Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Muck with Pride

(Howard's End)

So, what's wrong with Manchester?

Less patrimonially aware may think I am nit-picking, but 'us Mancuniuns' wear our muck with pride!

Within the space of a couple of chapters Mr Forster mentions the Northern Metropolis in terms ambiguous at best.

The first is during the concert at Queens Hall of the Beethoven 5th Symphony.

Manchester's Free Trade Hall is no longer with us - but it was built out of civic pride for the use of the civics of Manchester.

Acoustically it was a disaster. Forster is right in that - and how quickly he sums it up - the brass sound racing ahead of the rest of the orchestra in some seats. I must admit I have sat uncomfortable through a performance that was all over the place, only to read in the Manchester Guardian the next morning what a great performance it was - initially I put it down to my ignorance - until one performance I changed seats with someone in the middle of a symphony and discovered the incredible change in sound sitting next to myself can make.

But so what? Why mention it during a performance in London? What is the man up to?

Then, a slight but insistent mention of the stagnating population numbers of the city of my birth - which I take to be true, although my own family experience denies to my very loins the assertion (my father, born 1913, was one of 13; my mother - better class of working - born the same year, one of three).

And, guilding the rotting lily with the proverb, 'What Manchester does today, London does tomorrow' our authorial persona, through one his characters reading a Sunday paper, goes on to suggest by 1960 the whole national population will have stopped expanding (strange to write this on the day the USA is expecting the birth of its 300 millionth citizen - in fact at 11.46 GMT - we are still fascinated by the numbers).

There is some purpose to all this I am sure.

Is it London snobbery predicting the end of the human race as a response to the sins of the industrial heartbeat of the Empire?

Or could it be the rose pink glasses viewing the outdated and moribund as value filled traditions standing squarely against a tide of brass and soot expanding on the far horizon?

Further reading needed and further posts expected in the event of another unwarranted attack.

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