Saturday, 28 February 2009

Mystery Can Handover

What comes in a can that size? I'm so nervous about the mystery can challenge that it's almost untrue. Steve and I swapped cans, which didn't help. The challenge starts tomorrow. Gulp!

Friday, 27 February 2009

Company Along The Mile

It's a play about a transvestite? Or it's a play where a man plays a woman, but we are supposed to think it's a woman in the fictional world? Or... either way, it was hilarious, tragic, moving, dramatic.

We're getting old. Friday night in the Northern Quarter, and it was too loud. "Let's go to Fuel, it's not quite as thumping there." And then to Indigo.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Work Event, Vetiver

If it hadn't have been for some inspired work by our guest presenter, the event would have been a disaster. My boss was poor, but our guest was amazing. I was late arriving (waiting for my boss, surprise surprise!) but he took control, did the meet and greet, showed people to their seats, and smoothed over the ruffles that her disorganised approach had left. His speech was informative and quite entertaining. For such a dry subject, he did really well. My boss embarrassed me with just how shambolic their effort was. I was glad that the event ended.

I met Liz after work, and we wandered into Hulme. A quick pint in the Bar, and then back to my house so I could change, then off to Croma. "You're the politest couple that I've ever served," said the waitress. Are we, I thought, even a couple? I didn't say anything though.

We met Sam and Kate in the Marble for a swift drink, and then scooted along to Vetiver. Liz and I were pretty smashed by this point, but Liz was on fine, fine form. Sometimes, when she can be bothered, she's wonderful to be around. She charmed Kate, she charmed Sam, she charmed a couple that we met at the back of the gig, and then she charmed Dunk and Al too. "We'll cook dinner for Kate and Dunk soon" she said. It was the best night I've had in a very long time. I don't remember the music much, but the company was beyond compare.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009


My boss is sometimes so hideously bad at her work that I wonder how she got where she is. The event that we're doing tomorrow is going to fall on its arse, I fear, and it's mostly her fault. She's not prepared her presentation. She's not even started. I left the office at 7, angry and frustrated.

I ran into Liz around the corner, at the bus stop. "Can we go for a pint? Please?" I asked. And we did. And I felt better afterwards. Until tomorrow, at least.

Sunday, 22 February 2009


In anticipation of seeing Watchmen, Liz suggested watching 300, by the same director. I'd only heard about it in the context of its spoof film, which I guess is an indication that it must have been at least mildly influential. I really liked the film. We were lucky enough to find So I Married An Axe Murderer in the Co-op for three pounds, and we watched that afterwards with a curry. I enjoyed the Mike Myers film best of the pair, I can't believe that I hadn't seen it before.

Saturday, 21 February 2009


Durex and I dug four bags of manure into the allotment.

It came from a farm that his colleague lives on somewhere in Tameside. We saw a massive bull, and some chickens. Tiring work, especially given how rough I felt. But good work too. Honest.

Friday, 20 February 2009

Knott the wisest move

Friday Pint After Work Club with ALF became Knott with Liz. Thom came down, but didn't really have much to say for himself, and cleared off pretty quickly. We went to Atlas, to Dulcimer, and home with a kebab and a bottle of whiskey. I was sick. Not very smart.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

St Petersburg Restaurant

Our pancakes didn't come with potatoes, so we spent forty quid on vodka instead. The waitress had amazing fingernails, and a leopard print fetish. Brilliant.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Aldi stocks axes

Pip and I were a bit shocked to see this in Aldi at lunchtime.

No guards on the blades. No security at all. Just in an aisle, on a basketed shelf, not ten yards from chocolate biscuits. One psycho away from a gory headline, if you ask me.

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Vegan roast

From Unicorn, we bought:

Red cabbage
Vegan haggis

We roasted the potatoes, and separately, the courgettes, carrots and aubergine. We boiled the cabbage, and roasted the haggis. We drank it with organic blackberry wine. How. Very. Chorlton.

Here comes spring

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Cantankerous old moo

How old and infirm do you have to be to get away with being really really rude?

