Miscellaneous

I Heart Manchester

I like to refer to Manchester as my adopted hometown.

I came to Manchester in 2003 on an au-pair placement. Oft-times I think of how lucky I was to end up here.  A city, but not as huge and frantic and loud (and expensive) as London.

I first heard about the attack late on Monday night. It was reported that there was a loud bang at the Manchester Arena after the Ariana Grande concert and at the same time, Metrolink (which I use for my everyday transport) tweeted that services were not going through Victoria Station due to a police incident. Shit, I thought, I bet this is gonna last till tomorrow morning and how will I get to work?

(To clarify, Manchester Arena is next to Victoria Station, the box office entrance is through the station. I pass this station daily, it is physically impossible for me to avoid it when going to and from the city centre.)

As the reports coming in became clearer and clearer, my getting to work stopped being a priority.

You hear there are fatalities. And then you remember, Ariana Grande’s fanbase is young. Very young.

You hear about an attack like this and you want to be a good person and not believe that it is that thing it usually is and then it turns out that it is that thing that is usually is. But this is not what my post is about.

Times of tragedy bring out the goodness in people. Taxi drivers offering free rides. Cafe giving out free coffee to emergency workers. Hotel giving shelter to frightened teens returning from the concert. A homeless man rushing to help the injured.

Terror threat has now been raised to critical and it’s likely we will see soldiers on the streets tomorrow. I will get up in the morning and go to work and do my job as usual and when I finish I will go home and do shopping and cook my dinner and feed my cat and watch my shows and read books as usual, because I’m damned if I let any fanatical terrorist do anything differently.

We stand united.

Some phone shots from Tuesday 23rd.

IMG_20170523_170748547
Printworks

 

IMG_20170523_170304866
Arndale Shopping Centre

 

IMG_20170523_165858865
Market Street

 

IMG_20170523_171414746
Sign outside the Co-Op buildings

Owen Jones writes for Guardian:

It is a cliche to talk about the friendliness of the north. Manchester has problems just as every city does: nowhere is populated by saints, everyone is capable of unkindness or worse. But whereas, in other cities, people can be in too much of a rush to bother with niceties, where icy politeness is a substitute for warmth, Manchester stands out. Strangers ask how you are, and mean it. People who have never met can strike up conversations on public transport and on the street: in London, that is seen, quite frankly, as a bit odd. That would have happened in that concert yesterday. That’s just what Mancs do.

Yesterday, Manchester was one of the greatest cities on earth, and it remains so today. The warmth, the solidarity, the unique Manc humour, all of that will thrive as much as it ever did. This was the city that helped bequeath modern industrial civilisation; it is a hurricane of creativity and talent, like the music of Oasis and The Smiths, the art of Lowry, Corrie, the football, the athletes, the comedians, the suffragettes, the LGBT activists.

 I heart Manchester.

Outdoors

Mural in Manchester

Of course there is more than one. But this is the one I want to show you today:

IMG_2377copy

“… and on the sixth day, god created MANchester.”

The plaque next to it says “Based on the legendary t-shirt On The Sixth Day, designed by Leo B Stanley“.

The mural is on the side of the building of Afflecks, formerly known as Affleck’s Palace, an indie department store that houses stalls and small boutiques selling cult merchandise, alternative fashion, retro stuff etc. It’s simply an amazingly cool place. Check it out if you’re ever in town!

Miscellaneous

I Heart EU

25 March 2017 marks 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome – which eventually led to the formation of European Union

This entry is unapologetically Eurocentric.

IMAG0125
Construction of a new Metrolink line in Manchester, which has now completed

EU has always meant a lot to me. I was born on the wrong side of the Iron Curtain, in former Czechoslovakia. I was nine when Velvet Revolution that overthrew the Communists happened. I still remember bits of it; my mum taking me with her out to the streets, the banners, the slogans. This was 1989. Mere fifteen years later, both Slovakia and Czech Republic joined the EU–an astonishing achievement. It enabled me to make something of myself in UK, where I first came to in 2003 as an au pair. As 2003 was before we joined EU, I still had to wait a line outside the British Embassy early in the morning to obtain a visa.

IMG_20160723_155704714_HDR
Development in Manchester – Allied London

I’ve never been patriotic, I’m just not wired that way. I’m a European. I am fiercely loyal to my home city of Bratislava (don’t let me hear anyone badmouthing it!) but that’s about it. People usually call me Eastern European, however I reject that label because that’s not what I am.

IMG_20170217_164431221
Side of a bench on Market Street, Manchester

Bratislava sits on the border of both Austria and Hungary, the only capital city in the world located at a tripoint. You can easily walk between the three countries as you would in your favourite park. Some people even pass the border twice a day on their commute to work.

blava map

I came across this article by Guy Verhofstadt published in Guardian. Guy Verhofstadt is a former Prime Minister of Belgium, a Member of European Parliament and the leader of Alliance for Liberals and Democrats for Europe.

In the decades since [the Treaty of Rome] was signed, European countries have worked successfully to fight against the return of the rampant nationalism that led to two world wars and the slaughter of millions of Europeans, finding a way to work together to create a largely peaceful, free and prosperous continent.

