SANTA CLAUS MADE HIS LONG-AWAITED APPEARANCE over the top of the Town Hall roof on Thursday night, but disappeared again soon after. The explanation was that as he's made up of four parts, and takes four hours to inflate, they decided, so waiting crowds wouldn't be disappointed, to inflate just the head. But Councillor Pat Karney offered another explanation - Santa had gone off to an all-night party. He returned the next day fully inflated and is now fully installed on the Town Hall roof as you see above. What do you think? Better than the previous Santa?

MANCHESTER IS BIG IN KUALA LUMPUR capital of Malaysia, which recently hosted the Commonwealth Games. I'll never forget Albert Square the moment during the closing ceremony, when the two cities were linked up via live satellite, and the baton was handed over to us. Manchester now has a very high profile in Malaysia - there are many trade links, and a large number of Malaysian students come here to study. Malaysian kids are reported to be football mad - and many support Manchester United. To capitalise further on this, a trade delegation from Manchester went there a couple of weeks ago, but this was a delegation with a difference: Officials in suits, yes, but also specially invited representatives of Manchester's new industries, particularly music, fashion, food and sport. I spoke to Deputy Chief Executive of Marketing Manchester, Lis Phelan who was part of the delegation. "We used DJ's, models, restaurateurs and footballers to put together a picture of Manchester as it is now. It created a little piece of Manchester in Malaysia". One of the high points was an all-night event at the Caves night club attended by 3000 people. Manchester bands King Rib and Subliminal Darkness went down a storm. The combination of traditional trade mission with representatives of the "New Establishment" has proved a winning formula. "It's a model for the future, though many said it wouldn't work," she said. If there are any of you in Kuala Lumpur reading this now, please make yourselves known! And thanks to Jane Macnaghten for her message (see below). And here's a bus I noticed recently that could very well have been used in Malaysia to promote Manchester:

THE ANNUAL CHILDREN IN NEED EVENT TOOK PLACE ON FRIDAY NIGHT, with fund-raising events all around the area. Net Nannies, the IT Support specialist, (MD Candace James), donated money raised from support services on Friday to the Children in Need Appeal. Adults played hopscotch in Albert Square to raise money, and Vidal Sassoon hair stylists did their stuff and made 515, which they donated to the appeal. The final figure was over 11m nationally. The north west raised 641,730. And another fund-raising effort took place earlier in the week at Manchester Airport: a group of 200 sponsored volunteers hauled a 61-tonne Boeing 757 a distance of 50 metres. The money will help to send deprived north west families on a holiday to Florida.

MANCUNIANS CAN FLY TO AMSTERDAM, NICE - and from Jan 99 - Geneva and Barcelona for just 29 single, including tax, on EasyJet via Liverpool. And Greek boss of EasyJet Stelios Haji-Ioannuo is to open a cybercafe in Manchester next year.


APOLOGIES - DUE TO A TECHNICAL PROBLEM, AS YET UNSOLVED, the lower section of some of the photographs is being lost during transfer from my home computer to the server. I am trying to solve the problem, in the meantime, please excuse the grey band at the bottom of some photos!

THE ROYAL EXCHANGE IS ABOUT TO RE-OPEN and on Wednesday we attended a special free-of-charge "sound check" preview. It was the first time an audience had been inside the theatre since the bomb. The theatre is now the best equipped in the UK, particularly as regards sound. A variety of noises were used to test the acoustics, starting with single pulses played on a strange-looking speaker. Sound technicians monitored the echo. There was live and recorded music, an excerpt from the play "Hindle Wakes" and a rockband. They were loud - very loud, but couldn't be heard in the restaurant - so good is the soundproofing. It was very impressive, though most of the audience - very few under 30 years of age - weren't too impressed with the rockband. I thought they were very good.

And the good news is that the Royal Exchange opens to the general public on November 30th. The bad news: Theatre-goers will have to pay! Seats start from 7. And on Saturday 12 December there will be a Royal Gala performance to mark the re-opening, with HRH Prince Edward, and celebrities including Patricia Routledge and Tom Courtney. Tickets are 100 a head.

