Simon Kelner: No offence, Chloë, but Manchester is just fine by me


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The Independent Online

How quick we are to take offence. I have written before that it's the sign of an increasingly infantile society when, as soon as anyone speaks their mind or says something remotely off-colour, there's usually a reaction bordering on the hysterical, followed by widespread condemnation and ultimately a demand for a grovelling apology. Calm down, dear, I'd like to say – yet that would only incense half the population.

But yesterday I found myself in the position of offendee and I can see how possible it is to be sucked into the spiral of indignation. I haven't got to the point of demanding a public apology from the American actress Chloë Sevigny and I must add that she didn't attack me personally. It was worse than that.

She insulted the city of my birth, in a way that makes me mad. She's just given an interview in which she gave a highly unflattering portrait of Manchester, where she'd spent five months filming. “It was one of the grimmest places that I'd ever been to in my entire life,” she said. I think we can safely assume from this remark that she has not been to Merthyr Tydfil. And I don't know how well travelled this actress/model/fashion designer is.

There was more. “It rained every singe day that I was there,” she added.

Oh, puh-leese! Such a cliché. You know what? It does rain in Manchester, but not significantly more than anywhere else. There is, certainly, a particular quality to the rain there, which some people confuse with its frequency: you can wake up, open the curtains, see a drizzly grey sky and be pretty damn sure it'll still be raining when you go to bed. Nevertheless, it's the height of laziness to suggest it's one of the city's defining characteristics.

What about its museums and galleries, its striking Gothic architecture or its revitalised inner city quarters, its sporting and industrial heritage, even its shops and its nightlife? Surely there's enough to keep the interest even of a cultural giant like Miss Sevigny? She said nothing, either, of the warmth and humour of Mancunian people.

True, there are some who believe us to be rather dour, but Miss Sevigny used to go out with Jarvis Cocker, so you'd have to say she's had first-hand experience of Northern misery.

“It was, like, I've gotta get the hell out of here,” she says of her final days in Manchester. Well, good riddance, I say.

And as one ingrate flies out of the city, an outcast returns. The footballer Carlos Tevez – who has achieved the rare feat of alienating the supporters of both City and United – is back to try and revive his career after falling out with City's manager Roberto Mancini last September. But now Mancini is offended, too. Tevez gave an interview before he left Argentina, in which he said Mancini “treated him like a dog”.

However, I fail to see why the manager is upset. If my household is anything to go by, what Tevez meant was that he was looked after in a loving fashion, he was stroked, embraced and amused, given treats at regular intervals and generally made to feel like a king.

Offence, as we can see, is very much in the eye of the beholder.