Thursday, 29 May 2008


I left my umbrella in Waterstone's yesterday by mistake. I went back today to get it, and was served by the beautiful girl from the 21st May. We didn't have the same sort of zipping conversation, although she did say a couple of things that made me smile. I'd forgotten the New York Trilogy anyway, which was a blow to the plan of wowing her with kindness. I think it's probably too late to do it after today - I wasn't even sure if she remembered me. I remembered her though. Pints with the SACV volunteers and a glorious meal of orange salmon with Louise had taken my mind off my romantic failiure by bedtime.

Body-modder, I ain't

Clumsy? Yes.

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Dry 'stone's*

I went into Waterstone's at lunchtime, armned with my copy of the New York Trilogy, hoping to 'bump into' the wonderful girl who'd served me a week ago. She wasn't there. Accidentally, I left my umbrella behind. It really was an accident, but in hindsight it seems like a convenient one.

*I'm a total grammar snob, and normally I'd vomit at what seems to be such appalling apostrophe abuse. In truth, however, the usage is correct - the first is an apostrophe of omission, the second of possession, with the shortened word being, of course, Waterstone's.

Monday, 26 May 2008

New Job Old Job

The first day in my new job went really well. Jacqui invited me round for some tea this evening, and also to look at her garden. Sam came along too. We had a wonderful salad, garlicky roast potatoes, feta cheese, and a couple of beers. And then we slagged off my old rubbish boss as we slouched around in the living room. What a joy!

I met Thom, Ed and Miriam in Fuel later on. Miriam asked me if I thought that Manchester was the place for me. She's been having some doubts about whether it's right for her or not, and I was happy to share my thoughts with her - about the trouble of comparing something new and growing to something in the past that's over, and that has conspicuous highlights and a suspicious lack of low points... Is Manchester the right place for me? That's quite a question to ask onself on the first day of a new job.

Friday, 23 May 2008


I went to the test match with Robbie, Paul and Chris.

Chris was pulling a sickie, conspicuously hidden underneath a sunhat on a grey day in case the Sky Sports cameras caught a glimpse of him.

Afterwards we went to Dulcimer. Well trendy.

Thursday, 22 May 2008

Panel 3 is me

God I love this comic.

Last day at work

Today was my last day in the ___ team. This ought to have been a bittersweet moment, but I felt only relief. I got some nice gifts... enormous dictionary...

...and a belting tie! In my leaving speech I thanked Sam and Jacqui, neither of whom were there, for all of the support they'd given me whilst I was in the team. I deliberately didn't say what Kich, Tracy, Jenny, Louise, Lorraine had all said - that it was a lovely place to work because everybody was so friendly - because I think I would have put too much emphasis on certain words, and eneded up conveying an entriely different message: that it was a lovely place to work because everybody was so friendly - ie it was once upon a time but it isn't anymore.

Pints with Pip afterwards was fun, she was very excited about Miss Waterstone's.

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Good customer service, or flirting?

Coincidence is an odd thing. I'd planned to meet Kate after work, reading in the pub to fill the gap between the end of my shift and the end of hers. I'd forgotten my book, so I popped in Waterstone's to pick something up. I was looking for something by Borges but I ended up choosing The Book Of Illusions by Paul Auster instead, and wandered over to pay.

The girl behind the counter asked me why I'd chosen my book. We'd both read Paul Auster before, although not the same books, so we talked about what we'd made of them. She was bright, articulate and confident. Our conversation seemed to last a long time, and with every second I found myself more and more impressed by (and attracted to) her. As the natural process of the transaction came to an end, I wanted to ask her to meet me again somehow, but I choked. Our conversation should have ended with "Would you like to meet up sometime," instead of "It was very nice to meet you."

I felt like there was a spark between us over the counter, but as I'm terrible at distinguishing between flirting and plain old good customer service, I didn't do anything. I felt stupid for doing nothing, and a quick straw poll by text suggested friends thought I should have said at least something. Grrr! When I explained what had happened, Kate said that I should go back there right away. "I need a book anyway," she said, "so let's both go."

She wasn't there. And Kate couldn't find her book either. We trudged off to the Britons Protection to eat flapjacks.

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Joe Satriani playing Guitar Hero at a gig

City Life, Manchester Evening News, last Friday.

