The memories of the visit to Manchester are great, neighbours of mine were taken by their mother to see Gagarin and that started a wonderful conversation 'down memory lane'.
I am not sure why it has to be 'London and Manchester' - better to be Manchester and London. Manchester asked him over, London did not quite know what to do with him as they were in the middle of a cold war with Russia. To the workers over there and here, they were workers and amazed by what Gagarin did.....we had nothing like it here.
This book will interest the general reader who will be interested to learn what happens when two very different cultures meet in the middle of the Cold War. It will also interest those who want to know more about historical events in North West England. It reads like the advent of Beatlemania, only it took place a few years before the Beatles took off. And Beatlemania with a guy in a Soviet military uniform? Just incredible.
To have Gagarin - the only person to have orbited the Earth at that time - landing in early-1960s Manchester seems to have had the kind of effect a UFO landing in a town square would have: it was that otherworldly and different from the norm. Gurbir Singh interestingly explores the two very different cultures interacting at the height of the Cold War, and also seems to have tracked down pretty much everyone who was there and still around for first-hand interviews. It's a fascinating read, nicely timed for the 50th anniversary of these events, when Britons went wild for their supposed Cold War "enemy."