I wake at the Midland Hotel in Manchester. Words from the WH Auden Poem Night Mail are framed upon the walls of this opulent display of past glory. The midland is one of the great railway hotels from a bygone era of Victorian Britain in the most succesful period of modern britain: the age of the train, the industrial revolution and colonialism. Right now I'm loving Manchester. “Don't I know you” says a waitress at breakfast. It's always nice to be recognised and quick as a flash I take out my pen to sign a napkin “have you got a brother called Roger” she says. And just as smoothly I slip the pen into my inside pocket.
Early morning Manchester is shopping heaven. I've got the whole place and the whole day to myself. In Waterstones I buy books by author's Christopher Reid, Orhan Parmuk, Ted Hughes, Seamus Heaney and Katherine Stockett. I love that they've got poetry prominently displayed in staff choice section. Then i'm off to Harvey Nicks for shoes. It's worth shopping in Manchester for ease of access and for the customer service. Culture and commerciality sit comfortably side by side. It's clean too. In many ways it's light years ahead of London. In as many ways it isn't. In many ways it is.