Friday, 31 July 2009

Friends with benefits.

"We're friends with benefits, but I really like being with you."
"What do you mean?"
"Well, what do you think about me? You know, about me?"
"Be honest."

So I was honest.

"I like you. I think you're funny, and I like spending time with you. I like having sex with you. I really like having sex with you. But I don't want to go out with you. I don't want to be your boyfriend. It's not that I don't want to go out with anybody right now, because I would if I met the right girl. But that's not you. You're not the right girl. I don't want to go out with you."


About as subtle as an earthquake. I'm still the bad guy.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Apicoectomy, Arnie quiz

Thanks to some pulled strings by Lucinda and Laura, I went to see Dr R_____ in Wigan today for an apicoectomy. The first thing that he showed me when I went in was a little sinus on his gum line. He’d had a trauma aged 7, and for 50 years he’d had a chronic abscess behind his front teeth. It caused him no pain, he said, and it drained the fluid out periodically. He seemed eager to tell me his tale, showing me his x-rays and comparing them to mine. He used me a test case, showing his dental nurse what this now rare procedure (rare in local practices these days, he said) looked like. Even Laura came down for a peek. I didn't mind at all - after the strings and whatever else, it was the least I could do.

My mouth went from numb to not numb during the process of interviewing one of my colleagues about a project that we'd worked on together. I love the feeling as the anaesthetic wears off.

I went to Oddest to meet Kate and to participate in the quiz there. It turns out the quiz was Arnie themed, in honour of the great man's birthday tomorrow. The quiz was made for me, Kate said. We didn't win though. Boo.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009


So, we’ve agreed to stop our arrangement for casual sex, right? Which means we can just grab a pint now and then and catch up as friends, yeah? Which means you won’t get drunk, and then get upset when we don’t kiss at the end of the evening, right? That was what we agreed, wasn’t it?

So what the hell just happened? And why do I feel like I’m the bad guy?

Saturday, 25 July 2009

I'm a walkin' in the rain....

Matt and Chaw were out, and Kate was working, so I spent most of the day to myself. I read the end of Pollen by Jeff Noon, which dragged rather towards the end (weird, in that I really struggled to put it down when I first started to read it - like an amazing first date then a terrible second one), and got through the rest of the Economist from the day before.

For want of a little entertainment, I threw some borrowed tools in a bag and strolled down to Clare's to give them back to her. She was watching the Wire with Tom, and we had a cup of tea or two and chat. Ollie came round too. It was Bettsy's stag do last night. I wasn't invited, for obvious reasons. So it goes. I walked home in the rain.

Only one more day of antibiotics to go. God I miss booze!

I need to tidy my desk

And soon.

Friday, 24 July 2009

East Bound and Down

A gentle day of reading the Economist, noodling around on the internet and popping into charity shops. I found Permanent Vacation in Oxfam for £1.99 – result! Kate and I watched Smokey and the Bandit and I couldn’t stop humming East Bound and Down for the rest of the evening.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Star Wars fruit machines

Tempting me towards the Dark Side.

Raptor attack

I survived. I was one of the lucky ones. We didn't think they could open doors...


Someone should trademark Oil of Mann, if it's not already.

The model village within the model village...

...itself contains another model of the model village.



Believe it you bastards

Christ the puppet

Though his arm may be amputated, he bears the sins of the world.

Friday, 17 July 2009

Setting out

We went on a school trip to the Isle of Wight in 1991. Things I remember about the trip:

Carrisbrooke Castle

My first castle and one of the best, huge, magical. The brutality of the oil-pouring stories stayed with me.

Blackgang Chine

Massive plastic dinosaurs; a hedge maze; smugglers; cliffs.

Living in a hotel

Well, more like a hostel, but it was amazing then. It was the most luxurious holidaying my eleven-year-old eyes had ever seen.

My room-mates

Shaun Ansell
Michael Mullaney
David Colletta

I’m friends with Michael and Shaun on Facebook, but not David. Michael is involved in politics now, Lib Dem, I think, and Shaun looks like he’s in Oasis. I wonder what David is up to…

And Kerry Lister

…didn’t come on the trip, and spent the money on clothes instead.

The family near me on the train are hilarious. The dad looks like Morrissey, all horn-rimmed glasses and 50s high shaved quaff hairdo. They’re proper northern, and the kids are just old enough to be witty. They watch Question Time in their house. Marvellous.

