Sunday, 29 November 2009

Hoggest Roast

The original plan for the Five Seven Christmas do was to take a light stroll around Dunham Massey, then head to the pub. Bad weather and twisted limbs saw the plan modified: a hog roast at Oddest.

Chubb, Steve, Woody, Max, Zoe and I – a great mix, and a good size for a single conversation. After all of the ballyhoo about where we were going to go, it was odd that Ollie and Wallis weren’t there; they’d been at each other’s throats over email about the arrangements, and then neither surfaced. So it goes, I guess.

We caught up. Max is back from London, and he’s qualified as a surveyor. He’s in the market for a move to Chorlton, which is an interesting step considering that he’s been cohabiting with Wallis since I’ve known them. A good sign, I’d say, for both of them. Independent friendship groups are good for a couple.

We laughed. I haven’t laughed as much for a very long time. My stomach hurt because we laughed so much. My face hurt because of the jollity. Marvellous stuff.

“Which one,” asked Woody, “did you send flowers to?” I pointed Nic out to him. He grinned at me. I grinned too.

Friday, 27 November 2009


I *heart* Cory Doctorow.

I *heart* Cory Doctorow. His article in today’s Guardian sticks the boot into recent proposals about copyright in the UK. What’s more, it does so simply, clearly, eloquently and intelligently.

Companies based on the outdated notion of inherent difficulty of copying must change or they will die. Because copying isn't hard. Copying isn't going to get harder. This moment, right now, 2009, this is as hard as copying will be for the rest of recorded history. Next year, copying will be easier. And the year after that. And the year after that.

Read more here. Especially if your name in Mandelson

Tuesday, 24 November 2009


G____ from my office is secretly gay! OMG!

Monday, 23 November 2009

Flying V

My train overtook a low flying V of geese on the way to St Helens. I saw them from the rear first, behind and to their left. As I overtook, I saw them in profile, and then looked to my front again as we accelerated past. I smiled, thinking of the Bluetones and Marblehead Johnson until the train pulled into the next station. The geese caught up, flew past, and arced over a barn in the middle distance.

A man paid, and got onto the bus at RNCM. “My bag!” he said, panicked, to the bus driver, “will you wait?” He dashed off the bus, and into the pub. Ten seconds. Twenty seconds. Thirty seconds. He ran back on. “Thank you!” I looked at my neighbour. We were both grinning.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Next question...

Graham from Quizimodo and I had been plotting another surprise for Kate’s birthday. During the quiz, we schemed, Graham would invite the audience – the patrons of Oddest – to wish Kate a Happy Birthday, to sing it to her, to fire off party poppers, and to share in some cake. It was an extension of what I’d tried to arrange with Nicola last week.

I went down to the bar to see it all first hand. I blustered through my reasons for being there – “Oh I’m just a bit bored, that’s all, I thought I’d pop in for an hour…” – and settled to watch the fun unfold. It worked a treat. In between rounds two and three, the surprise was unleashed. Bravo!

I went home, and met Dunk. He’d been revising for his interview, and wanted me to go over some of the answers with him. “You don’t mind, do you mate?” he asked. Not at all. I found out a lot about computer games, and in particular about their production process, and it was really interesting. We didn’t exactly run a mock interview, but we structured our conversation around the person spec for the job. I think it helped. Good luck Dunk!

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Life is not all cake and owl.

The pizza party wheel just keeps on turning, and the pizza party wagon rolls on and on and on. Building on the good work of the party with the Padmores and the one with Megan, the third shindig was AWESOME!

We had guests: Champ; Paulina; Laura; Rory; Laura; Pippa; Hannah.

We had games: Pass the Parcel; Talking Heads.

We had cake. Home-made, hand-decorated owl cake.

Pippa and Paulina took steps towards peace between each other (maybe via a two-state solution?) by finding common ground over Twin Peaks. Pass the Parcel went down very well – generosity won hearts and minds all around the room. And then Dunk unveiled the cake. Triumphant! Kate’s face said it all.

Market Eve

Monday, 16 November 2009

Undercover bakers

Three days worth of hangover hit me square in the face this morning. I felt rotten, and had a busy day to come: the first meeting with my mentor, and a trip out to Salford to talk policy with a partner. Did I smell like booze? I hoped not. And then college later on too? You’ll be lucky. I decided to cut class.

Yesterday I’d arranged to drop off my keys at Dunk’s as part of a plan to support his stealthy baking of a cake for Kate. One problem: last night Kate had said she was staying at his – if she saw my Stormtrooper keyring on the doormat as she left, would it give the game away? Far too risky.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

A pint of treacle.

Clare called – did I want to meet her and Woody for a stroll along the Mersey? Yes, of course. I took my bike down, and met them between the Parkway and the Water Park. Woody hadn’t really been down there before, and seemed to really enjoy it. The first pint at Jackson’s Boat was a struggle. “Bettsy’s friend,” said Tom, “calls this ‘The Pint of Treacle,’ because it’s so hard to drink.”