I know he's good, but £25.50 / £28.50 is a lot to pay to watch someone play a (very cool) computer game.

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Cup, 53-55 Thomas St, Manchester

“I’ll have the sheep’s cheese, rocket and red onion marmalade sandwich, please.”
“That’ll be £3.85. Would you like it toasted?”
“No thanks.”

I walked with Pip down to Urbis Square, unwrapped my sandwich, and found out why they were so eager to toast my sandwich - its posh Barbakan bread was stale. I wonder what Mr Scruff would think about that. That posh bread is probably free from additives and preservatives, so I think I had one of Monday’s sandwiches. I knew I should have gone for a pie.

Sunday, 11 May 2008

SACV Spring Residential.

I spent the weekend in the Peak District with my new friends from SACV, working as a volunteer alongside the National Park Ranger for the Pennine Way. The weather was glorious on both days. We stayed at Brunt’s Barn Volunteer Centre – a barn converted to include a kitchen, large common area, comfy bunks and ablutions.

Brunt's Barn

We arrived late on Friday evening for an evening of introductions, red wine, marmalade tart and Jenga. I met some of the group last time I volunteered. Others were new to me. Everybody was very friendly and very welcoming. The group is really good-humoured, and sometimes very funny too - according to Peter, for example, there are seven different types of block in an officially sanctioned Jenga set. Apparently, each type is shaved slightly differently to make gameplay less predictable. I didn’t believe him for one moment.

Tools and workers, day two

The task on Saturday involved protecting some rare sphagnum moss growing near the Pennine Way on Bleaklow Moor. Walkers avoiding mud had trampled into the bog and damaged the plants. We used subtle persuasive techniques to gently suggest that walkers take a slightly different route along this section of the path: we made the moss side of the path less attractive to walkers, blocking it with coarse grasses to give the impression that there was no way through, and made the non-moss side of the path seem more attractive by creating an obvious stream-crossing point, and then paving the path on either side of the crossing with stones from the stream bed. It worked well, based on the passing walkers at least.

Me with mattock

Sunday’s task also sought to protect the immediate surroundings of a footpath. This time, a lump in the path seemed to lead walkers up onto a soft patch of peat, rather than around on the reinforced path. We built a new path bed in the stream using boulders, and then flattened out the hump and used the displaced earth to grade a gentle decline onto the newly built path. The effect was much the same as on Saturday, subtly suggesting to approaching walkers that a particular route was the best option.

Day two, the flattened lump

In the afternoon, we walked up to Higher Shelf Stones, and looked at the wreckage of a B29 that had crashed there sixty years earlier.

The wreckage, as described here.

More wreckage, still described here.

I really enjoyed the whole weekend. I found it strange that we spent eight hours travelling to and from the work sites - an hour driving and an hour walking each way each day - over the course of the weekend, and only about five hours working. Maybe I'm too used to the hard taskmaster Durex in the allotment. Adjusting to the pace of voluntary work is part of the challenge, I suppose.


Friday, 9 May 2008

Brunt's Barn, 11pm


Answering that ten-to-eleven call, that invite to the pub, is a good thing to do.

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Monday, 5 May 2008

Kissing just for practice

I'm happy with Blogger but I like the look of tumblr too. The top tag in my cloud is 'photo' - perhaps I should record those seperately in a tumblog? It's a scrapbook, not a diary, they say. This is a diary with scrapbook parts wedged in. I'll have a think.

I really enjoyed this post by Jaclyn B on tumblr. Will my kids look back on this blog in the future? I hope so. I'd love them to dig out stuff that even I've forgotten.

FUN @ Lowestoft, Suffolk

FUN @ Lowestoft, Suffolk, originally uploaded by timparkinson.

I'm going to use this CC licensed photo on the FTTDFF blog, I think it's perfect. It can be found in Tim Parkinson's Flickr stream by following the link. Thanks Tim!

EDIT: I've changed my mind, I think the FTTDFF is better without a picture. But thanks anyway Tim, and thanks CC licensing too!

Sunday, 4 May 2008

Victoria Baths

Milney and I went on a tour of Victoria Baths. It was amazing. Here are some of the photos that I took.

