Tuesday, 31 March 2009

The Revelations of Dr Modesto

“I only buy a book for the way it looks, then I put it on the shelf again.”

The Revelations of Dr Modesto is such an obscure book that it doesn’t even have its own page on Wikipedia. Its author doesn’t have a page either. A shame, as the book is an absolute gem. It’s about the success that comes from conformity, emancipation by becoming the epitome of average. Like Candide, the book explores its central idea through an exaggerated story. We see the value (or emptiness) of the corporate lifestyle in all its glory (or shame). Sublimely surreal throughout. Delicious.

I picked it up in Oxfam Books at the weekend because I liked its cover. The man it shows wears a suit, a tie, and a fedora. His face is painted like an unhappy clown. Like china, his face cracks, and behind the cracks are the mean-spirited faces of tiny suited men. His eyes are bloodshot. It’s like a portrait of the book.

Sunday, 29 March 2009

Sunday six miler

Saturday, 28 March 2009

The Long Halloween

I think I just found a new favourite Batman book. Picking up some characters that Year One introduced, Carmine Falcone, Sal Moroni, and bringing in almost all of the supervillans in Gotham at some point, this book is a triumph. Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale, I salute you.

Friday, 27 March 2009

Recession session

I met Woody and Clare for a bite to eat and a chat. Tom was offered voluntary redundancy at the start of the month, said, “yes please,” two weeks ago, and found out today that he is one of the chosen volunteers. He’s planning on going back to uni in September with his payout. He’s in a pretty good situation. Especially compared to Max. Max is in the middle of his professional exams, and has been told that he can apply for a job in the London office if he wants to, but that his Manchester position is no longer viable. Lose your job, AND start again with becoming chartered. It’s worse still, Wallis – working in the same sector – hasn’t been given the flick by work. Max and Wallis live together. Will he go to London without her? I don’t know. Heavy stuff.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Long day

Chorlton, 06:00 – 07:00 – power run and warm down
Manchester, 08:15 – 11:30 – work
Travel to Rochdale
Rochdale, 13:00 – 14:00 – observe ____ session
Rochdale, 14:15 – 15:00 – focus group with teen beauticians
Travel to Manchester, Salford
Salford, 17:15 – 19:00 – focus group with _____ instructors
Chorlton, 19:30 – kebab, bottle of Budvar
Chorlton, 21:00 – bed


Run up hills for power and leg strength, the guidebook said. This was not fun at all. I have a separate route home, so it's two maps.

The triple loop up the railway bridge slope:-

And the warm-down home:-

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Project feedback day

I wasn’t looking forward to this. I’m at least ten years younger than most of the people that I work with, and thirty younger than some of them, but I have an overview and governance role in my organisation. I run a project. They work on the project. Some of them see me as a young whippersnapper (young!) who has no place asking them to ___, ____ or ____. I’d dreaded this feedback day. Here comes an anger workout, punchbag: me. Gulp!

The fear of a thing can be worse than the thing itself. We split into small groups, with members of my team facilitating discussions. My group were constructive in their answers to questions, and showed empathy towards the difficulties my team faces. Something was wrong. “I’ve got a soft group,” I thought, “or I’m not asking the right challenging questions.” The plenary came, and the feedback from the other groups was similarly positive. It wasn’t going to be such a bad day after all.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

From work

I need a better rucksack, the one I've been using rubs between my shoulders. I ran pretty hard from work to Longford Park, then jogged down at a snail's pace through the park, and then ran home down Edge, High and Sandy Lanes.

I made the 1st XV...

...of a community of rugby bloggers, based on my contributions during the 6N. How very satisfying!

Centres: Chiptooth and HenryFitz: Chiptooth is the classic crash ball merchant, always gets across the gain line, while HF's elusive style makes him really hard to lay a hand on.

See the full line-up here.

Monday, 23 March 2009

General Levy says..

Some texts between Tracy and I

Tracy: Why did the lion get lost in the jungle.
Me: If he was in the jungle, he probably was lost. Lions live on the plains.
Tracy: You've just let being a twat get in the way of quite a funny joke. Unlucky dickhead.

30 seconds later

Tracy: I've just looked it up and you were right. You're still a twat though.
Me: What was the punchline?
Tracy: Because the jungle is massive.
Me: That is funny. And if it was a tiger, it'd be accurate too.

