Posts tagged ‘bazza’
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
With some hours to spare before sunset on a Sunday afternoon, I persuaded Liam (who had been running) to do a Little Walk with Bazza. Not a full Zedding, just a little walk with our oracle. We headed off to the Medieval Quarter (OK, the bit round the Cathedral) to our target square of D4 to look for a boggart dog bridge (honestly, a boggart dog bridge).
We saw Robert Owen who Liam thinks is “a man in a sinister cloak with a small child under it”. I think this is unfairly maligning one of the founders of socialism. I’m sure he was our sort of person. He does look a wee bit sinister here tho:
We were in the square near the cathedral which is pretty and has fountains. It also has the Urbis which has Zedding-related interesting stuff in it:
We found this message from the zedding gods, who were about to smile on us:
We heard some music. And one of the guiding principles of zedding is that one should be easily distracted. We followed our ears to a small gathering of tents in the square with a sign that said, bewilderingly enough, ‘National Swimming Championships’. We would like to point out for readers who don’t know Manchester that there was no apparent pool in the vicinity.
There was however a tent selling beer, a tent selling food and a tent for face painting. Also a stage with some lively rhythm-and-blues music and lifeguards. Just remember, kids – no venturing out into urban squares without a lifeguard. One saw my camera and was eager to pose with his horn for me.
We thought about asking about the swimming. But we didn’t.
We headed for Victoria station, where one gets trains to places like Wigan and Rainhill. When I do this I get very upset about the state it has been allowed to get in. It has some absolutely gorgeous features put in by madly hubristic Victorians who thought the age of steam would never wane. Then some nasty corporate taste vandals have plastered their nasty plastic nastiness on top of the marble and mosaic. Elsewhere Victoria has been allowed to get shabby and neglected, she has been allowed to rummage around in the bargain bin at the charity shop adorning herself in the worst the 1980’s had to offer and wearing it on top of her pearls.
(I feel quite strongly about this.) I would love for someone to do to Victoria what they have done to Moor Street in Birmingham.
The MEN arena has lots of steps, I like the patterns:
Opposite is Chetham school of Music which is 400 years older than the MEN arena and nicer looking. Marx and Engels used to chat there. It has gargoyles but once again it’s surprising just how wriggly they can be, won’t stay still to be photographed.
There was a gateway to hell. It is at the end of an old croft, which is a place Bazza tells us Tenterhooks were used in days of old. This probably now belongs to Northern Rail. If you are listening, Northern Rail, we would like some more info.
We walked along the side of the river, which has long been our desire. I was complaining that the river wasn’t utilised as a tourist attraction, the reasons why may be painfully obvious from the photos. We debated titles for these photos. Liam likes “Urban Swan” as a name for a trendy clothing boutique but I don’t think “Swan in Filth” would get so much custom. Dirty creature.
We got confused about the boggart dog bridge and strayed into a car park which was sort of on a bridge and turned out to be the site of another railway station, ‘once connected to Victoria by the longest railway platform in europe’, fact fans. Bazza thinks this site should be redeveloped but that it would ‘need an arresting building to set it off’. You cannot argue with the man.
The cathedral is pretty. And we like the centuries of architecture that contrast with one another. The cathedral itself, the lovely dome of the corn exchange, the brutalist Arndale, the flimsy wheel. The portaloo.
Finally the boggart dog bridge. I have no pictures of the bridge itself as it was a bit unspectacular really, and I was distracted by this bit of pretty.
The story goes that it is a bridge on top of an old bridge, old, old. And that this part of Manchester was haunted by a boggart dog which was caught and placed under the bridge. Bazza says this is a folk memory of a building sacrifice. We’re just delighted to find another boggart.
And a building that was once known as one of the ugliest buildings in manchester, although it may be in Salford.
Location: Manchester Medieval Quarter
A to Z: page 5 (large-scale city centre insert) or page 94 square D3, page 95 square E3
Getting there: Victoria station, Victoria tram, or short walk from my house
Running total: 27