburn, you’ll most likely switch trains in Bolton, 25 minutes North of Manchester. We (me and my friend Anna, who wanted to go to the match) took the opportunity to sightsee in Bolton as well. Unfortunately, both Bolton and Blackburn are rather boring old industrial cities in Lancashire, now mostly known for their Premiership football teams. But there are remnants of the industrial age, such as this big, covered market in Bolton:

One of the shops had something extraordinary on offer: A full life size wookiee!

I find it funny that they found it necessary to put up the sign advocating the “don’t touch” policy, since the whole expression that this particular hairy biped is conveying seems to be one saying specifically: “Don’t touch me, or I’ll gut you!”

Anyway, we made our way to the stadium, picked up our tickets and found our seats just in time for Kick-off. Unfortunately, the small contingent of Danish fans were sitting in the stand to the right of us, so we had no chance to mingle.

The game got underway, and the first half proved seriously boring, with little or few open chances and nervous play from both sides, lots of lost passes and late tackles. But at the beginning of the second half, England came out with a lot more determination, and quickly won a rather clear penalty:

Which they duly scored. 1-0 to England. The crowd goes wild.

Denmark was under serious pressure and soon afterwards England carved another opening in the Danish defence, but somehow managed to miss the goal from this:

Another 20 minutes passed, and it suddenly seemed as if Denmark realised what was at stake. They began battling and won a free kick at the edge of the box:

The Danish Top-scorer, Pedersen, curled the kick over the wall and under the crossbar for a superb equalizer:

And soon afterwards, Denmark managed to secure a winner through a headed goal concluding a nice passing move. The Danish players went mental:

All in all, a fun game. And Ewood Park in Blackburn is a surprisingly nice stadium, so now I can say that I’ve been to three English League football grounds (two of which were Manchester City’s)- a humble beginning for the full 92. Visiting all of them is a matter of pride for some hardcore football fans, and it is sure to bring you to every corner of England, even though most of the stadiums seem to look alike..

I’ve won something!

Just for fun, I entered the Guardian’s competition for tickets for the upcoming Football international between Denmark and England tomorrow night. Two pairs of tickets were up for grabs and I won! Sensational!

I’ve never won anything in any sort of draw before, and I guess it took something that I’m not desperate to win, to break that record. Did I mention that the game in question is a game in the Women’s Football European Championships?

Even so, that won’t break my joy. I’ll be journeying to Blackburn tomorrow all the same to see the select 11 of my two birth nations. Maybe this game can offer some insight as to which team I ought to support – f’real. 😉

Liverpool in pictures

I went to Liverpool some ten days ago, and I completely forgot to put up the few pictures I took from that day. So here goes..

Liverpool is of course mostly famed for its harbour, where much of the trade and goods from the New World arrived, and which was also Manchester’s link to the world. I went to the excellent Liverpool Maritime Museum, which is located on the harbour in an old dock warehouse that has been converted into a culture centre (which also contains Liverpool Tate Gallery, the Beatles Story and lots of handicraft shops and restaurants).

They had two brilliant exhibitions – one on the transatlantic slavetrade, and one on European transatlantic migration of the 19th century. Most of the British ships dealing in both were based in Liverpool, and it was curious to note how many parallels there were between the two. Though, of course, there are slight differences in the quality of the middle voyage on Steerage and in some unventilated hull.

All that money made from that sort of transportation went to making Liverpool a rich city, yet big parts of it were blitzed and bombed during the second World War. Therefore they had to spend new money building their cathedrals all over again. This is the entrance to the Catholic Cathedral in Liverpool:

And this is the massive Anglican Cathedral, built on a hilltop with a view over the harbour:

Just across from the Anglican cathedral, there is this house, with the cat seemingly staring disapprovingly of the huge edifice in front of it:

Something was amiss that day in Liverpool. Everybody seemed so light-hearted and were drinking excessively. But the reason for that was pretty straight-forward. The day before, Liverpool Football Club had won the Champions League. Thousands of people dressed in red, waving flags and balloons the shape of the big eared trophy were milling about town, waiting for the triumphant parade of the returning footballing heroes:

Unfortunately, my camera ran out of battery juice by the time I took this picture, so I can only offer everybody else’s pictures of that happy occasion.

As it was, I spent the previous evening in my local pub, watching the game, listening to the emotional rollercoaster of an Everton fan who desperately hoped that Liverpool would lose. He was heartbroken. Such is football, and the rivalry in Liverpool in particular.

Summer sheeze..

