The Slow Train

Yesterday was picking-up day at Kirkby Gallery where I have been exhibiting my bags and jewellery for a couple of months. I sold pretty well and was fortunate to be asked to leave some work for the newly created Craft space. I was a bit shellshocked when I got there because the gallery was magnificent; very large and very modern, not what you would expect to find in a place like Kirkby (no disrespect to Kirkbyites).

The journey from Manchester Victoria to Kirkby was another matter.  Man Vic is begging for a refurb ( I travelled from Picc to Vic, as the stationmaster at Marple HILARIOUSLY put it). It is cold and dark and pretty characterless as stations go with more staff hanging around than passengers. The journey took me through the Victorian outer city grime but failed to deliver a pastoral film set once out of Manchester. Everything had that look of being powdered with the stuff that gathers on top of your wardrobe. I was also looking at the outside through windows that were dirtier than my own glasses, and that’s saying something. I think I should suggest to Northern Rail that they might consider a discount to passengers if they agree to clean their own window prior to departure – bring your own vinegar and shammy leather. 

I read somewhere that a futuristic architect had proposed to build a giant metropolis that ran from Manchester to Liverpool. The space is lying in limbo at the moment and begging for a bit of inspired planning. I nominate the Manchester to Kirkby rail route as the dullest and slowest journey in the whole of the UK rail network. If I was to compare it to food, it would be like sitting down to a plateful of pasta, potatoes, rice and white bread marinated in Night Nurse.


6 thoughts on “The Slow Train

  1. oh my goodness you are taking me back to schooldays in Bury. before the metro took over the trainlines. cold dark win ter mornings -getting on at heaton park station and off at bury. buying a frozen jubbly at the little shop by bury station; buying rave magazine and cadbury’s easter eggs at the station. every monday we had domestic science, and on the return journey from school, somewhere between whitefield and heaton park , my disastrous attempts at cooking would go flying out of the train window. dishes with such exotic names as “russian fish pie” “lemon mould” and tomato soup that had turned bright pink due to the fact I had used cochineal to try and make it as red as heinz cream of tomato. hmm. the victoria- bury line. holds many secrets from the seventies.

  2. In 2008 I worked in Bury, rail commuting into Man Picc and then entramming from there to Bury via Man Vic. I formed the opinion that the powers that be were either going to refurbish the station there in short order or close it just before it fell down. Clearly they chose the third way and did nowt. As no one now has any spare cash this was not a good decision.

    • I remember once I was sat waiting for a train on Man Picc station and there was this woman who looked a bit like Mrs Bouquet (Bucket) from “Keeping up Appearances”. She looked very self conscious and upon closer scrutiny (even tho Brits arent supposed to stare at each other) “she” turned out to be a fella. Even tho i’ve been around the world a bit and been in clubs in Germany and elsewhere frequented by “Ladyboys” (you can always tell them – they’re usually more gorgeous than the real women) this seemed quite comical and desperate in a peculiarly English way, as in you could see her 5 o’clock shadow. Shades of Prufrock

      • In the early days of my “career” (ha, ha, ha!!), I took mum to an exhibition I was doing at Farfield Mill up in the beautiful Cumbrian hills. We had to wait about half an hour for the Kendal train at Man Picc and Mum spent the time people watching. After a long train journey and costly taxi ride from Oxenholme to Farfield Mill, we eventually got to see the exhibition. When we got home that night she casually remarked she would rather have spent the day at Piccadilly. There’s no pleasing some people!!

    • Bury is a bizarre station, its true. Its only saving grace is that it is very central for the shopping centre and the Art Gallery. Bury does have a brilliant Art Gallery. Alot of unremarkable northern textile towns have stunning art galleries. The one at Preston could rival London’s finest. The early industrial entrepeneurs, in most cases, weren’t allowed to go to university themselves but it didn’t stop them appreciating fine art or splashing the cash on a bit of culture for their workers.

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