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How A City In England Fell In Love With A Taylor Swift Cardboard Cutout

Everyone in the world loves Taylor Swift. This is what I choose to believe deep inside my own brain, and I will not be shifted from this world view. However, despite my conviction that everyone loves the world’s greatest country/pop/adult alternative singer-songwriter as much as I do, it always surprises me when this reveals itself to be true. While I know Taylor is one of the most streamed artists in the world, seeing her pop up on so many Spotify Wrappeds was a pleasant and heartwarming shock. I suppose it shouldn’t have been. But now, the latest way the world has shown its love for Taylor Swift is via one English city’s dedication to her cardboard cutout.

Manchester, in the north of England, operates on a tram system. Thanks to its population spread and relative competence of the system, it’s a beloved part of the city’s modern day culture. Trams are part train, part bus, part both, part neither. I used to live in a city with a tram system, and now live in a place with a robust metro line, so I understand the appeal of fixed public transport.

Buses may take the same route, but they don’t feel as constant as a tram or a metro. You learn the landmarks outside the window, the time between each stop. You learn when you need to text your friend, partner, or parents that you’ll be there soon because you’ve just passed some shared symbol. For many people in Manchester, that symbol was Taylor Swift.

As the tram goes through the city, that means it passes by different houses and flats. One such flat belongs to drag queen Red (who streams on Twitch under the name Froot Cake UK), and features a cardboard cutout of Taylor Swift in the window. The cutout has sat there since 2017, and its proximity to the tracks, plus Taylor’s universally recognisable image, meant it quickly became an icon. Known locally as ‘Tram Taylor’, it was just as effective a marker to know how far from home you were as a lamppost, street sign, or building. Unfortunately, Taylor did not seem long for this world.

Recently, Red revealed they were moving house, meaning Taylor would have to come out of the window. There was outcry and dismay in the city. Pleas went out to the local government, the national government, to Taylor Swift’s management. However, in the short term, and hopefully the long term, a solution appears to have been reached, and Tram Taylor can live.

While Red is moving out imminently, we all know how long the process of moving house actually takes. Red is leaving Tram Taylor in the window as a gift to the city, and for at least the next two months while the flat sits empty, Tram Taylor will continue to watch over commuters diligently. Beyond that, Red says they have been inundated with messages from people eager to move in and keep Tram Taylor in place.

Of course, moving home is a major commitment with significant expense; it’s not a thing you can just do ‘for the memes’ to keep a cardboard cut out by the tramline. Some of these messages are likely time wasters or else will flake, but eventually someone is going to buy it. By all accounts the flat is of a decent size and is in a good location. It will not sit empty forever. With Tram Taylor so beloved by the city and so unobtrusive in the flat itself, where it sits pressed against the window behind a curtain, there’s every chance whoever moves in will keep it as a holy monument to Manchester’s public transport.

Tram Taylor is a sweet reminder of the things that connect us, and those unique stories that hold our hometowns together. Every city has some version of Tram Taylor, every place in the world has that special and insular marker that only the locals understand the significance of. A win for Tram Taylor is a win for us all, and I hope she can live out the rest of her days by the tracks.

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