Only second?

BBC (Evan Davis): The case for making Hebden Bridge the UK's second city
Birmingham and Manchester are usually mentioned when the subject of Britain's second city comes up. But is Hebden Bridge—population 4,200—the rightful owner of the title?

I'm tempted to say it should be first, but I have divided loyalties. As we all know, Liverpool is currently the UK's first city.

Turn your bloody lights off!


Manchester from the International Space Station last night.

Liverpool and the Wirral

Liverpool and the Wirral (you can see my Dad's house from here).


Some place down south.

Is it any bloody wonder we can only see a handful of stars these days?

[All photos by Commander Chris Hadfield]

Postscript, 20:23: I just showed my Dad the middle photo, and, when we zoomed in, we really could see his house!

Maybe it's because I'm not a Londoner

I have reluctantly decided not to put myself forward for London mayor. I spent many hours non-existent-soul-searching before coming to this decision. I hope the good citizens of London will try to contain their disappointment, but it was never meant to be.

It wasn't the fact that I have never lived in London that dissuaded me. Dick Whittington didn't come from London either, and it didn't do his mayoral aspirations any harm. What put me off was the realisation that, when it comes to playing politics, I am a witless buffoon. Which kind of makes you wonder why Boris Johnson is standing.

Oh, and there was the London stereotypes thing as well. I'm all for stereotypes, but I just don't get the London ones.

At a conference in London a few months ago, I found myself cornered by a loudmouthed Londoner who'd had one too many lager and tonics: "My mate Ken, he's from Chiswick. He's mad is Ken! You know what them Chiswickers are like!" he said. I nodded knowingly, wondering what on earth he was on about. "Whereas me, I'm your typical Barnet-man: steady as they come." He didn't look too steady to me.

Over the course of the next twenty hours, my new friend enthralled me with tales of his mates from Brent, Southwark, Ealing and Lewisham, each of whom respectively matched the Brent, Southwark, Ealing and Lewisham stereotypes, whatever the hell those are supposed to be. I decided it was time to take my leave of Barnet Man when he started harping on about his friends from some place called Warcraft. They sounded like a right bunch of thugs.

Which is why I won't be standing for London mayor, you see. I might be a witless buffoon when it comes to politics, but I do at least know that you have to understand your electorate.