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THE HACIENDA WAS RESURRECTED on Saturday night after activists broke in, occupied the place and held a rave night. The building is now owned by GR Morris Construction, who were told by the activists in notices put up around the building that they would be prosecuted if they tried to retake possession of it. On Saturday, leaflets issued by a group called "Okasional Cafe" were distributed around Manchester, inviting people to the Hacienda that night for a free vegan meal. Drinks were brought in, a music system was switched on, and an impromptu rave night got underway. By midnight, a large crowd had gathered on Whitworth Street, and the police were called in to deal with the situation. There were scenes of confrontation, and a number of people were arrested for public order offences. Bricks, bottles and buckets of urine were thrown at the police. Eventually, they managed to disperse the crowd, and then set about clearing the building. By 8am the next morning, the last squatter is reported to have vacated the premises.

Activists have already staged spectacular acts of disobedience in Manchester - recently, protesters from "Reclaim the Streets" held a sit-down protest on the Mancunian way, and daubed signs on Princess Rd with messages like "Kill cars" and "Let children breathe" - they're still there. And shortly before demolition work started on the Capitol Theatre in Didsbury, squatters - I think they must be the same as Saturday night's crowd - occupied the building and ran a vegan cafe.
poster on Dover St

The protesters appear to be wedded to a familiar set of beliefs - utopian ideals of anti-materialism, fanatical advocacy of the principles of the Green movement, a hatred of cars, planes and other symbols of the individualistic, materialist world they reject - most are vegetarian, vegan in many cases. Pacifism and non-violence are also professed, though policemen or bailiffs injured by flying bricks might have something else to say about this.
daubed road sign on Mancunian way

They appear to be quite well organised. Posters and graffiti around the city are a constant reminder of the presence of this tiny, but vocal and extremely determined minority - Manchester has always been a centre of radical reform - Emmeline Pankhurst founder of the Suffragette (or more properly, Suffragist) movement lived here. 80 years ago, her views were regarded as either eccentric or subversive - but nowadays they're part of daily life and written into the law.

I wonder if in years to come, all of us, including the police, will have given up our cars, our jobs, our salaries, and our plane trips, and will spend our time staging sit-ins in vacated office blocks, sitting around camp fires on deserted airports, living in squats, eating vegatarian food and celebrating comradeship and oneness with nature?

THERE HAS BEEN further confrontation near the site of the Second Runway. Anti-R2 protesters have been in continuous occupation on or near the site for the past couple of years. Most recnetly they've been camped out at Arthur's Wood, part of Styal Woods, a National Trust property. Today they intensified their protest and police were sent in. They object to trees near the runway being cut down, and say the National Trust has abandoned its responsibility to defend the environment. But according to CAA rules, the trees have to be reduced in height - it's the law, and eventually it will happen whether the protesters like it or not.

BRITISH AIRWAYS have discontinued their multi-design "ethnic" livery and will paint the remaining fleet with the "flowing Union Jack" design, as used on Concorde. It's reported they suffered a 50% drop in sales following the introduction of the new paintjob, which featured designs by artists from around the world. Looking out the terminal window at Manchester Airport one drizzly weekday, I thought the brightly-coloured South African or Caribbean-inspired tail design was inappropriate. I say they should have kept the previous design. As an expat, I often used to go to the airport, wishing I was getting on a plane, and found the sight of the union jack a reassuring reminder of home. That's why I fly the flag on Eyewitness in Manchester. And another Manchester airline passenger has been taken off a Manchester-bound plane after an attack of "air rage". He had gone berserk after being refused drink.

THERE HAVE BEEN LONG QUEUES at the passport office in Liverpool due to delays caused by - you guessed it - the installation of a new computer system. Another factor is a new Home Office requirement that under-16 should have their own passport. Applications have been taking 10 weeks to process, and some people will have had to postpone or cancel foreign trips. The Liverpool office handles applications for the north west, and is said have a delay of 41 days. My first passport was a British Visitors Passport, which you could apply for at any post office, but this has been phased out. There are stringent passport checks when returning back into the UK, even from the EU, so perhaps people should consider the Lake District, the Isle of Man or north Wales for their hols.

