I quite enjoyed the revisit to the memory lane of my youth recently, my destination every weekend for several, crucial, heady years of my life before university took me down south.
Manchester has changed beyond recognition since then, or kind of, because if you look carefully under the gritty gloss it’s still the same.
The strength of the place is still the people, drawn together through, terror, hard times and a bucket load of pride in its astonishing industrial and cultural heritage and re-invention, of which those distant yet so relevant Madchester years are now a part.
I took myself away from the shops and restaurants that make up my new normal city experience , back to my former stomping grounds around Afflecks Palace and the streets behind the Arndale Centre, which was the centre of the universe for those - like me - immersed in an indie record scene and prone to wearing red Levi 501 flared jeans with 22inch bottoms, band T-shirts and cherry red Doc Martens.
All of the above probably purchased at Afflecks.
Like a million teenagers before me I spent all my money on vinyl records, a collection which I shipped to halls of residence at uni down south, where it became a source of wonder for all the southern types who were late to the Madchester party and its accompanying Hacienda-led revolution.
I sold quite a few, bought at Eastern Bloc record store, at a profit to the student DJs unable to lay their hands on the 12-inch indie and piano house classics you could only find if you crossed the north-south divide in person.
Many iconic bands and tunes from those times have barely gone away.
A week doesn’t go by when a new tour is announced or a remix assaults the airwaves. it’s the music that stays cool.
Back again, the record stores are thin on the ground, even HMV has moved but I went in just.. because.
I soon came out again when I was asked if I want to watch some live music by a band I’d never heard of called The Cribs.
Standing room only. Er, I’m far too old for that.
But great to know there is still an undeniable vibe in this Teflon city.
Just sit down next to me, in sympathy at least.