The north of England is fantastic, but it often gets overlooked for the south of the country. Sure, London is worth a visit, but ignoring the top half of England to concentrate on the bottom is like ignoring a chick’s boobies just because you have access to her fanny – it’s a shame and a waste, because you really should enjoy the whole package.
There are plenty of places to check out oop norf, but the centre of much of it is Manchester, England’s second city (much as Wyong is Australia’s). I expected it to be drab and dreary and marinated in violence, but when I headed there a couple of years ago I discovered a modern, progressive city with plenty to offer. Oh yeah, and I also got really drunk there.
I rolled up there on the train from London, and when I hopped off I was surprised to discover that it was about 26 degrees, with clear blue skies as far as the eye could see. Naturally, I slipped into a singlet and went walking, and was impressed to find all sorts of canals and aquaducts criss-crossing the area near my hotel – it was like a slightly shitty Venice, but actually quite nice. I enjoyed walking by the water until a group of tough-looking children called me a ‘vest-wearing fag’, so I ventured into the city at a rapid clip, as they threw stones at me.
The central business district is compact enough to walk through, and has historic buildings mixed in with really nice new structures. There are also heaps of pubs, so I spent the afternoon moving from drinking hole to drinking hole, exploring the town and enjoying the clash of styles. The centre of town features a huge ferris wheel (as does every town in in England with more than 100 people), there are plenty of shops, heaps of trams, and as many places selling fish and chips as you could possibly dream of.
After a big day of grogging and sightseeing, I took a stroll through a former printing factory that has been converted into a rather excellent entertainment precinct, complete with bars, cinemas and interior decorating that makes the whole place look like its outside, when it isn’t, which messed with my drunken mind.
There’s also the famous gay district, (C)anal Street, but I didn’t go there. I certainly didn’t go into a pub and drink something called a Dirty Doodle with a bloke in a dressed called Reggie.
One thing that’s not great to look at is the people. There are funny little blokes with round heads and no teeth, fat chicks with too much makeup, pushing trolleys full or unattractive children, and all sorts of misfits and miscreants who look like they’ve escaped from some sort of institute for the criminally unappealing.
I’ve always been fascinated by those big bottles of cider that cheapo Poms like to guzzle, so I weedled into a supermarket and bought two litres of some unmentionable crap, then slooped back to my room to smash it. By the time that was done, I was trolleyed, and decided to make the most of it by heading out to one of Manchester’s infamous nightclubs. The city has a reputation for shocking violence after dark, but I didn’t let that phase me as I made my way out into the chilly night and headed to some shithole called 5th Avenue, which I’d read was popular with students most nights, and a great place to party. Well, I got there at 11pm, and it was fucking dead. There was me, the bar staff, and two fat blokes sitting in a corner looking as if they’d either come from raping someone, or were getting ready to rape someone. The bar staff looked as if they’d be better targets for raping, so I bought a beer and sat back, figuring it was going to be a lazy night.
The horde arrived just after midnight, wild-eyed and breathing heavily, pushing their way into the club and flooding the dancefloor. The women were all had their tits hanging out of their tops and big hair, with wild clown makeup scrawled across their faces. Most of them were pretty in a scary way, while the rest were scary in a pretty way. The dudes all looked like they’d be more at ease on the wrong side of a glory hole, with sparkly hair and limp haircuts. I just sat back and smashed beer after beer, watching the tidal wave of humanity overtake the room.
I must’ve downed a lot of those beers, because I ended up really pissed and acting like an idiot in a room that was painted to resemble a beach. By this point I was no longer scared of the ladyfolk, I was just horny, but due to my state I was a little bit off my game. Well, that’s putting it mildly. My one and only pick-up line was to fall on a chick and shout, “G’day, I’m Australian!” which didn’t work nearly as well as you might expect. After a few slaps and a knee to the balls, I was yanked out of the room by a gigantic bouncer with an eyepatch. He took me to the entrance of the club and told me I was being turfed because I was too drunk.
“Mate, mate, maaaaaaaaate,” I reasoned, while tolding onto a pot plant to stop from falling over. “I’m not drunk, I’m Australian. This is just how we act.” It was a well-thought-out argument, and the bouncer probably would’ve bought it… if I didn’t then open my trap and vomit down the front of my shirt.
“Alright,” I slurred, wiping spew from my beard, “maybe I am a bit drunk. I’ll go home now.”
It ended up being a memorable and brilliant day in a fantastic city, but the next ended up being one of the worst of my life. Not just because the weather was rubbish, and not even because I visited the shithole that is Huddersfield. Oh no, it was far more heartbreaking than that.