Thursday, 30 April 2009


I bought a bottle of red wine, and sat down to say goodbye to a few things in my head some of these are:

#1 - The schoolfriend who I've seen crossing my path in the mornings eight or nine times in the last month. She's not said hello once. I even Facebooked her, "I think I'm seeing ghosts. Do you cross my path occaisonally in the mornings?" Nothing since. That's a big old FUCK OFF in my book. Bye!

#2 - This house. I'm going.

Wednesday, 29 April 2009


Clare Buckfield, who I fancied the arse off when I was younger, was in Little Shop of Horrors at the Opera House. Steph offered me her ticket, and I went with Amie and her friends. Clare's still got it. My favourite moment? Was it when she dived head-first into Audrey II and pointed her arse at me? Or was in when she bowed at the end at aimed her cleavage right at me? Not sure. Either way, TENTPOLE!

Bad ideas

Mixing love and work.

Flirting with a colleague who, a month ago, drunk, told you she wasn't happy with her boyfriend, close to tears.

Pretending to forget that she, a month ago, drunk, said she fancied you.

Replying to her chatty emails after 5pm, when the office is quiet.

Sneaking off for a pint with her.

Bringing a surprise present to the pub for her, however small.

Holding her gaze for a little too long during conversation.

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

My tutor loves me

"You're doing really well so far. I've got a student who started in January who's behind you."

Monday, 27 April 2009

Team meeting

I always bite my lip in this kind of meeting. An hour in, and we were still talking about washing-up, about fruit flies, about dress-down Fridays. Strategy? Whatever.

Sunday, 26 April 2009

At exactly 9 minutes per mile

I prefer to run at speeds that are integers.

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Friday, 24 April 2009

Woody and Clare

I met Woody and Clare for a couple of beers after work that developed into a Rain - Temple - Cornerhouse - Solomon's session. "I don't see enough of you mate," said Woody. And it wasn't just the beer talking. I miss my Parsonage crowd really hard sometimes. Evenings and weekends mostly. I should try harder. Do more. Text better. Call more regularly. Share more time.

I don't. My own fault.

Thursday, 23 April 2009


I'm still feeling that 12-miler from Tuesday. Right knee. Calves like knives. But it felt so good at the time. I'm going to break the half-marathon soon. For the buzz, fuck the afters.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Breaking ten

I was really pissed off that my last longish run didn't quite break ten miles, so I did this one to guarantee that the psychological barrier that ten miles is and was absolutely and thoroughly smashed. 1 hour 58 min 36 sec. Alright!

Saturday, 18 April 2009

Study, Study, Study, Run, Drink, Dance

The early night set me up for a productive day. Three and a half hours of studying in the morning, charity shop shopping over lunch, then another three hours of reading in the afternoon. I feel happy and concerned about the course at the same time. Happy, in that I’m really enjoying learning something new, and concerned in that my exam is only nine weeks away and there’s still a bucketful to learn before even starting revision. In great news, my search of Oxfam Books turned out a textbook that fits around my course very neatly. In other news, I’ve ordered the proper one from Waterstones anyway.

After the study-a-thon, I stepped out for a quick 10k run.

Quick? 52.03. Which is a 5 min12 km, or an 8 min 24 mile. It felt really good all the way round.

Dunk, Kate, Megan, Ryan and I went to Odder for Chubb’s birthday. Craig and the whole of Fordbank were there, along with all of Fiveseven and a handful of other friends and relations. I was the sole representative of Parsonage. So it goes.

I had an amazing night. It was really good to catch up with Craig – who wants to race the boats again! – to ask Rich and Fran about their honeymoon – Safari in Kenya! – to speak to Max and Wallis about Max’s work strife, and how Wallis feels about it – he’s being forced to move to London – and to see the Cook and Woody rendition of Roots Manuva’s ‘Witness.’ We stayed at the bar until it closed, and then five-starred our way into Mojo, leaping past the front of the queue and up the stairs. Kate is very well connected! Yeehaw!!!

