Will 2024 be a prosperous year for Manchester?
The ancient Chinese calendar suggests so. Plus: Who will get a Michelin star?
Dear Millers — are you a rabbit, a tiger, an ox or a dragon? Chinese New Year celebrations kick off on Wednesday and we have a great guide to things you can do in town (and whether you are going to have a prosperous year). Plus: Our To Do list for the week features gigs in Levenshulme, Orwell on the stage in Bolton and an interesting photography exhibition in Sale.
Some big news: We’re hiring! We’re looking for a Deputy Editor to help lead The Mill and our sister titles, in what will surely prove to be one of the most fun and rewarding jobs in UK media. Check out the job ad and please share it with anyone you think might be a good fit. The deadline to apply is Sunday, March 3rd.
A very warm welcome to our new members who joined in the past few days, many prompted by Jack’s great piece about Cancelling Cancel Culture — a regular meeting that takes place upstairs at the Briton’s Protection. The meetings attract people who believe “woke” ideas are taking over society and who gather to share ideas and let off steam. The story drew a lively response in the comments and a spirited line-by-line YouTube rebuttal from the event’s main speaker, Barry Wall, who called Jack a “silly boy” in his (otherwise quite friendly) video.
We also published a members-only piece by former Oldham council leader Sean Fielding about local government finances, which offers a useful insight into one of the biggest issues facing the country at the moment: the dire finances of our local authorities (and how these cuts are affecting councils in Greater Manchester).
🌧️ This week’s weather
Don’t put the big coat away just yet — our local weatherman Martin Miles says it’s getting colder this week.
Tuesday 🌧️ Windy with heavy and persistent rain. Max 11°C.
Wednesday 🌤️ Mostly dry with sunny spells and light winds. Feeling chilly. Max 8°C.
Thursday ⚠️ Cold with a mix of rain, sleet and snow. Max 5°C.
Friday 🌦️ Chilly and cloudy with showery rain and sleet easing through the morning. Max 6°C.
Weekend 🌧️ Cold and unsettled with spells of rain which will be wintry to the hills. Temperature highs will be around 6°C.
You can find the latest forecast at Manchester Weather on Facebook — daily forecasts are published at 6.15am.
The big story: Manchester’s Dragon Year
Top line: Chinese New Year begins on Saturday (you’ve probably noticed all the lanterns adding a dash of colour to the trees around town), with events and performances all this week, plus a parade passing through the city on Sunday.
This year is a Year of the Dragon — people born in previous Dragon Years should expect a prosperous 2024. Those of us who weren’t can… just enjoy the celebrations. Here at the Mill, we’ve got two Rabbits, a Tiger, an Ox and one Dragon, so with any luck we can all ride their coattails to 2025.
This year’s calendar of events starts on Wednesday and lasts two weeks. Here’s what to expect:
7 February: Manchester Museum is hosting live performances and workshops designing traditional decorations.
8 February: There are cocktail masterclasses at Hudson Social Bar, exploring East and South-East Asian flavours.
11 February: The annual dragon parade starts from Oxford Street at 12pm.
21 February: The Portico Library is hosting traditional lion dances and half-term activities.
The backstory: The foundation of Manchester’s Chinese community was the immigrants who came to the city from Hong Kong in the 1950s. They were given the right to move here to plug a labour shortage.
Those who arrived in Manchester opened businesses in the run-down cotton mills that had been abandoned during the city’s industrial decline.
These cheap-to-rent spaces were clustered around George, Faulkner and Nicholas Streets, what we know today as Chinatown.
2.3% of Manchester’s population identifies as Chinese, according to the 2021 census.
The annual dragon parade ends on Faulkner Street, under Chinatown’s iconic central Paifang, or arch. The 175-foot dragon will weave its way from Oxford Street, with performances from ribbon dancers at either end of the route. Head along on Sunday.
Stanley Chow: The promotional artwork for this year’s celebrations is by Stanley Chow, the British-Chinese artist and longtime collaborator with Manchester City Council. His distinctive artwork is currently lining the city.
