Manchester: The Rainy City

The below worksheet was adapted from Postcolonial Manchester by Lynne Pearce, Corinne Fowler and Robert Crawshaw (Manchester University Press, 2013); it was devised by Dr Sarah Ilott, Research Assistant, North-West Writers into Schools.

Manchester is often known as the rainy city despite the fact that it is actually no wetter than most towns and cities in Britain. A website that publishes new writing by Manchester authors has even called itself Rainycitystories.com, which suggests that rain is a defining feature of Mancunian identity and writing. The experience of being rained on is something that everyone in Manchester shares and that Mancunians have shared throughout history! Rain is seen as giving Mancunians a collective (or shared) identity.

 

However, the shared experience of rain is not something that is always seen so positively. Writers often use rain as a way of representing certain emotions, such as depression, alienation, or menace. Sometimes rain is even described like a person and made to have human characteristics. For example, you might say that the rain ‘sliced’ or ‘bit’. Writing as if inanimate things have human characteristics is called personification.

 

Comprehension activities:

 

  • What adjectives would you use to describe rain?
  • What verbs would you use to describe rainfall?
  • What moods or emotions would you link to different weathers?
  • What other experiences do all people living in Manchester share?
  • Visit the Raincitystories.com website and find a short story or poem that is written by someone near where you live. Does it talk about the weather? How does it describe Manchester?

 

Creative activity:

 

  • Write a paragraph introducing a character or a place in which you use a description of the weather to reflect characteristics of the person/place.

 

Extension activity:

 

  • Look up the definition of pathetic fallacy. Use what you have found out to write a description of the weather that reflects a certain emotion.
  • Look up an image of Lemn’s Sissay’s poem ‘Rain’ (painted on a wall above a takeaway on Oxford Road, image reproduced on page 220 of Postcolonial Manchester). What does the poem say about rain? How does the poem’s form reflect the subject matter?

 

Further reading:

 

Lemn Sissay, ‘Moods of Rain’ in Tender Fingers in a Clenched Fist (London: Bogle L’Ouverture, 1988).