Friday, 5 February 2010

Living on the Edge

They’re shooting Mrs Peppercorn tonight in the Bridge. Her film crew is going to blow snow all over us and pretend we’re a Cornish village. Town Street will be closed for three nights, which should infuriate and delight us all in equal measure.

Edgy stuff, a production like this: what will happen if we’re already covered in the wrong sort of snow? I sha'n’t sleep for worry.

Three nights! I hope Mrs P and the crew will grace our pubs and restos between takes. To be honest, some of them have a bit too much Cheshire bling for Mrs M and me. As regular readers will know, we prefer the Regent Cinema, where my lady bestows the briefest of infra-red glares on anyone who whispers. This suits me fine. Also the magnums are only a quid.

The Edge restaurant in Marple overlooks the Peak Forest Canal as it hurtles down 16 locks and 210 feet to a viaduct over the River Goyt (then known as the Mersey) on its way to Manchester. “Hurtling” is of course relative. It took Mrs M and me all day to wind 16 sets of the sluices up and down, while a chorus of little Ms looked up from their Nintendos to chant “Tom Mandall Turn the Handle!”

Although the “e” at the end of The Edge in Marple is falling off, by design of course, our visitors won’t need crampons to reach their table. Carpers may say that we exaggerate when we talk of “peaks” and “forests”, but we really do live on the edge here by the Bridge. We live on the edges of Stockport, Manchester, Lancashire, Cheshire, Peaks and Plain. We used to be part of Derbyshire too (and, always up with the times, the Church of England has just moved us from the Diocese of Derby to that of Chester.)

Daily, we bestride our less-than-tectonic plates. Bridgers attack the terrain from early morning: a Pringle of golfers absailing down the links of Mellor Golf Course, or a Lycra of bikers grinding up to Lantern Pike.

Once Mrs M and the kids are out of the way, I lace up the chunky English shoes that I imagine are favoured by social anthropologists, for my morning stride with faithful Bono into old Derbyshire, and perhaps exchange greetings with the farmer fattening his cattle below St Thomas’s. Meanwhile, my neighbour leaves his half of our semi, and walks down to Town Street for a latte behind The Guardian at Libby’s; then he crosses our Goyt-Mersey-Rubicon for an off-peak return with the humanities staff to his Mancunian seat of learning.

Some of us free-lancers are currently more free than lancing. So, after a seemly interval in which we might have been responding to urgent emails from Lord Mandelson (no relation) or skyping Bangkok, we congregate in our trainers, we gentlemen of the road, track and tow-path. We jog down to the (not quite) Roman Lakes and up to the canal, over the Goyt, scrabble up through Brook Bottom till we finally top the Soldier’s Knob with its blasted Cross.

We may be on the edge of riches or repossession, but this knob where a Wesley may once have preached will still be here tomorrow. And perhaps that new contract will turn up...

Home to number 72, our ledge on the edge. Let’s go mad, Mrs M: Lancashire black puddings, with bubble and squeak for tea.

I raise the plump satin horse-shoes, dark as aubergines, to embellish my ear-lobes, for the delight of Eminem.

“Can’t we have fish fingers?” says M2. Go prick thy face, thou lily-liver’d boy!

Watch out for shrapnel, Mrs P.


  1. How nice of the film crew to clean away all the fake snow before leaving ... not forgetting dressing up as firemen with real fire engines for props, most entertaining on a Monday morning as we sat in gridlocked Town Street, trying to get to work

  2. Ah yes, that regular delight, gridlock in Town Street. I find it a good opportunity to contemplate Douglas Adams. I think he said something like: "I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by."


Tom welcomes your comments.