The last couple of months have been filled with the kind of dread and anxiety that I imagine baby cows experience on the veal truck to nowhere. Leaving London felt impossibly big and the time I had to complete all the ‘things I haven’t yet done’ seemed ridiculously small. Even the shit bits were romanticised; I gazed at the puke on the pavement like it was morning dew, the shouty smelly weirdo at the tube station became the last bastion of eccentric London. Sullen moody queue pushers were smiled on fondly. Could I really be leaving all this splendour behind?
To be honest, by the final week, living as if I were in a film was getting a little tiresome so I was ready to make the break. The only time I remember being genuinely upset was when it was time to say goodbye to the guy who works in our cornershop. Friends I know I will stay in touch with, maintaining relations witnewsagents will be more difficult, so the reality of not ever seeing him again was genuinely affecting for both of us.
The move was stressful and long and everything we hoped it would be, so enough of that. Permit me to be really smug instead.
Manchester. is. great. Possibly (and it’s early I know and I haven’t been to work yet) even better than London. There, I said it, Cockneys! Here are my reasons why, a wide ranging mix of cliche and genuinely excellent observation:
1. Less pigeons. This is a major factor for me as I hate those little turds.
2. Black pudding is practically a condiment. And it is really good black pudding! In fact, breakfasts are across the board fabulous; I recommend Teacup (which has a very hands on owner in Mr Scruff, purveyor of fine tea, fine music and a Manc legend) and the Koffeepot, which is like your favourite bits of every previous era rolled into one.
3. People are friendlier. Boring but true. The only snake in the grass that we’ve come across so far has been the estate agent! Football fans are not known for their top table manners, but at Old Trafford recently, people were kindly stepping aside to let people out of the rows in front and everyone was thanking everyone else profusely like it was Oscar night!
4. I can walk everywhere from my house. To the station, the theatre, the best bars and pubs. No more Transport for London Journey Planner! And I can get to proper real-life countryside (see pic below) in less than 45 minutes!
5. Traffic lights turn green quicker. I offer no empirical evidence for this, but I have waited on enough stubborn red men in my life to know a quick and fortuitous change when I see one.
6. Great Northern Institutions, like Wilkinson’s, where you can get everything for £5. Never knowingly undersold? Pah! Never knowingly disappointed, more like.
7. And finally; 2 x fish and chips with gravy = £10. This one alone is enough to guarantee a mass exodus to Lancashire. Please don’t come. We don’t want you.
Why stay south, I ask you, why stay south?