Thursday 11 January 2024

Coronavirus streets in Manchester - LXXII

What I thought I saw

For once, I thought I was watching a circus act, an elephant on a bicycle riding on the pavement against road traffic until I noticed he had no trunk, just a truck of a backside to task a tape measure at the tailors.

Manchester as I went out shopping is in a kind of festive mode, as 2024 ushers in the bicentennial of the University of Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan University that both trace their origins to the Mechanics’ Institute founded in 1824.

Oxford Road is the artery that links these two universities bustling with crowds of students and all the services that cater to their needs. The banners are up and soon the bands and parties will set up to play.

Pandemic to pandemonium

The number of people still donning face masks would suggest the pandemic still rages, invisible as it might seem, I was chatting to someone on Sunday who had just recovered from a bout of COVID-19, we still need to be cautious and careful.

St Peter’s House used to be the chaplaincy to the broader university community that included the Royal Northern College of Music, though the food bank services remain in the building, the sadly poorly run organisation seems to have closed.

I was an observer of an employment dispute last year that to me showed that there were too many conflicting interests in the running of the place, the trustees were derelict in their scrutinising responsibilities, and it became evident that new engagements that sought to change how things were run met with both resistance and opposition.

It is a sad development and though a Catholic chaplaincy exists further up the road, I would hope this institution is revived with better hands and those with a heart to serve the community for which they exist.

The look and warmth of love

The Whitworth festooned within Whitworth Park is a place I last visited in January last year at the launching of an exhibition that was to run for the full year, I did think I would return to see the exhibition proper, but I never did.

Meanwhile, even in the freezing cold of winter, a few benches were occupied by couples at different stages of the expression of affection, the warmth of love cannot be assailed by the weather. You are left thinking of when you might find the beauty of that expression for yourself.

I rarely allow myself to just watch the heaving beautiful life of Manchester, even with the effects of the pandemic barely out of memory, we have a city that is thriving, lively, and changing at a rate that is, well, astounding.

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