Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Rally round the Public Sector

Today's public sector march was followed by a rally at Manchester's Whitworth Park. At least 20,000 took part in the demonstration in Manchester, in solidarity with many more UK wide protests. There were also demos in the Manchester satellite towns of Wigan, Bolton, Bury and Oldham.

61% of the country supports this strike but the government is penalising the public sector, the poorer and disadvantaged rather than those who got the country into the economic mess and those that could afford to get it out again, i.e. the bankers and the super rich. 

A solution would be to insist that the very rich and big businesses pay fair taxes and stop avoiding taxes by using offshore banking and other evasive actions. 

This popular Facebook status sums it up too: "Remember when teachers, lecturers, police, ambulance staff, nurses, midwives, doctors and firemen crashed the stock market, wiped out banks, took out billions in bonuses and paid no tax? No? Me neither. Show your support for public sector staff."

Further reading

The Guardian reports that "The UK is experiencing the worst disruption to services in decades on Wednesday as more than 2 million public sector workers stage a nationwide strike, closing schools and bringing councils and hospitals to a virtual standstill. The strike by more than 30 unions is over cuts to public sector pensions...leading to the closure of most state schools; cancellation of refuse collections; rail service and tunnel closures; the postponement of thousands of non-emergency hospital operations; and "horrific" delays at airports and ferry terminals. The TUC [Trades Union Congress] said it was the biggest stoppage in more than 30 years and was comparable to the last mass strike by 1.5 million workers in 1979. Hundreds of marches and rallies are due to take place in cities and towns across the country."

Yesterday Chancellor George Osbourne punished the UK masses further by introducing a 1% pay cap until 2015 for public sector workers, and changing the pension age of 67 to take effect in 2026 instead of 2034.  Even the most right wing of British newspapers, The Daily Telegraph, opines today that Osbourne's autumn statement means "Middle class workers will be hit while the rich benefit after the Treasury announced changes to the capital gains tax regime."

Mark Steel in The Independent is also always a wonderfully light hearted yet accurate read on these oppressive matters:

It's going to be a  long winter of discontent...

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Added vim to Vimto

The Vimto monument on Granby Row (Kerry Morrison, 1992) has returned! It was taken down in May (see: )
for some landscaping work around the green space where it sits. The wood was rotten in places, and this refurbished version has either had a plastic coating added to the bottle or may be an entirely new one. The fruit beneath has certainly been painted.

Vimto was invented in Manchester by John Noel Nichols (1883–1966) as a temperance drink alternative to beer. Vim Tonic was its original name. It was a squash and later a carbonated drink, made of raspberries, blackcurrant, liquorice, herbs and spices.

Sadly, like other carbonated drinks, the modern day version would win few prizes for a being a healthy drink.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Happy Mondays: On the Eighth Day...

On the Eighth Day opened in 1970 and has been in the same place opposite All Saints' Park on Oxford Road since 1972. Well, there was an exception when the original building was rebuilt and they decamped to a mobile shop round the corner on Sidney Street for a couple of years from 2001.

It's a vegetarian wholefood shop and cafe and is one of my favourite places in the whole world, let alone in Manchester. Great for a wide range of unusual and ethical Christmas presents too. The deli counter is shown in this photo. Their website is worth a visit as well, at

I have borrowed this chunk from their early and fascinating history at:
" Located above a boutique on the now demolished New Brown Street, it opened as a craft exchange and alternative centre. 'On the seventh day God rested, on the eighth day He (She or It) created something better' was the idea of the moment at 11 p.m., September 11 1970 when trade commenced. It was a great place to tune in and drop out, but as an attempt to escape the clutches of capitalism it was less successful and in order to survive soon had to become a shop in the more conventional sense."

Sunday, 27 November 2011

They return the love around here, don't they?

Inside the Manchester visitor centre on Piccadilly Plaza.
The quotes on the bags are by famous Mancunians and read as follows:

"They return the love around here, don't they?" - Guy Garvey (singer and guitarist, Elbow).
Elbow's recent homecoming concert at Manchester Cathedral can been seen at

"We do things differently here." - Anthony Wilson (Mancunian music maestro & tv presenter, R.I.P).

"Here, there is an insane love of football, of celebration, of music." - Eric Cantona (French footballer) on Manchester.

