Mark had researched walking tours of Manchester and found a lengthy free tour that departed just around the corner from our hotel. We walked to Sackville Gardens where the tour guests were gathered at the designated meeting place around the Alan Turing statue. The statue is of Turing sitting on a park bench and from a distance I thought it was a real person. The guide came and introduced himself as Chris.
Prior to our walking tour of Manchester. Chris is in the blue jacket and cap on the right.
Mark waiting for the tour to begin
One of our first stops was at the monument to the Vimto beverage that is manufactured in Manchester. Chris told us that the ingredients depicted at the base of the bottle don’t really represent what is in it, as the long dark things are supposed to be vanilla beans (and there isn’t any vanilla in Vimto) and the elliptical green things are supposed to be grapes, not squashes. The red fruits look like either raspberries or strawberries, as the sculptor created them deliberately to look ambiguous. During our time in Manchester I bought a small bottle of Vimto and loved it, and then was surprised to see larger bottles on sale in Stockholm, so got some there too.
Chris at the monument to Vimto
Shortly after our walk began, when we stopped outside the apartment building that Noel Gallagher used to live in, Chris asked the group if anyone had heard of a British soap opera that takes place in Manchester. I said nothing, nor did anyone else. Now for me, a “Coronation Street” fan, I took his question far too literally–as I am a pointedly literal person (to a fault)–as “Coronation Street” takes place in a fictional suburb of Manchester, Weatherfield, and not in Manchester itself. Chris said that he had once appeared on the show, and for the next few minutes as he spoke about the apartment building I tried to figure out which character he played. When he finished and we all walked to the next destination, I caught up with him to ask. He said that I probably wouldn’t remember, yet when I told him that I had been faithfully watching the show since 1985, I believed that I would. Chris said that he had played a young Mark Redman, before he got turfed from the show for violating a professional standards clause. (He had been caught by police with marijuana.) He was using the name Chris Hoyle, although he was billed as Chris Cook during his time on the show. What a coincidence: I have now met two actors who played Mark Redman (or Mark Baldwin) on the show. The first actor I met–who replaced Chris when his character was reintroduced to the show three years later–was Paul Fox. Paul was the boyfriend of one of the players in Mark’s hockey league. I recognized him at one of the games and had an awkward moment when I approached him and recognized him for a role he had long left. Paul was in Canada at the time shooting Starhunter.