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Seven things that will confuse any American visiting Manchester for the first time

What else have we missed off?

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David Dixon / Geograph

We Mancunians are a very proud bunch, with a whole wealth of traditions and values that might seem baffling to outsiders – especially to our friends across the pond.

An American in Manchester is bound to stumble across situations they find downright confusing, from navigating our unnecessarily complicated bus network to trying to work out why Piccadilly Gardens is called a ‘garden’.

Let’s face it, we do things differently round here – to borrow an overused phrase. So, to make things easier for any Americans visiting our great city, here’s seven things you might find confusing when visiting Manchester, explained.

Mike Peel / Wikimedia

1) Accents

The first thing an American will encounter is our vast array of different and sometimes confusing accents.

While the UK on the whole is home to a vast selection of accents, from Glaswegian to the Queen’s English, the North of England is home to probably the widest variation – from Liverpool to Newcastle via Yorkshire, you don’t have to travel far to hear something completely different.

Nowhere is this more pronounced than in Greater Manchester and the surrounding areas, where a person can travel from Bolton to Salford to Rochdale and be greeted by a series of strong local accents that will baffle the average American.

But the most confusing thing for anyone from the US visiting Manchester, is probably the realisation that everyone in England doesn’t sound like the Queen, r’kid.

2) Local slang

To make your life easier, it’s best to learn some local Mancunian slang.

If someone calls you ‘r’kid’ when you’re having a gander round town (looking around the city centre), you’ve made a friend, as the term is usually used to refer to a sibling or a very close mate (friend).

If someone says something is dead good, don’t panic, they don’t mean it no longer has a pulse, just that something is ‘very’ or ‘really’ good, i.e dead nice, dead cold, dead boring.

When you eat or drink something you really like, you can say it’s ‘mint’, and if you really want to triple-down and impress the locals you could say it’s ‘dead mint, r’kid’.

‘Hanging’ (or ‘angin’ if you’re a proper Manc, because the ‘h’ is always dropped, as is the ‘g’ at the end) means bad/awful/disgusting, and ‘sound’ means a person, place or thing is good, as in ‘r’kid is dead sound’.

If someone offers you a brew then take them up on it, as you’ll get a proper cup of Northern tea (brew = cup of tea).

Peter McDermott / Geograph

3) Piccadilly Gardens

Once you’ve finally started to work out what we’re saying, you might want to head out into the city to see what’s going on in Manchester.

Chances are you’ll head to the bustling epicentre of the city – Piccadilly Gardens. Sounds nice, right? Wrong.

To all born and bred Mancunians, Piccy Gs has now become a byword for the decline of Manchester, with everything that’s bad about our city seemingly epitomised by what goes on there. Drugs and anti-social behaviour are rife, and you definitely don’t want to be hanging around the area at night.

More importantly, however, you might ask where the actual gardens are, you know, with flowers, trees and bushes? They’re gone, sorry lads…

4) Local food

Once you flee Piccadilly Gardens after you’ve been asked by the 100th person if you want some spice – warning, they’re not trying to sell you hot sauce – you might want to escape to a local food purveyor for a scran (some food) and a pint (a delicious cold glass of alcohol).

Some local dishes include a chippy tea, which is usually fish and chips, although any combination of items from a chippy (chip shop) will suffice. You should also try chips and gravy, which is a Northern specialty, or pie and chips with gravy – if you head over to Wigan you can sample their local delicacy, the Wigan kebab aka a pie butty (a pie sandwich, basically).

While in town you can also try a Manchester egg, black pudding, Eccles cake and a Manchester tart, all washed down with an ice cold can of Vimto.

But beware of any mealtime confusion, as the three main meals are known as breakfast, dinner and tea in Manchester – not breakfast, lunch and dinner, as they call it down South. So if someone offers you tea, it’s not the same as the delicious brew you tried earlier.

Chris Bloom / Flickr

5) Football

As part of your time in Manchester, you’re probably going to want to watch a football match, as the city is home to two of the biggest teams in the world, Manchester City and Manchester United.

