Most of our focus so far has, of course, been on London, but we would do well to remember that London isn’t the only city in England (or Britain, or the UK — remember that these are all different). The Greater London Urban Area has a population of over 8 million, a little under one-sixth of the UK as a whole; but much of the other five-sixths of the country live in substantial cities as well. Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, and Glasgow all have populations over 1,000,000, while Newcastle, Liverpool, Nottingham, Sheffield, Belfast, and Bristol are all over 500,000 — and as a rule, these cities resent bloody London for thinking that it’s the centre of the universe.
From a British music point of view, the main rival to London has long been Manchester, which — I have to admit — has turned out some seriously good bands over the years. We find a similar rivalry in British football, where Manchester United and Manchester City are currently holding first and second spots, while three London-area teams (Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea, and Arsenal) are currently third, fourth, and fifth in the Premier League. (You would do well to choose your allegiances soon… this is serious business, much more serious than Yankees v. Red Sox.)
One of Manchester’s greatest and least lovable bands is The Fall, a band composed of of Mark E Smith and whoever else happens to be near him at the time. Smith is perhaps the one of the strangest and sourest guys in the history of rock music — you can check out of some of his oddest interview moments here, or better still, you can watch this fantastic BBC documentary about The Fall here.
Here’s The Fall telling Londoners to “Leave the capitol… and exit this Roman shell.” Empires come in a variety of shapes, of course.
“Pan resides in Welsh green masquerades.” Nice line, that. I’m working now to get some optional (and inexpensive) weekend excursions planned for the coming months so that you will all get the chance to Leave the Capitol a few times, if you wish.