What a weekend! myself and a few friends spent the last couple of days down in Manchester catching up with other friends and soaking up the closing weekend of europride 2003
. Since (unlike almost all the friends I spent the weekend with) I don't get bank holidays off work, I had to drag myself out of bed and back to reality with a bleary eyed bump this morning.
Friday afternoon four of us (me , Anita, Philp and Graham) set out from Edinburgh under a brilliant blue sky which happily stayed with us for the duration. By about 10pm we'd navigated our way safely to the student halls we were staying in, convinced them that we really did have a reservation, settled into some remarkably comfy rooms (which we had to trade for more modest, but still comfy accommodation the next morning when they'd finished sorting out the mess of our booking) freshened up and hit the town.
For the duration of europride Canal Street and the surrounding environs (which make up the Manchester scene, or 'the Village') have been cordoned off much like Princes Street here is at Hogmanay, we handed in our tickets and got our embarrasingly spangly gold writsbands which acted as our passes into the festival for the whole weekend. I took a few pictures of the street which will be going up soon, until then if you can picture a pretty cobbled street by a canal, under a warm summer night sky, trees festooned with lights, and then fill that picture with thousands of people, you'll get some idea of where I spent the weekend.
The atmosphere of the place is hard to describe: I've been to Manchester for the weekend before and the city as a whole, and the Village in particular, has a wonderfully relaxed and diverse feel to it. This weekend it was very much like that but with the volume turned up. Friday night after we'd wandered about a bit, the four of us settled in at Via Fossa and spent a happy evening talking and drinking and dancing until the small hours came and we variously disentangled ourselves from the place and the people and made our ways back to our beds. Saturday was spent in and around the city, This was Anita's first time down there so we had lots of exploring to do before we met up with the Manchester crowd in the afternoon.
At about 2ish we made our way to the edge of the parade route and watched a bewildering array of floats and marchers trundle past - probably the most lasting image was the two enormously long rainbow banners which flowed down the street like a multicoloured silk river at the start and end of the parade. Sadly I'd left the camera behind, but I expect that photos wouldn't have done it justice anyway
All in all it was a great weekend, Saturday evening we returned to the Village en masse. Since most of our friends in Manchester come in pairs I enjoyed the dubious honour of being the conspicous single: couples seem to have a need for vicarious single-dom and whenever I've been out with this lot they seem to spend the whole night trying to set me up with people, which is fun even if it's invariably fruitless (pardon the pun)
Sunday was spent basking in the sun and the scene again: I scoured the stalls for a tee-shirt in my size: amazingly the Pride tee-shirts came in yellow as well as the obligatory white and black, but all the smalls were long since gone (almost certainly to be stretched over bulkier frames than mine judging from the number of well used gym memberships in evidence!) so I had to settle for a slightly baggy medium, which is still yellow so I'm happy. Then at about 4pm we wrenched ourselves away and drove our tired and happy selves back home to Scotland leaving the rest of them standing by the canal in the sunshine where I expect they're standing as I type... I don't hope it's raining on them, really I don't ;)