My son is easily pleased.
This morning, as we made our way through Manchester city centre, he wanted nothing more than to stop and watch the water fountains in Piccadilly Gardens.
Gardens. If ever there was a misnomer then that’s it. There’s barely anything green about it. Certainly nothing floral.
There is a much maligned concrete wall, dubbed by locals the Berlin Wall. What exactly the design was meant to represent I don’t know. Man seems to have a propensity for turning beauty into ugliness.
There was an attempt to spruce things up a bit last year. The council returfed the area, but with a deadly dovetail of hot weather and a failed sprinkler system, it turned out to be a dry brown mess.
Both a gateway and the city’s heart, Piccadilly Gardens could be Manchester’s showpiece open space.
It is a focal point now, but for not the right reasons. Crime is rising, the homeless are everywhere, punctured by the ragged, stiff-silhouetted users on Spice. A place best avoided at night.
I don’t know what the answer is. Heaven knows the council and the police have tried over the years. I think they are about to try again.
But this morning, this warm, July morning on the cusp of a heatwave, my son, oblivious to its sullied reputation, could see something more.
Water, sunlight, an anachronistic wonder.