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Culture Food and Drink Manchester Marathon People Photography Popular culture The Arts Travel Uncategorized

My Manchester in 2017 – in pictures

The highs, the lows and the love that stemmed. Beautiful Manchester.

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Culture Manchester Marathon People Photography Popular culture Sport Travel Uncategorized

The Tram Tribes – a Manchester subculture. 

The Manchester Metrolink.

It has its knockers but I’m a fan and think, in general, it’s pretty good. Pretty good doesn’t include when it terminates early at Timperley or Navigation Road (Alty commuters, right?).

But as a service, it mostly works.


Whilst crowding and cancellations can drive you to the brink at times (or not, if the latter), what  you can’t blame Metrolink for is some of its dwellers. users. commuters. inhabitants. species of man (and woman and child).

We all know them.

Cause of many a passive aggressive eye roll and sigh on my part, to be fair, these tribes and types can sometimes also  serve as entertainment to and from work.

(None of the people in this picture fall into that category – it was just a nice crowd shot)

Metrolink recently ran a campaign aimed at trying to bring a touch of civility and respect amongst passengers, identifying and trying to tackle some of the main offensive behaviours.

This caught my eye for two reasons:

  • I was pleased that there was a glimmer of hope that the offending people would take note and stop doing what they’re doing; and
  • the campaign employed fridge magnets amongst the promotional materials which, if you were quick enough, you could find and take from (it was allowed) the back of tram seats – cue much excitement from me at half 6 in the morning – a disproportionate amount, you might say.

They were great and tackled lots of anti social behaviour such as people using their massively oversized bags to either take up the space of a small family, or take you out as they’re swung around the carriage.

And we all know the rowdys, the hammereds, the ‘fragrant’, the selfish space-hoggers.

However, the main three tram tribes which I have encountered and cause my resting heart rate to increase between 6 and 7am, and again between 4 and 5pm, are as follows:

*The Tram Monitor*

It was a cold day in December, when the tram was as crowded as a pavement outside Yard and Coop during one of their free chicken promotions, when you boarded at Brooklands, and started shouting at us all to move down as it’s

so unfair, oh it’s so unfair!

I should point out that since Altrincham three stops ago, us selfish standees had already become closely acquainted enough to identify the brand of each other’s fabric softener and, short of forming Greater Manchester’s answer to the Human Centipede, had nowhere else to go.

I should secondly point out that the declaration of things being

so unfair, just so unfair

were called out from her ample and, you might say, roomy space ON THE TRAM.

I’m also looking at you, couple on Manchester Marathon day, when you swanned on at Cornbrook having just addressed the assembled assortment of crammed in commuters 

Hey everyone, if you move down, it creates space and allows more people on

This revelation was bellowed from the platform as the doors were only just opening, everyone, not having had chance yet to create space.


(my fellow passengers exercising not only later that morning in the marathon, but also their restraint as we were lectured on basic physics by Tram Monitors)

*The Platform Strategist* 

Fair play, if you’re getting the Metrolink twice a day, five times a week, you cannot help but develop strategies, tactics and work rounds, if you want to survive (aka get on or even get a seat).

But there always extremists.

Yes we all know the classic platform points where you will find yourself opposite a door, once the tram rolls in (infrequent passengers who don’t? I’m sorry but to share this information here would incur the wrath of those who have spent years honing this knowledge. There has to be some privileges to being a frequent flyer). To be fair, I’ve done it myself and would probably put myself in this category to a point.

But you’re supposed to retain dignity. It’s got to be subtle. If there’s already somebody stood waiting in one of the golden spaces, suck it up. Stand near there. Know that you might not be first on, but will be perhaps second. Third. Fourth. But you’ve snoozed and so you’ve possibly losed. But there are those who are baying for blood and determined to gain an upper hand on this matter. And the ensuing behaviours are what I can’t deal with.

In fact here they are in list form:

  • the shoulder jostle, the elbow jostle, the basically any body part jostle. Back off.
  • platform creep – yes we can all see you shuffling forward to to the edge, trying to get a stronghold on matters.
  • side-eye. side-eye at fellow passengers to plan your next move, side-eye at the board to see how long you’ve got to get in prime position, side-eye down the tracks to see whether the prize is in sight. Basically side-eye full stop. Stop it.
  • the blocker stance as the tram arrives and the doors are in sight. Making yourself wide in order to achieve pole-position for when those pesky people in your way actually trying to get off the tram, despite your presence, finally leave and you can grab first prize in the getting on the tram awards.

Last and by no means, by any stretch of the imagination,

*The Tram Worker*

I do not mean the largely lovely people who work on or for Metrolink. 

I mean the cretin who sees the tram as an extension of their office and they don’t care who knows it. In fact they want you to know it. Via the medium of the telephone and the loud voice.

Yeah, so it’s me.

Yeah hi. Just checking in. Seeing how it’s going.

You’ll see how it’s going when you get to the office in 5 minutes.

Yeah, yeah, I mean going forward you’re going to need to drill down on that, dig deep, get a feel, flesh it out…

Meanwhile the rest of us are all considering how, going forward, we’d like to take that drill and your flesh, and find ourselves with a need  to then dig deep.

Too much? Imagine that in an over bearing loud voice when you’ve barely been awake 30 minutes.


