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Don’t mess with my toot toot

Submitted by on February 8, 2010 – 7:46 pmNo Comment

I am aware I can be overly sentimental about Manchester.  It stems from my overflowing joy at moving back home in 2006 after far too many years in London.

For instance I still do things like sit at the front on the top deck if I’m on the 157 going to see my parents, because that’s what I did when I used to make that journey back from town on the 157 in my youth.  (Bus-spotting pedants may say that the bus now bears the label X57. But those of you who know that Manchester International Airport is really Ringway will understand that the bus is in fact the 157).

I was giddy about so many aspects of Being In Manchester. One was that I moved into a flat from where I could hear the trams toot as they bustled in and out of Piccadilly station.  Even in those first few bewildered days, in a bedroom stacked high with unpacked boxes, however groggily disoriented I was as I awoke I knew I was in Manchester because the tram was tootling me a reassuring hello.  It’s such a great sound – a tinge mournful, a bit shy maybe, but definitely friendly.  Even when tooted in anger by a driver impatient with an over-nonchalant pedestrian, the sound retains its warmth.  You can’t be cross with a tram tooting at you, you know it’s only doing it for your own good.  It’ll get you a pint in later.

So now I live in a place of my own. I chose it because I could hear the trams toot from it.  Well, ok, there were a few other factors ahead of that in my decision-making, and no I didn’t share that one with the estate agents.  But I was chuffed to be on the tram route, to hear them trundle by and above all to hear them toot.

And then came the New Yellow Trams.

Arguments about their comfort and capacity I leave to regular commuters. I note that they’re much quieter in their trundling, actually they glide rather than trundle, they kind of sneak up on you. I’m saving up for the wreaths I’m expecting to need pretty soon for the cycle couriers of my acquaintance.  But the toot…oh, the toot.  The first time I heard it I stopped dead.  Gnaark, it went.  Pardon?  Gnaaaark.  It’s electronic, it’s mithering, it’s positively aggressive. These trams are permanently scowling, waiting for a chance to gnaark at passers-by. Last week I walked by as an old tram and a new passed each other in the Gardens. Toot. Gnaark. That decided it. I’m starting a campaign to retain Manchester’s cheery tram sound.  It’s obviously called ‘Don’t Mess with my Toot Toot’. It starts now. Join me.

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