Now, if you had to list pairs of cities who are considered great friends and allies, shining examples of entente cordiale and bonhomie, then I doubt very much that Manchester and Liverpool would emerge as contenders for the top spot. Both fine cities, yes, and only just over thirty miles apart; both immeasurably important in the fields of British music, and culture, and sport - and yet both view the other with much suspicion and not a little derision. Each thinks the other talks funny, and walks funny, and is partial to alarming facial hair (even the women); surely it's high time someone pointed out that the North West should just think itself lucky to boast two such fabulous cities?
Well now - finally - the two are to be united, with the arrival of The Skinny, a new free culture and listings magazine covering both Manchester and Liverpool in one almighty fell swoop. The Skinny has been publishing on a monthly basis in Scotland for the last eight years, and has finally plucked up the courage to come south of the border - and judging by the launch issue, it will be most welcome. The Skinny's tagline is "Independent Cultural Journalism" - paid for through advertising revenue, its aim is to "allow someone sitting in a pub at a loose end, on a Tuesday, to find something interesting to do", whether that be visiting an art gallery or theatre, reading a book, going for food or drink, or to a film or club - the range of material covered is huge (although Mr Liz and others like him might take issue with the idea that one might ever be at a loose end in a pub). Around 22,000 copies will be available every month in places like bars, theatres, cinemas, galleries and cafes; we picked up our copy in The Whim Wham Cafe (more of which in a moment). We also very much enjoyed last night's launch party at 2022NQ, although the cinnamon whisky foisted upon an unsuspecting public has a LOT to answer for today.
Anyway, in the spirit of celebrating nice things to do in Manchester, I should point out that yesterday our fair city showed itself at its very best: the sun was shining, I spent the day eating baked goods at The Cake and Bake Show at Manchester Central, and then squeezed in two more of Manchester's finest in the evening (as well as The Skinny party - never let it be said that women of ninety have no stamina). First up, a swift visit to The Whim Wham Cafe, one of my favourite places in the whole of Manchester, for a couple of gin cocktails. We very much enjoyed this offering from the new Spring menu - essentially a Bramble but made with raspberries. The Whim Wham is an oasis of class and calm (and gin), and I love it very much.
Then, after the whole cinnamon whisky debacle, to SoLIta for dinner. The current burger special is the Life Aquatic, an exuberant surf and turf affair that allows the hopelessy greedy dinner to consume burger, crabmeat AND panko-coated prawns all in one meal. This only has a few days left on the specials board but it is so good that if Franco doesn't put it on the main menu I'm going to handcuff myself to his leg as a protest - I think it's the best special yet, and am prepared to have t-shirts made up to that effect if necessary. We also enjoyed our starters of Sweetcorn Hushpuppies (fried cornmeal and sweetcorn dough balls with red pepper jam) and Ribs, Wings, Rings and Things (the "things" are essentially deep-fried chillies), although the latter did result in quite spectacularly sticky hands and faces.
So we, the people of Manchester, welcome The Skinny to our mighty city. And we celebrate our new union with Liverpool by linking arms, offering the branch of friendship...and pointing out that the launch do was rightfully held in the better of the two cities...