As a city, Manchester has played it pretty smart over the years. We like to let London think it gets all the fun, prostrating itself like an attention-seeking child, while we remain aloof in our Northern kingdom, safe in the knowledge that we will never have to host the Eurovision Song Contest, or suffer the sight of Sebastian Coe running around in a suit desperately trying to whip up a bit of Olympic fervour. We will stay up here, thank you, where chip shops wouldn't dream of selling their wares without something moist to go alongside, and where black pudding can appear as the star of a salad, unselfconsciously and without a hint of irony.
We will have in on your Ben & Jerry's ice cream festival though. For the last seven years, lucky Londoners have been able to go along to the Sundae on the Common festival, where they sit in the sun, listen to music, and eat unlimited ice cream, and finally, FINALLY, Ben & Jerry's have realised that Mancunians would probably be very good at doing that too. Thus, the weekend of the 23rd and 24th July sees the Ben & Jerry's Sundae in the Park Festival arriving at Manchester's Heaton Park, and here are the reasons why you should go:
1. The music. Now, I have admitted before that my musical tastes are not always completely up to the minute, and am therefore delighted to note that the festival seems to already know this and have taken it into account. The Sunday, when I'm going, is particularly enticing, as it appears to be a Sunday from the early 90s - I shall be watching the Fun Lovin Criminals, Ash and Ocean Colour Scene, and am therefore young, thin, still at university, and probably doing something very exciting later. Saturday offers the intriguing mix of Maximo Park and Gary Numan; cross your fingers and hope for all you're worth that they can be persuaded to do some kind of ill-advised mashup - I'm wishing for "Our Velocity" seamlessly blended with "Cars".
2. The ice cream. As it is the early 90s and I am still possessed of the desirably fast metabolism that will disappear without trace at the age of 25, I will be able to eat as much ice cream as I want, and I will also consider it a good idea to wash this down with beer and then dance wildly, all the while wondering why I feel a bit sick. The ticket price of £17 includes unlimited ice cream, although presumably the organisers were unaware of Mr Liz's status as "Champion Ice Cream Eater of Round These Parts" when they made such a rash offer. Anyway, my favourite is Cherry Garcia while Mr Liz is more of a Caramel Chew Chew man, so good luck to you if you were hoping to get any of the latter.
3. The weather. Being Manchester, the festival is GUARANTEED excellent weather across both days.
*moves swiftly on, avoiding eye contact*
4. The press release. Ben & Jerry's are a nice company, who sell fair-trade products and give away ice cream every year on their Free Cone Days, and who don't book nasty modern bands for their festivals. More importantly, they issue press releases that take the English Language to dizzying new heights of wit and erudition, so I will leave you with these words of wisdom:
"Legendairy ice cream makers Ben & Jerry's are udderly ecstatic to announce Maximo Park and Ocean Colour Scene as their headline acts for this year's Double Scoop Sundae Festival. The British rock band and classic Brit indie band will join other moo-sical acts on stage at the event which, for the first time ever, is heading up north to Manchester's Heaton Park."
And as someone who once had a lengthy conversation on FaceBook where every sentence contained a pun on the name of a fish, I can offer no higher a recommendation.
- Tickets for the Ben & Jerry's Double Scoop Sundae Festival cost £17 (children under 5 go free) and are available from the festival website - be quick, as one of the London days has already sold out.