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Manchester – Vidic might not be happy, but we love it!



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Nemanja Vidic was quoted as saying some not very nice things about Manchester this week, which he has since denied, although some have doubted how sincere his denial of the comments were.

“I will never stay to live in England, that’s for sure,” Vidic is quoted as saying. “You only get a brief glimpse of sunlight before it’s cloudy again. The winters are mild, but in summer the temperatures seldom go higher than 20C. And it rains, rains, rains. I would like to test myself in another top league… Spain. At least there will be no reason to complain about the weather. In England, they say that Manchester is the city of rain. Its main attraction is the timetable at the railway station, where trains leave for other, less rainy cities. It’s not only the weather… In Russia and Serbia the people’s way of life is similar. In England it’s totally different. Here they just don’t have time to feel joy. Throughout the week they work hard. They only talk to people at lunch. Then in the evening they come home and watch the telly, so they can get up early for work the next day.”

Well how rude. You might not be happy here Nemanja, but the rest of us bloody love it!

A team from the Universities of Sheffield and Manchester conducted a study on where Britain’s happiest place was. Using information from the British Household Panel Survey, where people were asked about their sense of well-being, the researchers were able to determine which districts were the happiest places to live.

Employment, health and educational qualifications were factored in to the equation, whilst it is typically the ‘social cohesion’ and interpretation of ‘social justice’, rather than location itself, which seem to make the difference.

The state of interpersonal relationships was a deciding factor in judging well being, with people feel more at ease in locations where they felt there was ‘social equality’. Areas where these things are prevalent tend to be areas where people are happiest.

“If an area is more socially cohesive it increases your chances of having good quality of interpersonal relationships and a good social network,” said Dr Ballas. “To what extent we can talk about happy people or happy places? Is it the place or the people? My guess would be it’s a bit of both. The variance that is attributed to the place you live in is perhaps higher than our research suggests, your immediate surroundings are very important in terms of happiness.”

The amount of time a person stays living in a certain place is also a consideration when judging well-being, where staying in area for five years or longer suggests contentment.

Whilst Powys in Wales tops the chart of contented people, it is Manchester that lies in second, with West Lothian, Cumbernauld and Kilsyth and Monklands, and Macclesfield the districts to follow. Here we have a city of happy and mellow people, satisfied by life and their surroundings.

Past studies have claimed Manchester is “the friendliest city” in the UK as well, which was also supported by the commemorative £2 coin for the Commonwealth Games held in Manchester in 2002, where the usual “Standing on the shoulders of giants” was replaced with “Spirit of Friendship – Manchester”

I remember well when one of my southern mates from university came to stay with me in Manchester, and asked why I hadn’t introduced him to the people I had been chatting heartily to at the bar. My answer, I didn’t even know who they were. He couldn’t get his head around strangers being able to laugh and joke in such a way, but it is a regular occurrence in this fine city of ours.

Whilst Manchester is actually in fact only the 9th rainiest city in the UK, not topping the charts like most would imagine, it is important to remember a line from a Beautiful South song: “If rain makes Britain great, then Manchester is greater.”

Whilst I could rant on and on about how wonderful Manchester is, to counter balance the point of view put across here by Nemanja, I came across a piece in The Telegraph that did it for me.

George Orwell called Manchester the “belly and guts of the nation”. Ian Brown, former lead singer of the Stone Roses, said: “Manchester’s got everything except a beach.” The historian AJP Taylor said it was “the only place in England that escapes our characteristic vice of snobbery”.

How dare you, Mr Vidic. How very flipping dare you. Yes, it rains in Manchester. Did you not check the long-term weather forecast before leaving your last club in sunny Moscow?

No one can argue with this astute climatological assessment, but soggy is what makes this city great. Perpetual damp conditions have given Mancunians a certain resigned resilience, an ability to take the miserable and make it art. Without the rain there would have been no Morrissey, no Lowry. If it weren’t so wet, the humour would not be so dry.

Mancunians rarely complain about the weather. It was only when I moved to London from my home town that I heard the words: “Shall I take my umbrella today?” Mancunians always take a brolly.

Under such conditions, it is difficult for Mancunians to have a sunny outlook, but they are famously warm, another aspect of our civic character Mr Vidic has overlooked.

The joy of life passing us by? We’re singing in the rain. Manchester is one of the planet’s great party capitals. The only place that rain can really stop play is at Old Trafford cricket ground.

[The picture Vidic paints of our working lives] is not the Manchester I know, but is it fair to criticise the work ethic in a city – Cottonopolis as it was nicknamed – that was at the forefront of the Industrial Revolution?

By yesterday afternoon, the no-nonsense defender was crying foul, stating that his comments had been misunderstood and that he had far too much respect for the people of Manchester to criticise them.

He needn’t have bothered. Mancunians are a stoic lot (something to do with all that rain) so there’s no need, Mr Vidic, to pull on a flak jacket. I’d strongly suggest, however, that you take some of your 50k a week to Manchester’s excellent shopping district and get yourself a decent raincoat.

You hear that, Nemanja? Whilst I fully anticipate a battering for this article, with plenty to counter balance the attractions of Manchester, if I’m honest, I couldn’t care less. I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else, and after Vidic’s performances last season, I hope he quickly learns to feel the same way!

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