Related reading: Get your lanterns ready and read a couple of highly relevant Mill features to get into the mood.
Your Mill briefing
🌟 The Michelin Guide is holding its big awards ceremony at the Midland tonight (Jack has just left the office to attend and will have a piece for us on it on Wednesday). Hosting the ceremony here means rumours are swirling that more local restaurants could be in line for stars. We hear the frontrunners are Stockport’s Where the Light Gets In and The French, the Midland’s restaurant run by chef Adam Reid. “They would have to be spectacularly cruel to have everyone come to the Midland, have Adam cook for them and then send him home like a little kid while they hand out the stars,” one insider says. Manchester currently only has one restaurant with a Michelin star — Mana. A lot will be wondering whether it can get upgraded to two stars. Go deeper: ‘Simon Martin is Manchester’s best chef. Is he its worst boss?’
🌳 You may have noticed the trees being planted in Albert Square last week. Ten semi-mature trees, including Japanese Maples and Tulip trees, were hoisted in by cranes as part of the Town Hall renovation project. The square is expected to be made 20% bigger under the plans, meaning more space for pedestrians.
✈️ Fighter jets were scrambled to intercept a flight from Oslo to Manchester today. The plane is reported to have lost communications over the North Sea. Thankfully, it was escorted through to landing by a trusty pair of Royal Air Force Typhoons. It is normal for planes that lose communication to be escorted to land, an airport spokesperson told Metro.
🚨 Armed police stormed a train at Manchester Piccadilly over the weekend, after a reported sighting of Abdul Ezedi on board. Ezedi has been on the run since last Wednesday, wanted for an acid attack in Clapham that injured a woman and her two daughters.
Home of the week
This “Tudorbethan style” (not a very appealing portmanteau) five-bedroom house is nestled in a wooded area of Leigh, and has its own orangery. It’s on the market for £475,000.
Our favourite reads
For years, campaigners and journalists have warned about problems at a disused development in Liverpool. Then the dire predictions came true — the empty shell of the building (which was purchased by a Manchester-based investment company in 2020) caught fire last weekend. It’s a jaw-dropping tale that encapsulates what happens “when developers get away with doing exactly what they want to do”, as one observer put it.
Composer Steve Reich: ‘What do I want? I want the music to be played’ — The Financial Times
At 87, the Grammy-award-winning classical composer Steve Reich is still finding eclectic sources of inspiration, from The Book of Genesis to cross-country trains. Just last weekend, the Hallé Orchestra performed a festival in his honour. “I’m very grateful that my music has been listened to and appreciated,” Reich tells the FT. “It’s a great source of happiness.”
The politics of Generation Grime — The New Statesman
This review of Aniefiok Ekpoudom’s new book, Where We Come From: Rap, Home and Hope in Modern Britain, is written by the University of Manchester’s sociology professor Gary Younge, who calls the novel an “engaging, erudite, sweeping social history of grime in Britain”.
Our to do list
🎨 There’s a new community art space in Longsight that puts on free workshops each week, including an arty drop-in session every Tuesday from 12 until 4. Find out more here.
🎙️ Drop by the Blues Kitchen after work for timeless soul music performed by the house band. Walk-ins are welcome or book a table here.
🎭 There are still a few tickets left for the Octagon Theatre’s adaptation of George Orwell’s classic novel Animal Farm, which focuses on “the chilling reality of constant surveillance”.
📷 Local photographer Roxana Allison’s new exhibition Hope, Despair, Miracles explores the positive impact of community action in working-class and multi-ethnic neighbourhoods. It’s showing at Waterside Arts Centre in Sale and it’s free to visit.
🎧 Tucked away in the back room of a cosy pub in Levenshulme, Handbook In Motion will feature live sets as well as classical and folk music. Tickets are £7.
🎞️ Over in Withington, Café Blah is showing Female Trouble, a low-budget 1974 comedy film where a spoiled schoolgirl runs away from home and accidentally gets thrown into a life of crime.