Woman With Head Down Grid



I remember reading a small article in the Manchester Evening News in the 1980s and itís odd nature meant it lodged in my memory. It was just a few lines at the bottom corner of a page. People had started arriving for work early one morning at an industrial estate in Manchester. They found a pair of lifeless legs sticking out of an industrial grid. The grid cover had been slid to one side. When they heaved out the legs they found they belonged to a woman who had died. Her torso was wet and it was obvious she had drowned in the drain which still contained about two feet of water. The coroner recorded an accidental death. The poor woman had probably lowered the majority of her body weight into the drain and could not retrieve herself. She must have stayed supported by her arms until they collapsed or she drowned - whichever came first.


The article was too short to reveal enough to a curious person like me. This was an era when few people had a mobile phone so was she trying to retrieve - a ring, keys, her childís favourite toy? She have moved the drain cover aside for some reason.

Here is painting of a woman reaching into a drain. Iím sure this is the kind of thing a person wants on their wall.. Iíve put a little Louis Vuitton handbag at her side and mobile phone.


Perhaps the woman is searching for her car keys. Once my mum my friend Ste and me went for a walk along the canal. A bottle of orange leaked in my mumís bag. Tipping the orange from her bag she saw the car keys disappear into the canal. We had to walk to the nearest telephone box (still there even though many have disappeared) and call my dad. He soon arrived, stripped off and jumped into the canal. The water was filthy and he could only dive under and run his fingers across the bottom of the canal. I canít remember if he was wearing his swimming trunks or underpants but I can remember him pulling a leech off his chest.


Anyway here is a small painting that needed little concentration. Some people knit scarves or have a good scratch while theyíre watching television - I do small paintings.


Being a geek Iím a bit of a drain-cover spotter and have lost count of the number of Stanton and Staveley grids Iíve weed through. The massive Staveley Coal and Iron Company factory is no longer there but I have befriended it through Facebook.


Did you know manhole covers are round because...


1. They cannot fall through its circular opening.

2. They donít need to be precisely aligned when placing them on the opening.

3. Theyíre easier to roll.

4. Circular holes are easier to dig.

5. Round castings are easier to manufacture using a lathe.