Piccadilly Gardens > East Didsbury a familiar and linear and safe route. You pass cathedrals and museums and hospitals and libraries and places of study, worship, protest, places to get fixed and places to die.
Lines of buses trundle passed each other, big bosses of Oxford Road, making little space for tiny cyclists weaving in and out of the fumes. When it rains, and it always rains, you pass people on their long walk down this long straight road, hoods up heads down.
Oxford Road is no stranger to protest – reclaim the night, Gaza protests (although these were more frequent before the BBC building was demolished), the ark, we have seen it all, stuck in traffic, watching crowds of people march for noble (and sometimes less noble) causes. A stretched out, perfect stage for protests, parades, peace walks and public rallies. Race, religion, anti-tory, anti-immigration, women, doctors, students. It gets a little quieter down the end of the bus route.
The 142 is an explicit consciousness of my hazy student days, waking up late & eating breakfast on the back seats, and post night-out napping on the way home, warm with vodka red bulls swilling in an unpleasant manner in my insides. The seats and floors and rails are sticky with things that make me feel weird if I think about it too much, a stickiness that isn’t present inside other buses. Windows are steamed with the body heat of Oxford Road travellers, hoping to sense when due to alight. I used to love going past Rusholme during these dark and crowded times, neon signs would become obscured and beautifully blurred between the steamed windows and I, enveloped in the loudness of a Saturday night on the mile.
Rusholme was my home for two years, a place that sparked many sleepless nights, and some regrettable late night take aways. Al madina is my place of choice – no frills but the best karahi in Manchester. Order a biriyani too. My bedroom window looked out onto the edge of the mile and into Platt Fields Park; once was a Victorian paradise where children waded in the shallow ends of the lake.
To some it is now a route that goes beyond the student days, and time to venture future down past Oxford Road, past Wilmslow Road and into Withington and Didsbury. Past the hectics of these roads, you’ll find solace at the end of the line, at the lush Fletcher Moss Park. You’ll enter woodland that dampens the noise of city centre madness, almost so much that you’ll forget where you are and how you got there.
The buses I now use are often very quiet, just a background buzz of headphones and murmuring phone conversations but the 142 is an eruption of idle chatter by day, and rowdy drunken gibberish by night. The 142 is an old friend, a reliable thing (manned by disgruntled drivers) that turns up every few minutes taking me to work every morning & taking me home every night. Always busy, never alone, never boring.