Pip and I spent the morning cruising around Chorlton, handing in her CV at bars and cafes around the place. Some places just felt right - The Marble, Pi, The Bar - others were so wrong that we didn't even waste the paper on them. As we headed for the White Star, we came across a very old lady with a white stick. "Excuse me! Excuse me!" she called out. I looked at Pip. She looked back at me. The right thing to do was obvious.

"Hello. Do you need some help?"
"Oh yes. Can you take me to the bread shop by the post office?"
"Yes no problem. I'm DTRMCR, and this is my friend Pippa."
"Hello! What's your name?" asked Pip.
"It's Pat."
"Nice to meet you Pat."

I took her arm, and we crept slowly towards the Post Office. "Slower!" I looked at Pip. Her eyebrows went up. Oh right. We slowed down. "You have to tell me when we're at the kerb." Okay then. How to diffuse the bad vibes? We talked about the weather, what else? The recent heavy snow was a freak weather event, with very wet air from the Atlantic colliding with very cold air from Siberia over the M4 corridor. The south had been horribly affected. Manchester less so.

Pip: We were saved by the hills of Cheshire to the south
Pat: Rubbish, no hills in Cheshire, where's your geography Pippa? The Pennines, it was the Pennines.
DTRMCR: I think...

Pip squeezed my arm, shook her head slightly. I held my tongue. We plodded on, with me highlighting every kerb we approached. "We're near the post office now, Pat," I said, the relief audible in my voice, "What are you doing in the post office?"
"Pay attention, I said I wanted to go to the bread shop. Don't you listen?"

We didn't speak from then on, a cloud of silence around us until we got to the shop. We held open the door, guided our rude companion up the step, and left. We said goodbye, and she didn't say thank you.

Someone so rude must test the patience of anybody that looks after them. Our fifteen minutes was hellish. Carers are saints.


Friday, 13 February 2009

Sheffield and Jeff Bernstein

Waking up on Kate's sofa and feeling rough wasn't the best preparation for another visit to the pervy contact lens fitter. I bleared through it in pain, but I knew before I'd left the store that contacts weren't for me. Not now, at least.

A 42 to Stockport, train to Sheffield and 52 bus later, I was back on a stomping ground of old, the ever-fair Crookes. The Mason's Arms, where I'd worked for two good years after my undergraduate degree, had closed down. Ugly metal boards covered over the windows and doors. I felt sad.

Jeff was his normal manic self. When had I last seen him? Two years ago? More maybe. Since I moved to Manchester? Yes, I think so. But I can't recall the particular time. He was amazed that I'd been to the Jewish Museum for my birthday. He was even more amazed when I gave him a driedel as a gift. Amanda was in fine form. She and I realised the driedel was lop-sided, but that this was best for the game as a whole. You can't always have people winning the whole pot, I guess. Is there a lesson there?

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Lisa is a bad influence

Wine, at six pounds a bottle in the Bay Horse, until 7pm, is a recipe for disaster. Especially if, at 6.55, someone comes back from the bar with TWO bottles to accompany the two empties on the table. No amount of sensible and grown-up shopping during the day - for perfume, for Valentine's gifts - can counteract that booze. Another bottle with a Croma dinner, some gin and tonics, and more wine back at Great Stone. Is it any surprise that I ended up sleeping on Kate's sofa? I blame Lisa.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Frogs' legs in grandma style sauce

Chris Lash lived with me ten years ago, in a house on Crookesmoor Rd in Sheffield. I think he works at one of the universities on Oxford Rd, as I've seen him twice in the last month. Each time, Liz and I have had Chinese food first. He was in the same cinema as us for The Wrestler (we'd been to Pearl City first), and then tonight he was in Big Hands after we'd been to the newly opened Red Chilli just over the road. Does the smell of star anise pull him out of his hidey-hole? Weird.

Liz came back to my house to watch Shameless. I gave her the mirror, whose frame was gleaming after I'd polished it. She likes it, I think.

