By Nicholas Royle
Location: Off Ringway Road, Moss Nook
I am interested in straight lines.
I was born in Manchester, but left at the age of 17 to go to London, where I lived for 20 years. London doesn’t really do straight lines. There are straight roads, of course; they stand out. The A5. The A1, for a bit. The A30 as it approaches Hatton Cross tube station and the perimeter of Heathrow Airport. No one can miss those. On the ground, on the map.
When I moved back to Manchester I became aware of a number of less obvious straight lines. If I stand in the bay window of my bedroom and look into the bay window of my neighbour’s bedroom, I can actually see through that bay into the bay of the next house and so on down the street.
If, on a dark night, you come off the M60 at junction 25 and head north up Ashton Road towards Denton, you see the road surface shining ahead of you in a straight line. Only at the last minute do you see that your road – Ashton Road – bends sharply to the right. The road that appears to continue in a straight line, Castle Hill, is actually a left turn off the main carriageway. To take it at that speed would lead you quickly into difficulties, even if it looks as if it’s the right thing to do.
Drive south down Holme Road in Didsbury, alongside Marie Louise Gardens, and turn right at the bottom into Dene Road West. Ahead of you the road is invitingly straight. Certain features conspire to conceal the much bigger and busier cross street, Palatine Road: an overgrown bush hides the stop sign, a speed bump obscures the white markings of the junction itself. I always want to drive straight across Palatine Road and into Mersey Road without stopping. It looks as if you should be able to. There’s a risk involved, perhaps, but it’s a risk worth taking. A risk you should take, even.