In 2017, the EU stands at a crossroads. Our common project is consistently attacked and denigrated by nationalists, often working with authoritarian regimes outside the EU, who wish to destroy the EU and once again set our communities and societies against each other.

IMG_20160629_165718771
Sign at Victoria Station, Manchester

It is ironic that, as we saw in the Brexit referendum, the postwar generation that benefited so much from European integration is now driving an explosion of Eurosceptic nationalism. Young people, a majority of whom deeply value their European citizenship, too often face barriers to full political participation.

Ah, but Brussels demanded they use low-energy light bulbs… or something.

IMG_0827copy
EU flag above the Midland Hotel entrance, Manchester

Nationalists tell us that the nation state is best placed to deal with common challenges, but their argument fails the test of reason and ignores the nature of the trans-national threats we face. Climate change, international terrorism and the negative consequences of globalisation cannot be tackled by individual countries acting independently. If the European Union of today did not exist, we would have to create it.

And you know what’s funny? You can argue that UK is NOT a nation state. England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland.

IMG_0877copy
Media City, Salford Quays, Salford

Ultimately, nationalism will be rejected because its politicians are incapable of resolving the challenges we face. It is time for those who believe in a united Europe to stand up and be counted.

Beautifully put. I hope he’s right.

28 Members of EU

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Bulgaria
  • Croatia
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • UK (for now)

eu flag dwf

I love you all.

Beethoven’s Ode To Joy, an Anthem of Europe, performed by Banco Sabadell Flashmob:

Miscellaneous

We Are Grounders

Not long ago a I made a post citing dialogue from one of my favourite TV shows, Vikings, and how it related to real life stuff. I never expected to do something like that again–and on the same topic!

So, I’ve been watching The 100.

Set 97 years after a nuclear war has destroyed civilization, when a spaceship housing humanity’s lone survivors sends 100 juvenile delinquents back to Earth in hopes of possibly re-populating the planet. –IMDb

I admit, after the first couple of episodes, I had a feeling as if I was in one of those YA dystopian series that are in vogue now, but this is not a bad thing. (In fact, the TV show is actually based on books by Kass Morgan.) I loved Divergent. And well, why not? YA has always been a good age group to write for and dystopia–have you read the news lately? Though The 100 is post-apocalyptic rather than dystopian. What I like about this series is how the characters find themselves in situation where they have to make very difficult decisions. Do we kill 100 people to save 1000? Someone like Captain Picard would refuse to even answer that but here, it’s sure, let’s pull a trigger. And while the hundred from whom the show’s title is derived are all in their teens, there are plenty of older characters to root for.

Now to my quote. As it happens, the humans on the spaceship, The Ark, were not the only survivors of the nuclear war; there are people living on the ground, who are soon referred to as Grounders. The Grounders nickname those from the Ark the Sky People. Naturally, tensions rise between the two groups, culminating in a big battle. This is said by one of the main characters, Bellamy (played by Bob Morley), in Season 1, Episode 12 – We Are The Grounders Part 1.

Twilight’s Last Gleaming

Bellamy’s full speech:

This is our home now. We built this from nothing with our bare hands! Our dead are buried behind that wall, in this ground. Our ground! The Grounders think they can take that away? They think that because we came from the sky we don’t belong here! But they have yet to realize one very important fact. We are on the ground now. And that means WE are Grounders!

I’m speaking as an EU citizen living in UK in this crazy post-Brexit time. The government have refused to guarantee us any rights, instead they are using us as bargaining chips in the Brexit negotiations. We will give you rights, as long as the other EU countries give rights to UK citizens living there. Because that’s how it works. UK decides to leave EU and then demands rights for their citizens that live in there. Have your cake and eat it, anyone? I am aware that some nations think themselves superior to others but surely there is a limit. But I digress.

Of course, probably not many of us have built anything here with our bare hands, but we have built our lives. You know, got married, had kids, bought houses, got university degrees, got promotions at work. And yes, buried some dear ones too. We are here now, we are the residents! (Gosh, how I hate the word immigrant.) At least the House of Lords is arguing for our rights, let’s see whether it’ll do anything good.

 

Indoors, Miscellaneous

Share Your World – February 27, 2017

Some great questions in this week’s Share Your World.

Ever ran out of gas in your vehicle?

I don’t drive.

Which are better: black or green olives?

Black. They’re regulars in my salads.

If you were a great explorer, what would you explore?

There are sooo many great places to explore on this planet! I’d like to see with my own eyes all the nice places that I admired on pictures. To answer something particular, something that could be quite feasible–castles and coffee shops of continental Europe.

Quotes List: At least three of your favorite quotes?

I narrowed my million favourite quotes down to four:

ddm-quote

einstein-quote

darwin-quote-2

george-carlin-quote

Optional Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

My willpower for keeping up with eating well and losing a whole kilo from the previous week.

kidmeme

I’ve got a week off work so I’m looking forward to more reading, watching TV and just chilling.