(My ticket to sigh)

And then pity the person on the other end of the phone. And their fellow commuters. It’s a domino effect of terribleness that has the ability to spread across the Metrolink network at peaktime as rapidly as the news of a free chicken giveaway at Yard and Coop (what? I hear they’re notoriously popular).

However, as I alluded to in the intro of this rant/blogpost, there can be entertaining elements to these matters. Especially when you get to hear this from the person who’s been subjecting you to their work call for the last 6 stops…

Oh absolutely. Oh I concur.

Yeah, I mean, it’s all absolutely under control. Dan and I have been in a huddle, thrown some figures around, brainstormed the sh£t out of the proposal and the headline is, we’re so on it.

Yeah, see you at the office in 2 mins.

(Frantic dialling)

Yeah Dan? We’re f%ck*d mate.

So there we have it. I’m hoping by sharing (venting) I will learn to disengage from these lovelies and instead concentrate on the great sights of the even Greater Manchester from the Metrolink instead…


Categories
Fitness Manchester Marathon Sport

The Greater Manchester Marathon (it’s not Snickers. Heathens) 2016

This was my third marathon. My hat trick.

There, any kind of remote feelings of wonderment towards me must end (only in this regard, of course, carry on for the other reasons).

My third as a spectator, bag looker afterer, next of kin, meerkat impersonator as I attempt to spot my partner in crime (the Rabid Mime) proud supporter and, it has to be said, worrier.

My first was the Greater Manchester Marathon 2013, my second the New York Marathon 2015, and this the third, the Greater Manchester Marathon 2016. 

My marathon (supporting) career resembles a kind of New York sandwich. Which would make it a Reuben.

The journey on the day begins with the actual journey. Early rise on a Sunday, on public transport with fellow runners and fellow supporters – do they feel as embarrassed as me to be in civvy clothing? Probably not as they are sure to be well adjusted and more self assured than myself.

None more so than the couple who swanned on at Cornbrook.

Hey everyone, if you move down it creates space and allows more people on!

This, revelation, mind, was bellowed as the doors were opening. Everyone, not having had a chance to create space. 

We then approach Trafford Bar.

Open the doors! Open the doors and let me off. This is the stop for the Marathon.

A kindly soul gently explains that they are best to get off at Old Trafford Cricket Club, that being, in actual fact, the closest to Old Trafford Cricket Club, the start of the race.

This was met with silence and a refusal by the couple to make eye contact with everyone.


Great weather was matched by a greater location for the race village; Old Trafford Cricket Club. Yes I know its full name includes its sponsor but I’m no corporate puppet, no siree.


I do understand that the baggage collection element of the ‘Manchester Marathon didn’t go brilliantly, but this didn’t affect this blogger and her charge, as this blogger also serves as supporter and packhorse at races.

As always, it was heartwarming (read ‘soul-destroying’) to see all these fit and sporty people, smiling, laughing, and milling right before running 26.2 miles.


It’s important to have a pre-arranged meeting place after any well-populated race. Where better than in the Pavilion with this view:


Goodbyes said, the runners make their way over to the Start Line whilst supporters plan their vantage points, consider how they’ll spend the next few hours, wonder if their phone batteries will last the course (me), where the nearest loo is (me), whether they’ll find somewhere to linger and write, that won’t judge me (see Foundation Coffee House post) .

Most of all, whether they’ll ever find themselves running a marathon (me and no).


After having the brilliant idea to go to the Costa Coffee down the road (did you know that it’s an actual drive-thru?! I’m still getting over my first visit to a McDonalds one, two years ago – what a seamless magical routine they have), I quickly discovered that pretty much everyone had the same idea.

And so it was to the 5 miles mark that I headed, right opposite the infamous Lou Macari’s Chip Shop. Here were lots of fervent supporters and whoopers and there I stood, and filmed, and photographed, and clapped, and managed to miss seeing my runner.

Come on! Hooray! Well done.

You get the general idea.


I and my fellow self-loathers did see plenty of other runners though and magnificent they all were. Two boys behind me made me smile as they listed the characters who were so far beating their dad…

Batman and Robin!

A gorilla!

118 men …

and

Wait for it

A man in a skirt!!!

yes, we’re looking at you man and indeed all men from Scotland.

Some hours later, the runners, they did run and emerged back at Old Trafford Cricket Ground tired, magnificent, happy and victorious.

Whilst this blogger and supporter got out of breath walking over to Salford Quays and back, these runners had been here, there, everywhere and essentially to Altrincham and back.

As I sat in the ground on our pre-arranged spot I was just considering whether a spot where my runner had to walk up steps, immediately after finishing, was wise. And so just as I was looking around for a plan B, up those steps he did appear.

With a personal best of

3.45.03

the Rabid Mime did become the Rapid Mime (brilliant, eh?).

And so another wonderful day for (Greater) Manchester as Mancunians joined with non-Mancunians who came from far and wide, to run, see South Manchester, achieve personal goals and raise money for charity in the

Greater Manchester Marathon 2016.

 

Final mention and word, however, must go to fellow supporters, little George, and his mother, as we were all leaving the race village…

George, you’ve pulled your pants up with tomato ketchup hands!

Congrats to all (especially George)!