Welcome to the first in a new series where your correspondent drives around dogshit estates with the petrol light flashing on his car and cacks himself in the process…. This month: Wythenshawe
I get bored when stuck in traffic so sometimes I just end up driving somewhere. Anywhere for that matter. I don’t like big posh houses with finely manicured lawns or faceless industrial estates and I really fucking loathe the block after block of soul-less apartments clogging our country up. What I like to see is ropey pubs and boarded up houses on rough as fuck council estates. Don’t ask me why I just do.
South Manchester is a fair old mish mash of the above. Centred around the sprawling Manchester Airport, there are prosperous areas such as Wilmslow, Cheadle and Alderley Edge (NB WAG Wannabes Brazingamens is currently boarded up and states that it will be opening ‘Summer 2008??’ as Panacea) but it was the riot torn shithole that is Wythenshawe that attracted me on this current date. The biggest council estate in Europe wasn’t it once so claimed? Like most people I have seen Wythenshawe from the air and I’d also been here once before for a job interview at the Co-Op and can recall the concrete jungle shopping centre. Why would any town have to emblazon in massive letters the words ‘TOWN CENTRE’ on a building??
On arrival into Wythenshawe from the Southern side, I am greeted with pleasant leafy suburbs and a massive Brewers Fayre type establishment, followed by a big school and some respectable semi’s. As I pass the town centre on my right, it is a monstrosity but looks to be clean and functional if not spectacular. The standard of neighbourhood thus far looks highly respectable with one or two locals possessing the gormless ‘Shameless’ demeanour but overall quite pleasing on the eye, especially some young student bird at the pedestrian crossing listening to her Ipod.
I them start to espy to my left a few council type houses, several of which appear to have been boarded up and/or burnt down, there is also a mid-tier tower block on my right. Not quite Jasmine Allen on The Bill standards of degradation but one of those ‘ex local authority’ types they try to flog to young professionals and end up full of Albanian waiters. However, upon passing through the town, I reach a T-junction and take a right into Newall Green. Green implies pastures, cricket stumps and children rolling around and enduring play flights on balmy summer’s days and nights.
Fuck me, it’s bad. Newall Green is one scary place. It starts when you approach the Newall Green pub (think Flam in it’s pomp) with it’s metal railings over the windows and every single shop at just gone Friday teatime is covered over with shutters to stop the Shameless doppelgangers climbing in. The road dips down past some bright yellow council houses with horrendous corrugated roofs, like the old upside down houses in Scholes and to my right there are massive sprawling flats which are known as the Parkway Green Housing Trust. There’s no way I’d trust any fcker who lives on here looking at some of the shady looking residents. You wouldn’t put your dog in one of these houses and as I cruise past I sneakily push the lock on my car door as I am forced to slow down as I pass row after row of corrugated iron maisonettes all with callow youths loitering outside. I can’t speed up as there is a backlog of cars in front of me, a couple of nice shiny Meganes are getting slowed up by a gang of lads on bikes. They are cycling in front of the cars and weaving in and out of the traffic. They’re grabbing hold of the cars and banging on the roofs and scaring the shit out of the drivers. They might know them I tell myself and might just be having a laugh with the driver. Then the hoods go up and the seven or so ride in formation behind their leader, flanking the cars as they snake their way past the shitty housing. They are whooping and hollering and before I know it I’ve got an ugly mug grinning at my car window wittering some illegible Manc gibberish as my sphincter tightens up even further and you’ve guessed it – on comes the petrol light. I’ve got my flashiest work suit on and it’s fair to say my arse would be mincemeat if I had to walk through this parish with a petrol can in me hand.
I reach a parade of shops (sun bed shop, offy, the rest boarded up) and there are a mob of lads and girls enjoying this ceremony of intimidation, the hoodies take up position again giving abuse and hitching rides on the first car and one does the ‘smoking gun in the air’ gesture. My ordeal is over I think as I approach another T junction I can see an even more shitty estate up ahead and the BMX terrors fire off through it along a path way.
I am now completely lost and the signs give me no idea as to whether left or right will guide me to sanctuary. I turn right and see a sign for an industrial estate. Shit, everyone knows that there’s only one way in and out of industrial estates. The likelihood of adding my name to Britain’s knife victim statistics might be low in a welding firm but as the night draws in it probably means I’m going to have to re-trace my steps just in time for the hoodies to play their game again going back the other way with me at the front this time!! There’s also more cream painted tower blocks on my right and bugger all sign of any civilisation, let alone a petrol station. Thankfully, I spot a bus up ahead. That’s the one good thing around buses: they’re always going somewhere and soon I find myself edging closer towards the comparatively sedate area of Northern Moor and I see a signpost for Timperley and Altrincham, places where I believe there may be less of a chance that I might get dragged out of the car at any point in time and stabbed to death for not being local. I then spot the bastion of all civilisation, a 24 hour Tesco. There is quite honestly the biggest mob of scrotes I have ever seen congregating on the forecourt of Tesco and a massive queue for petrol like people cannot wait the get away from the dump I have just passed through.
So through Altrincham, I spot a cracking looking Holts boozer and am back amongst the shiny office blocks and retail parks with my trousers only moderately soiled. Wythenshawe did meet my expectations of being a shithole, I was slightly disappointed as to not have dropped on Benchill which is where a young un got caught on camera making gun gestures to David Cameron. There is always next time though as I ponder whereabouts in the North West I meander through the next time I wish to view some socially deprived housing and risk getting dragged out of my car and getting my head stamped on by some ASBO and his bird.