"It all comes from here." - Noel Gallagher (Oasis) on Manchester. 

"A city that thinks a table is for dancing on." - Mark Radcliffe (BBC DJ).

The T shirt on the far right of the photo features four Mancunian musicians or, more accurately, singers: Ian Brown (Stone Roses), Morrisey (The Smiths), Shaun Ryder (Happy Mondays) and Liam Gallagher (Oasis).

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Purple Haze, 26 November 1967

Earlier this year there was an excellent photography exhibition featuring ground-breaking guitarist and 1960's legend Jimi Hendrix, at the Richard Goodall gallery. This photo of Hendrix is still on display there:

Throughout 1967 Hendrix was in Manchester for six gigs plus a performance of "Purple Haze" on the Simon Dee BBC tv show in March. He played Manchester Odeon twice in April, Belle Vue in May, the University in August and the Palace Theatre on 26th November, 44 years ago today.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Weekend Reflections: Canada expats

More weekend reflections at:

Canada Geese, or Branta Canadensis, were introduced to the UK from North America and are now British residents all year round. The RSPB estimates there are 82,500 breeding pairs in the UK. The largest of the Branta goose family, the males and females look alike although the male is larger and more bulky.

The BBC Guide to Life the universe and everything (which is sadly being phased out due to the Conservative/Tory government cuts) states:

"The UK bird is essentially different from the American bird. It has changed its behaviour, character, and build. Since its introduction it has largely become non-migratory, unlike the Anser genus in general. It is often to be found flitting between one local park and another. To give an example, the St James's Park, London, residents roost at Regent's Park lake each evening, and then spend the daylight hours back at St James's Park.

British Canada geese are generally heavier than the nominative race, and appear less prone to flight. This may be due to wing-clipping causing a reduction in the desire to fly. This does need some scientific study though, and is purely an educated guess on the part of birders in general. Certainly it is rare to find a Canada goose migrating to, or even more importantly from, Canada!

They are also far less aggressive as they have become more domesticated and familiar with humankind, so the aggressive streak found in native birds is reduced, but not gone, in native UK birds".

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Happy Thanksgiving across the pond

A Happy Thanksgiving to our American cousins across the pond. This photo is of a American's apartment (or maybe a Brit with US leanings) in Manchester's Northern Quarter.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Loneliness of the long distance cleaner

A solitary cleaner hard at work keeping the corridors and entrances to university buildings clean, so that text book-laden students, lecture-bound academics, distracted researchers and organised office staff can work in a clean and safe environment.

The Renold Building was opened on this day, 23rd November, in 1962. It was part of the Manchester College of Science and Technology (later UMIST) campus expansion that decade. It was named after Charles Renold, who conveniently wore two hats: Vice President of the college and chairman of the planning and development committee.

Wouldn't it be nice to live in a world where the buildings were named after cleaners, porters, technicians or admin staff instead of the usual dignatories?

My title came from Alan Sillitoe's 1958 book and 1962 film The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner. It belongs to a genre of literature and films prevalent in that era on the disillusionment of post World War II Britain, and the lack of opportunities for the working classes.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Monet on the Mersey, Valette in the Vale

On the Trent and Mersey Canal north of Saltersford Tunnel, in the Borough of Vale Royal.

Were Monet on the Trent and Mersey canal one autumn he might have painted this- it reminds me of his Japanese bridge and water lilies.  Although maybe Manchester's very own French Impressionist Adolphe Valette would have been more likely to create this than Monet?

The largest ever Valette exhibition is now on at the art gallery named after his star pupil- LS Lowry- The Lowry Gallery in Salford until January 2012. See:

and my earlier post on Adolphe Valette at:

Monday, 21 November 2011

Shades of brown

The autumn colours complement the large building, which is a student accommodation block on Buxton and Berry Streets. The design is not my cup of tea really, reminding me of a modern take on a Stalinist edifice, although maybe that's why it looks quite dramatic.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

HA Howard & sons

A lovely old advertisement on the side of an apartment block, formerly a lead works, in Dulcie St. The company of HA Howard & Sons can be traced back to the 1940s. My further research indicates that Gileric were a label of their day, making dresses and tunics from the 1940s to the 1960s, possibly even earlier. Are any vintage clothes aficionados able to help me out here?