Things to think about on my holiday

Work – how to get out of the shit and into something better. Do I need to do volunteering? What kind of work?

Hobbies – do I want a new interest? Yes? What kind of things?

Friends – WHO needs more effort?

My relationship with booze – and smoking and all that jazz.

Travelling / Driving – doing it or not?

Just about to leave Southampton

Ferry sees off. It’s 4pm and I’m taken back to looking over the side of the boat, holding my glasses so they don’t fall off, and in. 1991. I bet the Portsmouth skyline was different back then. Is this where Jupiter Point is? 1996? My memory plays tricks. The sea. Boats. It’s exciting. Not sure why.

After noodles and bacon for tea, we went to watch cabaret at the chalet site. Lots of singing along to silly songs, like Caister and Yarmouth holidays of my youth. And then back to the tent.

We're here, just by the giant's finger

Not a great night’s sleep, sloped, jutting and restless. My mind wandered to some dark places in relation to last Wednesday and my detective work. To male it worse my tooth really started to play up. I think I might have to see the emergency dentist. Is it okay to text Lucinda after all this beef with Ryan?

Tomorrow it’s the zoo and the model village. God I’m tired.


Into Cowes

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Charlie and Oddest

I met my old colleague Charlie lunch today. As I waited for her to come out of the town hall, I stumbled across a Warhammer 40k figurine in the crook of an brass elbow as part of the shipwreck statue. I’m geeky enough to recognise it as a Space Marine, but not enough to identify its clan. Who put it there? I don’t care, I liked it.

We went to Don Giovanni’s, where the service was slow and the food mediocre, and had a bit of a chat. I wasn’t sure why Charlie had asked me to meet up with her. We were never that close when we worked together. She was widely acknowledged as being the hottest girl in the office, tall, pretty and busty – but I’d never seen it myself. I once went on a blind date with her sister. But I wouldn’t describe us as friends. Why was I there?

Because, it turns out, Charlie is pretty lonesome. She moved in with her boyfriend around the same sort of time that I started working in my current, somewhat tiresome job. They live together, alone, in Northenden, and she doesn’t get up to much of an evening. Or at lunchtime. As she spoke, something sad in her eyes touched me. Maybe I could help her. Choices and chances, right?

I kept thinking about her as the afternoon rolled on. It was heart on a plate stuff on her part, I realised. Pretty gutsy to ask to be friends. Brave. As I was about to leave for my holiday, I was given a pile of junk to handle. Frustrating. Sometimes I want to smash my office with a sledgehammer. Monitors, light switches, other people’s mugs, the photocopier – all of it. It was one of those days. Way to bum me out before my holiday.

An hour later than planned, my 85 rolled up outside Oddest and I went in for a furious pint to wipe out my work anger.

“We’re closing in twenty minutes,” said Kate
“I think I can fit in a pint. I need one.”

After the bar kind of closed, I stayed to help inflate balloons for a little while. It helped. The anger drained out of me. And when I got home I was filled with joy: my new phone had arrived

Dunk and I headed down for the bona fide opening party a little later on. With my holiday and then his European odyssey, I wasn’t going to get much Dunk time for a few weeks. Was the party trendy? We had our picture taken by a photographer. Were we trendy?

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Work sucks, I know

Sam, whose job has changed under the workings of a Dark Lord and is moving to a police station...

Thom, trying to find a job in London to be with his belle...

Miriam, whose organisation is making 50% of its workforce redundant...

...hanging out with some friends this evening made me feel better about my current working arrangements.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Awesome Sunday

My day was three kinds of awesome today.

1. Milner awesome

I met Helen for lunch at Oddest. It’s been such a long time since I last saw her last for a one-to-one – since Easter, and the videos of the chimpanzees hunting; before Steve and Fordbank were evicted from Victoria Ave; before Steve moved in with Chubb and Helen; since before Helen got a job in London – and so much has happened since then with both of us. I talked about my new house, my housemates, the Moss Side move. She talked about London, living with a boy, optimism and change. “I’ve been in Manchester for three years now,” she said. Wow, I thought, it feels like less than that. This time last year we went to Gorton Monastery to see an orchestra. She’ll be fine – she’s a motivated and intelligent young woman, with a lot going for her. I’ll miss her. I’ll stay in touch.

