What a difference half a lifetime can make, not least to my home city of Manchester, which we revisited this week.
It must be decades since I last arrived at Deansgate station, from where I commuted at age 20 to work at the city’s first skyscraper, Sunlight House in Quay Street.
In the early 1970s its designer and owner, Joseph Sunlight, was still alive. Although rich, he used to shuffle around his Portland stone building reluctantly changing light bulbs if tenant firms reported one going. Of course, by that time others had copied and outdone his office block, though few had a basement swimming pool or sweet shop in their foyer. It was, however, all rather run down by then.
On Deansgate I later did Sunday reporting shifts at the Daily Mail, surrounded by desks occupied only by old typewriters and dirty dinner plates, with congealed gravy and remains of chops consumed by busier Saturday night staffers. Nothing much happened, and only the old pub near Bootle Street police station was open.
On the train from Blackpool this Sunday I told She Who Knows how, as a teenage office worker at Manchester Town Hall, I was sent to buy rail tickets to London for council executives, always first-class, non-smoker seats facing the engine. It was so long ago that my big boss used to also send me to pick up his starched collars.
This last Sunday, Deansgate was crowded, its highway closed to traffic for a family cycle race. There were spectacular glass buildings soaring from former Victorian alleyways but, thankfully, the fine old landmarks like Rylands Library have survived.
After shopping at what had been Kendals, we enjoyed drinks at a trendy bar in a converted cotton emporium overlooking Parsonage Gardens, followed by a French meal nearby.
How wonderful to see the North West come so far and, once more, buzzing with new life.
* For Roy’s books visit www.royedmonds-blackpool.