Sunday, September 09, 2007

From Manchester to York



I'm in Manchester, England, for the next four months to help with the startup of a weekly business newspaper here, Crain's Manchester Business. My former colleague at American City Business Journals, Arthur Porter, had always dreamed of doing this. Manchester is his hometown. At the moment, we're interviewing candidates like mad and have hired a few key people.




Manchester is in northwest England, about 30 miles upriver from Liverpool. It has quite a mix of modern architecture and old brick buildings. It's a city on the move, and growing rapidly. Manchester was the first industrialized city in the world and was a center of textile manufacturing for the better part of three centuries. Today much of that industry is gone, but it is England's No. 2 economic center and is growing in business services.
I have a studio apartment for the next few months in the old industrial quays area which has been rebuilt with apartments, condos, etc. The old ship channel is now used for recreation. I haven't seen a single barge or ship. The slips have names associated with the Great Lakes -- Ontario, Erie and Superior basins, and Detroit Bridge. Haven't the foggiest why. Must ask.




Medieval York



Saturday I took a train east about 90 miles across the Pennnine Mountains (hills, really) to York, which is famous for its miles of medieval walls still standing. It was mobbed with English and German tourists. The narrow streets in the city centre are quite charming.



The walls are impressive. The first ones were built by the Romans, and you can see the remains of those in several places. They established a fort on the site in 71 A.D. Those walls were the base for many of York's later walls, which were extended up to 20 feet high. The Romans pulled out in the 400s when protecting Rome from barbarians seemed more important.



This is a ruined abbey in the center of the museum park. Lots of young people hang out and medicate themselves here. The city of York got its name from the Vikings, who called it Jorvik. They invaded and took over from the Anglo-Saxons in around 870 A.D. A lot of their words survive in place names. York street names often end in "gate" -- Highgate, Deansgate, etc. -- from the Viking word for street. DNA tests of York residents show a high percentage have Viking blood. In some parts of the Scottish isles, the percentage is as high as 60.



While living in Bolivia, I despaired over my inability to understand more than half of what any cab driver was saying to me. Now I don't feel so bad about that, because I understand only half of what any English cab driver says. Sitting on a train to York yesterday, I was next to a bunch of guys who were going to Leeds to watch a rugby match on television. (There are televisions in Manchester, so there is no logical explanation for this. It's a guy thing.) They were all pounding down beers at 10 in the morning and talking at a fast clip. I believe they were talking about sports, drinking, sex and cards. Perhaps they were talking about Yeats's poetry and Renaissance sculpture. There is evidently a requirement that the F word be in every sentence and subordinate clause, either as a subject, verb, adverb, adjective, object, imperative or interjection.

3 comments:

  1. Georgio Myers Jr.10:51 AM

    Lucky bastardo!
    Abbeys are best when ruined.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Jim Miraldi7:24 PM

    I'm happy for you of course. Thanks for letting the rest of us travel vicariously with you again. Where to next? I'll stay tuned.

    J Miraldi (college classmate and former co-worker at Keanie's Cafeteria.)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Interesting to know.

    ReplyDelete