This picture below is my favourite. It's the inside of one of the old sand filter tanks from the baths. Before chlorination, the water in the pools was cleaned by being poured through massive tanks filled with sand - the water would leave the first class pool, where the rich swam, then go into the sand tanks, where the sand would filter out all of the unmentionable debris, then the water would go back into circulation, this time in the second class pool for the plebs. The tank was empty, so I put my camera inside, turned on the flash, and got this picture.

What! A piece of paper! Wow! What's on it? It was a fair distance back, so I took my umbrella and hooked around it the paper. Once I pulled it out, I found that it was an old callsheet from the TV show Life on Mars, which had shot some scenes at the baths. What a treat! Hidden treasure is everywhere.

Beautiful photos

From Tiny Vices go and see!

Friday, 2 May 2008


Local elections 2008

“One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, eighteen, nineteen, twenty, twenty-one, twenty-two, twenty-three, twenty-four, twenty-five.

One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, eighteen, nineteen, twenty, twenty-one, twenty-two, twenty-three, twenty-four, twenty-five.

One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, eighteen, nineteen, twenty, twenty-one, twenty-two, twenty-three, twenty-four, twenty-five.

One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, eighteen, nineteen, twenty, twenty-one, twenty-two, twenty-three, twenty-four, twenty-five.”

This is what counting votes for the local elections feels like.

Thursday, 1 May 2008

Extra extra

Milney and I were eating lunch in Albert Square on Wednesday, when we were approached by a casting scout and asked it we’d like to appear in the new Ken Loach film as extras. Yes, we would, and yes we could attend a casting on Thursday after work, and yes, we’d see her there.

The casting was an odd affair. We were normal people who were scouted from the street, but there were clearly people there who were bona fide extras: it was like we’d stumbled into another world. I overheard the guy in front of us chatting to the woman about the kind of work they’d both done – mostly TV dramas that I’d never heard of. He sings in pubs, at weddings, in tribute acts. He wore a short-armed brand named t-shirt that showed off his big arms, and he spoke in a slightly squeaky voice.

Milney and I didn’t fare as well as the scout had led us to believe. She’d told us that we were just what the casting director was looking for. The casting director looked us both up and down and said, “Hmmmm. I’ll give you a call in a couple of weeks.” It felt like a rejection. I didn’t mind, as I hadn’t set my heart on being in the film, but I was still mildly disappointed. Lately I’ve had pleasant surprises with rejections turning out better than I thought they would, which made rationalising quite straightforward.

We walked out and passed one of the bona fides, who was griping about her hair being entirely suitable for the 1970s, and moaning about the stuck-up cow of a casting director. “What did she say to you, are you gonna be in it?” she asked us, wide-eyed. It saddened me that Ms Bona Fide was so eager for the work and so angry not to get it, and that Milney and I weren’t bothered either way.

It must be crushing to be told that you’re not even good enough to be in the background of a film, never mind progress – as I’d imagine a lot of extras hope to – into starring roles. I’m glad it ain’t me

Fletcher's faux pas not worth wasting time on

If it's a new month then it must be time for a new betting "scandal" in football. Step forward Sir Alex Ferguson, Patrice Evra and Louis Saha, who now find themselves the subject of an FA investigation over bets they are said to have made with each other over the result of two European Championship qualifying matches between Scotland and France. Details of the bets were revealed in an interview given by Darren Fletcher to Zoo magazine. "He [Ferguson] was happy when Scotland beat France. He won a bit of money because he was making bets with all the French lads. They were looking at him like he was a bit crazy, so they took any bet," the Scotland international said. "But he had the last laugh 'cos we managed to beat them twice."

Poor Fletcher, he probably thought he was being cute and revelatory. He won't make the same mistake again, not after yesterday's po-faced announcement from the FA to the effect that it "will take action against any participants in our leagues found to be in breach of our regulations, if it is proved they bet on a match that they were involved in or could potentially influence". It is difficult to imagine a more frivolous use of the FA's time and resources than this so-called investigation of Ferguson and co, although it is not difficult to work out why the FA would make such a song and dance; it is easy and it is eye-catching. A far more worthwhile job would be to examine the corrosive effects on the game wrought by the boom in gambling on the betting exchanges. But that would require effort, ingenuity and courage - attributes that are in short supply amongst those charged with protecting the game's integrity.

From The Guardian online sport section.