I’m truly honoured to be a home-town boy from Manchester... and it looks like I’m in good company

The idea of joining Manchester and Liverpool, two cities divided by history, culture and heritage, is risible

Share

I have always thought the honours system anachronistic and irrelevant in a modern democracy, but I can understand why many people don't share my view. Acknowledgement from the monarch of the land? What's not to like? Surely, it's the ultimate commendation for acts of altruism, heroism or service to the greater good. An old friend of mine was recently awarded the MBE - a rather unlikely prospect 20 years ago when we were behaving like adult tearaways together - and I was touched by the palpable pleasure it gave him and his family.

Perhaps there's something in the honours system after all. Not that I will ever find out personally, but a recent experience led me to believe that any form of public recognition makes one go weak at the knees. A couple of weeks ago, I was in Manchester, the city of my birth. In the centre of the city, there's a big redevelopment around the Central Library - a magnificent circular building inspired by the Pantheon in Rome - and Manchester Town Hall, regarded by many as the best example of Gothic architecture in the land. Around the building work, there's a huge hoarding, on which, instead of notices about hard hats and considerate builders (a contradiction in terms if ever there was one), is a collection of quotes under the title “Manchester Means The World To Me”.

It's a very striking piece of public art, and famous Mancunians, ordinary citizens, politicians, cultural figures are all represented. So Benjamin Disraeli takes his place next to a scout leader. And Eric Cantona is there, alongside someone who is billed simply as “Cheetham resident”. There are the modern ones who you'd expect - Noel Gallagher, Ian Brown, and Stuart Maconie - and the opening quote is from the late Anthony Wilson: “But this is Manchester. We do things differently here.”

Anyway, as I scanned bon mots from the good, the famous and the infamous, I cannot tell you the surge of pleasure I felt when I saw that the very last quote was one of mine, extracted from my column in this very newspaper. “I am a  Mancunian first, and an Englishman second,” it read. Ignore the fact that it was a paraphrase of what I actually wrote, and that it was reprinted without my being asked, I felt every bit as chuffed as if the Queen had pinned a ribbon on my lapel.

I also felt a swell of pride in my city, which is why I look askance at the idea - gaining currency lately - that Manchester should merge with Liverpool to form a northern Supercity. This thesis, first promulgated by a government minister as a reason to get behind HS2, has been taken on by the respected economist Jim O'Neill, who believes a metropolis such as this would help power Britain's economy. In fact, rather like these cities did separately from the Industrial Revolution onwards. The idea that Manchester and Liverpool, two cities joined by the East Lancs Road but divided by history, culture and rivalry, could become as one is risible. England is, in many ways, a parochial country. We thrive on localism. We rejoice in competition. We are proud of our heritage. And as I've just found out, our home towns mean the world to us.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Lettings Coordinator / Office Support Administrator

£20000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This London Bridge based estate...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service / Sales Advisor - Print

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Based just north of York, this ...

Recruitment Genius: SEO Account Manager

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SEO Account Manager is requi...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The message displayed on the monitor of a Piraeus Bank ATM in Athens. The Bank of Greece has recommended imposing restrictions on bank withdrawals  

Get off your high horses, lefties – Big Government, not 'austerity', has brought Greece to its knees

Kristian Niemietz
A church in South Carolina burns after a fire breaks out on June 30, 2015  

America knows who has been burning black churches, but it refuses to say

Robert Lee Mitchell III
Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map