Don’t be alarmed when the players start kicking the ball with their feet rather than picking it up and running into each other – this is real football, aka ‘soccer’ (never, ever call it soccer out loud, though).

Of course everyone knows City and United, but if you want to see football with a proper atmosphere, stripped back from the glitz and money of the Premier League, then head down to one of the Greater Manchester teams that are less well known internationally – Bolton Wanderers, Wigan Athletic, Rochdale or Oldham Athletic (or even one of the many non-league teams).

It’s pretty much compulsory to have a pie and a pint at the football, so don’t miss out.

6) Talking about the weather

The weather – we have it in Manchester, and we won’t let you forget it.

More often than not the weather will be rain, but sometimes it changes slightly and we’ll get wind and rain, or just grey clouds. Then sometimes, just sometimes, the clouds clear up completely and the sun comes out (you’ll probably be more familiar with this concept than we are, being from America).

It’s a hot topic of conversation round here, and any little change in the weather is sure to fire up some heated conversation – your best bet is to just say ‘this bloody rain’ repeatedly, while tutting and looking skywards (you’ll fit right in).

Ben Sutherland / Flickr

7) Saying ‘you alright mate’ without expecting a reply

We have a habit of greeting people by saying ‘you alright mate’, or sometimes just ‘alright’, and absolutely not expecting a reply – in fact, it’s weird if someone does tell you if they’re okay or not.

When I visited the US and Canada on holiday I kept greeting people by asking if they’re alright, and the look on their face was something, as they desperately tried to figure out if they were acting weird, bleeding, or just had toothpaste on their face.

Just make sure you don’t actually tell someone how you’re feeling when they say ‘you alright’, as an outpouring of emotions to a stranger is a big no-no over here.

We also say ‘cheers’ instead of ‘thank you’ and apologise all the time – unless we’re behind the wheel, in which case we’re angry, very angry.

Feature

UK’s ‘most dangerous prisoner’ begged for a pet in prison and promised ‘not to eat it’

Officers decided that Maudsley was not to be trusted with any animals…

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List25 / YouTube & Unsplash

The UK’s ‘most dangerous prisoner’ reportedly begged for a pet to keep him company in his underground solitary confinement with the promise to ‘not eat it’. 

However, this man isn’t any ordinary prisoner; as a result of his heinous crimes, serial killer Robert Maudsley has spent the last four decades of his life alone in a solitary glass cell. He was just twenty-one years old when he committed his first murder – however, his final three murders were carried out behind bars.

Maudsley’s first victim was alleged child abuser John Farrel, who had paid Maudsley for his ‘services’ as a rent boy. However, Maudsley killed him when he allegedly showed him images of children he’d abused.

Gangland & Prison Related / YouTube

Once sentenced and sent to Broadmoor Hospital, however, he went on to torture and kill a convicted peadophile with another inmate, allegedly using a sharpened spoon to consume his brains, a brutality that earned him the nickname ‘Hannibal the Cannibal.’

From there, he was moved to the maximum security Wakefield Prison in Yorkshire where two more murders took place in one spree – first he strangled and stabbed forty-six-year-old Salney Darwood before creeping into the cell of Bill Roberts, fifty-six, who had sexually abused a seven-year-old girl.

It was at this point where staff decided that Maudsley was too dangerous to be around other inmates, and thus his life in solitary confinement began.

In 1983, a special two-unit cell was constructed for Maudsley – measuring just 5.5m by 4.5m and containing bullet-proof windows. According to the Guardian, inside the cell there’s just a bed, table and chair, along with a toilet and sink that are bolted to the floor.

Anders Hanson / Unsplash

The publication also reported that the serial killer spends twenty-three hours a day in confinement, is escorted to the yard by six prison officers at a time, and isn’t allowed any contact with other prisoners… Or animals, for that matter.