Monday, 9 February 2009

Nook, Bar, Iguana

Iguana is an odd bar. It's rougher than one might expect, but it's kind of hip too. Sometimes I really like it, but other times I don't at all. We only went there because it was open late and Pi wasn't. Kate and I had been to the Nook on Wilbraham Rd for a few ciders and a catch up. I liked the bar, which reminded me of a PoNaNa I'd been to somewhere else, but Kate had itchy feet, so we nipped around the corner to the Bar, and right into the middle of a pub quiz. Doh! I once went on a terrible first date that meandered between several pubs, the first of which was in the middle of a pub quiz. The questions asked over the speaker system interfered with the getting to know you questions we were asking each other. "What kind of music are you IN THE 1976 FA CUP FINAL, WHO SCORED THE..." On that occasion, we got away as soon as we could. This time, Kate and I tried to answer the questions quietly, so as not to spoil anybody else's fun. "Above us only sky," makes for a great charade.

My coldsore is really clearing up. Those patches are amazing.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Sunday Chorlton Riverwalk

Ryan and I pootered out towards Beech Road in the afternoon. We talked about girls we'd known, films we'd watched, gigs we'd been to, our respective small-town upbringings. What was this pile of clothes? A work of art? Fly tipping?

We headed down through Chorlton Ees, and along the Mersey to Jackson's Boat, and then back up towards Brookburn School, past the old pumping station. Some kids worked on wide graffiti tableaux, amazing stuff. Ryan took a photo with his curious little faux-la-roid instant camera. I wouldn't have had the nerve.

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Ryan's room

Who sleeps in a bed like this?

My flatmate Ryan.

I've got a pissing coldsore

How fucking annoying. But, looking, on the bright side, it's a simple warning from my body: look after yourself better. I found a lovely mirror in Vintage Vogue which I think will make a lovely gift for Liz's brithday next Wednesday. It's tarnished, but nothing that a little elbow grease and some Brasso won't solve.

Friday, 6 February 2009

I went to the opticians, and guess who I bumped into?


Two-and-a-half happy years ago I became a customer of Guy's Opticians in Withington. I love the glasses that I've worn since then, rimless, square lenses, a good fit to my face. But they've seen better days. Time to upgrade.

"Better with lens one, or lens two... lens one, or lens two..."

The eye test is very intimate. I can't remember where, but I once read that the blinding of Oedipus represented a castration. For eyeballs, read just plain old hairy balls. And to have your balls examined, something so delicate and vulnerable so near to someone else's face - it's odd, to say the least.

"Have you ever tried contact lenses?"
"The fitter is here today. Would you like to?"
The fitter? It's a specialised job?
"No obligation. Just try them out?"
But what if I become an addict?
"Er... okay."

A greasy man with a nasal voice and a limp handshake welcomed me into his private room. Row upon row of minute plastic shelving - the kind that an over-eager dad would separate different gauges of screw in - lined his walls.

Chit-chat: "What do you do? Oh that sounds very interesting," he muttered, "I had no idea." Building a rapport wasn't the guy's strong point. Nor, it seemed, was fitting contact lenses.

"You've got very strong eyelids, some of the strongest I've ever seen..."
...don't worry, we're in no rush, I'm very patient...
...can you just TRY to relax your eyes PLEASE Mr, Mr...
...oh, there we are, oh, NO, NO, NO, DON'T BLINK, oh no...
...can you PLEASE turn your eyes and not your head...
...right, DON'T MOVE, okay, they're in..."

All this as he's poking my eye. It was like he was prodding my balls, and I was flinching each time. I didn't like him. But I didn't mind the one lens he's managed to get in. My other eye is too mongy to be in stock, they said, could I come back next week? I don't think I want contact lenses.

"Sure, is there an appointment available around 10am?"

Thursday, 5 February 2009

How to spend the first day of the last year of your twenties

1. Wake up hungover
2. Don't go to work
3. Read Batman comics
4. Eat a roast chicken dinner
5. Watch Die Hard

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

My birthday, the evening

Liz and I went for a couple of pints in Dulcimer, then swung past the curry house on the way to my house. She gave me an Obama stencil, great stuff! We set out the table, and got ready to welcome the guests for the evening. Cranium kicks ass for group fun. The teams were: Me, Pippa, and Bruce; Liz, Steve and Milner; and, Chubb, Kate, Becky and Ryan.