CONSTRUCTION WORK in Manchester city centre continues at a frenetic pace. Work on the Great Northern square is nearing completion,while at the other side of the former Great Northern Railway Goods Warehouse, there's a massive vacant space where the elevated tracks, and their cast iron supports, used to be. The bridge over Great Bridgewater St has been removed. Boots the chemists, on Market St is undergoing a major refit: the completed sections have shiny new floors, sophisticated displays and elaborate lighting - actually, I preferred the dimly lit temporary areas - they reminded me Affleck & Brown's and Lewis's of yesteryear.

Other projects in progress: The Printworks, former Maxwell House, the Corn Exchange (which the new owners have renamed "The Triangle" - I refuse to call it this), Exchange Square, the M&S Building - more and more glass is appearing on the exterior. The demolition of the ugly 1970's shopping and office development known as "Shambles West" has commenced, and just nearby, Highland House, former offices of the Inland Revenue, is being renovated by new owners Bruntwood Properties, and may be turned into apartments.

On Mosley St, the City Art Gallery is being rebuilt and extended, as featured on a specactular picture spread in Friday's MEN. Near Piccadilly, an extension to the Grand Hotel apartment complex is being built, facing onto London Rd. Piccadilly Train shed will be finished soon, and at the recent Piccadilly Gardens exhibition at the Town Hall, I saw plans to turn the magnificent London Warehouse, seen here from Gateway House, into apartments. I'm not sure what's happening at the moment with those ill-conceived and inappropriate proposals for Piccadilly, but the Manchester Civic Society will be publishing a stinging criticism of them in the forthcoming edition of Manchester Forum.

Road works include improvements to the pavements around Miller St, Rochdale Rd and Swan St, just up from the CIS building. And at the western end of the Mancunian Way at Regent Rd, a new bridge section over the canal and river Irwell is being constructed - it's part of the inner ring road scheme. Yes, with all this building work, Manchester may be unrecognisable in a few years time, so I'd better keep snapping!

A PICTURE OF IAN CURTIS by photographer Kevin Cummings, has been accepted, along with two other photos by him, for the National Portrait Gallery's "Icons of Pop 1958-1999" display. I saw Ian Curtis and Joy Division perform at the Russell Club in Hulme in the late seventies. Shortly after, he committed suicide. Another event I went to at that time was the last night of the Electric Circus, the legendary and long-demolished music venue in Collyhurst. If only I'd had a camera with me then! Maybe some of the new Manchester pop acts I photographed not too long ago will become famous, and I'll get one of my pictures in the National Portrait Gallery. In the meantime, congratulations to Kevin Cummings.

A HEAD TEACHER WAS SUSPENDED from his duties at a school in Wythenshawe on Wednesday. Michael Vaughan-Edwards was removed from his post at Brookway High School after a reported "rebellion" against his leadership. The reasons for the suspension weren't quoted in Wednesday's reports, and Mr Vaughan-Edwards had no comment when contacted by the MEN. I don't envy secondary teachers, especially those who work in Manchester.

VANDALS ATTACKED a train with stones smashing windows and hitting three passengers. The incident occurred as the 6.15pm Piccadilly to Chester train was travelling through Altrincham, not a place where you expect this sort of thing to happen. Manchester to Chester trains run via Stockport, then on a reinstated line through Cheadle and Wythenshawe to Altrincham and on to Chester. What sort of kids can do a thing like this?

"I'M FINISHED" says John Cunningham, whose travel company Millwest Travel left MUFC fans stranded in Barcelona, and without tickets for the game. In an interview with the MEN, he said of the fiasco: "It broke my heart and everyone involved at Millwest is devastated. I can only apologise from the bottom of my heart.". The firm was financed by 24 year old lottery winner Nick Webb, but Mr Cunningham, who in the photo on Thursday's MEN looks much older than his 39 years, accepted sole responsibility. When asked why Millwest weren't prepared to provide full refunds, he replied "I can't expand on that". He explained that the problems were caused by companies in Spain failing to fulfil agreements. Mr Cunningham went into hiding after threats and abuse, and now says there's no future for him and his family in Manchester.

Whatever the cause of the fiasco, threats and abuse will never put right what went terribly wrong, and Mr Cunningham shouldn't be hounded out of Manchester. Manchester Trading Standards are conducting an investigation, so hopefully the cause can be established, compensation paid and lessons learnt.