In 2000, Maudsley allegedly wrote to the prison system back to ask for a pet to keep him company in his cell. His letter read: “As a consequence of my current treatment and confinement, I feel that all I have to look forward to is indeed psychological breakdown, mental illness and probable suicide.

“Why can’t I have a budgie instead of flies, cockroaches and spiders which I currently have. I promise to love it and not eat it?

“Why can’t I have a television in my cell to see the world and learn? Why can’t I have any music tapes and listen to beautiful classical music?”

His requests were denied.

He also filed an application for suicide by a cyanide capsule – however, this was also denied. His applications for classical music and a television were also rejected.

In 2010, Maudsley reportedly asked officials to let him play board games with prison officials, claiming it would help ease some of the gloominess and monotony of life in solitary confinement – due to his crimes, however, officials remain reluctant to grant him any benefits.

The prisoner remains in this confinement to this very day, with no glimmer of any normality on the horizon – but should this case have been treated any differently?

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Six-year-old Man United fan to walk from Stockton Heath to Old Trafford to raise money for school

Harvey Goodman will be walking the fifteen miles from Stockton Heath to his favourite football ground to raise funds for his school

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A six-year-old Manchester United fan is set to embark upon a massive fifteen-mile charity walk from Stockton Heath to Old Trafford to fund a new playground for his school.

Harvey Goodman will be going the extra mile to make a difference for Stockton Heath Primary School, which has been in desperate need of a new playground for quite some time, despite various fundraising efforts.

The Year 1 pupil hopes that by combining two of his favourite things – school and Manchester United – he will help to raise the funds needed to give the school and its pupils the playground and green space they deserve.

Harvey’s mum Naiomi said her son’s determination to train and practice for the walk, which will take place on January 29th, has been ‘fantastic’, noting how he is ‘really looking forward to it.’

Naiomi Goodman

Naiomi Goodman

She told Proper Manchester: “We’re blown away by the amount of support we’ve had from friends, family, locals and avid Manchester United fans. We have hit the halfway target within a matter of weeks, it’s incredible to think so many people are supporting him with his walk.

“This walk is a huge challenge for anyone, never mind a six-year-old boy, but the determination he has is incredible to see. I know he will do a fantastic job on the day. We are so proud of him.”

And when Harvey mentioned his idea to the school’s head teacher Dan Harding, who’s also a Manchester United fan, he offered to accompany him on his walk, as did his class teacher Mrs. Realff. 

Mr. Harding described Harvey’s efforts as ‘truly outstanding’, saying in a statement: “Harvey is a School Councillor and has really enjoyed learning about our plans to redevelop the EYFS and Forest School outdoor areas.

Naiomi Goodman

Naiomi Goodman

“He knows that a huge amount of money needs raising for our plans to become a reality. Being an avid Manchester United fan like Harvey, I am delighted to be taking part in the walk myself and will support Harvey all the way to Old Trafford.

“To think a child of this age can be so generous, selfless and thoughtful for the benefit of his peers and the wider school community is truly humbling and I am so proud of him for even suggesting this challenge, never mind undertaking it.”

Naiomi has organised for friends and family to surprise Harvey on one of the stops along the route, as well as at the finish line at Hotel Football, who she hopes can get behind the charity walk.

At the time of writing, Harvey’s JustGiving fundraiser has reached £1,920 out of it’s £3,000 target. For more information on his walk and to donate to the cause yourself, click here.

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Feature

People are sharing the craziest things to have kicked off in their local Facebook groups

Ah, the weird and wonderful world of Facebook community groups…

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Solen Feyissa & Super Straho / Unsplash

If there’s one true blessing Facebook has bestowed upon the human race in its nearly two decade-long run, it’s undisputedly the humble local community group.

Every area has one; a private Facebook group in which people can partake in discussions and share any local news and events with their neighbours and wider community.

Yet while these groups tend to consist mainly of missing cat appeals, bad parking and people asking for DIY advice, they can be the perfect spot to sit back, relax, and scroll through page upon page of neighbourly drama and shenanigans.

