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It came from outer space

The ‘Urban Oasis’ has been in town for a while now, teaching us all about renewable energy. Or is that just what they want us to think?

Published on November 8th 2006.

It came from outer space

For the past month or so I have been walking through Albert Square, just blindly accepting the fact that there was what looked like a big pointy plastic spaceship in the middle of the square.

Sometimes the spaceship would have its razor like wings spread, so that it looked like a giant futuristic pineapple. Sometimes it would be pointing straight up to the sky, probably beaming some unfortunate so and so up to the mother ship.

Occasionally there would be human legs poking out from the bottom of one of the plastic tubes that protruded downwards from the spaceship. Again, I wouldn’t bat an eyelid. ‘Oh, there’s someone else being sucked up into the space ship…’ I would think, before continuing on my way to Boots for a £2.99 meal deal.

It wasn’t until I walked through Albert Square this morning, and noticed that the Spaceship had disappeared, that I began to worry. What had happened to all of the people that had been sucked into its tubes? Were they lost forever or will they all turn up again, albeit slightly altered by the experience, like the bad kids in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory?

I asked around. Apparently it hadn’t got very far - just to the G-mex in fact. Phew. Manchester Confidential decided to investigate.

Adhering to the common principle that there’s safety in numbers, I dragged Kelly (oh wise one, she of the ‘Ask Kelly’ fame) to the Gmex. Lo, there it was, in all its sci-fi majesty, with its macabre limbs stretched out and glimmering in the sunlight. We shuddered, and considered turning back, but we were there now. Only a fool would give up.

Turns out that the reality is a little less exciting. Or is that just what they want us to think? Using the argument that I was holding the camera and needed to retain an objective stance, I pushed Kelly up to one of the people sucking tubes. ‘Go on Kel, it’s fine, just hop in!’ I urged, and she hesitantly shuffled over to the space ship, sat down in one of the pods and pulled the tube down over her head.

I waited with the camera, hoping to capture evidence of the spaceship sucking somebody into oblivion. But what’s this? Kelly looked safe enough, her feet poking out of the tube and happily tapping away on the metal platform. She looked a little bored, if anything. I went in for a closer look. ‘I’m bored now’ came the stifled cry from underneath the plastic hood, ‘can I come out?’ I considered. It didn’t look as if Kelly was being beamed up anywhere. ‘Ok then’ I said. ‘Come on out’.

Turns out that what Kelly had experienced was a small lcd screen and some speakers, telling her all about renewable energy. So why the huge, slightly scary looking structure? If the brochures are to be believed, it’s an ‘urban oasis’ that harbours energy from the sun, the wind and the rain.

Do we believe them? As we were talking, we looked up to notice that the spiky wings, (or ‘petals’ as the brochure gently refers to them) had all joined together and were now pointing upwards to the sky. Had they been intending to beam Kelly up after all? Had she had a lucky escape? We’ll never know.

If you are interested in reading the spaceship’s elaborate cover story, wander down to the Gmex to learn all about renewable energy. If I was you though, I’d steer well clear.

Jayne Robinson
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