2. Family Awesome

Caroline, Ashleigh and Izzy came up to see me today. I made a roast dinner using yesterday’s allotment vegetables – new potatoes, spring cabbage, spinach, courgettes – a ready-roasted supermarket chicken, and lashings of tasty gravy. Yum! Izzy and I pootled around the garden, when she wasn’t busy trying to eat rocks, and explored the spooky circle. The four of us strolled into Longford Park, and around the petting zoo. We’re off to the Isle of Wight next week. I’m very excited about it.

3. Batman awesome

In a quiet house, all by myself, I read the Dark Knight Returns and The Long Halloween. Bliss!

Friday, 10 July 2009

Remember that I'm still inside, but I'm dry, I'm dry…

My planned evening of peppermint tea and Batman didn't quite work out as I'd planned. Pippa was just back from her holiday, did I want to meet her for a drink? Antibiotics my foot, I thought, yes I do! Even if my drink is going to be alcohol-free! We went to Oddest, and got some food. It was still really busy, even on day two. We had a mexicana combination platter, which was ace. Once Kate finished work, she joined us, and Dunk soon followed. Pip's holiday sounds like it was amazing, especially the water park. As the bar busied up, ZBox and Chubb came in. "We're meeting Steph!" said Chub with a wink. Zbox and Ollie think I should pull Steph - we'd talked about it last week. I wonder if she likes me. The chance arises, and I'm not drinking - bah! Oh well, so it goes. Steph arrived, looking hot.

Shortly Paul, Louise and David showed up. Pippa, can you talk to Louise about Spain? Paul, can you talk to Dunk about Germany? Thanks! Wow, it's easy to introduce people to common conversation topics when you're stone cold sober and they're a little drunk! Is there a career in that? Probably not. In come David III, Amanda and Ruth. I tiptoed down the smalltalk tightrope with Ruth, who I don't know that well - in as much as I was talking to her about appropriate conversation topics for the hairdresser. If I'd overbalanced, it would have been clear that I was putting my smalltalk tips into practice there and then. Luckily, I had my sobriety to act as a balance bar and keep me stable. Phew! A little excursion over to Steph, Chubb and ZBox, a little bit of chit-chat, and then back. Sobriety is exhausting because you get bored much more quickly than if you're drunk. Especially when it comes to talking to drunks.

On my way home, I ran into Sam outside the Marble. She was wearing a red scarf on her shoulders, and was rather drunk. We're going for a beer on Tuesday night. That's payday eve, I thought, but this dry weekend will save me a bomb. As I passed by Fox Plaza, I found myself thinking that I'd had a really good night. And not a drop of booze. Hmmmm. Could I get used to this?

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Oddest, Chorlton, Wilbraham Road

The latest addition to the Odd family, Oddest, on Wilbraham Road in Chorlton is triumphant! Like its sisters in town, the d├ęcor is quirky, but classy. A cluster of Turkish lanterns decorate one boothed corner, and vast crimson lampshades droop above the bar. Nothing matches. Everything fits.

Dunk and I met Hannah and went straight down. Kate was working, busy, and to enjoy watching all the reactions of newcomers. That first night feeling, I guess. I really like it. I can see myself spending quite some time there.

"If I'm funnier, they'll forget we're moving to Moss Side." No, no we won't.

The middle manager has been at it again. My inbox was graced with this today.

For the annual work party, the boss has decided that because of liability issues, we can have alcohol, but only one drink per person...

She will sack me for ordering the cups.

Apart from violating our organisation's email policy, it just isn't funny. That alone would be grounds for dismissal in my world. What a prick.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009


Face-to-face conversation at 5.30pm

"I'd rather just be friends. We should stop sleeping together"
"You're right. Besides, people at work are getting a bit suspicious."
"I've noticed that too. So that's it. All done. Deal?"

Text message at 7.15pm

"I've had few drinks, do you want to come round for some sex?"

Saint Lucinda of the Busted Tooth...

...came to my house to write me a second prescription for my sore tooth. Amazing. She's got a new car, a little retro sporty number.

After she left, I texted Pervy. Now that Lu has that car (I wrote) his Mini won't get mistaken as belonging to the woman in their relationship. He didn't reply all night. Have I gone too far?

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Biscuits from Twitter

Via twitter, @gracefh offered biscuits to anybody that would send her their address. I did. If I die on Thursday, that's why.

Monday, 6 July 2009

In bad, good; in good, bad.

