Posts filed under ‘About Manchester’
The Shrieking Violet is another great Manchester blog. It’s anonymous so I don’t know if we’ve met the Violet herself in person.
Anyway, you may have noticed that we keep encountering gargoyles in our meanderings, but never manage to photograph the buggers. Shrieking Violet has captured many of Manchester’s best specimens on film, and eulogised them beautifully here:
Last night Liam and I enjoyed meeting lots of lovely people at a Manchester blogmeet. There was a moment when we wondered how one identified bloggers in a bar, what would bloggers look like? We tried the basement…ah ha..bloggers wear labels! We were warmly welcomed to the event by Kate from Manchizzle who gave us sticky labels of our own.
We met Parklover, who has a lovely blog, she recognised me from our pictures of our ditch zedding which was bit weird for me, not sure how I’d cope with the dizzy heights of fame.
Mindy has very nicely linked to us in her blog about the event
We met Richard from The Asparagus who does not blog about vegetables, but about foreign affairs. I might add he does so very readably, since I spent a while not reading about Asparagus as I ate my crunchy nut cornflakes this morning.
We didn’t get a chance to meet myshittytwenties but I love her blog.
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.
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
This was not a party political broadcast. Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.
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:
On the way to the start of the motorway, we found some extremely dangerous buttercups:
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:
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.
And I doubt many people have had this view while on foot:
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:
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.
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.
Concrete experts are rightly very pleased with the Mancunian Way:
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:
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:
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.
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.
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:
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:
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.)
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:
We walked over a pretty footbridge
and saw some pretty lights that made a shape like a flower.
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.
Finally, we found the end of the motorway:
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:
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:
and some 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:
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.
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.
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
We’ve started to get noticed! A few other local bloggers have mentioned or noticed us recently, which is lovely.
Thought it would be polite to mention some of them here:
The Manchizzle – Manchester culture
Mancubist – Manchester art, media, culture and stuff
Manhattanchester – adventures of a Mancunian in New York
Rainy City Stories – interactive literary map of Manchester
Lost in Manchester -‘Brief encounters with the weird, wonderful and plain ordinary’
Check out the expanded and updated collection of links down the side too! Look at us, part of a blogging community.