IT'S SOON GOING TO BE "ALL CHANGE" FOR CROWN SQUARE, and the area around it including the MANCAT (formerly St John's College) campus, the Magistrates Court, Education offices and the Guardian Media Group, including Manchester Online - if the plan goes ahead, all will move to various new premises; And Northcliffe House, former home of the Daily Mail, would become a 300 bed five star hotel - there seems to be some doubt as to whether the building will survive in its presnet form. I hope it does; Other future developments around Manchester city centre include: the Urbis Centre, to be built on the site between the Corn Exchange and Victoria Station. This wedge-shaped glass structure, designed by architect Ian Simpson and engineer Martin Stockley, will rise up over Corporation St like the prow of a ship. And if you'd like to buy the flashiest pad in the city, have a look at the penthouse to be built on the top floor of the former Haçienda. The property, commanding magnificent views over G-Mex and Whitworth St, should set you back around 300,000

THE HALLE ORCHESTRA IS HAVING TO FACE THE MUSIC, yet again - It has a deficit of 600,000, and tonight, members of the Halle Orchestra Society are meeting in order to work out a survival plan. Costs will have to be cut, and there may be redundancies.

MANCHESTER, HOLLYWOOD OF THE NORTH? WELL NOT QUITE, despite an eponymous Cornerhouse tour of Manchester movie locations. But a Manchester-based film-maker Stephen Gibbons is putting together a new film entitled "Chicanery Moon", and he's gathering a star-studded Hollywood cast. As well as Harry Shearer and Henry Thomas, Peter Coyote ("Keys" in E.T."), and Evan Bonifant, the kid who played "Buster" in Blues Brothers 2000 are among the actors signed up so far. The beautiful Natalie Portman, star of recently screened "Leon", loved the film, but wasn't able to take part. More in the message from Ryan Davis below. You might think Stephen would need to find his cast by swanning round LA visiting various casting agencies, but he's chosen to stay at home near Oldham, and use a website to promote the film - people are invited to apply for an audition via e-mail. If like me, your acting experience is at the level of your local drama group, then you might find the competition tough, but it may still be worth a try! The website is at http://www.chicmoon.com


MAYBE MANCHESTER IS STARTING TO GET LIKE NEW YORK, with film crews on every street corner - yesterday in Chinatown, I saw police, cameramen, trucks and lights - I don't know what they were filming - can anyone help? And watching the film "Damage" starring Jeremy Irons and the captivating Juliette Binoche, I noticed a familiar-looking "House of Commons" interior: It was the Statue Hall in Manchester Town Hall. Another local face on the TV at the moment is Manchester Polytechnic-trained Susan Cleaver, who features in the eccentric Batchelors "Pasta 'n' Sauce" advert. I remember seeing her in "Lysistrata", starring Dave Threlfall, at the Royal Exchange about ten years ago.

A NATION WENT INTO MOURNING at the death of Des in Coronation Street, or so some newspaper headline writers would have us believe. There was a huge power surge after the programme as millions of kettles were put on. Viewing figures have been topping 18 million (18.17 million Monday 19 Oct - BARB figures quoted in the current Radio Times). But K Fitton of Hyde, in the MEN postbag, thinks it's degenerated to the level of pantomime, sitcom and Cell Block H drama. I tend to agree. But whatever you think of the content, Manchester's "Street" is winning the battle of the soaps. Personally I prefer real-life drama, particularly a US-produced programme about the "Dumbest Drivers". In amongst the pictures of road rage in West Virginia and lunatic driving in Florida, there was an example of criminal highway negligence in Manchester - a Greater Manchester Police X-Car pursed a "sedan" which was raising a shower of sparks on the M66 (now M60) - a part of the body was touching the road. The programme didn't identify the northern English location, or the occupants, though the policemens' accent was instantly recognisable!

