Friday High Five – what’s been in the news this week

At a recent event held to discuss Andy Spinoza’s book Manchester Unspun, the author Stuart Maconie offered the opinion that the rest of the North now talks about Manchester in the same way that the rest of Britain talks of London.

I was thinking about this as I popped into my favourite rice and three café in Manchester’s Northern Quarter on Wednesday.

Kabana is tucked in a corner off Thomas Street, which had been transformed to host Chanel’s 2023/24 Métiers D’art show, describing Manchester as “one of the most effervescent cities of pop culture and an avant-garde one, whose bands, spanning all genres, have changed the history of music”.

It was great to see, and to feel the energy in the city centre, even if the sight of fleets of limos and people carriers lined up outside the top hotels was a reminder of the elite nature of the invasion.

At the start of the week Manchester was named as the home of the English National Opera. Again, this is good.

But Stuart Maconie’s words rang true as the city seemed to be on that global map. Liverpool’s Steve Rotheram was gracious in defeat, but quite rightly called out the wasteful process that pits city against city.

But if Manchester’s going to take all of the smooth, it’s got to take the rough too.

Last Friday I sat in court and listened to Judge Sarah Johnston send Lawrence Jones to prison for 15 years.

In so doing she described a culture in his business UK Fast, and the part it played in the normalisation of sexual power over one of his victims: “the workplace environment you created was tainted by your attitude to women”.

This didn’t happen by accident, or without the complicity of others.

I called this episode Manchester’s MeToo, a reference to the response to the reign of terror Harvey Weinstein waged over the women of the entertainment industry.

Hollywood is still going through a collective soul searching. People lost reputations for their actions.

It’s only been a week, but no one has apologised for their part in creating the monster that is Lawrence Jones. No one.

If Manchester truly aspires to be globally significant, and enjoy the spotlight of the world, then being honest about how this was allowed to happen unchecked would be a start.

Have a great weekend.

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