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Bulbs, Hangover run

I woke up feeling rotten after the Press Club, and remembered that I’d arranged to go to Kate’s to help her plant some bulbs. Based on previous experience, gardening works wonders for a hangover. We put in gladioli, anemone, and a selection of wildflowers, hopefully bluebells and poppies, among others. I'm sure it'll look great.

I ran in my comabt trousers, and ended up going further than I thought in a time that was faster than I thought. The run through the woods at the bottom of Beech Road is lovely.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Cargo Pants / Karma Pants

Back in August, Phil had told me that my cargo pants weren't appropriate for the Lime Tree. I went and got changed. It was funny more than anything else, but on the other hand, I've not forgotten it either. It's not a scarring type memory but... anyway...

After watching the Wales v Ireland game in the rugby, Phil, Pervy, Simon and I went on a little tour of Withington, and then headed into town. It was late. Nowhere was open. We went to the Press Club. Phil tried to convince the doorman that he was a surgeon. No chance. We were about to be turned away, when I showed the doorman my work ID. He looked at it, at me, and said, "Okay. Seven fifty."

"And my friends?" I said, pointing at the other three. "Them too?"

He nodded. We all went in.

Cargo Pants: 1 - Press Club: 1

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Lake time

A slightly longer route, to start building up stamina and leg strength.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Callie and Ben

Dr Jim sent me the link to this website. It's really good, he said. It's the website for my friend Ben's (photo here) wedding to Callie. They look like a nice couple, don't you think:

Check this out, from the site...

I thank God every day for bringing Ben into my life. As my sister Ainsley once told me, there could not have been a better man for me even if she made him herself. I am always in awe of his infinite patience, in stitches over his silly sense of humour (mind the English spelling!!), and in amazement at how he always one ups me in the romance department. I can't wait to spend every day and night together.

Is that romantic? Or slushy? Or both? I can't decide.

Lewis doesn't think we'll be invited to the wedding. He thinks we're considered as uncouth. I can't decide what I think about that either. We are a little uncouth in the eyes of some of our friends, Lewis is right. On the other hand, Ben wouldn't leave us out. Would he? I haven't been to a wedding in ages. Even then, it was a family wedding. Maybe that's why. I'm uncouth. Wow.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Running and bumming

I ran after work today.

As I got ran into the Water Park, just as the path bends at the bottom of Hardy Lane, I saw two gay men having sex under a tree. A single tree, right out in the middle of a field. If the men were facing 12 o'clock, then I was running towards them from 7 or 8, and so they didn't see me until I was right upon them. The older, fatter man was leant forward, one hand on the tree, the other holding his trousers up. The other man was behind him. I ran past before they really had a chance to, er, withdraw. I gave them the dignity of half a minute's grace, then looked over my shoulder. They were walking down the path, holding hands. How cute. Except they'd been publicly bumming, and it was only 5.30 in the evening.

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Taking the run virginity of my new Nikes

I got some new shoes. Like 'em?

Here's how I broke them in.

Thursday, 12 March 2009


After hammering the ass out of the presentation (to a great response from the audience), and a really exciting afternoon of workshops, I felt enthused about my job in a way that I hadn't in ages. It turns out that my boss isn't typical of our field, and that there are some really committed and keen people. It's not me, it's her, actually. What a relief. I had a couple of pints in the hotel bar, writing up my notes, and waited to meet up with my old and dear friend Zoe. We went for some noodles, and a bottle of wine. The waitress poured our wine, and offered it to me to taste. I took a sip, and screwed my face up, put my tounge out a little, held my throat in pain, "yuck!" She looked shocked. I smiled at her, "Only joking, it's lovely. Thank you." Zoe and I laughed. It was the first of many that night.

NTS @ Conference

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Pre-conference nerves

The Russell is the swankiest hotel I've ever stayed at. This was the view from my room.

This was my bed.

This was Waterloo Bridge, fifteen minutes walk away.

And all this in exchange for showing a video and chatting for five minutes tomorrow. Why do only fools and horses work? I was really stressed about it, bravado aside, especially after my fucking rubbish boss had slagged off my presentation skills without ever seeing me give a presentation. Fuck her, I thought, and spent a lot of time in my room practising before dinner. I got stuck on a table with the couple that had organised the event, two tech support people and somebody from the Department for _______. Bummer, no networking with other officers who were doing my job in other places. I've never sat through such a dull conversation. I wasn't drinking at all, as I wanted to hammer the ass out of the presentation. My sobriety made their drunken babbling all the more tiresome. I was glad to be through with my pudding. Ted from _____ arrived, who gave me a bit of an outlet of normality, and we chatted through our presentations in the bar until about midnight. Nervous much? Yes.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Starter loop

My first run in a long time. Not too painful, but I need new shoes. The Acupuncture suck.