Friday, 17 April 2009

Good day, weird evening

After a belting study period in the morning, I met Kate and we checked out the cup cake shop in Chorlton. Lovely! I had Johnny Cash (oreo cookies) and Iggy Pop (vanilla and peanut), and Kate had Omar Sherif (pistachio and Turkish delight) and Chaka Khan (coconut and chocolate). In our sugar high, we charity shopped, and I found American Pie on vinyl for a pound. Smashing stuff!

After a few beers in West Didsbury with Parsonage and 57, I had another one of those weird confidence vacuums, and made my excuses. It had been coming all evening – I’d wobbled on the barbecue and on Ryan’s Irish Centre party – but I was shocked it hit me so hard and so suddenly. It was home or bust, and I went home.

The evening air by Chorlton Park smelt of sulphur, like there’d been a gunshot.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Orienteering run

1 hr 22.10

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Young Hearts Run Free

I walked around the corner from Morrison’s, down Dartmouth or Hartington or Torbay road, on the way home. A thick-set man in his thirties came out of one of the houses on the left. He was bald, with a fold in the skin at the base of his skull. In one hand he carried a mobile phone, playing “Young Hearts Run Free, ” through its speaker, and in the other a snooker cue. He dragged it along the floor, tapped manhole covers, thwacked wheelie bins. I was scared. I kept my distance.

I’m not sure how to map my run for tonight. I bolted down to the lake, and then did nine power loops up and down the car-park approach. It felt great, but my blisters flared up again. I hope it doesn’t mean I need new shoes.

Monday, 13 April 2009

Frisbee golf

After three hours of studying hard, I met up with Kate and Dunk at Morrison's. Kate seemed especially full of beans. "Lisa's coming!" she said, through a wide grin. Excellent news! Megan joined the four of us as we ate pitta, haloumi, houmous, peppers and patatas bravas in the bright sunshine. Spotify provided us with music, we listened to Europe, Bananarama, the Pet Shop Boys and the Fresh Prince. Very leisurely.

Struggling with thorns, we clambered over (or through) the fence, and into Longford Park for a gentle round of frisbee golf, a game of hide-and-seek and all round tomfoolery. I don't know if it fitted the Fresh Prince's new definition of summer madness, but we certainly enjoyed ourselves. The best day of the year so far?

Meta-for real

I lived out a metaphor tonight by "burning the midnight oil" until after midnight. Hope this continues if I "feel like a million dollars" tomo.

Saturday, 11 April 2009

All the way round, I wondered, "Will it be ten miles?"

And it was nine and three quarters. Gutted.


Friday, 10 April 2009

Tonight's contest is for truth

Showdown time. In the red corner, my shit landlord. In the blue corner, me and my letter of notice. Ding ding!

Round one: The tenant leads strongly, a couple of quick jabs as soon as the bell rings. "Hi Ben. Come in. Let me show you the damp." What's this? A defence? A carrier bag in the landlord's hand? The fighters circle one another. Another jab or three from the challenger. "It's there, around the window," POW! "and there, in that corner," POW! POW! "and it's even by the ceiling too, there." POW! POW! POW! But a late flurry from the landlord, "I've got the leak fixed now." THUNNK! And then the carrier bag opens, a wet rag comes out, and the damp gets a wipe. A wipe? DOOOSH! The challenger didn't see that coming. Will he recover?

Round two. A real pasting for the landlord here. DUNNNK! "You've got to admit that the damp is pretty bad here," DOOOOF! "especially up that wall," KER-POW! "I've even had to move my drawers because the clothes inside were getting damp," KER-ACKK! "and the bookshelf too." BISH! BASH! BOSH! "You can see it coming through the ceiling too." The referee might have to stop this, for the landlord's safety. Saved by the bell, we headed downstairs to Ryan's room.

Round three. More even to start with. Ryan's damp isn't that bad, and the landlord knows it. But I'm on the up now, and my suckerpunch is in its envelope, ready to strike. I hear a voice in my head say, "FINISH HIM!" I look at him. "There's more. The shower's still dodgy. The living room is freezing cold. And for all of these reasons, I'd like to give you," - I pass him the envelope - "my letter of notice." BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM!!! He staggered, toppled almost, not quite falling down, but groggy. One last effort?

"If I said I'd sort out the problems, would you stay?"

