Saturday, July 3, 2010

Manchester, day 1

Yesterday I took the train from Cardiff to Manchester. Glad to get out of Cardiff -- the National Rail website said the train was 32 pounds, but when I got there the surly lady at the counter said it was 56 pounds; apparently, you have to buy an advance ticket on the website for the cheaper price. Grrr. . . .

I arrived in Manchester a little after 2 pm. To save money I decided to walk to the hotel (Google Maps said it was a 11-minute walk), but it turned into an hour 'cause I kept getting lost. Streets would run a couple blocks then either run into a historical building or be renamed.

The hotel is very nice. Much better than Cardiff, where at one point the card to my room stopped working, the free WiFi in the lobby one night kept giving me all these unusual security protocols (too boring to go into), the DVD player in the room wouldn't open (not a problem, since I have my laptop with me),and when I arrived they asked me which paper I'd like delivered to my room -- they wound up charging me for it.

In the afternoon, I wandered around. Stumbled across a Theatre Library where a production of Oscar Wilde's Importance of Being Earnest is being performed until the third, but all tickets are sold out. Bummer.

I had dinner about five blocks from the hotel. Oh, the hotel is in downtown Manchester where almost everything is within walking distance. I ate at some Italian joint located on some small sidestreet that could double as an alley. I was jonesing for pizza. Fought the urge to get pepperoni pizza and instead ordered a folded over pizza with pepperoni, mushrooms and (maybe) ham and olive oil.

Afterwards I trekked it to the Comedy Store. Apparently, there are only two in the UK; the other one in London. It was stand-up night. They call MCs over here compres, I believe. He kept asking if anyone was from another country. I kept my hand down after seeing him roast a couple Aussies, a drama student, a copper, and a guy in the front row wearing a pink shirt.

There were four comedians, with a half-hour intermission from 9:30 to 10 pm (the show started as 8:30 and ended at 11). Some funny stuff. Most of the humour British-based, obviously, though the headliner was a Canadian expatriate who was very Bohemian with his dozen jokes about mushrooms. And he did joke that Canadians are like Swedes by being too careful. Made me wonder if Canucks' carefulness is an asset, since they're the only country world not hit really hard by recession because they have strict financial regulation.

Another thing I noticed about all five comics was they're differentiating between England's North and South. It didn't come as a total surprise to me because there was dialogue in the great UK show Life on Mars about it. But hearing those stand-ups touch on it really drove the point home. Kinda weird, since England's only an island. Guess there's competition everywhere.

Wow, I don't think most people go to a comedy show to get all heavy, but I can't remember any of their jokes!

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