The Manchester Metroline

By Charlotte Gringras

(After John Betjeman)

Location: Altrincham Metrolink station

The metrolink from leafy Piccadilly
rumbles and shunts its way straight to the city,
passing through pretty unappealing places,
where wide-eyed children dream of open spaces.

The towpath by the canal with the odd canoe
skirts gardens, ducks or swans and barges too,
giving promise of beauty with reeds and hedges-
tram windows show rubbish strewn at its edges.

We go on past graveyards, scrap yards, back yards,
dissecting piles of waste everyone discards,
water parks, play parks, car parks stretch for miles,
screened by vandal-proof metal grilles or broken tiles.

Rows of mirror-image houses obediently planted
behind lawns and bedding, now sit disenchanted
by budding conservatories growing out of the wall
once far better used in a kids’ game of football.

Suddenly, there – behold – the ‘dreaming spires’
of Man. U’s ground, the place that still inspires
the hopeless with hopes of playing the game
that brings the chosen few a moment of fame.

Nearly in the metropolis now, where apartments
for yuppies and massive corporate departments
grow higher and higher – in stature and price –
with an awful urban view they never think twice

about. How will they feel looking out at streets,
stuck up in their million ‘k’ penthouse suites,
staring simply at a grey cityscape, a stone’s throw
from the Bridgewater canal and the Metro below.

Charlotte Gringras says: ‘Been a hobby poet for a few years, deeply embedded in Manchester and its regions, had a few poems published, enough to keep me compelled to write. Always fancied trying a Betjeman lookalike.’



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