Friday, 14 November 2008

Waterhouse! Waterhouse! To Live and Die in Waterhouse.

Notwithstanding the premature and horrible Christmas (Winterval, whatever) decorations, it was a treat to enjoy drinks in the cloister and a meal in the great hall of Manchester Town Hall last night, for the bi-annual Portico Library awards ceremony for the best books written about, set in, or by a Mancunian author. The architecture of this great edifice, designed by Albert Waterhouse inspired today's title. As you may have picked up, the titles sometimes bear little relation to the content of the post, but I was reminded of the theme tune to 'Porterhouse Blue'.

The great stair here shows the ceiling in the bright light of the newly restored Victorian fittings.

Here is half of the 'English stair' as this most pleasing form of stairwell is known. The corridor at the side leads to the council chambers and the room where the money collected in local taxation is ceremonially burnt and offered as an appeasement sacrifice to the God of political correctness who dwells in the cellar.

One of the twelve murals by Pre Raphaelite painter Ford Madox Brown which dominates the Great Hall depicting scenes of Manchester history, 'The Establishment of the Flemish Weavers', the 'Dream of Chetham' (the founder of the miraculously well preserved medieval Chethams School of Music, which supplies the Cathedral choir with small boys.

Chomp chomp. The food was pretty good, for mass catering. The whole of literary Manchester turned out along with the members of the Portico Library (who are often one and the same).

And the winner is... from the hundred and thirty seven books of the last two years reviewed, for fiction, Sallie Day, The Palace of Strange Girls and for non fiction Catherine Bailey with Black Diamonds, which tells he scurrilous tale of the destruction of Wentworth House by an MP with very strange priorities.

On the way home, as on the way there, it was dark. The German Market is being erected in Albert Square outside, the smell of new pine is in the air and the expectant smell of very expensive bratwursts.

I even, dear reader, ironed a shirt, wore black shoes and cleaned a suit. Do not hold your breath for this to happen again.