Yesterday I went into Manchester to collect some books I had ordered for my daughter. (This is really a clever ploy to get me to pay for the books but that is another story and not one to be explored today.) As she declared herself to be far too busy – essays to write for her university course and so on – she volunteered the teenager to go along with me. Not a bad idea as the teenager is quite good company in such circumstances.
So I got up at some ungodly hour for a Saturday so that I could catch a bus, make sure the teenager was actually up – texting her from the bus to tell her I was on my way – and then get on a train to Manchester. So far, so good. The train was already crowded so we stood all the way into Manchester, watching small people who could have sat on parents’ knees occupying seats. So it goes.
Almost the first thing we did on arriving at the city centre was find food for the teenager. I swear 14 year old girls are bottomless pits. I watched her go through a spicy prawn “wrap” (a modern type of food I have totally failed to get into – what is wrong with a sandwich?), a chocolate mousse (spelt moose on the tub), a mango smoothie and a hot chocolate while I had a coffee. I should, of course, say that I had that mysterious thing called a “flat white”, the best thing I’ve found when I don’t feel like a cortado/macchiato or when such things don’t appear on the menu, despite there being a list as long as your arm of different kinds of lattes and cappuccinos on offer. Naturally, even the so-called small cup (for that read, cardboard container) held about 2/3 of a pint!
Having taken on fuel, we collected the books from the bookshop, had a look in various different shops and then went to complete the visit to the Manchester Art Gallery which was cut short last time we did the Manchester trip. On our last visit we set off too late and didn’t really have time to see everything. We found ourselves being hurried out as they shut the doors at 5pm, far too early in my opinion.
So we managed to look at the rest of the paintings, picking up ideas for her art project for her GCSE court as we went. We even had time for the art gallery shop this time. Now, the museum/art gallery shop is an integral part of visits to places with grandchildren, even teenage ones. Apart from picking up a little something for the small brother and sister who did not accompany us, though, we mostly spent our time expressing horror at the price of souvenirs. But on the whole we had a pleasant afternoon. There’s something very tranquil about art galleries as a rule.
And then it was time to find something to eat again. This time a vegetable pasty for her to eat at the station.
It was getting towards the end of the afternoon but far too early, as far as I was concerned, for people to be starting their Saturday night out. However, we saw a surprising large number of young women in dangerously high heels and sporting sleeveless or even halter neck tops and no coat, obviously getting ahead of the crowd on the evening out. It wasn’t just the girls though; the young men were also out and about in short sleeved T shirts and no jackets. Are the British the only people who don’t feel the cold?
We got to the platform in plenty of time for our return journey, practically the first passengers there, but it gradually filled up. By the time the train arrived, there were largish groups waiting at each doorway, barely allowing passengers to alight before surging onto the train. So we stood again for the return journey, this time watching a group of teenagers taking pictures of each other with their mobile phones and then mock-fighting noisily over whether the pictures were to be saved or not. When they got to their stop they had such difficulty getting through the press to the door that some of them did not manage to do so and had to stay on until the next station.
We, who had had to stand all the way, were mildly amused and got some minor satisfaction from this.