underpasses i have known and loved

33105018753_c46ae855b3_cI’m walking repeatedly around a square of four underpasses, making an air recording with my trusty zoom while pushing my son in his buggy. Overhead you can hear the traffic at the junction of Chester Road and Edge Lane. These tunnels will be filled in soon when the junction is redesigned. The underpasses must date to the widening of Chester Road into a 3 lane highway and the building of Stretford Mall. Currently the underpasses are the only safe way across the road at this junction; after there will be a roadcrossing. They need a little love, some bulbs need replacing in the lights, murals made by local schools and Gorsehill Studios are not in bad shape, some of the paintwork elsewhere could be redone. When we first moved here I realised that the underpasses made me feel at home. This is to do with a specific memory of the underpass between Leicester train station and Granby Street. This is now filled in and replaced by a roadcrossing. This one was pure old school, stank of piss, often had buskers in it, always had a couple of homeless guys seeking shelter. It was  the link between the city centre proper and the train station on London Road. As schoolboys  we used to walk up from the clocktower where the 61a dropped us, down Gallowtree Gate, up Granby Street through this underpass, past the station then left down Conduit Street. There on the corner was Sheehan’s Music, a few doors down was Ultima Thule (a record shop specialising in prog and krautrock). Inbetween the two and about 5 floors up was our destination; Stayfree Music, where we would rent by the hour rehearsal rooms with huge crackling amps and flabby drums (we didn’t know you could tune drums til much later) to jam out the two chord structures and melodies  we used as songs. At very quiet moments just before sleep and when I’m very tired I can hear a D in my left ear and one an octave lower in the other. In fact its quiet at home now in the daytime and as I’m thinking; writing about my tinnitus it comes into focus and I can hear the notes come into focus. Those jams at Stayfree were the beginning of about a decade of exposing myself to very loud music all the time. I’ve worn earplugs the last decade which has helped. I’m back at home now listening to the recording I made in the Stretford underpasses. What I thought I would hear which was the slight ebb and flow in volume of traffic on entering and exiting just isn’t there. What marks the tunnels is Alex doing baby shouts to hear the short reverb. He does it on entering each tunnel and then stops when we are in the brief bit of open air between.

Stretford February-April 2017


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