I had Bob Marley’s “Caution” playing in my head as I wrote my final exam on Friday. After two hours of questions on Technological determinism and the Indian Green Revolution, that song might well have been have crossfaded into “Everything’s gonna be alright” – despite having a customary stress crisis after half an hour (realising that there’s no easy way to do cut and paste and revise your sentences when you writing with pen and paper, thinking that all that you’ve written so far is utter shite), everything did indeed seem to turn out for the better.

Thus, this weekend marked the beginning of three months of summer for me. Most of the other international students finish on Monday with their English exam (which I spared myself), but even so, I managed to lure a sizely bunch of them with the rumour of an illegal warehouse rave somewhere in Manchester on Saturday night.

By mere coincidence I had stumbled upon the website of MISSING, a bi-annual independent party with lots of underground music and funny, fluffy people. Manchester has bred quite a fair bit of the techno and clubbing culture in Europe, especially through the Hacienda – a notorious in-spot in the early 80’s, as portrayed in the film 24 hour party people. I thought that this would be my golden opportunity to experience that unique atmosphere and meet a lot of friendly people.

The whole invitation procedure was proper cloak and dagger stuff to keep the police off their tails, as they were trying to disguise it as a private party. Therefore everybody had to be invited (ie. join the mailing list), and they would then send out an email on the day, offering 3 phone numbers which the guests could then call in order to get directions to the warehouse where the party would take place.

Manchester has lots of old warehouses, and lots of old semi-derelict industrial neighbourhoods with few nieghbours to complain – all of which is required for this sort of all night partying. Therefore, the party could take place in any number of places, and we could only wait until they would tell us where to go.

So when the word came, we joined the throng and took the tram to Trafford Bar where the party supposedly was taking place. But by the time we got there, the police had arrived and were closing down the party before it even had begun. Some of the other tram travellers got really paranoid and went straight back into the tram fearing, as they said, “snif-dogs”!

As we were much too decent to be doing any drugs, we had a good laugh about that, though it didn’t really help us much. We didn’t know where to go, and despite the promise of “back up venues”, it soon turned out that the police had gotten the better of the party planners, and that no rave would be taking place that night. Several thousand disappointed youngsters spread across town, looking for some party or another.

We happened to come across a tiny club where most of the clientele were of Caribbean descent, playing loud dancehall and funk, and we had our chance to dance and have fun there.

But one of the other students told me that in the mid-nineties, the British government passed a law inspired directly by a wish to be able to break up raves more easily without having too much trouble with civil rights of private gatherings. Potentially illegalizing any parties “with 100 or more persons at which amplified music is played during the night. Music includes sounds wholly or predominantly characterised by the emission of a succession of repetitive beats.”

It seems to be just another glorious case of a government trying to legaslate their way out of something that they don’t understand. Thus attacking symptoms rather than causes. Did I mention the new case against hoodie sweatshirts?

Sheez.

Salford Quays (and more)

The Salford Quays are being billed as the new cultural centre in Manchester. That’s where the Lowry theatre is, it’s where the fancy new Imperial War Museum North is, and it is pretty darn close to that football stadium, Old Trafford, and that humongeously big shopping centre, the Trafford Centre. I’ve taken some pictures to illustrate the fancyness of that area.

Main entrance of The Lowry

The Lowry seen from across the Manchester Ship Canal. You can’t see it from these pictures, but despite the apparent fanciness of this building, the interior is done in the most hideous purple-and-orange colour scheme that you ever saw. The whole of the main theatre is purple: Walls, carpets, chairs, everything.

The bridge crossing the Canal, connecting the Lowry with the Imperial War Museum (and the Peel Holdings building, pictured – Peel Holdings controlled most of the traffic on the canal, and set about turning the area into this fancy thing).

Ah, the Imperial War Museum North. Designed by famous architect Daniel Libeskind – also known for the Jewish Museum in Berlin and the 9/11 Memorial in New York. Apparently, the idea is that the three arches represent war on land, on sea and in the air.

Right.

The Trafford Centre is a truly amazing place. Built to resemble a late 19th century World Exhibition, it contains an incredible range of fake scenery. Apart from the New Orleans-inspired food court, and the China Town inspired ditto in each wing, there is is this really big open space meant to look like the sun deck of an ocean liner, complete with fake swimming pool and proper dance floor where lots of 60-somethings enjoy a bit of Foxtrot on a lovely Thursday afternoon. The shopping mall aesthetic is taking to an extreme (I hope), and it really begs a question or two. I recommend Mike Davis’ City of Quartz for an examination of the rise of the Shopping Mall, though not of the actual aesthetics used.

