Have you ever had any obsessions? Or any ideas that drive you to do something?
This site is about Manchester’s culture from a personal point of view.
The city is fairly grim, let’s be honest. But grimness can have an up-side: if this place was beautiful maybe the people here wouldn’t care so much about music, clubs and clothes? (And drugs and alcohol… and football…)
We live forwards but understand backwards – Soren Kierkegaard
Having written on this site for a few years, I now tend to regard Manchester as a “bad parent”, because, growing up here, I had no option but to absorb what surrounded me.
I suspect this city has inflicted a brutalising culture upon its population; after all, Manchester is the product of historical human exploitation on a massive scale. The scars of 19th century exploitation persist in the attitudes of many who grow up here – grim stoical cynicism, sometimes vicious humour and rife reverse class snobbery. You have to be arrogant, thick-skinned or both to attempt anything creative in this city.
And many of the city’s high profile pop culture sons (and they are all sons) resemble rebellious adolescents, even in middle age. In fact, the male domination of this city’s culture is shocking; I’ve grown up with it but just never noticed how bad it is until recently. (The big football clubs should be shamed into financing women’s sport to help redress the balance.)
When UK manufacturing declined during the late 20th century, Manchester apparently resented London’s political and economic supremacy in the UK. America influenced all UK culture through its film and music, and Manchester can claim some historical and architectural common ground with New York, but our city’s football-dominated world-view encouraged a European sensibility to develop. Names such as Granada Television, the Hacienda nightclub and Barca nightclub nourished this aspiration. Even though Spain endured great political turmoil during the second half of last century, it came to represent Eden for many people all over the UK – those who could afford to travel a little… and so an illusion was created in Manchester of a shared European experience which was not really possible for most ordinary people.
In my opinion, “Madchester” was a cultural disaster… It was fun briefly but led everyone down a blind alley. The city’s music and football cultures combined, solidified and blocked everything up. Arguably, the city has suffered from creative constipation ever since. Thankfully Graphene managed to squeeze out.
Sticking with the body metaphor, Salford and Manchester are con-joined cities, sharing the same centre which lies within the city of Manchester… and that’s weird! (Are they joined at the head or the heart?) The BBC’s presence will hopefully make up for chronic neglect of Salford’s national and international profile. (If only Manchester United had been named for Salford instead.)
And did you know that Emmeline Pankhurst was born in Moss Side? Moss Side doesn’t know either.
The few years before “Madchester” was an exciting time here, which I was lucky to experience. Tweaked Kondratiev cycle theory suggests something similar is happening now…
My email is email@example.com, if you spot anything interesting.
BTW If you’ve commented on here and the comment has disappeared, I’m really sorry, it’s a cock-up not a conspiracy. While getting rid of comment spam, I accidentally deleted some good comments.
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