We carried on up towards the Bowling Green to watch the Ireland Australia game, and the treacle soon thawed. It was a tremendous game of rugby. At half time Tom and I nipped out to smoke. My bike was under the guard of two burly police officers. Policing is good at the bottom of Beech Road.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Break on through to the other side

Bleugh! After our heavy, heavy night in Chorlton, I had a spectacular hangover. Kate did too. Unfortunately, Kate had to go to work at 8am, and then go dancing to celebrate her own birthday that evening. I was able, thankfully, to stay in bed.

Lucian called, explaining that he was in town, and asking if I fancied joining him for a pint. Yes, I thought, why not? Because you feel rough as arses, and very dehydrated? Not good enough! We met in the Northern, and enjoyed a few pints in the company of Jamie. Jamie, a teacher, had raised two butterflies in his class at school. The kids had named one of them Michael Jackson. Pun king Lucian was soon riffing away - "It don't matter if you're Cabbage White." Jamie pointed out that these puns were amongst the least transferrable of all gags because they were so specifically tied to the concept of a butterfly named Michael Jackson. Four pints and many laughs later, we said farewell and I shot back to Stretford.

I don't know how Kate managed to push through her tiredness, but after some booze in the house, we were out again. In the Sand Bar, we ended up divided into two groups: Chaw's friends and Kate's friends. Danesh Ali, Miriam, the Padmores and several others showed up at once, which furthered the wedge between the two halves of the party. So it goes, I guess. When it came to moving to a dancing place, Chaw and her friends elected to drink at the Deaf Institute, while we trooped to the Tiger Lounge. Robbie was there, and Champ too. We danced and drank and danced some more. It was - I think - a brilliant occasion. I think, because my drunken memories are vague... Karaoke at 3am... Chips... Another hangover approaching...?

Friday, 13 November 2009

Just the one

A quiet drink after work saw a pint that became a shared bottle of wine, that spread out to include sambuca, another large glass of wine more pints, some dancing, Luca, Becky, Tom, and a band, and getting so drunk that we fell out of the taxi home and ended up in a puddle. Kate, you lead me astray. We’re not good for each other’s livers.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

The Nobel Prize goes to... DTRMCR!

The Nobel Prize is awarded in:

Physiology or Medicine

Of these, I think I am most likely to win the prize for... literature. Not that I'm likely to win that, just that I'm very very unlikely to win any of the others. Unless I study really hard at science.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009


On the way home from work, I slipped into Oddest to plot a little surprise. I asked Nic if she'd help me to arrange a surprise for Kate's birthday involving the quiz. "I'd like," I explained, "the quiz guys to get the whole bar to sing Happy Birthday for Kate next Wednesday. Do you think they'll do it?" Nic smiled, and said that she thought that they would, yes. Great stuff.

The second, more secretive point of the visit was to try to suggest to Nic that I might be the kind of guy that likes arranging surprises for people. To drop a big hint about me being her secret florist.

I don't think she picked up on it though.

Monday, 9 November 2009


I ran into the lovely Yvonne on the bus after college. We chatted back to Chorlton, and decided to nip for a couple of pints to carry on. Yvonne writes for the theatre, which reminded me of my film-making days back in Sheffield. There was plenty to discuss. It tickled a certain something in me: be creative! Do things!

And maybe I will.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

A bold step.

I sent flowers to a girl I like. I sent them anonymously, and arranged for them to be delivered at a time when I was sure she'd be surrounded by colleagues.

It feels wonderful.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Second Hand News

Kate and I met for beers in Pi. Unfortunately, those beers were 7.5% ciders, and we were both quite drunk quite quickly. Not a bad thing, despite it being a Wednesday night. We talked about Ventenac, and about murder, and – as the cider flowed – about matters of the heart. Of my heart, in fact.

I’ve had a soft spot for Kate’s friend Nicola for a while. She’s a fellow Belle and Sebastian fan, and she’s very attractive. Kate speaks very highly of her, and I trust Kate's judgement very much. We'd talked about how I felt a couple of times, but never in much detail. I saw Nicola’s housemate on the bus this morning, and I‘d seen her the day before too, in the evening. Unusual, I thought, so I texted Kate about it.

Kate and Nicola had been talking, said Kate, and I’d come up in the conversation. A bit about Ventenac, a bit about murder, a bit about my bus rides. Whilst nothing had been said directly, Nicola might be, Kate thought, interested in me. How exciting!

We carried on drinking until Dunk joined us, grumpy about the football. He didn’t really fancy a beer, but Kate and I were very much in the mood to carry on. We poured two large gins, and put on Rumours loud. It was late by now. 1am?

Matt came downstairs and asked us to turn the music down. I felt sheepish, and drank some more gin.