Musing in Manchester

I knew I would have two hours to kill after depositing Jake at the Opera House in Manchester for an audition* so I thought I would have a slow meander up Deansgate, into the Arndale Centre, park my arse in a prominent place for a bit of people-watching (taking notes, natch), and then a slow wander back up Deansgate taking some snapshots of the old and new buildings.

The first part is fine.  I leave the theatre at 10.30am and it's not too busy.  Every corner from Quay Street to Blackfriars Road is occupied by a Big Issue seller - respect to them but by the eighth time I've been asked to purchase one, I'm getting a bit pissed off with it.  They aren't intrusive, just abundant, so I smile and shake my head slightly.

I get my bearings and find the Arndale Centre.  I have no spare cash but my observation techniques are finely tuned and are free of charge.  I've been looking forward to this two-hour window for a while, especially after being cooped up in an office for the duration of the school summer holidays.

But I can't find a single bench anywhere.  There are a couple of two-seaters at the bottom of the escalators leading to the food hall but there is someone already sat there, tucking into a wrap of some description.  They don't look like they are ready for moving any time soon either.

Everything here is alien.  When did it change so much?  Why did it change so much?

I turn around and head towards the Manchester Wheel, near the Triangle and the Printworks.  Manchester has developed over the last fifteen years or so.  Here used to be a hive of activity and is where I always got lost whilst dashing between the train/coach station and the correct bus stop, heading for Pendlebury Hospital. There are a few gun-carrier style benches but they are so uncomfortable.  I rest for a couple of minutes and head off back down towards Deansgate again.

I begin to think that Manchester has changed too much.  I love old buildings but notice that there are many new, square, glass cube constructions squeezed in between the historical edifices.

I find a Starbucks with external seating but it is blowing a gale and there doesn't seem to be too many 'interesting characters' anywhere.  I settle down inside with a coffee and start writing this blog post.  Someone comments on my Filofax - I am scribbling away, searching for inspiration - and another comments on my t-shirt - Animal from The Muppets, a 'George at Asda' special.  Perhaps the 'interesting people' are here after all and they are all just in disguise?  Or maybe I am the interesting one?

I return to the counter for my free refill (thanks, Starbucks!) and realise this is my third cup of filter coffee today.  I cannot feel the 'buzz'... or can I?  Is that why I am writing so fast?

I have been here the longest now.  All the people who were sipping at their coffee when I came in have left to go about their business.  Also, all the people who came in after me have supped up and moved on.  I remain static - marking time until my two hours are up.  I imagine myself in a scene in a film - you know the sort, where the central character is moving slowly and everything around him/her is moving so fast that it's blurred.  Do I want something unusual to happen?  I am not sure.  It feels very strange to be able to kick back and write (in longhand) for a change; away from technology, not even hearing other conversations - they are just a murmur at the same level as the noise of the coffee machine.  One cancels the other out.

I snap back to reality - my time is up.  It is time to move on and pick Jake up.  I allow myself a few minutes to wonder what he has been doing.  Whatever happens today, it will have been an experience for him.  I haven't wanted to think about his audition either positively or negatively so's not to tempt fate.  It is the sort of opportunity I wish I'd had - well, I did in a way through the local Am-Dram company and my dance school - but he is so full of enthusiasm for wanting to experience life "to the max", who am I to stand in his way?

*He didn't get a part.  He isn't disappointed though.  He says he loved everything that happened today and wants to try out for more roles..