Thought For The Day

I’ve been watching Springwatch. Those baby chicks are just like my kids. Always got their mouths open, always wanting feeding.

I think I should have gone down the cuckoo route.

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Blue Saturday, Blue Monday

I’d tried to prepare my son. You know, just in case.

I’d previously been to Wembley three times. The old Wembley once, this new Wembley twice. Three visits to the renowned, fabled stadium. And three times I’d seen my team get beat. I’d once proclaimed that I’d retired from Wembley. Who’d have thought that of a Manchester City fan, a few years ago? But then my boy came along.

“Even if we lose,” I’d told him, “you’ll get to experience Cup Final day. A match at Wembley. You will come back again.”

I needn’t have worried. For once everything went as planned. A crushing, 6-0 win and quite a memorable day. An historic domestic treble, although this was actually our fourth trophy of the season.

When the fourth goal went in, the man sat on the other side of my son hugged him, and then said to me, while beckoning towards his own young boy: “They don’t know how lucky they are, do they?”

I knew what he meant. The 90’s were a nightmare. Schooldays were insufferable.

“What do you think we’ll win this season?” James had asked me back in August.

Listen to him, I thought, the new City fan. Full of expectation.

There is a ‘knowing’ among we older fans. A wisdom built on pain. But on Saturday we could forget all that, that part of our DNA was lost in celebration.

And the music was great, too. Belting out adopted, and adapted, anthems by Mancunian bands such as Oasis, James and Joy Division. And that certain band from up the East Lancs: The Beatles.

Before the game I met up with some familiar faces from my past, camaraderies of work place and youth.

I never got to go to a City game with my Dad, but I know the stories. The ’56 Trautmann final. He and his friends reported missing, later found sleeping in an otherwise empty train in the Manchester sidings.

I was conscious I was making new memories for my lad. Life is all about passing on the baton. Saturday was a marker for him.

And then Monday night, a time to celebrate in our own backyard, my son and daughter decked out with replica kits and flags.

We went into Manchester to see the victory parade, as the Manchester City players milked the acclaim while showing off the four pieces of silverware that they’d won this season.

And to say goodbye to Vincent Kompany, our most successful captain and our leader, whose stature is just as great off the field. An adopted Mancunian from Belgium, he had married a local girl and wanted to give something back to the city that had given him so much in his eleven years here. He’d set up, with the mayor of Greater Manchester, a charity called Tackle4MCR, to help the city’s homeless, and all of the money from his testimonial year was going into that.

It was loud and jovial, (blue) Mancunians at their best, people gaining vantage points from bus shelter roofs and clinging halfway up lampposts, singing songs and cheering on their heroes.

In the middle of this lot, this throng 100,000 strong, my wife turned to me. “I need a wee.”

I suddenly imagined another use for one of those trophies.

Kompany’s charity:

http://www.tackle4mcr.co.uk

Naturally Selected

While my wife was having her car valeted, we waited in a small cabin provided for customers. Next to the seats was a cage, seeds spilled all over the cabin floor by the birds that were inside it, scattered in an haphazard arc.

I’m not really a fan of birds being kept in cages, these creatures that have evolved to traverse the sky. But it did give me an opportunity to have a close look at them as they sang away, syrinx working overtime. Whenever my wife approached the cage, though, they stopped singing. She obviously looks more predatory than I.

I started to think about their ancestors, the dinosaurs, and how these birds looked like miniature versions of their magnificent prototypes. They once ruled the earth, and now here they were, caged.

They don’t know where they’ve come from, I thought.

We do. And that’s how far we have come.

Here In Manchattan

Waking up it was just another day: drop my son off at school, nip into Manchester to pick a few things up, have a coffee before making it back for home-time. But, on cutting through the Northern Quarter, I found my city transformed: the taxis were now an unfamiliar colour,

and our news was being brought to us by hitherto unread newspapers

Bemused, confused, years of watching sci-fi movies threw all sorts of implausible theories up. The only thing apparently clear was that I had woken up this morning as a citizen of an American city.

Last night must have been some night.

But no, despite being rather excited at the prospect of having undergone some kind of spontaneous relocation, I soon discovered that I had wandered onto the setting of a new movie, the Spider-Man spin-off Morbius. Apparently it is cheaper for Hollywood to film New York in our Manchester than it is to film New York in New York!

Forgive my ignorance, but when I heard whispers that Jared Leto had been spotted in a nearby street I thought that maybe he was one of those bloggers that my kids spluttered their cornflakes out about over breakfast, maybe after publicising his latest meet and greet.

So, oblivious to it all, off I went, leaving the bystanders behind, to have a leisurely coffee in my favourite coffee place. It’s my favourite because it is smack-bang in the middle of a heritage site where many generations, and many branches, of my ancestors lived, worked and died in old Ancoats, the world’s first industrial suburb. I love nothing more than to sit with a book in what is a charming, historic mill, making those personal connections that makes the history, well, more personal.

Except not today. For scenes were being filmed there, scenes that totally disrupted my quest for nostalgic feels. And so I set off again, trudging along those same streets that my ancestors once walked, streets that were far removed from the glamour of Hollywood.

Damn those Americans, coming over here and dominating our converted cotton mills. I found another place to drink, somewhere a bit more modern, and ordered an Americano. Americano! Was that them too?

Or was that the Italians? This used to be our Little Italy, after all.