When it comes to drinking, the Mancunians who inundate Ibiza
are no slouches when they are at home.
It is six years since
the IRA did Manchester a monumental favour by blowing it up.
thousand tons of fertiliser was exploded on a truck outside where there used to
be a pub called The Sefton, which Gary will remember, which had wooden, revolving
doors and Wilson's bitter for two shillings a pint.
cleared the way for a gigantic development of drinking in the city with the injection
of millions and millions of good old UK pounds from Europe, from Government and
from the local authority. There was the insurance money, too, which is always
good for a bender.
Then the commercial speculators moved
in. Apartments for a million pounds are becoming commonplace and there's talk
of the first £2 million penthouse. All the major hotel groups are included,
including Rocco Forte's new five-star Lowry Hotel on the seedy side of the Irwell.
The poor old Daily Mail building on Deansgate,
looking like Superman's Daily Planet, is next to go to make way for a five-star
conference and banqueting place.
And there's the renamed
Manchester Evening News Arena, described by U2s Bono last week as the best indoor
venue in the country.
But it is at the former home of
the Daily Mirror, Thomson and then Maxwell House, that the most dramatic,
drink-sodden alterations have been wreaked.
Rock Café meets Wagamama, this latter by the way being a minimalist noodle
bar where you can slurp your way through gargantuan bowls of miso ramen - spiced
soup with thread noodles and stir-fried chicken, carrots, leek, garlic and beansprouts,
garnished with wakame, menma and sesame seeds. It's delicious and entertaining
and so are the side dishes of grilled dumplings (they looked fried to me) filled
with cabbage, Chinese leaf, Chinese chives and water chestnut.
shops have been popular in Japan for two centuries, basically selling Chinese
food as the Japanese would have it. There are three kinds of bottled Japanese
beer to go with it all. It costs about 4,000 pesetas for lunch for two. Wagamama
means wayward child.
Hard Rock, with giant, illuminated
guitar all along the outside, is about beer and burgers. It is suitably adorned
with Jimmi Hendrix's braces and Madonna's jacket amongst a plethora of rock memorabilia.
There's a neat little exhibit by the door to the Gents: a postcard from John and
Yoko in New York addressed to "Everyone at Apple" and with a doodle
The new city centre apartment owners - there could
be 100,000 inner-city residents in time - need watering holes like a camel needs
an oasis and two bricks.
And so inside what is now called
The Printworks, complete with the original road through to Withy Grove where they
brought the rolls of newsprint in, there are at least half a dozen themed bars.
Norwegian vodka, pints of lager, bottles of alcopops
It's all here to be
drunk, usually standing up. They say they will be able to get 40,000 young people
in here each night at weekends and there's no integrated transport to get them
A senior police officer recently told a big alcohol
and crime conference in Manchester that it all added up to a lot of vomit, violence,
broken glass and sex that would be regretted the next day.
think I sound a bit like those people who protest that there is a quiet serenity
about Ibiza if only you look for it. Manchester has museums and theatres and the
world's finest collection of pre-Raphaelite paintings, which will be on show in
the extended art gallery when it reopens in time for the Commonwealth Games in
a year. And the city centre has new parks where you can take your ciabatta wraps
But what the trainee designers of nancy-boy
websites and the budding accountants and the preening footballers and the Armani-suited
young lawyers want is somewhere for a drink and there's going to be plenty more
of them as the year goes on.