We drove up from Oxford Street and turned into Deansgate. It took us thirty minutes - but didn't it always? - In between boarded-up buildings bright cafés and bars were open for business and were bustling as office-girls in summer dresses crossed the street for their lunchtime sandwiches. Workers whistled on scaffolding and even the Police smiled.
Near the Cathedral, a group of camera-laden tourists were gathered for a guided tour, but I was unprepared for the sight as we turned into Withy Grove and looked up Corporation Street. It was like gazing through a window at some scene from Bosnia or Beirut; the now so silent debris hanging.
The traffic lights change; we climb Shude Hill past the dark deserted Bus Station on the day the IRA say "sorry" and the newspaper hoardings reply "HOW DARE THEY SAY SORRY" to the city that survives and smiles.