I think versatile singer-songwriter and comedy legend John Shuttleworth best summed up how I feel about my favourite city with his touching lyrics:
“You’re like Manchester you’ve got strange ways but you’ve got style too and I miss you while I’m away. You’re as pretty as that city in autumn too and you’re like Manchester ’cause I love you….”
I mean no-one loves a city more than me, except perhaps smart whose forward thinking cars having been made with a profound love of modern city living and ‘urban joy’ at their heart. And there’s definitely nowhere quite like the city of Manchester when it comes to being urban or joyous. Whether it’s cotton, corduroy, computers, coronation street, comedians or cocky crooners this rainy town will have stuck it’s boot in somewhere along the line and made it’s mark on that world. But it’s far too easy to sit back and reflect on past glories isn’t it? That’s just not the Mancunian way (motorway pun not intended). You see the reason I love this smart little city so much is that it continues to keep looking forward. Whether it’s the way we wear our jeans or the skyscrapers we decide to build, nobody here wants to stand still for long. So lets stop hanging around then and check out some of the smart stuff this compact and creative city has to offer….
Personal Museums at the National Football Museum (Until the 31st August)
Given the popularity and success of it’s two teams it’s no big surprise to know that the National Football Museum now resides in Manchester. Current exhibition the Personal Museums Project takes a futuristic approach to footballing memorabilia and the fascinating stories attached to them. Utilising 3D print and miniature projection-mapping the installation which takes the form of a miniature cinema invites the viewer to explore and interact with this personal collection of objects and their owners in a unique and compelling fashion.
Manchester Police Museum (Open Tuesday and Thursdays during school holidays 10.30am to 3.30pm last admission at 3pm)
One of the best museums in Manchester is something of a hidden gem due to the fact it’s usually only open on Tuesdays. The Greater Manchester Police Museum provides a bobby-dazzling insight into the eventful history of policing of a city that has seen more than it’s fair share of ‘significant’ events. From old school helmets and vintage Police motor-bikes to confiscated weapons from the Strangeways prison riots and derby day matches for those of you with an interest in all things crime related you won’t be disappointed. Though if you mess about too much in there you might get locked up in their Victorian cells for the night.
Bags of Flavor
If your perfect idea of a vintage shop is a combination of old school adidas trainers, technical outerwear from around the world and one off custom made bags then you need to head over to Bags of Flavor on Tib Street. Super friendly proprietor Richl is something of a human encyclopaedia on the subject of vintage menswear having been sourcing and selling the stuff for over twenty years. Don’t believe me? Pop in and ask him about goretex! Alongside the racks of great clothing the shop also features some wonderful items of late twentieth century pop culture curios with a big focus on old school hip-hop.
Private White VC Factory Tour & Shop
Though this PWVC has a swanky store on the super cool Lamb’s Conduit street in London their newly opened Manchester shop opened within the iconic mill where all their smart clothes are made is even more impressive. A ten minute walk (or two minute drive in a Smart car) from the city centre once through the door of this unassuming Victorian mill you will be treated to a Willy Wonka experience of the sartorial kind. The shop itself has been adorned with furniture and artefacts from the mill showcasing the products they’ve played a part in making. The walls and wrapping paper also feature the (true) Victor comic strip account of the heroic deeds that earned factory founder Private White’s Victoria Cross. Being a family run kind of place, the experience doesn’t stop there though, you can also have a guided tour of the mill and even the opportunity buy up some of their deadstock men and womenswear the factory also produce for some of the country’s biggest and best brands. To arrange a tour either email them: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone +44 (0)161 834 3062.
Luck, Lust, Liquor & Burn
Rising like a Kentucky Fried Phoenix from the ashes from previous burger joint Almost Famous Luck, Lust, Liquor & Burn is now the place in Manchester to obtain an authentic gourmet American/tex Mex dining experience. The menu has been put together from authentic research driving from Vegas to Mexico so if you’re really hungry after your Mancunian road-trip then why not attempt a ‘Triple rollover Jackpot Fajita’ or a ‘Tapout Burrito’ both of which will pretty much take up your entire table.
Set within a fairly normal looking tower block in the city’s Spinningfields area up on the 12 floor you will find a restaurant serving anything but normal food. Frogs legs kiev? Sardine rice crisp? Duck tongues? Apple and eucalyptus sorbet? Aiden Byrne’s £3m restaurant is where all the smart Mancs go when they want to impress their better half and their taste buds. Just make sure to end your evening with some warm Manchester stout cake whilst taking in the genuinely breath-taking sunsets over Salford.
Screenfields (most Thursdays until the end of August)
If you find watching films on a tiny laptop screen or even indoors something of a travesty then grab yourself a deck-chair and enjoy a Thursday night screening of a bonafide movie classic down on the lawn at Screenfields. All the upcoming titles are suitable for a night out with your mates or a date (they even have handy ‘double deck chairs’) including classics such as Stand By Me, Dirty Dancing and Coming to America.
Romeo & Juliet at the Victorian Baths (10th Sept – 4th Oct)
For the person who thinks they’ve seen it all comes Romeo & Juliet retold as a contemporary fairy-tale set in the criminal underworld of Eastern Europe and performed in three Victorian swimming baths! Featuring Gypsy bands and Balkan choirs one of Manchester’s most iconic buildings is set to play host to an unforgettable version of Shakespeare’s most romantic of plays.
The Warehouse Project (September to January)
Each year for twelve weeks only the peerless Warehouse Project appears in Manchester and becomes the de rigeur place to dance your socks off til dawn. This September they return to their original venue underneath Piccadilly train station with an already sold out show featuring Seth Troxler, Carl Craig and local legend Krysko. If you wanted proof that Manchester doesn’t rest on it’s laurels when it comes to being one of the best places on earth to have a smart night out and bags of urban joy then look no further.