This Charming Man returns to Manchester…
I’m talking about me, and Morrissey! Well, nearly!
On 28th February this year I made a massive change to my life; after almost 15 years of living in Seville, Spain I moved back to Manchester, for good. I had moved to Spain because I couldn’t see my life continuing in Manchester. I hated the weather and saw little opportunity here, I was quite miserable. In Spain I knew I could live from teaching English (I qualified at nightschool before I went – be prepared!) in the warm sun in a very different way in a very different city with a very different vibe. I loved it, every bit of it, apart from the nightmare parking situation, the loud inconsiderate denizens of Seville who made noise anywhere and everywhere without a thought for their neighbours. And the food was plain and pretty well the same menu in every tapas bar… So, no, it was not the heaven on earth that people assume it is-the bureaucracy alone was enough to confuse the most logical of minds while the queuing to do anything official was an event that would always last at least half a day. But the sun shone and the chemically lager was cold and refreshing and life was lived in the streets outside, year round. I was contented with life there.
So, did Iget sick of the sun and sangria? Had I become bored and complacent faced with the sight of orange tree lined streets every day? Did I miss the rain and Northern English banter? Or was it the lack of a decent pint of ale and pies or good old fashioned fish and chips that had me packing my worldly goods into cardboard boxes? No, it was nothing like that. I came back for the reason that drives many decisions to be made; some might call it corny, others might call it sweet while other more cynical types might call it sheer madness, but the reason I moved back was simply for love and to marry a wonderful Mancunian girl. Who also just happens to have, count them, TWO Man City season tickets! What better reason to come home!
And what a homecoming! On the night of my return my girlfriend (now wife) surprised me with tickets to see The Smyths that very night at Manchester’s iconic Ritz Ballroom. I was a Smiths fan back in the day and still listen regularly so it was a real treat to see the nation’s number one Smiths tribute act and a fitting night out for my return to this wonderfully creative and innovative pioneering English city.
The Smyths were excellent, they played all the best loved Smiths songs and the sound was true to the original. If anyone thought the Smiths were a forgotten band, they couldn’t be more wrong! The Ritz Ballroom was packed to the rafters with lots of balding overweight forty and fifty somethings along with many younger kids who couldn’t have been out of nappies while Morrissey, Marr, Joyce and Rourke changed the face of pop music forever back in the early 80s. During most of the classics the crowd sang so loudly so as to all but drown out the vocals onstage! And when the bass amp failed on ‘This Charming Man’ the crowd sang the whole song a capella to the delight of The Smyths frontman who, it seemed, quite honestly was in shock at the turnout and dedication of the die-hard fans who brought back something of the old days of Manchester to me. Here’s a bit of that magical minute when it seemed that Manchester was joined together in a good old sing along…
I had come back, they were singing the songs of my youth and I felt more at home than ever before as we walked down a freezing cold Whitworth Street to retrieve the car with Morrissey’s haunting melodies still ringing in my ears that would last until I got home.
A life-changing move like this can be described in many ways, depending on how it is viewed; exciting, terrifying, daunting, etc. All change inspires some feeling within us, either positive or negative, but there’s no escaping the fact that change is both inevitable and necessary as we advance through life. And yet so many people fear change, that leap into the unknown is not for the faint-hearted. I think it’s quite natural to want to hold onto the present situation, often when it’s far from ideal or what we really want – purely out of fear of the unknown. But without change and taking a risk how would we ever know our true potential? How will we find out that, actually, there are endless choices and opportunities for us out there if we are only willing to make some changes and take some risks?
I’ve personally made a few life-changing decisions over the years and to date haven’t regretted any of them; they’re what keep life from becoming mundane.
To quote Paulo Coelho:
The danger of an adventure is worth a thousand days of ease and comfort.
And this from Morrissey:
And when you’re dancing and laughing and finally living hear my voice in your head and think of me kindly