Home ground

[…continued]

By the time we are in the car Mia is asleep.

I explain why, today, I am driving my wife’s car. It’s do to with her and our eldest son having gone skiing this week.

“Where to?” asks Frances.

“Austria I think.”

“I’ve never been abroad,” she says. “I don’t even have a passport.”

“Where would you like to go?”

“I quite fancy Africa. Maybe South Africa. That’s sounds great.”

“Have you seen what’s left of the bus depot?” I say as we drive down Princess Road, the beginning of Moss Side.

“Yeah, it’s all been pulled down now, hasn’t it?”

“And there is a load of land behind it too. I guess they will be building houses there soon.” We pass the yellow diggers and dumper trucks.

“I hope I get one of those,” she says, “it would be great to be back in the middle of everything.”

We stop at Asda and Frances gets out to join the cashpoint queue as I circle the car park a couple of times. I feel somehow very responsible, vulnerable even. For a couple of minutes I am in sole charge of the sleeping five-month old on the back seat. It’s a peculiar feeling that leaves as soon as she jumps back in.

“Do you remember when this first opened?” I ask. Having photographing it being built, I still think of the Hulme Asda as relatively new.

“No,” she says. Thinking about it, she would have been only three or four. I’ve been at this for a while now.

“Do you know people who work there?”

“Yeah. My friend’s brother works in the McDonald’s; my brother’s girlfriend’s brother works as, like, a shelf-stacker; a few of my mum’s neighbours work on the checkouts; my friend from school worked there. Even my brother used to work in there.” We are passing the probation office. “He used to go there, too.”

Frances points out familiar landmarks like my mum does every time we drive through her childhood stomping ground in Stockport. “That’s the back of the brewery,” she is saying now.

After he’s worked out who it is pulling up outside, her friend Matthew waves to us from his bedroom window. He then comes out in his socks to help with the bags and the buggy. I’m introduced as the ‘personal photographer’ which Matthew and his brother Tyrone find amusing.

“I want to get into photography,” says Tyrone.

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