Manchester in the Ice Age

By Benjamin Judge

Location: High Street, Northern Quarter

‘All I’m saying is it was a bloody stupid idea.’

‘But it has done wonders for tourism, Geoffrey. Skiing on Urbis, husky trekking down Deansgate, not to mention the tours to the top of the dome.’

‘I was late for work this morning because of a bloody mammoth!’


‘A mammoth! I wish I’d never got that transfer.’


Outside, the snow drifted across High Street and down toward the Arndale Centre. A raven pecked forlornly at a half-eaten pizza that was partly buried in the snow. In the distance you could hear the organising howls of wolves as they steadily entrapped one of the caribou that grazed the tundra of Platt Fields. All this took place within the dome, miles across, that covered all of Greater Manchester and controlled the weather. The two professors sat in the Northern Quarter but all Manchester was northerly now. Manchester, and its impossibly huge dome, had redefined the word northern. Manchester was a new arctic. It was the home of the new Ice Age. It was the snowy city.


‘And where did they get the mammoths anyway?’

‘Oh, the Science Department have been working on this for decades.’

‘Well I’m not Science, Kevin. I am Modern Languages. And frankly I can’t see how an influx of American tourists will help me to get funding for a new translation of Rimbaud’s juvenilia.’

‘But Geoffrey…’

‘Don’t try to convince me. Seven of my students didn’t turn up to a seminar last week because of rumours going around that a sabre-toothed tiger had been spotted in the Living Sciences Quadrant. Can that be right, Kevin? A sabre-toothed tiger?’


It was right. Professor Kevin Fould knew all about them. He was Head of Biology and was one of the godfathers of the new fauna. There were sabre-toothed cats and mammoths. There were herds of giant elk that roamed across Burnage and Didsbury. Stoats danced among strewn litter in their ermine coats. Sea eagles soared over Beetham Tower. Kevin’s favourites were the woolly hippos that would sometimes smash the ice from the top of the ship canal with their mighty front feet so they could wallow in the in the lush, icy silt below.

His life, which he thought was over when Mary left and took the children with her, brought a new wonder with each dawn. While Mary and the kids sat in her mother’s flat in Rotherham watching soap operas and game shows he was watching evolution dancing an old but favourite waltz. Every day was like an incredible dream. To live in an Ice Age! Yes, he missed his girls and yes, he spent most evenings justifying the project to the less enthusiastic members of faculty but for God’s sake, this was a miracle of science and human endeavour.


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8 Responses to “Manchester in the Ice Age”

  1. December 06, 2010 at 7:27 pm, marie said:

    This made me chuckle. I’m also loving the idea of a cutlery zoo – I dont think I was meant to think that :-)

  2. December 07, 2010 at 11:26 am, Sarah-Clare Conlon said:

    Lovely piece of fiction, great imagination and very Manchester savvy. Particularly enjoyed the nod to right-on Chorltonites and the reference to Rimbaud.

  3. December 07, 2010 at 7:31 pm, Joanne said:

    Hello Benjamin,
    Your story Manchester in the Ice Age is amazing. It made me laugh loads. The one thing preventing me from laughing as much as I’d wanted was that I had to finish the story which had me completely gripped. Well done.

  4. December 10, 2010 at 7:56 pm, Benjamin Judge said:

    Wow! Thanks you two. I’m glad you liked my story.

    And I love the idea of a cutlery zoo. You better use that idea quickly or I’m just going to steal it.

  5. December 10, 2010 at 8:41 pm, Aaron said:

    Lovely little story. I would quite like a bash at ice climbing the frozen Southern face of Urbis.

  6. December 13, 2010 at 9:58 pm, Joel K said:

    Oh yeah!

    Then again, I hope some film tycoon doesn’t try picking this up and making it into a ‘spoof’ sci-fi feature, full of gurning actors.

    It’s good and local as it is.

  7. December 14, 2010 at 11:19 am, Benjamin Judge said:

    I hope some film tycoon does try picking this up. As long as I get my ten percent of final gross they can do whatever they like with it.

  8. December 21, 2010 at 3:57 pm, National Short Story Day | Craig Pay said:

    […] could also read Manchester in the Ice Age by Benjamin Judge (oops, another MadLab chap) as well as plenty of other […]


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