Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Source: The Natter (Blog)
I was with the float belonging to FC United, the football team formed in protest at the Glazer family’s takeover of Manchester United, at the Manchester Parade. As everyone gathered, I somehow found myself at the front, holding one end of a banner that proclaimed, “Making friends, not millionaires”.
As we set off, and turned the corner onto Deansgate for the first time, it was hugely intimidating to suddenly be in the middle of the road, being watched by thousands of people. I felt myself trying to register everyone’s smiling faces, staring back at them intently, as if desperate to recruit more extras for the crowd scenes in my dreams.
They were cheering and waving at a procession that was so brilliantly home-made it could have been sponsored by Blue Peter. Strange beasts, made from plastic bottles, vibrant material and bamboo, bounced and flapped past the gleaming offices of Spinningfields. Papier mache giants looked the gargoyles of Victorian Manchester right in the eye and scout bands and gymnasts inspired loud applause from the 75,000 sun-washed folk that had filled the city centre.
I suspect those of us that were part of this event will remember it always.
Alongside me was Paul, a postman from Moston. He had the broad shoulders of a man that has carried other people’s messages for over 15 years. Behind us, other FC fans supported a vivid yellow galleon and sang songs, like Vikings on the way down to the shore, and beyond them another 60 waved banners and flags like an imperial army, astutely marshalled by Vinny, Mancunian born and bred.
Here we were, living in a city that invented the computer, being feted by crowds who’d come to see their fellow citizens present a show consisting of technology that, apart from the odd bike and lorry, was no more sophisticated than that of ancient Britons.
A couple of days later, rather than basking in warmth and sunshine, I was sheltering from angry rain outside M&S, where the walkway to the Arndale is being repaired. I noticed a painting by LS Lowry on the boards erected to hide the scaffolding. It was a fairground scene featuring so many figures it looked like an early example of CGI trickery. Whilst the bouncing drops of water trapped me undercover, it occurred to me that I could still find the same scene at parks across Manchester. Thousands of people still go to fairgrounds to spend their hard won pennies hooking ducks and eating candy floss.
And so here we are in the 21st century with all of our sophisticated digital wizardry. We have computers, smart phones and flat screen televisions. We can watch what we want anytime of the day, and our friends and family are never more than a Tweet away.
And yet Vinny, Paul and I, along with more people than turn up at Old Trafford every week, happily gave up our Sunday afternoon to be part of something that our ancestors from a thousand years ago would have understood. So, should the internet ever go down and we run out of silicon chips, I’m reassured to know that we’ll still be content to get by with some sticky backed plastic and a few brightly coloured buttons.