In Pictures Special: Middleton Bus Wars

East of the M60‘s last In Pictures Special of 2013

Over the last six months, there has been some competition between Stagecoach Manchester, JPT Travel and First Greater Manchester on services between Middleton and Manchester. Continue reading “In Pictures Special: Middleton Bus Wars”

2013, In the Company of Buses

East of the M60’s review of the year from a public transport angle

East of the M60's Icon of 2013: Flexity Swift M5000 tram 3060 loading at Ashton-under-Lyne on the first day of Metrolink operations.
East of the M60’s Icon of 2013: Flexity Swift M5000 tram 3060 loading at Ashton-under-Lyne on the first day of Metrolink operations.

Missed opportunities, U-Turns, WiFi and trams dominated most of 2013. Last year we thought Preston’s iconic bus station would face demolition. Instead it is Rochdale’s 1978 bus station which will face the wrecking ball thanks to a spiffy one across the road. We saw continued consolidation of big bus owning groups and cutbacks, though these were made to fares instead of services. Continue reading “2013, In the Company of Buses”

Lost Treasures and Torments of Christmas Schedules Past: The Not So Perfect Ten

The TV schedules of Christmases Past

East of the M60 has delivered you, the reader, a lovely Christmas bonus Not So Perfect Ten. There’s every chance you may be bored stiff from the present offerings on ITV, the BBC and numerous other cable and satellite channels. You’ve exhausted the DVDs, Netflix and Blinkbox. A part of you may be yearning for the days of three or four channels and Christmas specials commanding 20 million or more viewers. Continue reading “Lost Treasures and Torments of Christmas Schedules Past: The Not So Perfect Ten”

Did I Really Want One of Those? 24. Dancing Flowers

Acceptable in the 1990s – even Andi Peters had one in the Broom Cupboard

16 January 2014: “Woke one morning half asleep/With all my blankets in a heap...” – the opening lines of The Move’s song reminded me of something I remembered seeing in my office. They were truly overhyped to high heaven and seldom danced to anything other than Jive Bunny and the Mastermixers’ greatest hits.

Continue reading “Did I Really Want One of Those? 24. Dancing Flowers”

Did I Really Want One of Those? 23. The Cascade Cassette 50 Compilation

50 games, and a calculator watch for £9.99?

15 January 2014: Continuing the subject of electronic atrocities, I was taken aback by my youngest child’s reaction when I brought my Commodore 64 downstairs from the attic. She asked:

‘Where’s the mouse?’
‘Try under the floorboards’ I flippantly said.
‘Strange USB port’ she replied ‘And what do you call this? How do you load a game?’

She was somewhat mystified by the vagaries of the C2N Datasette which I pointed to, and the selection of cassettes. She chose Turbo Outrun. Bad move I thought, especially that horrific multiload. Still better than Fido on Firebird’s Don’t Buy This compilation though.

Continue reading “Did I Really Want One of Those? 23. The Cascade Cassette 50 Compilation”

Did I Really Want One of Those? 22. Big Mouth Billy Bass

‘In the morning, laughing happy fish heads…’

14 January 2014: Cooker went on the blink. Yours truly had to make a brief sortie to the Marple Fish Bar. Happy days; mine’s haddock, chips, peas and their hottest curry!

Then my youngest one asked a question: ‘why do you never see singing fish?’ She has yet to see Walt Disney’s version of The Little Mermaid. Nor some contraption I bought at The Gadget Shop.

Continue reading “Did I Really Want One of Those? 22. Big Mouth Billy Bass”

Did I Really Want One of Those? 21. Mr Microphone

Wired for sound

13 January 2014: In the attic, I stumbled upon a Piccadilly Radio annual and on reading Tom Tyrrell’s writings, remembered one thing when I was years away from taking my ‘O’ Levels. As a Manchester United fan, I wanted to be the next Tom Tyrrell. Sometime between Play Guitar With Ulf Goran (us Granadaland residents had to wait another year for TISWAS, and my pen pal from Lichfield used to make me jealous about it till 1979), I saw an advertisement which meant one small step toward being paid to watch Manchester United. Or being thrown out of Stamford Bridge by Ken Bates and having to commentate on a mobile phone.

Needless to say, I mithered my parents for this. Instead they got me an Alba tape recorder with a proper microphone. Probably a much better move. Plus I never got my tapes back from Piccadilly Plaza, only a rejection letter and a The Bradshaws cassette.

Continue reading “Did I Really Want One of Those? 21. Mr Microphone”

A Merry Christmas and a Peaceful 2014 from East of the M60

East of the M60's Christmas Card for 2013

Well, Christmas Day is only a few days away and as East of the M60 has done since 2011, it has issued another Christmas card to its readers.

Before you rush off to open your presents on Christmas Day, try to catch the last few hours of Ashton-under-Lyne’s or Manchester’s Christmas Markets, keep this in mind:

  • The 330 and 409 will be running a limited service on Boxing Day (half hourly during shopping hours), along with the 201, 216 and 219;
  • That Metrolink will be running a proper – full-fat – Saturday service on Boxing Day (yay!) with double trams on certain journeys;
  • It may be double fare or Tariff 3 on the local taxis for Ashton United fans watching FC United of Manchester at Hurst Cross;
  • Timeshifting your Christmas viewing will prove to be a useful ally, especially if you like Doctor Who, Vicious or Call The Midwife.

Apart from all that, East of the M60 wishes you all a Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year. May your Christmas be wet (which it will be anyway), tinged with real ale, and include three points at Moss Lane or Bower Fold.

S.V., 20 December 2013.

Red Rocket Express Grounded Till Easter?

The X70’s unscheduled touchdown

Almost three months after its maiden voyage, the X70 from Manchester to Blackpool, also known as the Red Rocket Express service will be grounded till Easter 2014.

Continue reading “Red Rocket Express Grounded Till Easter?”

Did I Really Want One of Those? 20. Ronco’s Space Invasion LP

A Spaceman Came Travelling…

12 January 2014: Stayed too long at The Armoury and made the mistake of taking part in karaoke. Thought it was a good idea to sing Ph.D’s 1982 classic I Won’t Let You Down. They didn’t have in their folder, so I settled for a Chris de Burgh song instead.

Continue reading “Did I Really Want One of Those? 20. Ronco’s Space Invasion LP”