So, the BBC really is moving several of its departments lock, stock and barrel to a specially-to-be-constructed new 'Media City' at Salford Quays- and as a result The Oxford Road Television Centre, the current homely headquarters of BBC North West, is going to be knocked down (or, more likely, converted into flats like just about every other building in the city centre, at least the ones that haven't instead been converted into Tesco Metros or branches of Cafe Nero) . This may be fantastic news for Manchester, but it is an absolute disaster for me personally, as it means I will no longer be able to get on the 197 bus from Levenshulme wearing the expensive-looking-but-actually-quite-cheap raincoat and the state-of-the-art media-glasses, and, by confidently demanding a ticket for 'BBC please', convince the Polish bus driver that I'm not a lowly sales clerk at all but a nationally famous investigative broadcast journalist, off to put the licence payers' fees to worthy use undercovering corrupt politicians, money-laundering football agents, and other assorted personages of unsavoury character.
I'm not too sure about these state-of-the-art media glasses, by the way. They may make you look (at least to public transport employees who have been in the country for ten minutes and are still struggling to distinguish Manchester from Stockport) like you might conceivably be someone off the telly, but, due to the fashionable quirk of having absolutely straight arms, with no kind of hook on the end for insertion behind the ears, they tend to wobble around quite disconcertingly- and can become dangerously unstable in high winds. This lunchtime I was walking back to the office from the Deansgate Hot Food Bar and an 80mph gust sent the glasses clean off my face. Still propelled by the freakish mid-day winds, my liberated spectacles proceeded to scuttle off at pace along the pavement, where they appeared to my suddenly-unaided eyes like a hermit crab in something of a hurry. Evading my desperate short-sighted lunge, the errant eyewear scrambled under some metal fencing and into an unoccupied building site, where it came to rest among some rubble.
So- if you were in central Manchester this lunchtime and saw a disorientated-looking office worker in a duffel coat suddenly sprint twenty yards down the street shouting in unintelligible Geordie at what appeared to be an escaping lobster, before scaling a wobbly eight-foot fence and scrambling around on all fours in a pile of bricks, then there's your explanation. And as if that was not enough trauma at the hands of the outlandish weather, tonight all the trains heading south out of Piccadilly were cancelled, and the town centre had been cordoned off (due to bits of buildings flying off and bouncing off people's heads) so the buses were snarled up in a six-mile tailback of angry traffic- and I ended up walking all the way home from Manchester to Levenshulme. Although to be perfectly honest I quite enjoyed this diversion from the usual teatime routine, as I suspect did plenty among the gradually thinning procession of unexpectedly ambulant commuters, some of them carrying briefcases, who made their bedraggled way homewards along the A6 as darkness fell. En route for the more affluent suburbs, they mingled incongrously but cheerfully among the track-suit clad teenagers and shopping-trolley-pushing pensioneers of inner-city Ardwick and Longsight.
It was a colourful and uplifing experience altogether, and if I had my way I would pass a city bylaw making it compulsory, on one pre-arranged day yearly, for everyone to walk to their place of work, regardless of how far away they lived. If we could arrange it for a particularly windy day in January, then from 2008 onwards we could look forward to the prospect of exiled capital-city media types in sharp suits chasing dislodged eyewear through the streets of Salford, apparently under the impression that they are in pursuit of particularly sprightly lobsters. And if that's not worth £250 million of the licence-payers' money, then I don't know what is, I really don't.