At Bolton only one person got off, the poor sod, and I could see why when witnessing the end-of-the-world-is-nigh industrial wasteland devouring the scene from the window, taking us up to the suburbs of Manchester, which could have been Detroit, and which at night became legendary Mad-chester, known for its roaring drug-fueled social scene. There was a very pleasant and tempting whiff of ganja in the air as I walked up from Piccadilly station.
I hadn't been here in donkeys years, not since my days following Arsenal football club around the country, days when I would kip at the student digs of the only other Arsenal fan I knew before attending the match the next afternoon. It's gone ultra grey steel and glass nowadays, cheap and modern, alluding to pretentiousness, not looking as if it will last, cranes on the horizon, new wealth putting up apartments and shopping centres, heavy industry nowhere in sight. Christ knows where all the money comes from ... Drugs? China? And for sure China is where the industry has gone.
The hotel was bang in the centre of things and the entire area was awash with people engaged in christmas/rip-off shopping. It was very multi-ethnic too and some people even seemed to be on holiday. Why on earth would they do that? No idea. Finding the hotel with directions from a stationary taxi driver - "You're standing right next to it, mate" - I then took a walk in early evening, spotting that many others were combining a shopping trip with a drinking binge. It was Saturday night. Mothers dragged tired kids around, lugging bags bursting with gifts and rolls of wrapping paper.