Wednesday, January 4, 1989

'Yanks Shoot Down Gaddaffi Warplanes' ...

Arose to the sounds of Genesis' "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway" at a little past 9 a.m. Got ourselves up and soon made the chilling discovery that no only was there no heat in the apartment, but there was no hot water as well. So no showers today!

We caught what was pretty much the furthest thing from a direct route into Manchester, finally arriving at about noon and began our search for the Manchester Evening News building. Today was the day we had scheduled a tour of the building with the editor and Dr. Morrison's friend, Mike Unger (pictured).

I bought a copy of the newspaper to get the address, and when we finally found the road it was located upon, we began the search. It wasn't too long before we found ourselves in front of the building, an hour before we were expected. So we walked around town for a bit, into a bookshop where I bought 2 more Bond books ("For Your Eyes Only" and "The Man with the Golden Gun"), then we walked around to the concert hall. While there we passed by a bank where we saw the police running in, but we never exactly found out why. Stopped into a model shop, and by then the time for our tour was drawing near, so we left and headed back to the Manchester Evening News.

When we arrived, we ended up having to wait about 15 minutes, but for a very good reason... because of a late breaking story that just hit moments before we arrived. The United States had just shot down two Libyan MiG fighter jets in the Mediterranean Sea. Needless to say, I was thrilled to have an opportunity to be there when the news hit and experience the process of pulling together a news story at a large metropolitan newspaper (it has a daily circulation of about 350,000.)

It was an amazing operation... they put out six editions every day! (Compare that to my college newspaper The Snapper, which cranks out one a week.) Got to visit the Features Department, Sports and News departments at work, saw the giant presses and watched them remove the old edition and replace it with the new one that featured a story on the late-breaking news of the melee in the Mediterranean.

Mike was very gracious to give us some of his time to show us the newsroom in action... especially considering our visit coincided with heightened activity. We also had some pretty interesting discussions about journalism. One thing we talked about was the Lockerbie air disaster. He made the decision to declare the plane crash a terrorist bombing before it had been officially declared as such. He said the evidence up to that point, particularly the way the plane crashed, made it clear to them that this was definitely a terrorist bombing. I questioned his decision suggesting that it was too soon to make that call when the possibility still existed that it was caused by some other malfunction on the plane. He said his gut told him that this could not have been anything other than a bombing. "What would you have done if it wasn't?" I asked.

"But we were right," was all he responded to this and my other questions, unflinching and smiling. I soon realized that it was the only answer I was going to get. He was so confident that his gut was correct that he never even entertained the possibility that he might have been wrong. And you know what? He was right.

Mike gave us a few souvenir copies of the newspaper, and satisfied with what we had learned, we were on our way to scour Manchester and see what else it had to offer.

We went into a library that had some very old books, but we were not permitted access to see much of anything, so we didn't stay very long.

Walked around town a bit more and went into an art gallery that had a wealth of pottery and silverware, as well as extensive paintings. We then ventured next door to a Falklands War exhibition, which was also very interesting, and educational. I knew a little bit about the war beforehand, but this gave me a deeper perspective on it.

When we left we headed to a little chippy shop where we got a very good meal for under £2 each. Wondering what to do next, J.P. and I decided to take in the cinema, and went to a theatre where they were showing the movie "Willow." It was the second time I'd seen it, but definitely a fun and entertaining movie. Val Kilmer is one of my favorite actors right now.

Following the film, J.P.'s foot started hurting and we decided to make our way to the bus station, though we got a bit misguided along the way, prolonging J.P.'s agony. We finally managed to make it to the station, and after a bit of a wait and my own excursion for some chips n gravy and a cola, we caught the bus back to Ashton. We walked back to the flat, talked a bit, then went to bed around midnight.

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