A vintage Monday Mural

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Derelict on Harter Street

This old building on Harter Street in the city centre is ripe for renovation but seems to have missed the boat. Everywhere around it has been rescued and refurbished but maybe the recession put pay to any plans.  The last occupants of the basement were the Tube nightclub. There is an interesting website which details the exploits of someone who went exploring inside here in 2008, when it had already lain forlorn for many years.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Skywatch Friday: Stockton Heath sundown

Sundown and moonrise over the canal at Stockton Heath in Cheshire.
See other sky views from around the world at Skywatch Friday:

 Excavations of the large Roman industrial settlement in the suburbs of modern day Wilderspool and Stockton Heath have produced a Roman mask, one of only a handful found in Europe. The first evidence of this settlement was unearthed during the early excavation of the Bridgewater canal in Stockton Heath in 1770. Evidence also points to a probable temple to Minerva on the site, a strong focus on pottery and glass bead paste making industries, and a trapezoidal building that may have been an auxiliary fort.

After the Romans' departure Stockton Heath reverted to a quiet backwater and remained just a small hamlet until the 19th century development of a larger village, which is now a conservation area. A family bearing the name Stockton lived in the area from the end of the 13th century until  the end of the 15th century.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Asia Triennial festival

The Asia Triennial festival runs to 27th November at several venues around the city. My photo is part of the Institution for the Future exhibition at the Chinese Arts Centre on Thomas Street.

"Institution for the Future showcases artists’ collectives and small, independent, para-institutions from various Asian countries who are actively engaged with their local arts scenes and who attempt to contribute to the development of an arts infrastructure in their regions.

In light of the challenges faced by the commercial market and the global economic downturn the exhibition poses the question: What kind of institution do we need for the future? It seeks to explore this through a range of platforms including archives, installations, web-based works, text pieces and projects.


Hu Xiangqian, Roslisham Ismail aka Ise and Parking projects, Jun Yang, Michael Lee, Vandy Rattana, Ruang Rupa, Richard Streitmatter-Tran (dia/projects)."

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Long boat on Stevenson Square

Stevenson Square street art. This interesting boat and church has since been painted over with another piece of street art (which I will share on another day), but it makes me even more pleased I snapped it when I did, back in the spring!

Manchester City Council gives some formal background on the area: The Stevenson Square conservation area was once the site of the so-called 'daub holes', where mud for the construction of wattle and daub walls was extracted from the ground. In the mid-18th century, the land lying between Ancoats Lane and the old daub holes was owned by Sir Ashton Lever. Conceding to the pressure of property developers, Lever eventually sold the land to William Stevenson. In his turn, Stevenson sold the land on, piecemeal, to entrepreneurs, many of whose names are commemorated in the local street names.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Finally a fine alley

With all the many ginnels and alleys in the area it's surprising I haven't posted a photo of one before. This is a finer example than most alleys, which tend to be narrower. It's St.Ann's Alley, with the south side of St. Ann's church on the left.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Abraham's Autumn view

A statue of Abraham Lincoln takes pride of place in Lincoln Square, and this is his view.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

City centre strollers

Three ladies from the Chinese community set off on an autumnal afternoon stroll. 

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Weekend Reflections: Jade not jaded

A reflection of a barge named Jade, between Lymm and Grappenhall on the Bridgewater Canal.

We are walking the Bridgewater Canal in small stretches at a time, when weekends and weather allow. So far we've made it from central Manchester to Stockton Heath. That's a distance to date of 18.5 miles, but is actually 37 miles as you have to go there and back on each journey to return to wherever we've parked the car! 

Enjoy some more weekend reflections at:

Friday, 11 November 2011

11:11 on 11/11/11

Remembering all the innocents that were, and are, affected by the insanities of wars.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Emily talks to the trees

Every leaf speaks bliss to me,
Fluttering from the autumn tree.
Emily Bronte

Emily's sister Charlotte wrote the opening chapter of Jane Eyre in Manchester- but that story's for a future posting ;-)

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Buna, Qahwa, Kahvi, Kopi...

...Kave, Koffie, Koohii, Cafe, Kaffee... in any language, a coffee break is always welcome. This is at Java, a narrow triangular shaped cafe that has thrived here outside Oxford Road station for about 16 years.

