Archive for June, 2009

In which they do not like being represented by fascists

If this blog was about politics we could rant on for hours but it isn’t. It is about Manchester.
However, two days ago, in our town hall, Nick Griffin of the BNP was elected to represent us at the European Parliament. The Manchester Zedders would just like to make it clear. Nick Griffin does not speak for us.

This lunchtime we stopped a woman with a Guardian under her arm who was happy to take this photo for us outside the aforementioned town hall.

not in our name

This blog is about Manchester, and celebrating and exploring Manchester in all its beauty and diversity. On our travels, some the things we have loved about the city are Jewish toddlers walking on walls, Rastas on bicycles, the avuncular man in Hunters curry house, chats with taxi drivers who speak three languages, shops selling Lithuanian beer. We like that our friend John from Bangladesh became a UK citizen this year and we would like his beautiful children to grow up in a city that celebrates the rich patchwork culture of its people.

Our journeys into Manchester’s history show it to be a city whose canalways have been dug by Irish workmen, a city which welcomed Jews fleeing Pogroms, a city whose statue of Abraham Lincoln ‘commemorates the support that the working people of Manchester gave in the fight for the abolition of slavery during the American Civil War. By supporting the Union under President Lincoln at a time when there was an economic blockade of the southern states the Lancashire cotton workers were denied access to raw cotton which caused considerable unemployment throughout the cotton industry…’ A city with a thriving gay community.

It is because we feel Britain is enriched by the diversity of this city, and cities like it, that we are signing the Hope not Hate petition. If you want to send a message that the BNP does not speak for you, please join us in signing the petition.

Billy Bragg quoted Joe Hill at his Hope not Hate gig saying, “Don’t mourn, organise”. I say “Mourn all you need to. Then organise” Make your voice heard and then do something which makes your city, this society, better. Understand someone more, volunteer, speak to your neighbours and don’t let these fascists win the debate about what being British is all about.

HOPE not hate: Celebrating modern Britain
HOPE not hate
Celebrating modern Britain

This was not a party political broadcast. Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.

June 10, 2009 at 10:18 am 1 comment

In which they walk the Mancunian way

By Liam

We don’t mean by this title that we have begun to swagger like scallies while wearing anoraks and showing off our Northern Quarter haircuts. Oh no. We decided that we should walk the route of the A57(M), the Mancunian Way, which runs along the bottom of the city centre.

This is either a sincere tribute or blatant plagiarism of John Davies, the vicar who introduced me to the concept of psychogeography. John took a sabbatical to walk the length of the M62, from coast to coast. He blogged about it and published it as a book. So we set out to follow in his footsteps, in quest of our own nearest motorway, all 3.02 miles of it.

I hoped to do an interesting psychogeographical map for this, turning Manchester city centre into a face with the Mancunian Way as its mouth. Interestingly, this just didn’t work, but I am convinced that the Mancunian Way is where Manchester’s smile would be if it had one.

We do realise that walking under flyovers in the city centre is not how most people would choose to spend a bank holiday. But we’re the Manchester Zedders and we make our own entertainment.

So we met up at Piccadilly and walked through some grim old industrial areas, in the process spotting another gate to hell:

another gate to hell? suffering face

On the way to the start of the motorway, we found some extremely dangerous buttercups:

drowning in the buttercups risk of drowning

It was nice to discover that some other people had thought a motorway was worth making a fuss about. What a party this day must have been:

what a party that must have been

We spent some time getting ourselves to places no sane person would normally try to walk to, and looking at the bottom of the motorway. I bet you didn’t know that motorways are just made out of great big floorboards.

under the A57(M)

underneath under

And I doubt many people have had this view while on foot:

in the A57(M)

Then we found that getting out of these places proved somewhat more of a challenge. Marie, the Trespasser Extraordinaire, spotted an arrow and insisted that we risk life and limb to cross the sliproad and follow it:

this way

We disappeared into some bushes and found ourselves in the grounds of some university building. Not expecting people to come in off the motorway, the authorities had not seen fit to provide an easy way out of the grounds, so we wandered randomly for some time before escaping over a fence.

benches

At some point in the wanderings, I realised that a quite staggering amount of my field of vision was filled with concrete. You know when something is so titanically ugly that it becomes kind of beautiful? Well, this didn’t quite get there.

grim building

Concrete experts are rightly very pleased with the Mancunian Way:

IMGP0042

Marie wishes to know more about the Concrete Society. Do they have some legal responsibility or are they just enthusiasts?

