Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Winterval

It's the shortest day today. Hip hip hurrah. From now on in it's getting lighter by about 2 minutes every day. Woo hoo.

I got to work at a ridiculous time this morning, but at least it meant I was able to catch the sunrise over the town hall during a break from the misery...

It was very pretty.

It was so nice that it momentarily made me forget the giant inflatable Santa with a space shuttle stuck in his sack that has been appended to the historic clock tower every year in recent memory. Why a space shuttle?

Oh well.



I have been continuing my escape fantasies at regular intervals throughout the day, and today formulated a plan to retrain as a lawyer, dedicate my life to the fight against injustice and discover a case against a major multinational that nobody thought I could win, commit myself to it night and day while single handedly raising a family, and come out triumphant at the end. This may have had something to do with a recent dream I had about Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins - I won't bore you with the details, suffice to say it involved sandals and facial hair - so perhaps does not count as an officially possible escape plan that could actually happen. But I don't care about that. I want out.


I also have to schedule in a haircut, a trip to buy champagne for business colleagues, a few hours to clean my apartment and prepare for when my dad comes to spend the night next week, and another few hours to run around some random shops buying last minute presents for my mother and sister.

Despite this, I really do love Christmas - not the religious stuff or the festivities - just the enforced family time, the banal, repetitive rituals and timings, the lack of power to change things or instigate novelty - basically, I get to be a passive, child-like being again for three days and it's great. I mean, I do a lot of the cooking and running around and general patting and stroking that has to be done, but it's all so easy and known and expected. I love that.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

blogorexia

I look at a lot of blogs. I even read some to the end too. But I can never be arsed to list them all down the right hand side of my own blog. Does that make me a bad person? I look at blogs, see how they flaunt their blog-links and declare their membership of the wider blogworld and feel ashamed sometimes. But then you have to click on the tech-side bits of the blog page and adjust codes and type stuff in and update it and try to figure out why it doesn't appear and then swear when you realise you've spelled the name of the blog wrongly or made some crass tech/blog mistake by refering to the internets as the web or something like that... (Thanks to my mother this week who mailed to ask me what an mpg player was and if she was better off with a 4g version or not. I love you.)

Oh well. I resolve to add more shit to the side of my page next year. I might even move on to a 'cool' platform like moveable type. Or not, as the case might be.

So. Thanks to
happily stuck in ithaca for a fun podcast tonight, thanks to bloggold and to can't help but love you, you know (I feel a bit like I am spying on your life in a bad way, but it's a little compulsive. I want to know what is so wrong with BHS and why is Shane sometimes Shein?) Thanks also to nervous breakdown and bloggold .


It's time to open up and share. I love building sites and often take 'photos of them. There, it's out in the open. I haven't shared this with you yet - we've only been in this relationship for a few months and it feels a little intimate.

I feel the same way about fish markets, motorway service stations, tiny models of things and stuffed animals.

I'm very lucky that Manchester is basically one massive building site at the moment. There are big holes, cranes, scaffolding and stuff everywhere. I particularly like excavations and reinforced dugouts.

I figure I should just be glad that so many free things make me happy and that I have no interest in owning Swarowski crystal nipple clamps, or a Smythson leatherette shrug holder with a Stella McCartney vegetarian snaffle clip. Jesus - I can spend 20 minutes staring at flashing lights in stunned amazement. I am such a cheap date.

Monday, December 19, 2005

30 shomething

The lovely Alex celebrated her 30th last night in Chorlton. It all began in a most civilized fashion at 4pm in a chic Chorlton restaurant with fabuluous food, company and presents. The ending was slightly less glamorous - though no less fun - at 11pm in a bar next to said restaurant. I never knew I could drink for that long. Or that hard.


Here she is making an emotional speech sometime around 6.30pm.

And again, making like she's shocked...


I struggled to get to work for 9.30 this morning and was feeling delicate until lunchtime...

Yestarday morning got off to a slightly surreal start when the local rowing fraternity decided to use the bit of river beneath my bedroom window as a gathering point...


Now, I don't have any objection to being woken up at the crack of dawn by a load of men in lycra - indeed I have been known to pursue such experiences from time to time. But when the little motor boat with a man screeching into a megaphone joined them, it all became a little too much.


I could have borne it more easily had I not been reeling from the shock of
Betty Tucker's death. Cruelly cut down by a heart attack she memorably described as 'really quite frightening', Betty was taken from us in a shock twist to the rural radio drama The Archers that will have the message boards at the BBC buzzing. I read the press release and was a little surprised to read the following:

'What with managing the village shop, the organic egg business she runs with Neil Carter - not to mention coping with her cantankerous husband, Mike! – things do seem to have got on top of Betty lately.'

Now I'm all for a bit of the old stiff upper lip and underplaying tragedy - but an exclamation mark in a press release announcing someone's death? A step too far.
There will be complaints to the Daily Mail, I can feel it in my waters.

The actress (Pamela Craig) has left in order to move closer to her grandchildren - who live in New Zealand. So the slow crushing pain and suffocating panic felt by Betty during her heart attack is a feeling Pamela still has in store for her when she reaches NZ.