Have a look at Madge's The View For Here (Seattle/Pacific North West) new Weekly Top Shot Meme:

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Quakers for equality

This is the Friends' Meeting House, built in the classical Greek style in the 1830s and owned by Quakers. Situated centrally, on Mount Street, it has long been the hub of many community groups with public meetings, musical concerts, political campaigns and many other activities taking place here. The Quaker policy of fair and honest prices for room hire and catering encourages access for all, regardless of income.

In a couple of Sundays, on 20th November at 1 p.m, there is a recital by chamber ensemble Small is Beautiful, which will include pieces by Gluck, Beethoven and Piazzollo's Autumn.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Happy Mondays: Messing about in boats

What better way to start the week than by pootling along a quiet canal enjoying the autumn surroundings,which in today's case is at Oughtrington.

BBC Radio Manchester's Becky Want programme all last week came from a narrow boat going along the 39 miles (65km) of the Bridgewater canal. The canal is celebrating 250 years since the 1761 opening of its first stretch.
As Ratty said in Kenneth Grahame's 1908 classic Wind In the Willows: "There is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats."

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Weekend Reflections: Mainechester?

It may look like New England in the Fall but it is in fact old England in the autumn- at Lymm Dam in Cheshire to be exact.

There are a few towns called Manchester in New England, USA: one in Connecticut, one in New Hampshire and one in Maine to my knowledge. Anyhow, this photo reminds me a of a wonderful holiday we once had travelling all over New England in the Fall. 

More weekend reflections at:

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Guy Fawkes: genesis of the gunpowder plot

Schoolchildren in England are taught why we have firework displays and burn a guy (an effigy) on a bonfire each 5th November.

On 5th November 1605 Guy Fawkes was one of 13 who were caught trying to blow up the Houses of Parliament in London. The full story is recounted well at:

Lesser known is that legend has it the gunpowder plot was actually hatched at Ordsall Hall on the Salford/ Manchester border, where Guy Fawkes was staying at the time. This story gained credibility so much so that that the street directly adjacent to the hall is named Guy Fawkes Street.

Many a person has probably wondered whether they are celebrating the demise of Guy Fawkes or honouring his attempt to do away with the government...

Thursday, 3 November 2011

St. Mary's at Lymm

St Mary's church overlooking the dam at Lymm. The church website gives a nice, brief history:

As the Parish Church of Lymm it has borne witness to the Christian faith for over a thousand years, and is the fourth church on this site. A Saxon church is mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086. A Norman church replaced the original building, while a third church was built probably in the first part of the fourteenth-century. The present church was extensively re-built in 1851.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

The 51st state of the USA?

It's the last week of the pop-up Pin-up bowling at Spinningfields. The bowling per se I am ok with but why do we have to have this tired and overused Americana 1950s theme?

What has it got to do with the UK, let alone the north west? If they wanted a 1950s bowling theme why not go for the skittles and UK icons of the 1950s rather than an American diner etc?  A skittles and skiffle theme would be far more appropriate.* Maybe it's just me...

On the plus side I do like how much of it looks and the local DJs and involvement does try to give it a more localised flavour. See what you think at: 

Also on a plus, the 30 celebrity metal silhouette figures that were on display elsewhere in Spinningfields have been  auctioned for the Wood Street Mission charity:

And a traditional looking oast house has appeared amongst all the 21st century glass and commerce of Spinningfields. More on that another time...

* Skiffle music was the 1950s equivalent of punk music, with the underlying motive being it was classless- i.e anyone could grab or make an instrument and do their thing. A washboard for percussion and a tea chest with a broom handle as a bass were commonplace. Check out the Dice boys and others at:

Skittles is basically 9 pin bowling, a European game which dates back to the 4th century, see:

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Theme Day: Fences

Click here to view thumbnails for all participants

Two fences on the left separating a walkway on a street with no name-(it's one road east of Jodrell St. if you need to know!).

The building with the nice pots is actually a fast food type chain specialising in Portuguese style chicken. I have blocked out the logos as I do not want that sort of place in my photos...

Almost 800 million broiler chickens (798.95 million) were slaughtered in the UK in 2009, so don't sit on the fence-  Go vegetarian! The UK Vegetarian Society, formed in 1847. is based in Altrincham, just south of Manchester:

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