HAVE YOU READ THE LATEST CRIME CHILLER? It's set in Manchester and it deals with just about every kind of crime there is. But it isn't fiction, it's hard fact - the 40-page "Crime Audit" has been compiled under the new Crime and Disorder Act and draws on police information as well as data from other agencies, including housing, education, probation and community groups. Some interesting facts emerge: the 'crimes per person' rate of the Manchester City Council area is double that of Wigan, and twenty percent more than Salford. But does that mean Manchester is safer than Salford? That's very difficult to say, as the figure is arrived at by calculating the number of crimes in relation to the resident population. Further interesting facts: Ardwick has the highest rate of domestic disorder, car theft was worst around Platt Fields, and shootings happen most frequently in Moss Side and Longsight. In the city centre, Whitworth St, Portland St and the Gay Village are the worst areas for muggings. But today's MEN headline is positive: "CRIME AND HOW WE'LL DEFEAT IT" is the message, but the editorial laments cuts in the police force and their diminishing presence on the streets. Phone (0161) 234 3196 or write to the Crime and Disorder Audit, Freepost MR1514, Town Hall Manchester M2 8AA

MANCHESTER'S NEIGHBOURING CITIES OF LEEDS AND LIVERPOOL have featured in national crime headlines this weekend, one of them with a direct Manchester link. 23 year old Orville Sean McIntosh was shot dead in the Chapeltown area of Leeds. Police think killer and victim were acquainted. And in Liverpool, a man has been arrested and charged with kidnapping 58 year old Charles Seiga. He was held for 30 hours and is reported to have been tortured.

THE CONTRACT KILLER WHO MURDERED 5 YEAR OLD DILLON HULL was given a life sentence last week. Paul Seddon, whose face appeared on the Wednesday's MEN front page along with his two accomplices, was put away for 25 years. But the gang boss who commissioned the job may well be living in luxury. Seddon might be granted a reduced sentence if he reveals the identity of the person who ordered the killing. A plaque has been put up on Jauncey Street, Oldham in memory of Dillon Hull, born 27.11.1991 and shot dead 6.8.97.

TWO CHILDREN WERE KILLED in a house fire on Telryn Walk, off Crescent Road, Lower Crumpsall on Thursday night. Firefighters were devastated at being unable to save Carina Yardley (2) and her three year old brother Lewis. There was also a fire in the disused buildings in the picture (right) near Shude Hill, in front of the CIS tower. It's thought the fire may have been started by people sleeping in the buildings, and lighting fires to keep warm.

CATHY HALL, INJURED LAST WEEK ON THE M602 BY MISSILE-THROWING YOUTHS, says she isn't angry with the young people who nearly killed her, just glad to be alive. She's recovering at her home in Crosby, near Liverpool.

BARÇA IS ONE OF MANCHESTER'S MOST FASHIONABLE BARS, located in Castlefield and part-owned by Mick Hucknall. But FC Barcelona - the football club - have put in a legal objection to the attempt by Barça (Manchester) to register the name as a trade mark - FC Barcelona say it could be confused with them - "Barça" is roughly equivalent to "United" here. But we don't get confused with the airline or brewery conglomerate or dairy of a similar name, do we?

RECENT CONCERTS HAVE INCLUDED Pulp at the Apollo, the BBC Phil at the Bridgewater Hall, Oliver is making audiences beg for more at the Opera House, and at the MEN Arena the Lighthouse Family and evergreen female crowd-puller Tom Jones brilliantly reviewed in Saturday's MEN by Paul Taylor.

THE WEATHER THIS WEEK has been cold and generally overcast, though there were spells of hazy sunshine on Friday, when I took the photo below. Outside it's 6 degrees Celsius, 42 degrees fahrenheit.

PLEASE HAVE A LOOK AT THE NEWLY REVAMPED IMAGE COLLECTION, including the new-style index pages, now using thumbnail images. I'm still experimenting with formats and layouts. Please let me know what you think. The new developments are thanks to my fabulous new Apple Macintosh G3, and new web authoring software, including Macromedia Dreamweaver, Macromedia Fireworks, and of course the program I rely on most of all, Adobe Photoshop.


R E A D E R     M E S S A G E S       received this week...

Date: Wed, 18 Nov 1998 00:16:47 -0500
From: David Boardman
MIME-Version: 1.0
Subject: Congratulations


I'm sitting here writing to you on my vintage 6100 worrying about the odd noise it likes to make now and then. I'm ready for a G3 too but tell me why didn't you go for an iMac?

