Perceptions

View from the tram stop

When you are out and about among strangers, do you ever wonder who they are, what they do and how they see their surroundings?

On a journey this week I was amazed by the friendliness and helpfulness of people, who were perhaps on their way to work. I caught a tram, having been helped by another passenger, when the ticket machine suddenly decided to display the menu in Spanish. As I boarded I asked someone whether all the trams went to Manchester Piccadilly. I thought he said, “This one does.” However the doors were closing noisily and he probably said, “This one doesn’t.”

I recognised most of the stops on the route from a train journey a couple of days before. Places I had known decades before had really changed. When I used to take a train it entered a tunnel at the station. Now the Metro goes above street level in many places. I felt like a time-traveller!

Suddenly a young lady came to me and said, “If you’re going to Manchester Piccadilly, you need to change here.” I thanked her and stood up. Two other people made sure I caught the correct tram, one of them sitting with me on it and chatting. He was a young man, who asked if it was my first visit to Manchester. I told him I had known the city a long time ago, before there were trams.

His reply surprised me, “I thought there had always been trams!”

That brings me to perceptions. Do you see below the surface? Would it surprise you to know that the beautiful stone or brick of many of the older buildings in Manchester used to be blackened with soot from factory chimneys? I can recall seeing the cleaning work in progress using dilute acid (as far as I remember) to remove the soot and grime, exposing light coloured stone.

You may not know Manchester (UK), but what about the places you do know? Have they changed much? Can you trace how they have developed from the changes in architectural style of the buildings?

And what about the people? How many of them have always lived there as Mr Popper had in Stillwater in the excellent production of Mr Popper’s Penguins, which I saw in the Waterside Arts Centre in Sale? (It is on until 31 December 2019 and is great fun.) The young man I was speaking to had only been in Manchester a few weeks. I was just passing through the city centre on a beautiful, sunny morning. Being too lazy to walk to the other side of a post supporting the overhead wires in the hope of better photo, I snapped the Central Library from the tram stop. The tram arrived in less than 5 minutes. I was almost sorry not to be spending more time in the city.

One thought on “Perceptions

  1. I’ve often enjoyed using google street view to explore places I once knew, from a junior school that seems hardly changed (also retracing the daily walk to it), to our home address at that time (virtually unrecognisable – the house itself has been demolished and replaced by an ugly terrace) to a home we had in Wales where I can still see the garage that my father and younger brother built between them. … I could go on!

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