Well, Manchester has changed a hell of a lot since I used to live here. I'm sitting here in a Starbucks (one of several - they're as common here as they are in Seattle, it seems) checking my email online.
Downtown - which was bombed in 1996 by the IRA using a van full of semtex - is ... erm... different. Much different. Almost unrecognizable in fact.
It's all glass and towers now. There's a huge ferris wheel downtown in the area that used to be called the Corn Exchange. What the Corn Exchange was (a bunch of hippy low-rent shops and cool clothes stores, kind of like Pike Place market without the food) is now a glitzy ritzy store area called The Triangle. Across the street, what was the Daily Mirror print shop for Manchester is now a huge semi-enclosed nightclub, food and movie location called The PrintWorks - everything you could want in a night on the town, all in one spot.
The movie theatres in the PrintWorks are great too - large, American-style stadium seating affairs - with screens that seem larger than Cinerama in Seattle. And upstairs, in the balcony, there are armchairs with phones to get waiter service while you watch the movie. We need something like this in Seattle.
The Trains have also changed - as has the train station - and are now plush Star Trek-like affairs complete with sci-fi doors.
I need to take some photos before I come back. I'll put them up on Flickr.com in my photo section - and I'll need to scan in some that I took the day after the Manchester bombing for comparison.
It's weird. Five years is a long time - but you don't notice it while it's happening.
Simon Cooke is an occasional video game developer, ex-freelance journalist, screenwriter, film-maker, musician, and software engineer in Seattle, WA.
The views posted on this blog are his and his alone, and have no relation to anything he's working on, his employer, or anything else and are not an official statement of any kind by them (and barely even one by him most of the time).