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20th April 2024

Main Library Musings – Rant column #2

Edition #2 of the Opinion section’s rant column. Fuelled by sweaty palms and jabbing fingers on our keyboards, we lament three issues facing students: the library, buses, and supermarkets
Main Library Musings – Rant column #2
Credit: The Mancunion

Alexandra Baynes, Head Opinion Editor

People say to put your best foot forward. So, there’s nothing quite like tripping off the 142 outside the Students’ Union, bashing into the front tyre of someone’s bike as they whisper the sweet nothing of “watch out!” in my AirPod-ed ear, and weaving past the dawdlers and student-trippers as they meander outside one of the seven wonders of the world: the green grass outside Ali G.

I’m making my way downtown, walking fast, faces passed, and I’m homebound – to the Main Library – SZA playing in my ear, iced coffee in my hand, and sweaty palm in my jacket pocket.

It’s not even 10am, and I’m already stepping on business.

Or so I thought. The library is plagued by stiff, sweaty air at the moment. It almost acts like that scene in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, where Katniss and her comrades are plagued by the poisonous fog and – spoiler alert – Mags sacrifices herself in order to save the others. It feels like I’m Mags, sacrificing myself, but for whom?

The main library is no longer a place of frivolous fun; it’s one of stiff, sweaty air combined with the sweaty smells and stiff smiles of students, knee deep in dissertation season. Immediately upon entering, I feel like I need to shower, even though I only threw my spenny Lush shower gel down the drain less than a hour ago. How can we fix this problem – an aircon system? An industrial-sized fan? Windows that open? Or banning dissertations? All easy fixes.

Jacob Broughton-Glerup, Deputy Music Editor

Having grown up in the wonderful yet hampered city of Sheffield, Manchester’s bus network was an absolute revelation. Buses that ran until the early hours of the morning were so exciting. Ubers seem almost redundant in this city.

In light of the ever-growing spectre of the climate crisis, Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham’s emphasis on public transport is nothing short of a necessity. Manchester is a leading light in British public transport connections, with a smooth tram network, local trainlines, and – as every student loves to remind you – the busiest bus-route in Europe running up and down Oxford Road and Wilmslow Road.

However, the Bee Network project does not make sense to me.

Like most students, I forked out for the now £330 money-saving Stagecoach bus pass, thinking I would be able to zip around Manchester care-free. However, in his infinite wisdom, Burnham’s buying up of Stagecoach buses – namely the 36 and 38 to Salford, among others – has stopped me dead in my tracks, rendering my most valuable possession redundant, and my trip to Salford ruined over a wasted £2. State-ownership of buses is great if concessions are made, but the only concessions I have seen and felt with these buses is that they are now a putrid shade of yellow.

Affordable and reliable public transport is vital in the age of climate catastrophe. I will always support nationalised transport, as long as it serves the people properly.

Lily Wallen, Deputy Opinion Editor

Sainsburys. See the burgundy and orange, hear the klaxon-like malfunction of the self-services, feel the money drain from your pocket.

I’m sure, if you’re a Fallowfield or Withington based student, just the name of the place invokes the despair of lumbering down those flat escalators with a dissociative stare, thinking to yourself, “how did I actually just spend £25 when all I came in for was mayo?”

Since moving into Oak House almost three years ago, big Sainsbury’s has been a looming monolith in my cheap little student life. It may as well change its big orange sign to say, “I don’t know how I ended up here; I’m literally the worst option for students.”

Big Sainsbury’s offers absolutely no bang for your buck. I mean drop an M&S in the middle of Fallowfield and I definitely still wouldn’t shop there, but at least I could galivant around the aisles, ogling at their latest flavour of “the absolute best of the best, scrumptious pink lemonade” or whatever, and fantasise about the life I wish I was leading.

But no, I get Sainsbury’s, with all the same products as Morrisons but at double the price, and absolutely none of the glamour or chicness of sauntering around M&S.

And so, I’m forced to travel far and wide to go literally anywhere else. Boots in town (spare a thought for any of us that have to walk through Piccadilly Gardens soon), Aldi in Didsbury (two bags for life on a 147, please God no), or Savers for some shampoo and toothpaste (I’ve actually got nothing bad to say about this place. Savers, I love you so much).

And it hasn’t even got better since I’ve advanced up the student maturity ladder and graduated to Withington, supposedly the glory days of student living. Now I get little Sainsbury’s. Despair for me as I enter the most confined shop in the world and still manage to deepen my overdraft.

But to be fair, at least it isn’t a Co-op.

Alexandra Baynes

Alexandra Baynes

Head Editor of Opinion Section. Radio Host on Fuse FM. Twitter: @lexiebayness

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