Dirty Old Town

I went to register G's birth today. You have to do it in the district in which the birth took place, which meant a short drive back to Salford to the town hall on Chorley Road. When I told the registrar the name, she said: "Well, we don't get many names like that in Salford." Apparently this morning she'd had to register a Kaylum. Kaylum? It sounds to me like a cross between Kayleigh and Callum. I should have asked whether the unfortunate child was a girl or a boy, but I didn't, so that's going to have to remain a mystery. Maybe Kaylum is actually an incredibly post-modern name, like an anagram of something significant. I doubt it though.

So, even though she's got no other connection to the place, G is now officially a Salfordian. And I want to make sure she grows up with at least some sense of the city where she was born, and the other people who have come from there. Whether she'll be at all bothered is another story, but I'll be happy if she at least knows a bit about her hometown, and that it means more to her than just a word in the back of her passport.

I was thinking about one of those famous Salfordians earlier as I was driving through what was a typical Manchester day, all dark skies and rain. Like G, Ewan MacColl was born in Salford to a Scottish father, and he's best remembered for writing Dirty Old Town about the place. These days people tend to assume the song is about Dublin, probably because of this cover version by The Pogues. No doubt Salford Council would prefer that the misconception remains, so people don't automatically think of the city as 'dirty' or, probably even worse in their eyes, a 'town.'

I know it's probably pushing it a bit to hope that G will grow up to be a leading playwright and songwriter like Ewan MacColl. But there are plenty of other notable Salfordians she can try to emulate. Admittedly, one of them is ex-snooker player John Virgo. Although even if she develops a talent for doing trick shots and takes to wearing dodgy waistcoats, I'm sure I'll still be proud of her.