Work is a fucking nightmare at the moment. I can't wait for the enforced tedium of Christmas Day. I have fantasies about watching moralising films offering a 'modern take' on Scrooge; I relish the arrival of the symptoms of overeating and colonic discomfort; I want to get annoyed with my family in the comfort of the family home. I really want to do nothing at all for at least four days. Now that's the meaning of Christmas.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

finshed sentence

Thanks to bloggold for word on the state sanctioned murder of Stanley Tookie Williams.

''ignorieren wir, dass sie nicht funktioniert, die todesstrafe, dass sie nicht abschreckt, dass sie angehörigen von opfern keine 'closure' bringt, dass sie teuer ist, reden wir gar nicht erst über die grausamkeit und die unmoral und über den gedanklichen fehler, den wert des lebens zu bestimmen, indem man als staat leben nimmt. reden wir nicht darüber, dass in einem so abgefuckten rechtssystem wie dem der usa
unschuldige menschen zum tode verurteilt und hingerichtet werden. reden wir auch nicht über das barbarische element, nicht über die perversen rituale, die letzten mahlzeiten, die letzten worte, den letzten anruf beim governor, die durchführung dieser strafe des nachts. ignorieren wir auch, dass unklar ist ob stanley tookie williams, der zweifelsohne lange jahre kein guter mensch war, der sicherlich indirekt zum tod von hunderten menschen beigetragen hat, aber die vier morde, wegen derer er zum tode verurteilt wurde, vielleicht eben gerade doch nicht begangen haben könnte. ignorieren wir die fehlerhaften ermittlungen, die verfahrensfehler, die zweifelhaften zeugen und die rassistischen bemerkungen des richters. und reden wir erst recht nicht darüber, wer stanley tookie williams heute ist, nach mehr als zwanzig jahren im gefängnis, nachdem er seine schwerwiegenden fehler erkannt hat, und dass er, der sein leben verändert hat und durch seine bücher und seine community arbeit ein vorbild für tausende von at-risk-youth geworden ist. reden wir nicht darüber, dass diese at-risk-youths vielleicht den letzten rest hoffnung verlieren könnten, weil sie sehen, dass es sich ja offensichtlich eben doch nicht lohnt, sein leben zu ändern, weil man ja eben doch keine zweite chance bekommt. reden wir nicht davon, wieviele leben stanley tookie williams noch retten könnte, wenn er den rest seines lebens hinter gittern verbringen würde und weiter bücher schreiben und projekte leiten würde, und nicht in ein paar stunden von angestellten des staats kalifornien auf eine krankenliege geschnallt und wie ein tier eingeschläfert werden würde. "george bush doesn't care about black people." arnold schwarzenegger auch nicht. reden wir nicht über die message, die ein staat sendet, der seine bürger umbringt. reden wir nicht von rache.''

Monday, December 12, 2005

how many calling birds?

If you want calling birds, you should come to my place in the morning. There's loads of 'em. Now I like nature and all that, but it can be way loud. I went to bed with the windows and curtains open - not for the purposes of executing a hideous exhibitionistic display in my sleep, but in the hope that the cold air would wake me up early - and awoke to a full on bitch fight between two crews of swans on the river below. There were some of those pointy faced birds - Cormorants, I am told by some David Attenborough types I know - hanging around the edges, egging them on, I fear. You could tell is was serious - one of the swan's was doing that whole wings-scrunched-up-I can-break-a-man's-arm-with-one-beat-of-my-wings-type-thing and one of the other swans was paddling around it, going all like, 'but I'm not even a man so I'm so not scared of your arm-breaking capacity'. It was very tense for a while.

I remember getting stern lectures from teachers and parents while watching nature documentaries as a child. 'No,' they would say, 'the camera men and Mr Attenborough can't save the tiny, struggling, cute zebra/meerkat/antelope from the jaws of of the savage and ruthless lion/panther/buzzard. That would be interfering with nature and that is a bad thing because nature should not be interfered with - it has to take it's course. It is their solemn responsibility to document nature and not intervene. The cute zebra/meerkat/antelope would die were the cameras not there, so it should still die. It does not make Mr Attenborough an evil sadist who does not care for the cute animals. It means he cares enough not to disturb the wise and sage course of nature. And by the way, who taught you to say twat and do you really know what it means, because if you did, I don't think you would say it, do you?'

Well. There were no teachers or parents this morning, so I got a bread roll from the kitchen, tore it up, threw it in the river and created a diversion. Problem solved. Everyone happy. No bickering swans, comorants got the scraps, no one got hurt. Nature well and truly interfered with. According to chaos theory, that probably means there will be a mild zephyr to the west of the Lebanon or something. Little I care.

On a serious note, I do sometimes worry about how we will all cope when David Attenborough dies. He means much more to us all than Princess Diana or George Best, or even the Queen Mother. When did any of them play with gorillas or teach us about what goes on inside a bat's ear? Never. That's when.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

jesus chris

I love bla bla black sheep and regularly use it as a starting point for hikes through the blogosphere - the December 7 entry had me close to weeping in a scene only rivalled recently by a conversation about the relative gayness of shirt badges.

