Is Manchester turning into London?

It’s trying very hard

big wheel black milk cereal dive cereal cafe hipster Leeds London Manchester northern quarter ziferblat

A few weeks ago, the hipsters of Leeds got a bit excited.

They had suddenly realised that they enjoyed drinking craft beer like their friends in London. They also realised that London and Leeds begin with an “L”. They put two and two together and, wow, they thought, Leeds must be turning into London.

Meanwhile in Manchester’s Northern Quarter, there were lots of slippery haired men, stroking their beards contemplatively over games of Scrabble and bottles of beer: the first Cereal Café outside of London had just opened in Leeds.

What a cereal café looks like

How could they compete?

Suddenly, a brainwave pierced through their fiercely slicked hair: let’s open not one, but two cafés specialising in Corn Flakes they thought.

Black Milk Cereal Dive has been open for two weeks and Cereal Central MCR is set to open soon according to their Twitter. Can’t wait to find out whose Coco Pops will taste better.

Manchester fights back

Just a few weeks earlier, the first pay as you go café outside of London opened in the Northern Quarter.

Ziferblat, meaning clock face in Russian (hence the mug with a clock on it), has the slogan: “everything is free inside, except the time you spend”. It’s just that what’s free inside is also just as free at your Grandma’s house.

But then again, paying 5p a minute to drink coffee and munch on stale Battenberg has never been so cool.

What happens if the clock breaks?

Leeds fully exploited the trend in London of tripling the price of beer by putting the word “Craft” in front of it.

Manchester has done the same with food, by putting the word “Street” in front of it, even when it’s served indoors. With the weekly Friday Food Fight, Guerrilla Eats and Castlefield Market, how can you possibly decide whose “street” gourmet burgers taste better?

Foodie Posters

And if you prefer “posh” burgers to “street” ones, for some reason Byron Burgers are opening only their third restaurant in the city centre at the Corn Exchange later in the year.

Rushing to get my street burger

Yet it’s not only the food and drink that’s getting Londonized, even the buildings are morphing into Shoreditch.

Whilst the exposed brickwork may have been around before, you can’t avoid noticing that a new planned pop-up space (imaginatively named SpaceMCR) on Oldham Street looks like an exact copy of Shoreditch’s Boxpark.

Except this time built for toddlers, as if Manchester can’t be trusted with the proper thing just yet and instead gets a brightly coloured toy version.

Another colourful building to excite us with

Even the walls of older buildings can’t escape from being painted with colours which not long ago were reserved exclusively for use in Children’s nurseries.

Some streets in the Northern Quarter are starting to look like Brick Lane if it was a peacock in mating season. Soon the only way to pass through without getting a migraine will be by wearing sunglasses.

Look Mummy, a pretty bird!

Or by stealing the parasol…

Convenient when it rains.

The most tragic (and obvious) example of Manchester failing to be London though is located behind Manchester’s Berlin Wall, aka Piccadilly “Gardens”.

‘The Wheel of Manchester’ landed in the city centre to nearly everyone’s horror in late 2013 and it has remained there since, tricking naïve tourists out of £10 notes for an aerial view of Primark. Filthy, cramped and inferior, it is like the battery hen equivalent of the organic, corn fed London original.

I wonder if the view from inside is better?

Whilst Leeds continues to convince itself its London – like can’t you see it’s only five letters away, so it’s practically the same thing okay!

Manchester is starting to resemble some pathetic kid from high school. It still hasn’t grasped that getting the same haircut as the dickhead they want to be friends with is only going to make them even less socially okay.

So if Manchester could stop trying so hard, as long as we can keep the beer and burgers.