I wound up my haymaker.

"Even if you said you'd sort out the problems, I don't think you actually would."

POW! Right in the kisser! Knockout!

Here come the onions

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Getting things done

I had a good day of getting things done today, getting things off my chest and taking steps towards solutions.

My boss asked me what I'd thought of the training that we had on 3rd. I said I'd thought it was okay, but that it didn't really answer the question that we'd asked, about making spontaneous presentations in an informal setting. I'd actually thought it was dogshit, but I'm more subtle than that. Well, sometimes. The conversation soon shifted to a one-to-one about me, the team, various niggles that we both had. We had a long grumble about each other to each other, and ended in a really positive and hopeful way. I'm newly motivated after starting my course, and after acing my conference, so I was glad we were able to shift the overall tone of the meeting in a a good direction. And if I work hard on Tuesday and Wednesday next week, I can have Thursday and Friday off. Bingo!

I got back to my desk, and drafted a letter of notice to my landlord. Nothing special, a combination of two or three templates from the web, but enough to do the job. I contacted him to arrange the inspection we'd discussed yesterday. He's coming by tomorrow. I can't wait.

Later on, I met K___ from work to talk about my research project. She's not easy to get answers from. Does an empty pot ring loudest? In this case, it seems so, yes. Gently, gently, slowly, slowly, I managed to squeeze the information I was looking for out of her. "You can't evaluate my work," she said, "you just can't." That kind of attitude, I thought, is what I need to change.

Kate, Dunk and I went to Fuel and Indigo for some beers, and to meet some of the old Sol's girls. I spent a long time chatting to Laura, and ended the night rather drunk. Then again, I felt like today I've earned it.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Enter Steve, exit Dave

Steve came to the house to look at the spare room. I'd met him before - I looked at a house he lived in on Albemarle Rd back in November - so I knew he was an actor, and a pleasant enough chap. He seemed to like the house, but thought the bed might be too tall for him. He sat downstairs and chatted to us for a bit.

"I get quite bad asthma, is there any damp in the house?"

I couldn't lie to a potential housemate. Ryan's morals forbade him similarly. We told him the truth. Steve explained that he couldn't live there, said his goodbyes, and left.

I texted our landlord, explaining what had happened. He replied almost immediately.

"But there's no damp in that room. Can you call him back and set him right please?"

Bullshit. I said so.

"It looks like damp to me. I'm not prepared to tell a potential housemate something that turns out not to be true, because if I'm going to live with them they need to trust me. Come and have a look?"

What a tool. Chatting with Becky, it turned out that the landlord had failed to keep all sorts of promises that he had made to the previous tenants. The shower. The living room. The damp. A death of a thousand cuts.

Even after four beers with Ryan, I felt enraged. Why am I giving my money to such a dickhead?

Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter

The book I'm reading, Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter, is brilliant. It's tender, gripping, and most of all funny. I've never read anything by a Peruvian before. I'm sure I will again.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009


Becky's room is soon to become the spare room; she moves out on Saturday. With Ryan's arrival in early February, the time that I've spent in a full house of three has lasted about ten weeks.

Laura came to look round this evening. She didn't take off her coat. She didn't put down her shopping. She didn't ask any questions about Ryan and me. I don't think she's interested in the room.


Monday, 6 April 2009

Course materials

My course materials arrived today. God they're heavy! If I carry these around for eleven weeks, I'm going to end up looking like Arnie. I can't wait to get started on the work.

Saturday, 4 April 2009

10k Chorlton Water Park


Thursday, 2 April 2009

Hollingworth Lake

We took the train to Smithy Bridge and strolled to Hollingworth Lake, where we hired a rowboat and explored the lake. Straight lines aren’t easy in a rowboat, but I soon managed to get the hang of it. Sailboats soared past us, their grace and speed making us seem clumsy and waddle-some. We stopped for coffee, and for millionaires’ shortbread, and drifted aground. It was a beautiful sunny day.

Could we plan a pirate-themed treasure hunt using the lake, we wondered, over a cone of chips on the shore. I found the LSO performing Classic Rock greats on the way home. Good record. Great day.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Longer, faster