You know The Circus Tavern, that teeny tiny pub on Portland Street? I don’t think I’ve ever been in there. I’ve definitely never eaten in The Rose Garden, which is a few hundred metres from my front door. Three quarters of Chinatown is a mystery to me. I’ve never been to Urmston Books or Cloud 23 or Trove in Levenshulme. It’s ridiculous. So, 2014 is all about things new (to me).
First stop, Lucha Libre at Great Northern Warehouse. We’d been to the Liverpool original and the one in Manchester proves equally fun, the veggie street food medley is such a top dish and there are too many tempting sides to go with. Drink a Michelada made of beer, lime, tabasco and sangrita all mixed up.
Obviously with the ‘all new’ policy some cheating has to happen. We head to Manchester Art Gallery to see the Jeremy Deller and Grayson Perry exhibitions. Venue, not new; content, new! Both are concerned with class and class mobility, the former curates various artefacts to chart threads of British working class culture from the Industrial Revolution on, the latter is a now-famous sequence of huge, gawdy and incredibly detailed tapestries that re-tell The Rake’s Progress with contemporary characters and multiple other allusions. The Deller is patchy, I think all his output is really, and oil paintings of the smelting process can’t compete with Brian Ferry’s family tree. The photograph of wrestler Adrian Street that advertises the exhibition had reached its zenith as the cover of Black Box Recorder’s England Made Me album (1998), which covers roughly the same territory as the Deller, only better.
Experienced with the Grayson Perry though, a good long think about the class system and its cultural ephemera is prompted. This dovetails nicely with the Alan Bennett passage I have just read regarding the word ‘common’ (his mother’s favoured put-down), the meaning of which I recognise immediately as both ‘something that everybody does and is therefore the lowest common denominator’, and conversely, ‘something that is not the done thing.’ Class. It’s complicated. I should know. I have working class parents, two degrees, no mortgage, no savings, no driving license and I was retweeted by Middle Class Problems this morning.
The next new thing is V Revolution on Oldham Street. This place is a godsend, serving honest-to-badness junk food that’s all vegan. The reason it’s a godsend is that in Melbourne we became addicted to a fast-food chain called Lord Of The Fries. They serve all vegetarian fast food. Burgers, fries, shakes, that kind of junk. I dreamed this place into existence, I know I did. And now we have our own version right there in the Northern Quarter. Chicken and cheeseburger and a coke float twice please and whatever he’s having. V Revolution serves truly scrummy food, laid back and completely chilled (someone was watching a penguin documentary while we were there). If that’s not your thing you can admire the amazing range of tattoos on the friendly staff instead. I have a feeling this place will count as ‘new’ for a good while yet …