Well, I do understand that after the forecasts for snow, ice, blizzards etc then Good Friday in theory turned out to be not-too-bad, weather wise. Still, it was a pretty miserable day, surely not the weather the organisers of the inaugural Manchester Duck Race would have hoped for when they planned this new and frankly very welcome to the social calendar: "I know; a fleet of plastic ducks swooping majestically along the River Irwell, in Manchester, in April - the sun'll be cracking the flags by then."
Not quite, but you do have to applaud the good people of Manchester, who will turn up to anything that looks like it might be good fun, whatever the weather: the banks of the river were absolutely packed with parents proudly holding aloft their small children, themselves proudly holding aloft their small flags with pictures of ducks on. Of course, I had hoped to sneak into the venerable Mark Addy pub to partake of one of its legendary cheese and pate boards before the big event, but had completely underestimated people's thirst for duck-filled fun, and we were turned away in scorn. "No booking? I'm afraid it'll be at least an hour. At least. Simpletons" - please note this last bit was not enunciated, but was clearly running through the mind of the incredulous waiter as he mocked the naive and hungry townies.
Anyway, we vowed to save the Mark Addy for another day, and joined the throngs on the river bank. It was cold, I had no flag, and had failed to sponsor a duck, so I was not best prepared to make the most of the occasion, but I shall know better for next year. It was all for children's charity Brainwave, and even the most hardened curmudgeon could surely not fail to be moved by the sheer poetry of a fleet of ducks gamely battling along the Irwell to the sounds of Oasis over the loudspeaker - Manchester at its finest.