I have been a bad blogger recently and resolve to be much better in the New Year.

Here's a shot of Castlefield last week as I walked to work at an ungodly hour.

I had a very nice Friday evening with S&D in Yorkshire. It was preceded by one of the worst journeys of my life that involved a Transpenine Express (it's barely trans and certainly not an express), several drunks, rush hour, no seat, flooded toilets and a foul tempered conductor. Oh well. I had a great night and wonderful morning - I never want to come home when I visit and am considering a late application for adoption.

It's been a beautiful weekend - spoiled only by the prospect of JOBS1 and 2 this week - a three hour meeting for JOB1 tomorrow that could well leave much blood on the carpet and a set of meetings for JOB2 that make me exhausted in theory, never mind in practice. I am having almost constant fantasies about fleeing Manchester to live in the Highlands or on Holy Island or some such place that would, obviously, welcome the gays with open arms and not be hostile, difficult or socially precarious at all. Oh no.

I have been looking in to the possibility of rearing gay pets to tap into next Christmas's pink lifestyle pound. It's exactly what a recently 'married' couple would want, I feel, and I could make a fortune and run my own business in the country. Which house proud gay newlyweds wouldn't dish out huge amounts of cash for a certificated gay hairless hound, or a lesbian rabbit or similar? I can see it now - gay bull terriers for the scally-loving skin head crew, lady loving rare breed cats for the more discerning lezzer - the possibilities are endless. I may encounter some problems in getting a gay certificate for the lower forms - say goldfishes or snakes - but I'm sure there's a vet on the internets who I could bribe...

Lovely sunset today.


It almost distracted me from the pleasurable past time of laughing at the hoards of Man United fans passing by my windows in the trams from Old Trafford after their team's pitiful performance this afternoon.
Not quite though.

Monday, December 05, 2005

City After-Life

Looks like it's the end of City Life. The Guardian Media Group is closing down the Manchester listings mag and binning some great writers and a lot of hard work at the same time.

I went to the protest last Friday outside the HQ of the Guardian in the North - on Deansgate. The axe wielder himself turned up to explain the corporate decision - but I couldn't hear above the noise of clapping and occasional outbreaks of faux carol singing.

Actually, group chanting and singing is somewhere just beyond my comfort zone - I tend to mumble and and find something interesting to look at in the opposite direction. Although I can get into it if I try. It's a bit like dancing or swimming naked - once you're doing it it, you're fine, but if you hesitate at the start, all is lost and much embarrassment ensues.

So. The Guardian Media Group. Shame on you. I wonder how much the new Berliner formatting cost - new presses, new design, new everything? Probably enough to keep City Life going for a couple of years. The only funny thing about the situation was watching a portion of the scandalised mob getting upset about the fact that it was the Guardian who lowered the axe - like this major business group behaves differently than the Barclay twins or News International. Just because the Guardian has a Woman's Page and likes the Gays does not mean it's executives pet kittens in their spare time and consider how best they can promote the best development of all the lovely workers above all other considerations. Get over it.


JOB1 is baaad. I have now become a real member of the company and am no longer a freelancer. I am contracted to work 17.5 hours per week over two and a half days. I worked 11 today alone. Arse.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Well Really

Enough of that.

So much to talk about. Christmas is here - and it's legit...

It was just as pretty in Glasgow when I visited to see
Antony & the Johnson's with the lovely Laura.


Another fantastic gig. It was a bigger venue than last time, so some of the intimacy was lost - but hey, you can get too intimate.

The new flat is great - I haven't had a lot of time to get used to it - or at least that's what it feels like - but it's very pretty, glamorous and grown up. I feel pensions and mortgages coming on.

I have become mildly obsessed by the wildlife on the river. I sat for 30 minutes one morning last week watching a heron faff around on the riverbank opposite by bedroom window. I was late for work. For one moment when it arrived, I got confused and thought it was a pelican, but remembered that they are more likley to appear on the keys of Florida and less likely to be on the Irwell in central Manchester. It was still great though.

Then there were these duckish things that dived underwater and didn't come back up - I waited for ages and considered calling a bird-based charity to ask for help - but thought better of it. Perhaps they really do have underwater nests with big oxygen bubbles to breathe from. Or not.

My walk to work is a bit more attractive too. It was so cold and lovely in the days after I moved in that I took this shot as I walked through Castlefield.

So. Work and Christmas and Family and stuff. A lot of questions to answer.

Alone Again

Back. Lost all home connection for nearly a month - could have blogged from either JOB1 or JOB2 but it felt wrong.

Lots of lessons learned:

1. Ducks don't have underground nests with oxygen bubbles in them
2. Money does help
3. I haven't paid enough attention to my friends
4. Not having children makes a huge difference
5. I didn't make 4. happen by will alone
6. Not sorry
7. I hope there's someone there