When I decided to fly into Manchester, I only really knew two things about it: Marx and Engels spent a lot of time there, and the Manchester United football club is a bit of a big deal. It was also the cheapest flight into Europe, which is why I chose it in the end.
And so my very first day in Europe was spent in Manchester. And a rather amazing day it was.
I brought my bee patches, thinking that every place could use some bees, but to my surprise, bees already covered the entire city.
Turns out the bee is one of the official symbols of Manchester, the ‘worker bee’ in honor of the workers of the Industrial Revolution. The same workers, mind you, that Frederic Engels studied and observed in order to write ‘Conditions of the Working Class in England’, the precursor to ‘The Communist Manifesto’. There were bees EVERYWHERE – on the trash cans, on light poles, all over the windows of City Hall, even tucked into the city crest.
And distracted by the bees, while trying to find the post office, I was led directly to the site of the Peterloo Massacre, which given the intersecting themes of this pilgrimage was quite fitting.
Manchester is a beautiful city. The people are amazing, the buildings are old and wonderful, and there’s a working-class aesthetic and mentality that was almost inconceivable to me as an American. But there it was.
In Portland, nobody looks twice when I talk to the critters. So I do, whether its dogs or crows or pigeons or squirrels. Here, on the other hand, people stop and stare if you bend down to converse with pigeons. And so I was making friends with an injured pigeon, not realizing I had an audience…
And I also just started an Instagram, as I suddenly have more pictures than I know what to do with.