I just finished watching "Reckless" the movie with Robson Green and Michael Kitchen and made by Granada. I was enjoying the glimpses of the city that even after so many years is so familiar and so much part of me. Then I came up here and read the story of the brick throwers on the bridge. I suppose that's the essence of Manchester - a wonderful idea - a magnificent spirit and at the same time ugly, scruffy and at times ruthless.

Thanks once again for some great copy and brilliant pictures.

Oh, and thank you for settling a family argument. I recently found an old school friend who now lives in Blackley which my wife of Saskatchewan origin wants to call Black-lee, thank you for confirming that it is indeed Blake-lee.



Although I think the iMac is a wonderfully designed computer, I bought a G3, as it has more expandibility and is slightly faster - I want to add a 21" monitor and powerful graphics card. Unfortunately you can't do this with an iMac.
From: Ryan Davis
Subject: movie
Date: Fri, 20 Nov 1998 18:36:48 PST

A movie production company is about to Audition a Hollywood Movie using the Internet!! The movie's script by Stephen Gibbons, a writer/director from Manchester in the UK apparently was read and loved by Natalie Portman, who wanted to appear in the film but her agents felt as the budget is beneath $20 Million, it was "Beneath her!". Harry Shearer has signed to the project, and Henry Thomas as well as Brenda Blethyn are currently negotiating for their parts in the film. All the info is on their website which I found - http://www.chicmoon.com

Well, if Natalie Portman isn't taking part, I don't think I'll audition!

Date: Mon, 16 Nov 1998 21:52:13 -0400
From: James & Linda Ollerenshaw
Subject: Thanks from Whitehouse

Dear Aidan:

Thank you very much for the pictures you took of Daisy Nook! I grew up in Littlemoss just about a mile from the country park and worked at Daisy Nook Garden Centre for a few years prior to moving to Whitehouse, Ohio USA, eleven years ago.

I was so pleased to see pictures you took and look forward to seeing any others of the surrounding area you may have.

My wife and I look forward to your weekly reports as it keeps us updated with information that we wouldn't normally get.

Thanks again and keep up the great work!

James Ollerenshaw

Thanks very much, and keep reading!

Date: Tue, 17 Nov 1998 07:46:26 +1100
Subject: Thanks

Hi Aidan Once again thanks for all the great photos. My wife and I are Originally from Cheetham Hill and Higher Blackley, now Living in Sydney Australia for 32 years, We wouldn't mind a few Photos of these areas when you're passing if possible, if not it will not stop us enjoying your work as always.

Cheers Tony and Sylvia Usher

Thanks very much for the message. I'll try and get up that way soon, but I like to take photos during sunny weather, so I often have to wait! By the way, readers, Tony sent me a superb class photo of taken at St Marks School, Heath Street, Cheetham Hill, 1947. I'm sure he'd like to hear from other people from that school/year.

Subject: Miles Platting
Date: Thu, 19 Nov 1998 06:17:00 PST

Hi Aidan (and anamaria?) First off let me say thanks a million for keeping all of us far flung Mancunians up to date and in the picture, I`ve followed "Eyewitness" almost since the first issue came out and the quality of both the words and pictures are way above anything else connected with the big M currently on the net. Just one thing is missing, born in Ancoats, I was pleased to see you have covered parts of the area with your trusty camera, but what about next door! Miles Platting! home of the brave (my mother and the rest of the family have lived there for over 20 years, which in my book makes them very brave). Not one picture in all of the "image collection", Tell me this is a mistake soon to be corrected and I will sing your praises from the mountain tops of Sweden.

Keep well, keep on yours Jimmy Cunningham

Have a look at pictures 628 and 632!

From: Jane Macnaghten
Subject: King Rib
Date: Thu, 19 Nov 1998 22:29:30 -0000

Did you report anything on the trade mission to Kuala Lumpur and the Manchester band King Rib who were a huge success out there?

I have above - thanks for reminding me of it. If anyone has any other stories they'd like me to investigate, please contact at any time!