Were the Bluetones any good?

Colleague: "So, were the Bluetones any good?"
Me: Yes,(pause) in 1995.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Bluetones and Misty's Big Adventure

Two of my favourite bands? On the same line-up? I'm there! Where? Lancaster? Erm... ah fuck it, I'm still there! Alright!

Dr Jim pulled out at the last mintue, so I asked Paul if he fancied making the journey. He did, which was pretty lucky, as I can't drive, and Lancaster is quite a way away. We made it about half an hour before Misty's were due on, and had a beer and a chat about the rugby.

Misty's were excellent, as always. They started with Long Conveyor Belt, which I like more and more each time I hear it. Some old favourites - Story of Love, Smart Guys Wear Ties - made it on to the set-list, others - Dog Like You, Biscuit Tin - didn't. As always, the highlight for me was Fashion Parade. It's a masterclass in an ensemble stage performance by the whole band - the brass section mincing around like the fashionistas mocked in the song - it's genius. They do it so well, and even though I must have seen it five or six times, it's always entertaining.

The Bluetones were also really good. They played Expecting To Fly in full at the start of the show, and then played a few more songs to close things out. I love their bitter wit, and sharp acceptance of their fall into mediocrity. After we saw Mark Morriss playing under that whale skeleton in Manchester, and we found out that their manager had run off with all of their money (like in "Fashion Parade" Misty's, by the way), comments like, "This is the song that made us all millionaires" (about Slight Return) seemed even more poignant. They're still very good at what they do, but they're not fashionable. I still love them. I bought a t-shirt and three badges. Well, the manager has run off their money. They need all the help they can get.

Friday, 6 March 2009

Watchmen movie

The book is never as good as the film, it is often said. I love the book. I quite liked the film. There was blue penis than you'd get in a month of Smurf porn, which was a little off-putting at times. The film lacks some of the subtlety of the book - zooming into violent moments that the book suggested rather than showed, for example, or milking the sex scene in an embarrassingly OTT way. They changed the ending, which kinda makes sense in the post 9-11 world we're watching from. I really enjoyed the film, and I don't think a much better version could have been made. The differences between the film and the comic are tied into the differences in the media. So are comics cooler than films? I would have argued one corner five years ago. Now I'm not sure which side of the fence I'd fall down on.

After the screening, I met an funky Asian guy, like Dhruv or Roby, outside Odder. We had a bit of a chat about the Palestine protest going on over the road. He gave me a copy of New Internationalist to read. What a pleasant chap.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Howard Barlow, Rock Photographs @ Troubadour Gallery

Kate, Dunk and I went to the Leadstation for a drink, then skipped over the road to the Troubadour Gallery to take a look at the Howard Barlow exhibition of rock photography. Excellent stuff - you'll find it here, but for how long I'm not sure. My favourite photo was this one of Paula Yates.

(image copyright of Howard Barlow)

Monday, 2 March 2009


"Even though we may be through with the past, the past is not through with us."

(I think that's from Magnolia, but it might not be verbatim.)

For work today, I was in a studio, overseeing filming of an educational resource. It's a ____ video to complement the existing ____ video that we'd had made. Deja vu central. I was involved in filming an educational resource during the hot summer of 2002 with my friends Nick, Ed, Liam and Rob, back in Sheffield. I turned my back on film-making once I moved to MCR, sulkily almost, and just got stuck into living in a new city. I haven't raised a camera in anger since Easter 2005. It was odd to be back in the fray.

Moreover, it was odd to see the slightly shambolic production discipline of the company I was working with. The microphone wasn't there on time, for example, and the director was doing lots of Joe-jobs around the set that I - as a first AD - would probably have got a runner to handle. Actors were left waiting around for an age, not really looked after by the crew... I found myself looking around and thinking, "I could manage this better... maybe I've still got a film-makers head on these shoulders... maybe I should say something." Of course, I didn't say anything. That would be quite unprofessional of me.

Maybe I should make films again.