"BOSNICH SIGNED" said the midweek headline - I had to think for a moment - Balkans? Bosnia? Peace deal? Then I realised it referred to the signing of Mark Bosnich as new United goalkepper. And on Friday, he got married, though not without being delayed after a brush with the police - they wanted to interview him about an incident following his stag night at a lap dancing club in Birmingham the previous night - A photographer claimed that Bosnich had punched him and stolen his camera. And celebrity couple David Beckham and Posh Spice were the victims of an intrusive camera, with candid pictures shown in a Berlin newspaper - Eyewitness says: Leave them alone, I'm not interested! And George Best's old house in Woodford is up for sale: asking price: £450,000.

BELLE VUE showgrounds used to be one of Manchester's biggest crowd-pullers, but it's more than a quarter of a century since they closed. The area round there looks a shadow of its former self. Manchester expat David Boardman has included aerial pictures of the late lamented pleasure park on his excellent website on Longsight. Have a look and see if your memory is jogged

SURGEONS AT WITHINGTON HOSPITAL have performed an amazing operation on a man who had his fingers severed by an industrial paper cutter - the thought of it makes my hands ache as I type this. 56 year old Harry Fishwick had 8 fingers re-attached in a unique18 hour operation, carried out by two teams of surgeons. He's expected to gain some use of his fingers again. Well done Withington - though soon, services like this will be moved permanently to Wythenshawe Hospital, andWithington will become a community hospital.

SIX OUT OF TEN participants in a recent telephone poll thought that Manchester City Council should spend up to £50m supporting the Commonwealth Games. The Harris Poll was carried out across Greater Manchester for the MEN. How interesting that people living outside the City of Manchester should be invited to tell Manchester City Council how to spend the money I pay in council tax. Yet another example of the absurdity of the boundaries that divide our conurbation.

PERFORMANCES THIS WEEK included Leo Sayer, Apollo, Lauryn Hill, MEN Arena, Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings Queen Elizabeth Hall, Oldham, Royal Philharmonic and Nigel Kennedy, Bridgewater Hall, Saddleworth Festival of the Arts, with the Goldberg Ensemble and Leon McCawley, Kelly Joe Phelps, Band on the Wall, "Haunted" Oldham Coliseum.

MARK ELDER former director of the English National Opera, is to replace Kent Nagano at the Halle Orchestra. Recently John Summers, formerly with the Northern Sinfonia in Newcastle, was appointed as chief executive. Despite their magnificent new home, the Bridgewater Hall, the Halle has had financial problems for some time.

THE FINAL OF "STARS IN THEIR EYES" took place at the Granada Studios on Saturday night, presented by Matthew Kelly. The show was watched live by over 10 million viewers all over the UK. One of the participants was Diana Ross lookalike Diane Birkinshaw from Baguley, Wythenshawe, but the overall winner was the self-effacing Chris de Burgh lookalike who attracted half a million phone and internet votes with his effortless performance of "Lady in Red".

200 NARROWBOATS will be moored on the Bridgwater Canal this weekend - it's part of the annual party staged by the Mersey Basin Campaign. And the Lancashire Automobile club are organising a procession of classic cars from the Trafford Centre to Blackpool. Last Sunday there was a classic car show at Tatton Park.

JUNE HERALDED ITS ARRIVAL with leaden skies, high winds and torrential rain. Much of the week was like this, and the weekend forecast wasn't looking good. But miraculously, the clouds parted on Saturday, providing excellent weather for the Mobberley Rose Queen festival - I was invited by Village Committee Member Chris Mitchell to come and witness the event. If you'd like me to drop in on an event and feature it in EWM, please contact.

On Sunday, hail stones fell from heavy clouds which hung over Manchester like giant tipper trucks - , hope those classic vehicles at Tatton Park weren't scratched. Later in the day, it brightened up in the west, but stayed grey and leaden to the east. Yesterday it was rainy again, and today the sky went in just a couple of hours from grey and leaden to bright and summery with fluffy white clouds - just the weather for an ice cream (above right)!

But let's finish with that quintessentially English parade through the ancient village of Mobberley - don't you wish you'd been there?.

Join Aidan on his Manchester Photo Walk.
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