|Northern Quarter or Ancoats?|
The first thing I found in Manchester was the St Patrick's Day parade. I'm afraid my view is that we should have these parades only when the Irish start having St George's Day parades, hopefully never! I find something cheap and tacky about supposedly sane people dressing up as leprechauns and wearing ludicrous Guiness hats. As for the claim to Irishness of people after drinking a pint of Guiness, don't get me started on that one. If you love Ireland so much it's only a short flight or boat crossing away.
So I decided to get out of the way of all these Plastic Paddies and headed to Ancoats. Except Ancoats has now been renamed the 'Northern Quarter'. Northern Quarter? What is it a quarter of? A quarter of the city centre maybe? A quarter of Ancoats? It's a ludicrously pretentious attempt to make parts of Manchester, and other English cities, sound a little more exotic and continental. Fine in Paris but bloody hell, Manchester? Sorry, no, it's still Ancoats and should always remain Ancoats. It was the heart of industrial Manchester where terraced streets lived in the shadow of great Victorian mills, while not wanting it preserved in aspic, renaming it is cultural barbarianism and an insult to our heritage.
As I headed down Gt Ancoats St., maybe soon to be renamed Northern Quarter Boulevard, I decided to see if a great old pub called the Moulders Arms had survived the recent massacre of the great British pub. But no, not only is it shut but it is now the derelict site you see above. This was the sad story all the way up Ashton Old Road where most of the great old Victorian pubs have either been demolished or turned into white goods superstores or tile warehouses. The Seven Stars, one of my old granddad's many watering holes, seems to be just about surviving, but for how long?
|Urban wasteland or Beswick?|
Going back in time the greatest shock to those people, long gone, who lived in this part of Manchester when it was thriving would be the demographic change. In the hour or so my nostalgic meander took me I must have passed twenty or thirty people. Not a single one was a native English speaker. The only white people I heard speak were Polish or from some other Eastern European country. I couldn't help wondering what they must make of East Manchester. I know what older people left in East Manchester, who were here fifty or more years ago, think of it in 2013, and it's not very much. At least I could pop into the African and Asian foodstore, another former pub, to stock up on jerk seasoning.