Harry Turner's Episodes of Personal History
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Call This Progress?

Piccadilly has now become an open station. It sorta just happened; they spent time and money rebuilding all the barriers and reducing the number of access points when installing the new computerised indicator board a year or so ago. During this past year, the manning of the barrier has grown increasingly capricious; at our end we have two harriers serving some 4 or 5 platforms, which is not so bad when they are both manned and intending passengers can go thru one and arriving passengers thru t'other.

However, when one barrier has been unmanned and closed, there have been the occasional free-for-alls of people fighting to get thru the crush of disembarkees before their train departs. It began to happen with irritating frequency, and then a few weeks ago, I arrived to find the barriers all boarded up and free access between platforms and concourse.

It was a mite confusing with folk sticking uncollected tickets into every crack and crevice when faced with this unaccustomed freedom... I vaguely supposed that there was a strike on, but as the situation continued it dawned on me that Picc had been declared 'open', but I hadn't been around to hear.

Travellers are used to the situation now, but you meet more people hopefully asking details about train platforms and departures in the marked absence of BR staff. I usually shake my head uncomprehendingly. I can never understand the tannoy announcements that bounce round the platforms when timetables are unpredictably changed or trains just don't come in or go out; there seems be a large element of luck involved these days.

There was a local councillor complaining in the Metro that the ticket office at his local station had been closed, the guard on the train wouldn't sell him a ticket, and nobody wanted to know he arrived at Picc without a ticket, and how the hell did BR expect to make a profit? A good question.

While amused at Lamont's hack-stabbing speech and all the kerfufle of Maggie endorsing John's fitness to stay in power and the Tory concern ahout winning the next election already, I wish we could see some signs of government materialising. What a sorry lot of politicians we have at present.

There were distinct sounds of disillusion with Clinton's performance evident in Alistair Cooke's Letter from America recently— seems to be as inept as John [Major]. When Somalia events are rewritten in NY so blatantly, and Bosnia shows no signs of ever being sorted, there doesn't seen much hope of anything ever being settled.

Still, the clearance of the industrial wasteland in the vicinity of the first firm I worked for in Manchester [Anchor Chemicals, Clayton], is making visible progress every time I pass it on the train run into Manchester: and, dammit, they're going to build the Velodrome there regardless of whether the Olympics come to Manchester in 2000 or not.

And after pedestrianisation, being redug by assorted visits from the gas and electricity work forces, the sewer men, and the tramway engineers, Market Street is being dug up again: this time to tidy it all up for visiting officials of the International Olympics mob... I hope the result impresses them. ■

© Harry Turner, June 1993.

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