Bumming around… in a Rolls
Four friends enjoy a stylish Madchester reunion
Flashback to the late 80s. Manchester: The Stone Roses. 808 State. New Order. The Fall. The Smiths. Neon lights and spiced air of Wilmslow's curry mile, captured perfectly by native Mancunian Jeff Noon in Vurt—the trippy, wild and kaleidoscopic steampunk novel that was the literary soundtrack to a phenomenal era, which I enjoyed with my three Madchester musketeers, Brian, Jazza and Tariq the Chiq Sheikh.
Bombing around in Jazza's mum's old Mini, way over any type of definable limit, we often joked that if we survived the scene, we’d return one day as old codgers and do it again, this time in a Rolls Royce. Well, survive we did and we also stayed in touch. So in early 2017, we travelled from around the world to meet up at Donington Park, where our gleaming, super-luxury Rolls Royce Phantom awaited us, as part of AutoXotica's pre-launch PR campaign.
After a fast and enjoyable driver’s training session by Kevin and Aaron of AutoXotica, we were all set to go. I have to add that this was a great company to deal with. We wanted to pick the car up a bit outside of Manchester in order to get ourselves in the Madchester mood, and wanted to leave the car in Manchester after the weekend. ‘No problem’ seems to be the AutoXotica mantra and, coupled with the fact we only had to sign a couple of papers that took a couple of minutes to complete, they do seem to speak the universal language of hassle free.
Back to our road trip. We had tossed a coin in the morning for driver’s dibs. Brian came last, so he was the driver. Yes that’s right, no-one wants to drive this baby because it’s the ultimate passenger car. The luxury, from the lambs-wool foot carpets that look like clouds to the leather seats and wood veneer inspired by majestic ships, the Phantom is on another plane altogether, and best enjoyed by intimately appreciating the organic, orgasmic interior.
Like Scribble and company chasing the Game Cat through Manchester's underground in Vurt, we soon arrived in that familiar Northern town that nurtured and formed all four of us. The smell of industry and spices, the bustle of the city, the rows of houses. . . it was great to be home.
Windows down, cruising through our old haunts, heads were turning like that girl off the Poltergeist film. Heading down London Road and Store Street, around good ol Piccadilly Station, reminded us all of Elbow’s Station Approach tune about coming home. Other stomping grounds we made the pilgrimage to included the red-brick Salford Lads Club; Heaton Park where the 1991 'Cities in the Park' gig took place; the mecca that was The Haçienda; and The International, where all four of us first saw The Stone Roses live in 1988. The International is now a Turkish supermarket, something none of us would have even contemplated, as we danced the night away nearly three decades ago.
Still cruising down memory lane, our trusty Rolls carried us like Aladdin's magic carpet to the place where us four first met, Oswald Road Primary School in the heart of Chorlton. Famous for being the school the Gibb brothers attended before they emigrated to Australia in 1958, it sure looked better than it did when we were last there. Then again, as we waved at gawping kids like visiting pop stars from our £300,000 Roller, I'm sure our ride looked much better too.