We ate a curry and played Cranium. Ryan's performance of "Bowl a Maiden Over" will be the talk of the town for years, I think. His team won. My team didn't. But I won. It was my birthday, after all, so I controlled the stereo. At one point I was smoking, and from down the corridor, I heard my friends singing along to Meat Loaf. Have I ever been happier? No.

My birthday, the daytime

I had cheesecake for breakfast, then headed into town. I figured I'd celebrate my birthday by checking out the Manchester Jewish Museum. It was ace. The building is very modest, and full of beautiful things. I was lucky enough to catch the back end of one school trip from downstairs, and then the front end of another from what used to be the ladies gallery. Working with schoolkids in that kind of setting must be very satisfying.

I was especially moved by an audio account of the Lithuanian pogroms. GO to this museum, if you get the chance.

Spending my Waterstone's vouchers wasn't going to be hard. I had a few things on my list. The Killing Joke, by Alan Moore, The Dark Knight Returns, by Frank Miller, and Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth, by Grant Morrison. They had them all in Waterstone's. And guess who served me? Only that girl I had that crush on.

Lunch at Katsouris, yum!

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Early birthday balloon

My job is shit, but my colleagues are nice. They got me this...

...and thirty quid's worth of Waterstone's vouchers. Comic books, here I come.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Snow day

A three-day binge isn't the best preparation for the working week. At least the snow gave me a decent excuse for getting into work late. I struggled through the day, including a dull meeting that lasted hours more than it needed to. I found myself thinking, "How can you be so obtuse?" on more than one occasion. Fucking shit work.

Liz came round to hang out in the evening, which was lovely. She felt as rough as I did, I think. We encourage each other into mischief. Not a bad thing at all.

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Happy Perv-Day to you

Hungover and hungry, I slithered out of bed and met Clare. She hadn’t been home from last night’s fancy-dress party, and so was only an overcoat away from a Greek princess. On the way up to Sol’s we talked about how West Didsbury was changing, how everything was changing, and how natural and normal that was. We ate in Sol’s, then wandered out to Ladybarn park, past Parsonage Road. Clare told me about getting locked out on the roof of Woody’s brother’s apartment in New York.

We circled round through the park, past a group of three or four scallies. One of them, fat, red-faced, hoody, waved and said “You’ve got a bike, we’ve gotta hunt them kids,” to his mate. The biker shrugged, looked away. Fat Red waddled to a hedge gap, a lanky mate ten strides behind him. Clare and I chatted on as we watched two good kids, blue jeans, long hair, bomb over Parrs Wood Road and down Parsonage. The scallies followed then out of our sight. Snow began to fall. By the time we made it to the park gate, the scallies had turned back, sulking, hands in pockets. Further on, down a side street, one of the long-hairs looked round a low wall at the retreat. The other called from eight or ten houses down, “Shall I get my dad?”

Alison and I had a cup of tea at Orlando’s. It was barely three in the afternoon, and the couple behind us were very drunk. They argued loudly. The barman had to go over and have a word. It was awkward and distracting. I felt queasy. Would he hit her at home later? I was glad to be out of there.

I pulled on my Stormtrooper t-shirt and went down to the Met to meet Pervy again. I arrived to see him wearing a Darth Vader t-shirt. Phil was there too. Also in a Stormtrooper t-shirt. We looked like the Three Amigos of Geek. I’m not surprised Phil put his jumper on. Pervy seemed quite underwhelmed by his handmade cock and balls birthday card. After too long in the pub, we picked up a curry and headed back to 46 to enjoy it. At one point, Pervy fell over, landed on his arse, giggled and then squeaked. And again. And then once more. Squeaked? Was that a fart? Was that a high-pitched girly fart? Was that real? It was. As he sat on the floor, legs straight out in front of him, Pervy’s eyes watered with laughter. And we laughed and laughed as well.