So, when one Reddit user decided to share the craziest thing to ever ‘kick off’ in his local Facebook group, he was inundated with thousands of hilarious (yet somewhat bizarre) tales from within the dark depths of these private groups.

The initial question read, ‘What’s the craziest thing that’s kicked off on your local Facebook group?’, and told the tale of an Amazon delivery, a suspicious bloke lurking on a porch, and a forgotten collection deal between two neighbours.  

The post quickly grew in popularity and gained hundreds of stories from other local page members from all across the UK, ranging from arguments over murderous swans, dog muck drama and people getting off the bus too early.

Highlights include the story of a woman posting in their local group to share that her car had been stolen, in which she began the process of hunting down what happened to the car, and the requisite ‘what is the world coming to when you can’t park your car any where. Wouldn’t have happened back in my day’.

The post concluded: “A couple of days later, she posts that her car has been found – someone had found it slightly further up the road than where she was looking, and it was exactly where she’d parked it. She’d gone in one entrance to the park, and walked out of another a little bit further along the road.” Awkward.

Another response involved the nationally hated issue of owners not picking up after their dogs; this Reddit user recalled the time incriminating Ring doorbell footage showing a pair of dog owners in the act was shared into their Facebook group.

@mtimber71 / Unsplash

However, the whole group became divided over the footage, with some residents feeling ‘unsafe’ being videoed all the time and branding the owner of the Ring doorbell as ‘perverts’, while others were quite rightly sickened by the dog muck. 

Pure drama and ‘brilliant entertainment’. 

Another post read: “Woman posted in absolute rage saying someone had just tried to abduct her dog. The story goes that a van (which she had detail of) had followed her up and down the road. Eventually they rolled down the window and thrown some drug laden food to her dog – she evidently then ran home terrified and posted all over Facebook.

“Not long after there was a post from the owner of the van, a local tradesman, explaining not only was the reason they were driving up and down because they’d been given a wrong address and couldn’t find it; but the ‘drugged food’ was actually just a pepperami his passengers had thrown at each other and accidentally chucked it out the window.” Whoops…

David Dixon / Wikimedia Commons

The Reddit thread included stories of majorly paranoid neighbours, too; one woman explained that a photo of her husband on his commute home had been posted into her local group after he was seen repeatedly getting off the bus too early.

She wrote: “Same thing happened to my husband! ‘Suspicious guy gets off the bus at the same stop but walks in the direction the bus is going past other stops. Maybe casing out houses!’ With a photo of him for good measure.

“Truth is the bus gets too crowded after that stop so he gets off and walks the last 15 minutes home.”

One post read: “Someone put some litter off the street into a neighbours bin that neighbour kicked off and put a chicken carcass down the drain of the person who put the litter in her bin. Completely denied it but was caught doing it on cctv!”

Sandy Ravaloniaina / Unsplash

Another memorable entry comes courtesy of swan shenanigans, with a member of the community page allegedly appealing for help with splitting up two swans attempting to ‘murder’ another swan.

The post reads: “Got an argumentative one brewing at the moment. Local park has a lake with swans on it. Someone asked this morning if there was anyone who could help a swan that was being ‘murdered’ by 2 other swans, as she’d tried to split them up but the murderers were relentless. Half the replies are saying well done on helping the other half saying to leave alone as its nature. It’s all getting a bit nasty.”

A classic ‘suspicious man in a van’ post told an unfortunate tale of mistaken identity: “Our new build estate has a WhatsApp group, and was in uproar one day with images of a suspicious van driving slowly around the estate and some guy getting out and going up to different houses.

“It was the milkman.”

There were also plenty of lockdown dramas, with many saying their local community pages ramped up the mayhem while Covid was at its peak. 

One person recalled one of her neighbour’s somewhat irrational fear of the virus after she reported a runner coughing outside of her house, writing: “Lockdown was a ‘brilliant’ time on the local pages. We had a woman complaining because a runner had coughed outside her window. Full description of the runner and their clothing included.”

For more local community group mayhem, visit the full Reddit thread here.

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