It’s just after 11pm on Saturday and the first day of Parklife is coming to an end. Outside The Woodthorpe pub on Bury Old Road a lad in John Lennon glasses and shorts approaches a copper.
“You want to walk to Salford?,” the officer asks. “It’s quite a long way,” he adds with typical Mancunian understatement.
The mad scramble to get home after Parklife is almost as much as much of a tradition as the bucket hats and bikini tops favoured by festival-goers. And this year is no different.
With Ed Sheeran at The Etihad, Alicia Keys at the AO Arena and The Killers over at at Emirates Old Trafford, it’s been a very, very busy day. More than 80,000 party-goers poured through the gates at Heaton Park on Saturday morning.
After a day of revelry, they’ve all got to – somehow – get home.
There are reports of people stuck in queues at pick-up points for nearly an hour by midnight. The queue ‘hasn’t moved an inch’, one person says.
Those who aren’t lucky enough to be getting a lift have three options – the tram, a cab or Shanks’s pony. Heaton Park station is closed from 8pm, so those wanting to catch the Met are directed toward Bowker Vale, where a steward with a megaphone points passengers up to the platform.
Officially there’s two taxi ranks – outside the Woodthorpe and on Blackley New Road – but in reality it’s a bit of a free-for-all. Every spare bit of pavement is taken up by private hire cabs, waiting to pick up their fares, or in some cases tout for business.
“I’ll do one or two jobs, then I’m going home,” one cabbie says. “How much will you make, bro? 500, 600?,” another driver shouts over. It’s hard to tell if he’s joking or not.
A lad in a bucket hat and sunglasses asks me the way to Sainsburys. He’s getting a lift home to Wigan off his mum, but his phone’s only got 3 per cent battery left.
“I’ve had enough mate,” he tells me. “I’ve left my mates in there. I’m gonna go home and watch Love Island.”
Back outside the Woodthorpe, the queues at the rank are building up. Groups of tired friends sit on the kerb by the wheelie bins waiting for a lift.
“I could just lie down and fall asleep,” one girl says as she take a drink from a can of Sprite. Her mate gets up and knocks on a taxi driver’s window.
“How much to Fallowfield mate?,” she asks. “Are you f***** mad?,” she retorts a second or two later, having been given a price.
It’s been a long day, and for many the journey home will seem just as long again. But still, it’s probably been worth it. See you again same time tomorrow?