Friday, 29 January 2010

Final preparations

Preparations for the barn were drawing to a head. All the shopping was done. The guests had been allocated to drivers, to cars. I knew who was bringing what games, and roughly what the plans were for food. Now it was time to get cooking. The menu consisted of bean chilli, and spaghetti Bolognese. For 25. Yikes!

A letter...

Laura sent me a letter in the post, because she didn't think she'd see me today. How sweet!

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Fucking shopping

I had never, until today, filled a large shopping trolley until it was overflowing. I had never, until today, spent more than £150 in a single trip to the supermarket. Asda! A world of firsts.

Early, but still nice

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Joey, do you like movies about gladiators?

"My parents are staying from Wednesday night until Saturday,” said Laura, “so this is the last time we’ll be able to spend the night together until the weekend. Would you like to come round for dinner?”
“Yes,” I replied, “that’d be lovely.”

Monday, 25 January 2010

Shit hits fan.

No more interent at work!
No more eating lunch at your desk!
No more personal phone calls!
No more bullying!

Thus came the edict from my boss. She had called my team, the middle team, into her room for a word, and - flustered, mumbling - had explained what was eating her. There was, she told us, a chance that someone would be sacked.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Cloud inversion

Who would win the battle of the sandwiches? Whose butty would be better? We took the train to Blackrod, and clambered up through the woods to see the waterfalls. The mist was cool in the air, moistening my beard as we climbed over the moorland towards the tower at Rivington Pike. We watched the tops of the clouds and ate our lunch, as dogs ran, scrapped, and yapped around us. We strolled down through the ornamental gardens, past this amazing sideways tree on the shores of a lake. I held Laura’s eyes closed as I guided her into Lever Castle. She opened them, and squealed with surprise! I smiled, and we started to explore the ruins.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

"Put your finger in cider"

Laura and I went to the Manchester Winter Ales Festival, and tried lots of ciders. We tried:

Crones Rum Cask
Dunkerton Kingston Black SV
Gwynt Y Draig Scrumpy
JB Cider
Lyne Down

But the winner, by miles, was...

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Well that's the 72 hours up

So I'm officially nicotine-free. Apparently, from here on it's just psychological. Here we go...

68 hours in

I decided to run, to pound away any cravings. And, in just under an hour, I was quite pleased with my distance. Map after the jump.

61 hours down

So I chopped the ones I had left in half with scisscors.

Sixty hours

As of right now, I've not smoked a cigarette for sixty hours.

Feelings of fatigue, irritability and an extremely persistent headache are all side effects of nicotine withdrawal and are all perfectly normal. Why? Simply because it is in the first 72 hours which nicotine purges itself from your system - regardless of the stop smoking method you have chosen to use.

It's going okay. Twelve hours to go.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

An unexpected, but welcome guest.

Steve, our builder, pronounces Chaw’s name as “Chew,” as in mastication. He came round with his son to make the repairs and improvements that the police had recommended. As I was helping him to move in a fencing panel, Laura and Emma showed up outside my house. “I was locked out of my house,” said Laura, “in my pyjamas. Can I hang out with you?”

Saturday, 16 January 2010

“Have you ever been to Katsouris Deli?”

The underwater hockey team left, so we mooched around the house for an hour or two, kissing, fooling around, and getting ready for our day. On the bus, Laura asked me, “Have you ever been to Katsouris Deli?” I smiled - it’s one of my favourite places to eat - and nodded. Laura’s eyes lit up. “Shall we go there for lunch?” Yes!

Friday, 15 January 2010 through the hanky pocket.

"The underwater hockey team,” said Laura, “won’t be here until quite late, so we have the whole house to ourselves.” Perfect. Over gourmet cider, we demolished a smorgasbord of cheese and cold meats, with chilli oil, olives, sun-kissed tomatoes, and warm brown bread.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

“P-A-R-T-Why? Because I gotta!”

It was payday eve, and emptiness echoed around my wallet. Christmas punched out my savings, and the burglars pinched my pocket money. “Come to the pub,” Kate said, “my treat.”

I joined Graham, Becky and Luca at the end of the bar. When my meagre funds expired, Graham subbed me. A true gentleman. Luca told us a story about a time he was high on drugs, and paranoia set in.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Eight visitors

“Knock! Knock!”

Two Police Community Support Officers. They ask how we’re coping with the burglary, and offer some advice. One Crime Prevention Audit later, a few stern glares at the entry point, and they’re away.

“Knock! Knock!”

Two Scenes of Crime Officers. They dust for fingerprints, take photographs of footprints in the snow. They smile a lot, then they go.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

"We've been burgled."

My elation of an afternoon off work, and my excitement of going out for the evening with the lovely Laura, were both sadly truncated by finding out that we’d been burgled.

A power cut at work? Early departure? Jackpot! Well, so I thought. Arriving home at 2pm, I settled into bed to read The Dark Knight Strikes Again. Something that I read recently inspired me to pick it up and to appreciate it again. It really is a daring and exciting book, both with its plot and its style. What bliss!

Monday, 11 January 2010

Sunday, 10 January 2010

“I’ve decided you should come round at 4pm.”

Laura’s house is palatial. Her live-in landlord is a pro-climber, which must be far more lucrative than I’d ever imagined. The rooms are vast – dwarfing even Great Stone – and the ceilings high. For the rent she pays, it’s tremendous value. I was stunned.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Where can you find a hat-stand?

My merry walk took me from home to Chorlton Precinct, to the shops down by Guardi’s new place, and to Age Concern. It took me to the Furniture Warehouse on Upper Chorlton Road, and then to B&Q on Great Stone Road. I ended up in Stretford Mall – which is oddly reminiscent of Wellingborough’s Swansgate centre – and the only half decent hat-stand I found was in Argos, for fifty quid. Too steep? Yes, double my budget. I trudged home, disappointed.

Friday, 8 January 2010

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

I come from the land of the ice and snow

We were sent home early from college last night because of snow. I thought that Gerard was being overly cautious. Waking up this morning to five or six inches*, however, has rather changed my mind. I strapped on my boots, and stomped on outside. “There’s no buses,” said the woman at the stop, “I’ve been here since half seven.”

Barbecue anyone?

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Run in the sun

Friday, 1 January 2010

Happy New Year, your house is ruined

Faced with the carnage of the party's aftermath, we retired to the pub, and drank there all day. When we got home, it was just as messy. Bleugh!