Thursday, 26 May 2011

Salford, Mon Amour

Ever since the BBC announced plans to move some of their services from London to the new Media City in Salford, I have noticed a number of snide attacks on the city I am proud to call home. I am not going to claim that it's the most picturesque place in the world, nor am I going to peddle the cliche about its inhabitants being the "salt of the earth". However, I am beginning to tire of the increasingly vitriolic articles, it is lazy, ignorant journalism.
A few weeks ago, I was watching Newsnight and it concluded with Jeremy Paxman sneering that of all the English cities in the new Lonely Planet guide, only Newcastle and Manchester got the thumbs up. He said, "The Smiths got it right" and yes, of course, "Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now" was played over footage of 1950's slums. Hilarious. About as topical as playing Flanagan and Allen over scenes of the bombed-out East End to illustrate London today.
We've had journalists such as AA Gill touring around Salford Quays with predictable results and Rowan Moore in the Observer saying Salford contained the "worst buildings in Britain". It was gleefully reported yesterday that Salford was the worst place to study in the country. This assertion was based on a poll of some students that awarded the winners a rating of 64%, Cambridge received 56% whilst Salford got 48%, hardly a disaster.
Now the Ryan Giggs story has unfolded. In an article on the Beehivecity website ( unbiased news, apparantly) the opening paragraph of a report on the attack on photographers outside Giggs' house in Worsley, contained remarks such as, "Worsley, where the rust-coloured water of the ..canal stagnate..through an almost picturesque village green". You can imagine the laughter as they call the place "the posh bit of Salford"
I can sense in these articles, an air of assumed superiority, that this place, Salford, has being getting ideas above it's station. Salford Quays, the area that has re-generated and will soon be home to parts of the BBC and Granada, isn't to everyone's taste. However, considering the vast swathes of post-industrial wasteland that it has replaced, the transformation is remarkable. The architecture is modern and brash but exhillarating too. The Lowry Theatre and Imperial War Museum have become stunning assets to the city.
You can almost feel the palpable horror of those in the BBC who have been told they are re-locating north. Fair enough, if your views have been shaped by novels written in the 1930's and Coronation Street. However, those are fiction. Salford is a vibrant place with plenty to recommend it.When I visit London, I enjoy the capital immensely, I would not dream of sneering at its flaws. We can't all live there, nor do we want to. This country is made up of many great places, all with their own unique character and charm. Those in the media who like to make cheap shots about my home city are mean-spirited in the extreme.