"... as you leave your mundane office jobs and Cafe Nero frappuccinos you don't expect some crank to be educating you on the Peterloo Massacre. Well I am that crank. The Peterloo Massacre occured right here in Manchester on this very day, 15th August, in 1819, making this the one hundred and ninety-something, 192nd (?) anniversary..."
He was a Citizen Smith in green parka, covered with decorative patches, carrying an amplifier and conducting his mobile, condescending lecture into a microphone. He was followed in single file by two innocuously dressed relative-normals, one of whom made long inconclusive eye-contact with me. The speaker was a walking-talking cliché of a Socialist Worker; a 1980's right-on, power-to-the-people, alternative comedian. Entirely lacking in self-awareness and wit. I easily fought off the urge to follow him has he passed through St. Peter's Square, away from Peter Street and towards Upper Mosley Street, however I did cross the road earlier than indended in order to get the above quote. Had I joined his pitiful train I fear I may have been lectured on a theory of parallels between the Battle of Peterloo and the current government and police's handling of the recent riots. This is just a guess; I might have been wrong.
While such a lecture would have been entirely unwelcome, I would have benefitted immensely from an unbiased historical account of the events leading up to and away from the Peterloo Massacre. Manchester could not be more fascinating if it tried. For instance, in the immediate vicinity can be found plaques and statues commemorating the great work and achievements of John Dalton, Emmeline Pankhurst, Ernest Rutherford, and many other extremely good and wonderful people. The first ever railway station and commercial train track was built here nearby. I know there is plenty of examples but, uneducated idiot that I am, I struggle to claim further examples. Here is a nice link featuring some good pictures of St. Peter's Square over the years. Ah plain dun needs get meh sum educayshun, then I can prance the streets with an entourage and a megaphone, informing the pitiable people in their suits and ties.
It's said that if you want to discover a new species the best place to look is your own garden. Pick a metre square and study it closely enough and you'll find fifty-four species of flightless wasp completely new to science. No doubt the same form of 'apparently' truism applies to human history; if you want to find multitudes of fascinating historical characters and events then just delve into the history books, museums, pubs, and side streets of your very own city. Every single day Manchester feels more like home, and I feel a strong curiosity about her birth and upbringing. Perhaps then I'll be able to form a vague idea about where the future is heading, and perhaps in some minor way, act to prevent a repeat of the Battle of Peterloo.