Bad news, my tooth hurts. Good news, Lucinda gave me some pills for it.
Bad news, no booze on the antibiotics. Good news, I could do with the break.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Oh mercy

Emma broke her ankle at Glastonbury, so – being the dutiful friend – I went round to make her dinner, then push her wheelchair up to the Knott to meet Tracy and Andy. The evening went really well, until the very end, when she decided that she didn’t want to bump out of the pub and down the step in the chair, and that she’d stand out of the chair, pivot on one foot, hop out of the door and then get back into the chair. After three pints of cider. Bad idea. She slipped and landed on it. Owww!

Her tears turned into whimpers as I pushed her home, and she started to get really upset.

“They were all laughing at me. Nobody knows how hard it is to be in this chair.”

That wasn’t how I saw things, but I bit my lip. She went on.

“It’s not funny. I bet they wouldn’t find it so funny if it was them.”

I partly saw her point – having a broken ankle sucks – and partly thought she was making a meal out of it. A three course meal. And as she complained more, my tolerance lessened. Still I bit my lip. Luckily, if you’re pushing a wheelchair, your passenger can’t see your face.

I put her to bed, washed up, and left. All the way home I felt pissed off at her for being such a pain.

Once I got back, I felt pissed off at myself for being so merciless.

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Keck hearts Jackon's Boat

After watching the Lions beat the Boks in the thrid test, I walked with Ollie and ZBox to collect Ollie’s car from Chorlton. We went along the river in the drizzle, looping around Mersey Bank park, then up to the lake at the Water Park. We saw a burning bin, and called the fire brigade. It had almost burnt itself out by the time they got there, and I was embarrassed to have troubled them. Safety first, eh? We saw frogs the size of our fingernails. Jackson’s Boat made quite an impression on Ollie. Ollie has a field that we could camp out in, it turns out. I was asked to plan something. It could be very cool – late night games in the woods, beers around the fire – I guess we’ll see what happens.

After chips from the Atlantic Fish Bar back at Rock HQ, Ollie drove me down to Didsbury to see Jim and Sean. Paul’s parents showed up. Steve’s were there too. Guardi said that he has Shed Seven tickets, do I want one? Yes please. I saw Bernie for the first time in ages – since Leo’s birthday, in fact. She was very interested in Lucinda’s handiwork on my teeth.

Friday, 3 July 2009

Painted defensive zones don't protect you from your own cruel friends

I met Ollie and Zoe for a few drinks in Chorlton, Electrik and then on to Argyll’s. I put in my PIN and waited at the cash machine. As I was choosing how much money to take out, Olly leapt over my shoulder and pressed £150. Gutted. Still, I took home £145. Not all bad.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Impromtu barbecue

I hosted a barbecue for seven this evening, without really meaning to. Woody left his fresh herbs under my care during Glastonbury, and they grew and grew during that time. When I saw Clare for lunch yesterday, I suggested that she should come to my house to collect them.

“Why not come for food too?”
“It’s nice out. Why not have a barbecue?”
“Why not indeed?”

Zoe, Woody, Durex, Paul and Ollie all came by too. The house and garden went down a storm, and the company was great. I’m still a little nervous that the house is a long way for people to come too, especially from Didsbury, but I hope that tonight lessened that psychological distance for my friends.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Don't blame the middleman, come to me

Ever since we were so shabbily taken to the Moss Side office and told “Here’s your new office!” the middle manager has been sending around ‘funny’ (i.e not funny at all) emails. Emails like the one below.

Just in case you are having a rough day, here is a stress management technique recommended in all the latest psychological journals. The funny thing is that it really does work..
1. Picture yourself lying on your belly on a warm rock that hangs out over a crystal clear stream.
2. Picture yourself with both your hands dangling in the cool running water.
3. Birds are sweetly singing in the cool mountain air.
4. No one knows your secret place.
5. You are in total seclusion from that hectic place called the world.
6. The soothing sound of a gentle waterfall fills the air with a cascade of serenity.
7. The water is so crystal clear that you can easily make out the face of the person you are holding underwater.

I don’t understand. Does he think that circulating such tedious shite is going to make us forget that we’re moving to Moss Side? If he’s trying to win us over with humour, he should at least try to make it vaguely amusing.

The email above is the second this week. The only comfort for the other disgruntled employees and me is that he’s directly contravening our organisation’s email policy. Delete or file? Maybe I’ll file it. It might come in handy one day.