Recently I visited Manchester for a conference on BIG RUINS. I thought it would be funny to see Tim Edensor and other ruin theorists speak in person, so I hauled myself up north for a day trip to listen to the talks. It had been a completely fortuitous thing in any event, since the main reason I was going was because on the day after I thought about going to the BIG RUINS CONFERENCE, I chanced upon a big advert in the back of the London Evening Standard and there was an advert with the words “seriously seductive seat sale: £9.50 London to MANCHESTER”. Furthermore, the conditions of the travel for the sale were: EXACTLY ON THE DAY OF THE CONFERENCE. Could there not be a clearer sign from the powers that be that I was meant to go to Manchester?
(More on BIG RUINS in another post…)
On my way back to Manchester Piccadily I passed an empty, derelict-looking construction site on Princess Street.
From what was printed on its temporary fencing, it seemed slated to be developed into some upmarket boutique apartments, hotel, and office space.
On one of the blank construction walls, there were these stickers arranged in rows…
A cat cafe
Horse riding school
Somehow I think any of these would be more interesting than more unspecified apartments, generic hotels, or more industry-non-specific office spaces. But everything is about the money unfortunately. But at the same time, why do so many people make excuses for not doing what they really want to do? Why don’t people have ambitions to do crazy things anymore? “HONEY, I’VE DECIDED TO QUIT MY JOB AND PURSUE MY AMBITION OF BECOMING THE BOSS OF A BOUNCY CASTLE CAT CAFE WITH A SHARK TANK AND CHOCOLATE HORSE RIDING SCHOOL JUST OUTSIDE OF IT – RIGHT IN THE HEART OF CENTRAL MANCHESTER! Why yes then, I should buy this plot of land on Princess street with all my savings and redevelop it before it gets turned into another poncy expensive hotel…”
I have always liked this sort of approach to finding out more about a city. If you never ask people what they really think a city should look like, how do you know what the city should really look like? Most people don’t always get to weigh in on these decisions to the changes in their urban environment, but these are questions that should be constantly asked.