From: Gordon Adams
Date: Thu, 19 Nov 1998 23:31:15 -0500

Dear Aidan, Glad I have found you again. I lost you for a time . There is so much on the Web it is difficult to keep up with everything that is going on. Your picture of the Christmas lights going on was great. A bit early, perhaps, but very nice. A very Merry Christmas from Williamsburg, VA., USA, the reproduced 17th Century City and the first capitol of Virginia. Gordon T. Adams

Christmas seems to come earlier and earlier each year. Did you hear about the local householders who put up their Christmas lights in September and keep them up till just before Easter! Does anyone out there know who these people are? I'd like to take a photo!

From: Mary Hodgkinson

Date: Fri, 20 Nov 1998 11:45:19 -0800

Hi Aidan. It's Mary Hodgkinson again. I E-mailed you several weeks ago to compliment you on the fantastic photos you take, in and around Manchester. My parent's live off Sledmere Close, which is just off Grey Mare Lane. I know that area has changed considerably! The landscape is now quite flat and uninteresting. Still I believe the Market is still thriving!  Anyway Aidan, any photos of that area would mean a great deal to me. Thanks in advance.


Yes, I agree, that area isn't half the place it used to be, but there's still plenty to see there. I remember visiting Grey Mare Lane market as a child. Picture coming soon.

From: Henning Hansen
Subject: Manchester
Date: Sat, 21 Nov 1998 18:12:15 PST

Hello there! Greetings from Norway to you. My wife and I visited Manchester in July this summer. Great city, nice city and most of all a friendly city. We stayed at Hotel Britannia on Portland Street, because our daughter was working there. She is still living and working in Manchester, and likes it very much there. She lives in West Didsbury on Old Landsdowne Rd. West Didsbury was also a nice place to visit. We are looking forward to visiting the city of Manchester again. Regards Henning Hansen, Elgveien 32, 4300 Sandnes, Norway.

PS: Where can I find maps over West Didsbury? DS

Glad you liked Manchester, and hope you'll come again soon. You'll soon be able to find overview maps of Manchester on this website. But for detailed street maps, you still can't beat printed ones. I use the Geographer's A-Z Greater Manchester street atlas, ring-bound, priced at 11.50. I'm also very keen on the Ordnance Survey maps. Please contact me if you'd like further details.

Date: Sun, 22 Nov 1998 14:42:18 EST
Subject: Hello

The person of the week should be Sean a young boy age 13 who lost his father Nov 23,1997 and then his mum this morning at 5:30 am Nov. 22 1998. I became friends with Sean a month ago. He is with a heavy heart. I am Eleanore age 58 from Ohio in the United States.

Sean lives in Manchester, and Eleanore, in Mogadore, Ohio. She tells me she has corresponded with Sean via e-mail, but doesn't have any other details about him, other than that he lives in Manchester and his sister is at university here. She'd like to know his postal address so she can send help and condolences. Has anyone heard anything about Sean or know him?

Date: Sat, 21 Nov 1998 22:01:32 -0800
From: Craig And Lynwen
Subject: Missing Home

Hi Aidan, my name is Hannah,

I was so pleased to find your website and be able see pictures from home..... your photographs are brilliant. I have been in America since August, I landed on the East Coast and have driven across country and am staying in Pasedena, LA for a while before returning home. It has been comforting for me to be able to have a read of the MEN on screen and keep up with whats happenin'(!) while on my travels. I don't suppose you could include a picture of Whitefield, I'll let you decide where!! I would be very grateful and this simple addition would do wonders for your portfolio to date. I look forward to hearing your decision,

Thanks & lots of festive cheer, Hannah.

Of course, I will include a picture taken in Whitefield - around Church Lane is nice. I need to wait for some good weather - don't despair, we should have some by Christmas!

From: Bill Muirhead
Subject: Manchester paintings
Date: Wed, 18 Nov 1998 15:55:56 -0000


Whilst looking for information on where I can get prints of paintings of Manchester city centre scenes from earlier this century, I came across your pages on the Manchester On-line website.

Do you have any recommendations as to where I should look?

thanks, Bill

An ad appeared in the MEN of Tuesday November 3rd with nostalgic paintings of Manchester by Bernard McMullen. Phone 0161 203 5858 for more details.

Join Aidan on his Manchester Photo Walk.
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