Our fellow Manc blogger Lost in Manchester has also recently blogged about concrete and the Mancunian Way. Great minds… Lost also mentioned this – the blind slip road that goes nowhere:

flyover to nowhere

I really really wanted to get up there but I’m not quite that stupid. And we didn’t have a ladder. We love things that go nowhere. Roads, stairways, old railways, pointless walks. If it’s better to travel than to arrive, this sliproad is damn near perfect. Perhaps it goes to all the Manchesters that could have been but never were.

There were various points of interest during our illicit university visit:

Pedestrians rule! a slogan for Zedders,
conductor family odd sculptures made of old industrial stuff,

killer mickey Killer Mickey,

serious fire escape and the biggest fire escape ever.

From this point, we entered into a period of criss-crossing back and forth under flyovers and through scary underpasses, trying to follow the line of the motorway and being repulsed as unworthy due to our lack of vehicles.

cropped by motorway tunnel

IMGP0045 IMGP0048 underneath with frill of rubbish

very tall chimney This chimney is small but that hotel is far away.

It was quite noticeable that there were far fewer quirky and whimsical things happening around the motorway than in most of the bits of Manchester we’ve drifted through. For obvious reasons, people really aren’t encouraged to hang around there, so it’s all a bit barren and empty. Another reason was brought home to us when Marie asked ‘Can you hear thunder?’ and I pointed out that no, we were just standing 15 feet below a busy motorway.

Someone’s decided, though, that while the underneath of a motorway might be no place for proper people, it’s good enough for skateboarding and footballing teenagers.

footie pitch

Marie liked to see that lush, verdant Astroturf sticking out here like a sore thumb, and think of people determinedly using this space, against all the odds. I just worried about their poor wee lungs and eardrums.

We also spotted this:

store your student

Handy to have somewhere to put your students for the summer, but I’d be worried about folding my little brother down to put him in one those boxes.

Some charming architect had decided that the ‘grim concrete’ ambience of the whole area would be complemented perfectly by a deliberately rusty building:

rusty

There was more life as we crossed the Oxford Road, where there was a nice second-hand book sale going on. We challenged each other to buy appropriate books. I got a very academic book about Victorian cities, but Marie won by buying a book that looked so boring it became a work of art. The second-hand book man asked if we were History students. We said no. He looked confused. (Marie has spent most of the time while I’ve been writing this reading me choice excerpts from her book. I think we should both get out more.)
Photo 1

We calculated afterwards that the bookstall was in the 100th square we have zedded, so we have retrospectively declared this a centenary celebration.

As we got further out, into Hulme where people have to live near the motorway, it got a bit more interesting:

smile The subway smiled at us.

canoe There was half a canoe full of plants next to an astoundingly overgrown community garden.

no people We weren’t sure what this sign was telling us. Walk out onto the motorway? Don’t walk out onto the motorway? Look out for idiots walking out onto the motorway?

bridge We walked over a pretty footbridge

daisy lights and saw some pretty  lights that made a shape like a flower.

manchester from the motoway There was a good view from the footbridge, with proper Manchester landmarks: the G-Mex and the Beetham Tower. Our friend Bazza could tell you exactly how many bricks there are in the G-Mex if you were interested.

is this a footpath? We followed some men with a dog along here, which only felt slightly dangerous, and enabled us to see this incongruous picture:
more buttercups

Finally, we found the end of the motorway:

motorway finish

And an amazing photo opportunity:
Manc way


Image008(2)

This one will be the cover of our book when some insightful and forward-looking publisher discovers us.

We did wonder, though, what bike had left this mess:

cycle poo

Then we headed back to the Oxford Road, where normal people were doing sensible bank holiday things and attending a music festival. We got to see the Lithuanian Tori Amos and everything. But we digress. On the way we saw an impressive old bit of canal:

canal boats wasteland canal bridge

and some baby gooses:

goslings baby gooses

They wouldn’t let us get past so we had to take an alternative route, where we saw a building that appeared to have regurgitated its insides onto the pavement like last night’s old kebab:

building was sick

Which was a nice contrast with the sign below. I’m not sure a tree-lined street is really such a new thing for Manchester, but I’m all in favour of having more of them.

There shall be trees!

And we will close with a quote about the state of Lancashire’s roads:

‘Our wayes are gulphs of duste and mire, which none Scarce ever passe in summer without moane.’

This was Richard James of Oxford in the seventeenth century, and we stole it from Marie’s book, Lancashire by JJ Bagley (Batsford, 1972). Things have changed a little since then.

Vital statistics
Map:

Location: The Mancunian Way
Date zedded: 25 May 2009
A to Z: page 95 squares F5, G6, F6, E6; page 94 squares D6, C6, B6, C5, D5
Getting there: A short walk from Piccadilly station
Squares this expedition: 9
Running total: 105

June 4, 2009 at 7:27 pm 6 comments


Running Total

135 squares

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