“Yeah,” screamed the boy behind the camera, five metres aways.
He’d asked me at the end of the tour whether I could ask the group if it would be ok for them to shout his band’s name at the camera. Then he could shove a video of the moment around social media.
I asked them. They complied. With heart felt gusto.
The teenagers and their tutors had just got off an eighteen hour series of flights but were in high spirits.
Law and management students. we did a brief tour of the Town Hall – they wanted to learn about how the city is governed - and then walked to Exchange Square because, after I'd left them, they wanted to learn about Manchester’s shops and boost the local economy.
They were polite, giddy, filled with a desire to photograph everything they saw and hugely excited about the weather that Monday. This was playfully providing ten minutes of blizzard followed by twenty minutes of gloriously blue skies. It alternated this way for about six hours.
Most of the Singaporeans had never seen snow before and yelled and squealed with delight. They made their first ever snowballs. It was charming.
“In Singapore it’s more than thirty degrees every day with very high humidity,” said one student about his tropical homeland. He wasn’t talking minus thirty either.
As they gathered for a photograph next to an Easter promotion in Exchange Square I asked the ones at the front, why so many young people from the Far East raise the two fingered peace salute during every photograph.
“Because it’s nice to wish people peace,” said one girl.
I resisted exclaiming, “But on every photograph!” because she was right. It is nice wish people peace, to hope for peace. It might well be a cliché, it might well seem strained, and just too much, to satirical Brits, but it’s a warm-hearted harmless gesture nevertheless. Innocent.
At the close of the tour, one of the groups of friends showed me a photograph on their phones of a mobile phone shop in Manchester where they wanted to buy a charger pack.
I said goodbye to the rest of the students and took the small group to the shop in St Ann’s Square they wanted.
On the way they asked me what I did aside from guiding, if anything. I told them I was a writer, and when they learned I did food reviews alongside other articles, one girl, gave another squeal.
“That is my dream job,” she said and insisted that I told her how I’d become one a food writer. She also insisted we had a picture taken together.
“This picture, might help me achieve my dream,” she said, as though I were some miracle-working religious icon.
Good luck with that I thought, wondering why I’d never insisted on having a picture taken next a Manchester statue of Sir Robert Peel, or John Bright, or Richard Cobden, or any of those ridiculously energetic past greats.