City to City

I find it interesting that while the rivalries between some of our great cities (Edinburgh & Glasgow, Liverpool & Manchester, etc.) never seem to change, our perceptions of these cities, and of the differences between them, do seem to have altered over the years.

Having been born and bred in Glasgow, I was brought up to have a healthy dislike and distrust of all things related to Edinburgh. Back in the 1970s the general perception of Glasgow was of a crime ridden post-industrial city which was in a spiral of decline. The No Mean City image was hard to live down. By contrast, Edinburgh was seen as a prosperous and cultured place where everyone spoke like Miss Jean Brodie.

The image of the two cities today is a little different. Glasgow, which now has a thriving culture and media industry, seems a much more confident and welcoming place. By contrast, the world is now much more aware of Edinburgh’s seamier side, probably thanks in no small measure to the novels of Irvine Welsh.

I now live in North West England where I can observe at close hand the differences between Liverpool and Manchester. I find it odd that many people still associate Liverpool primarily with music and football. After all, the Beatles split up more than 40 years ago and it’s been over a quarter of a century since either Merseyside club won the League title. In football, and also in music, some might say that Manchester seems to have had the edge for the past two decades.

Manchester is probably viewed by people outside the North West as the more cultured of the two cities, which seems more than a bit unfair. Manchester can certainly boast a number of fine cultural attractions, but we shouldn’t ignore the fact that Liverpool is home to the Everyman Theatre, the Tate Liverpool and several highly regarded museums.

As I have said before in these posts, many of our great cities have an image problem. For example, I’ve long argued that Liverpool would benefit from a civic pride campaign similar to the one which kick started the rehabilitation of Glasgow in the 1980s. Our cities have a lot to be proud of and shouldn’t shy away from shouting about their successes.


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