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  • How have I fallen in love with a city?

    I would baulk at the idea of being described as materialist, but what is a city if not a collection of materials?
  • But then it's not the materials themselves that matters. It's what they mean to you. Meanings imposed by society, by imagination... and by history.
  • The unassuming figure you've just seen is Alan Turing.

    Or rather the statue of Alan Turing.

    I'm assuming the real Alan Turing was considerably less static when he was alive.

    He was responsible for some of the greatest leaps in computer technology the world has ever known. He found his home here.
  • Some of the greatest music in the world came out of this aesthetically unappealing building. It's where Factory Records had its heyday, producing such legendary artists as Joy Division, New Order and Happy Mondays. I can only imagine the rock n' roll excess and mad genius that found its beginnings here.

    Inspiration, it seems, needs only a blank page.

    Not that this city is a blank page. The stories some of these buildings could tell you - there's history everywhere you look...
  • But there's also innovation...
  • That's the beautiful thing about this city. When the new seems to overshadow everything, all you need is a new perspective...
  • The world changes, and we not only create, we recycle.

    This next place, for instance, used to be an underground toilet. But the imagination of this city can make grand transformations of low or redundant places. Sometimes you can see Guy Garvey from slow indie rock group Elbow use this as his drinking hole.
  • There's something in the air, it seems. Inspiration in the strangest of places. You see this church here? It features in the first lines of that great Smiths song, 'Vicar in a Tutu'.

    "I was minding my business
    Lifting some lead off
    The roof of the Holy Name church."
  • Even the statues can't help but be moved by the music...
  • I walk around and realise I can indulge any appetite I wish, whether refined...
  • Or greedy...
  • Or ever so slightly bohemian...
  • Though I've heard that last place has some rather large rats hanging about the place...
  • It's all just a matter of perspective...
  • But there are other appetites to be fed than just for food and drink. The appetite for culture can be just as strong.

    In that, this is an open-minded city, weaving influences from the east into the very brick...
  • And drawing in one of the largest LGBT communities in the UK, with Canal Street at its centre.
  • On Saturday the English Defence League tried to spread it's message of hate and racism here. But Manchester had a message of its own...
  • I've found in this city that there are times when beautiful voices can be heard, whether it be through art...
  • Or poetry (particularly by our very own Manchester poet, Lemn Sissay)...
  • Or even in performance...
  • Sometimes the best art in this city isn't art at all - or at least not art on purpose.

    The industrial beauty of these back alleys, for instance, never fail to take my breath away...
  • So yes, I fell in love with a city.

    I fell in love with all the imagination of its citizens, and the willingness of its other citizens to let that imagination flower.

    I fell in love with its luminous yellow trams and wide open spaces.

    I fell in love with its wanton eclecticism, its willingness to be whatever I've needed it to be.

    I fell in love with its resilience, its sense of humour and occasional raw, grittiness.

    I fell in love with Manchester.
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