My Giddy Aunt

My Giddy Aunt

‘I feel so extraordinary, something’s got a hold on me. I get this feeling I’m in motion, a sudden sense of liberty’. True Faith by New Order marked a change in my life. From the Moss you could skirt through the red-bricked backstreets to the curry golden mile of Rusholme where Morrissey sang about ruffians and into glorious Whitworth Park. My luxurious Spiffing Images company bike then propelled me into the bright lights of Oxford Road and the city centre. The song even now is full of resonance and hope. My life changed in an instant as I met Giddy Zieglen. One of four daughters, born to a German father and an English mother, Zieglen stood out. I invited her to Alexandra Park one Sunday afternoon to play football. She took one look at our motley ragbag of wannabe student footballers and local Moss rastaboys and said no. However, just like the Spiffs and our hand-to-mouth existence, The Kid and I were big on resilience and perserverance. Bands like That Petrol Emotion and The Ramones playing at International 2 taught you to hang in there. A month later we met again in the old public baths at Moss Side, now a launderette. THE HORSE AND JOCKEY PUB IN CHORLTON HAD BEEN OUR LOCAL FOR YEARS BUT BECAUSE GIDDY LIVED NEARBY IN STUDENTLAND FALLOWFIELD – WE ARRANGED TO MEET IN THE PARKSIDE PUB OPPOSITE MAINE ROAD FOOTBALL GROUND. IT WAS A TYPICAL GRITTY NORTHERN EIGHTIES PUB. THE LOCALS DID THEIR DEALS AND LEFT YOU ALONE. WE ENJOYED A GOOD DRINK – MANCHESTER AND CHORLTON WERE SHIFTING SEAMLESSLY LIKE SAND IN THATCHER’S BRITAIN. UNEMPLOYMENT WAS DOWN, COUNCIL HOUSE OWNERSHIP UP. THATCHER HAD ROUTED KINNOCK’S LABOUR TO WIN A THIRD ELECTION AND PEOPLE SEEMED TO HAVE MORE MONEY. Students no longer wore donkey-jackets and dug deep for the miners badges. They replaced them with barbour jackets and red-keyed pepe jeans. The Tory party just like every Government since put all its eggs into the property development boom. Even Tony H Wilson was caught up in the euphoria, moving Factory’s headquarters from Didsbury into a £3 million city-centre pad which promptly bankrupted his company. The Hacienda became luxury flats and Manchester’s architecture today is unrecognisable compared to its industrial past. We were happy on our modest wages and grants back then. Giddy didnt need to worry about loans. Pre drugs war Moss Side was relatively safe. We drank Baileys all day Sunday, swam, enjoyed the local curryhouses and kebabs. Our relationship, always a fiery one grew and blossomed and I got a job at the Manchester Guardian. My sales colleagues had names like Ben Quigley, Toby Windsor and Daisy Chesworth. And guess what? They started to buy homes in Chorlton-cum-Hardy. Dull as ditchwater Dulwich accountant John Major brought the Tories into the nineties and England would forever be run by layers of bureaucracy and accountancy, quangos of administration, administration and more bloody form-filling. The NHS, national free education and the armed forces drowning in paperwork. Fancy restaurants like Cafe Primavera and Greens sprang up in Chorlton and The Horse and Jockey was now frequented by footballers and yuppies. It seemed as if the major city of the industrial revolution had come full circle. Despite staying together for six years, there was no happy ending for me and Giddy Zieglen. We split. The gap between Man Utd and City and rich and poor widened even more with Tony Blair’s Bolinger bolsheseviks. Then in 2010 it all changed again. The industrial raintown of Manchester is not predictable and like the brutish depths of Janice’s Chorlton chilli con carne at 3am on a midweek winter’s night, it is also unforgettable.

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