I’d heard all the stories about how Manchester had a permanent black cloud tethered to it by a large and grime-ridden piece of string. All the buildings would be covered with soot and bits of miners Black Lung as the matchstick men and women coughed through the fogs to buy themselves their chippy teas, with a big strong mug of tea to wash it down.
Did I believe those stories? Of course not, well maybe a little…
Yet, when I arrived at Piccadilly station I discovered that the sun that had been threatening to smile weakly over my explorations had burst through into glorious warmth through a cloudless blue sky. I walked the relatively short distance (or so it seemed in those days) from the station, through UMIST to Manchester University’s Chemistry department. There I found myself with hundreds of other hopeful candidates for a Chemistry degree. We all trooped into the largest lecture theatre and were addressed by the admissions tutor who pointed out that statistically we’d all die one day! Cheerful, or what?
Everyone I met seemed just as excited as me and very friendly. And this was a prestigious course and the best Chemistry course after Oxford and Cambridge so everyone was keen to get in.
When we eventually finished our interviews the sun was still shining gently down on us and the clear blue skies were all around. I’d seen the sun rays glance off the station, UMIST’s massive buildings, The Refuge building along Oxford road and Manchester Town Hall nestled in Albert Square. All seemed right with the world and I knew then as I boarded the train back home that I would return.
Little did I know then that with the degree course I would discover the delights of student societies, student parties, Tommy Ducks, The Salisbury, Studios 1-5 and halls of residence!