Saturday, 8 December 2007
Crofty's Advent Awards
Most of us are doing similar things in the weeks that run up to Christmas: shopping, work's nights out and such; so I thought it might be useful to add my own brief sage guidance on what is hot and what is not in the Manchester Advent experience.
We had our work night out yesterday afternoon and evening and when I told people we were going to the Radisson Hotel in Manchester there were two distinct reactions: either 'bloomin' 'eck that must be costing you a bit' or 'Yeuch, hotel food is rubbish at Christmas, it will just school dinners'. That is why The Radisson Edwardian Hotel on Peter St gets my first Advent award.
I was one of the many Mancunians who were aghast at losing the Free Trade Hall; that Manchester icon of the working man's struggle, home of the Halle Orchestra and gorgeous gig venue; but time marches on relentlessly and gone it is. Or rather not gone, but transformed into a beautifully modern interpretation of Edwardian Elegance: modern clean lines, glass and space but an equal amount of warm sandstone to make it a sort of cosy-posh. What made it so special though, for our team of about 25 revellers, was the way they just got it all so right. My experience of large hotel events really does amount to school dinners, thrown at you by spotty disinterested waiting staff who looked like they could barely tear themselves away from texting. The Radisson though was far from that - we were served by real grown-up waiters and waitresses who affably shared our revelleries (even laughing at some of the jokes during the Secret Santa presentations - which was more than we did!) and they had a quaint insistence on the quality of their service: bless them, they were aghast when, to rectify the usual meal confusion, we passed plates across the table rather than let them carry them around it. Well done The Radisson I recommend you to my blogging friends and readers.
My award for the most overrated Manchester Advent pastime goes to the Gluwein bars inside the Christmas market (more of the markets shortly). I will not labour the point but must thank 70s Teen for a descriptive phrase that really and truly fits the bill. It took 20 minutes to be served a single warming mug of mulled wine and in that time I had more physical contact with strangers than is good for a man of my age. Teen describes her morning commute as 'a rugby scrum with frotting' - a perfect description of the post-office crowd in the wooden shack that rocked in the wind like an Anglesey caravan holiday.
Out in the fresh air of the excellent, in all other respects, European market, a group of colleagues and I perused the varied wares; which gives rise to my final award, for the most subtle and discrete flattery. The award goes to the lovely French lady on the Pashmina stall (at the back of the market towards the left if you are facing the Town Hall - just so you know). Whilst I was buying one of her lovely cashmere and silk Pashminas she mistakenly assumed that my young (half my age) blonde, vivacious, attractive colleague was, you know, with me. I think L was very flattered (ahem).
If you get chance, take a break from the frenetic frotting of shopping and enjoy some of Manchester's Advent attractions: the markets, the big wheel or the ice rink (which, incidentally, doesn't have make the morning walk across Piccadilly chilly round your legs). Manchester's a great place to spend your Christmas preparation.