Finally a couple of pictures from a recent sunny day in Manchester.

(This final picture is scaled down, and can be downloaded and used as a background merely by right-clicking (unless you’re using a Mac, of course 😉 )

The End of the Moon

This Tuesday, I went to Manchester’s fanciest theatre venue, the Lowry, built on the remains of Manchester’s old industrial harbour at the Salford Quays, some two miles outside the city centre.

I went to see a show, part music, part poetry, part storytelling, with one of the world’s most interesting and famously obscure (but then again, aren’t they all?) performance artists, Laurie Anderson. The show is called The End of the Moon, and is centered on her two years as “Artist in Residence” with NASA. No, really.

She was as surprised as everybody else when they offered her the position as artist in residence, and none of the NASA dudes seemed to have given much thought to what she would actually do as an artist in the hi-tech temple of the final frontier.

So she milled about, saw the jet propulsion lab, mission control, take off centre and so on, asked questions and studied files, until they finally asked her to make a report on her findings. Since she was fired halfway through her first draft, as some senator stumbled upon the words “Artist in residence” in the NASA budget, and didn’t think that that looked too good, she decided to change directions with that report, and this show is meant to be it.

It’s just Laurie on a dark stage, covered with candles, playing her violin and telling anecdotes about NASA, life in general and odd bits of pseudo-philosophy. Her voice is the focal point of it all, so soothing and dreamy, that alone would be enough.

But of course, it helps that she is occasionally witty, occasionally poetic and mysteriously intense all the time. I quite enjoyed it.

Manchester in pictures

Inspired by this guy Jake’s observant pictures of Chicago [warning: Several hundred hi-res pictures behind this link] and Lauren Greenfield’s excellent pictures of Girl Culture, I’ve tried my own hand at some descriptive shots of Manchester, hopefully later joined by some good shots of student life, as well.

Rabbits!

On the sign to the Faculty of Medicine, University of Manchester

Doorbell on the inside?!

ey, what's that in front of the clock?

Manchester Town Hall..

oh.

bluuue mooon

shade

three pictures of the Manchester Museum of Urban Culture – Urbis:

Urbis

Urbis

Urbis

Tattoo or no?

Rambo actually passed by when I took this photo, and asked what why I was taking a photo of his shop. I explained the contrast between the two shop offers, and he conceded that it was “pretty humorous”.

Lovely thorns, those

A public service announcement from the Manchester City Council

And, finally, a few snaps from my little home.

Kitchen
The Kitchen, spring cleaned.

Back yard
Our lusciously fertile back yard.

Lovely view
My room, with a view.

And finally, a reward for the patient, a little attempt at teaching light to do tricks, using a broken lens from my pair of glasses.

Back in Manc

So, after a fortnight-long hiatus, away from the intense life of the blogging scene, I return having visited a lot of people, hung out and drunk some excellent beer (not the Maribo kind, mind), generally just having a good ol’ time. Thanks for kind hospitality to the many people involved over the past two weeks, I do hope to get a chance to return the favour if any of you decide to visit The North sometime this spring.

In other news, today is the release of the new version of Ubuntu, everybody’s favourite Linux distribution. There are release parties to go to, lots of good vibes to be felt and ISO’s to be downloaded. W00t!

Spring in Manchester

The international food night went well, though it was only the Germans who took well to the Danish cabbage (pictured behind the rye bread and the leverpostej)

Saturday was a day of glorious sunshine, happy people and ice cream. The ice cream van took a triumphant lap of victory through out the neighbourhood, relentlessly playing its theme song.

Spring had indeed arrived, as these two squirrels playfully admit.

I felt like a photographer from National Geographic, observing these rodents in their true habitat – the backyard of semidetached suburban house.

Before spring so benevolently arrived, I took a few pictures to convey some of the lovely atmosphere of the University of Manchester campus. The first one shows the loving funfair attitude of the student representative elections, with lots of homemade posters, silly slogans and inebriatedness.

The second picture shows one of the many, many CCTV surveillance cameras that cover the campus in their evil glare.

The surveillance of public life in England is scary to the point of disbelief. The new congestion charge for peak hour traffic in London is monitored via CCTV to spot cars whose number plates have not been registered as having paid the charge. These cars are likely receive a fine. There are cute little signs like this everywhere, apparently to prevent crime. If it’s supposed to comfort you that there’s someone who might always be looking..