Saturday, July 31, 2004

Renewed acquaintances

After doing a few more hours of Greenbelt stuff, an hour of gardening and getting three loads of washing on, I manage to grab half an hour in the sun with a drink before dashing out to meet Stewart at the Cornerhouse.

After sharing a Spanish Mezze and a couple of drinks (NB lesson learned from last week – no cocktails!) in the Cornerhouse bar we head to Screen 1 to see Before Sunset.

Well it has to be one of the best films I’ve seen for a while. Absolutely captivating, which is all the more extraordinary given that 99% of the film is made up of conversation between two characters as they walk around Paris, following them in real-time for just 90 minutes as they meet again, 9 years after the single night they spent together in Vienna (the story of which is told in the original Before Sunrise).

The dialogue and acting is superb and I love the ambiguity of the ending, it’s just perfect.

We head on for drinks and on this balmy night decide to head to the roof garden at Space. This venue was formally Generation X, part of the Manto group and back in the mid-90s, for several years, it formed the home from home for me and a close group of friends every Sunday afternoon.

Each week, without prior arrangement, about 8 of us would gather on the sofas in the dark space on the first floor from around noon to communally recover from the hangovers earned the night-before. Papers were read and energy drinks supped, until the worst of the previous nights effects subsided.

At that point the menu of comfort food, would provide a late lunch of stuffed ciabatta and curly fries or for the brave the wonderful all-day breakfast. Woe betide anyone who broke the no speaking until the food comes rule.

On summer days, and once our energy levels had been restored and our eyes could bear the light, we'd eventually venture up onto the roof terrace to continue drinking and smoking whilst catching some rays.

The group, like the venue has moved on, but a sentimental part of me yearns for those days, when we all lived in each others pockets and the lifestyles and relationships were as comfortable as the sofas we lounged about on.

Or as Gen X’s slogan used to describe its manifesto: Eat, Drink, Slack, Loaf.

Friday, July 30, 2004

L1z is not allowed to play out tonight…

I hate turning down offers of nights out, but today I must as I need to catch up on a few things (Greenbelt work and sleep being top on the list).

After a solid evening tapping away on the keys and making numerous phonecalls I’m getting close to on top of the Greenbelt backlog at last. Not quite there but the finish line is in sight. Maybe I can even allow myself a bit of a lie-in tomorrow morning?

Thursday, July 29, 2004

We Interrupt this Soap Opera to Bring you a Cookery Show...

Last year (or was it the year before – time flies!), Nicky and I travelled to Morocco for a much needed week's break.

Far from the tourist throngs on the coast, we stayed at an old Pasha’s palace in Taroudant, a walled town nestled at the foot of the Atlas Mountains.

I loved the place, the people, the culture, the fabulous landscapes up in the mountains. I also developed a taste for Tagines.

Shortly before we left, Nicky, the fluent Francophone, haggled at one of the spice stalls in the souk and came away with the most amazing range of spice mixtures you could imagine, together with instructions as to what to use with what. We split the spices when we got back and since then I’ve been developing a line in home-cooked Moroccan cuisine.

Tonight for the first time, thanks to a kind birthday gift from my folks, I’m able to cook up a meal in a proper tagine.

After coating the meat in the special “35 spice” mixture and lightly browning it off in some olive oil, I throw in some more spice, stock, vegetables, juice and preserved lemon, pop the lid on and just shove it in the oven for at least an hour.

Stewart is mighty impressed at the highly flavoured and beautifully tender meal that emerges. It seems a shame to tell him how easy it is…

Wednesday, July 28, 2004


Dan’s Blog the other day, considered the issue of comments on Blogs and whether, in a world in which everyone can have their own Blog with limited effort, it wouldn’t be better for people to comment on their own Blog and Trackback.

Well personally I think it works better to have comments together in the same place, but the idea of “no Blog – no Commenting” is intriguing.

Personally I’d be more in favour of “No Blog – No Reading” if anything. One such non-Blogging (and for that matter non-commenting) reader of this particular site, said to me on the phone today “I like reading all you guy’s Blogs; it’s like having my own personal soap opera to watch”.

Well as I’ve accepted before, I live, it seems, to amuse my friends, but is it too much to ask that they amuse back. So come on (you know who you are) why not start a Blog?

Pab gives great masterclasses.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Chance Meetings

This week seems to be the week of chance meetings.

On Monday evening I’m sat at the traffic lights at the end of the M602, when I hear a car beeping to my left. I look across to see Jo giving me the two-fingered salute in greeting. You don’t see someone for a month or two and then twice in 2 days. As the lights turn green we managed to exchange: “Coffee?”, “Sainsburys Cafe?” and catch a quick drink and catch up for 15 minutes before Jo remembers she is supposed to be playing tennis and dashes off.

Still at least this time she stayed awake the whole time.

Tonight Sarah and I head out for a curry at the Punjab, to as Sarah puts it, “discuss developments”.

She manages to keep her mirth reasonably under control for most of the evening. Ah well, I live to amuse my friends.

Halfway through the meal in troops Karen, Stuart, their kids Katherine, Hannah and Rebecca and assorted friends of Katherine, who is celebrating her 13th birthday. Now we know who the balloons are for.

Katherine refers to me as her “Aunty L1z, who she loves lots and lots”. At first she was put up to this by Stuart and Karen, who thought it would be funny to wind me up in such a manner. Unfortunately they didn’t twig that it's not that I don't like kids, I just don’t want to have any of my own.

As it turns out Katherine is a grand lass and we get on excellently. So much so in fact that last year, and unbeknown to her parents, she dyed her hair red to match Aunty L1z’s.

I think that’s what one calls having the last laugh…

Monday, July 26, 2004

Alarming lack of sleep

The joys of living where I do. Was so tired tonight that I left a pile of Greenbelt emails unanswered and actually managed an early night (well early for me anyway).

It’s now 4.37am Monday night, well Tuseday morning really and I can’t sleep because of a neighbour’s house alarm going off.

I’ve checked it out as much as I feel safe to and rung the police (this is not an alarm with a history of faults). There is nothing more I can do now, but try and sleep.

However even though I am absolutely shattered and have tried the old ear plugs (downside will I ever hear my radio alarm in the morning?), sleep eludes me.


Coming clean

Monday morning and it’s pishing it down with rain. Nice.

Stewart also learns an important lesson in life: L1z is not what one might call a morning person.

I pluck up the courage to come clean with best mate Sarah about Stewart and I having become a little more than friends of late.

This is a bit of a weird one as Stewart and I have known ‘of’ each other for a long time through our mutual close friends Phil and Sarah, but have only previously met a handful of times and only got to know each other, one to one, recently.

We've discussed the "if it doesn't work out scenario" and apparently I'm getting custody of Sarah and Stewart, Phil. Not sure if they (or I) get any say in this.

Stewart’s suggestion for breaking the 'news' is to invite them around to his, to meet his ‘new partner’. Tempting, but somehow I think a more direct approach is probably more appropriate. Well OK, I settle for a text message; but even so I fear I can hear Sarah laughing from 25 miles away.

Actually though this may not come as as much of a surprise to her as I might have thought as Stewart confessed last night that he has been talking to them about liking me and getting their advice on it for some time now.

They never let on. Call themselves friends eh? I can't be paying them enough...

Stewart seems surprised that Sarah hadn’t done the “my mate fancies you routine”. I suggest this may be because we’re no longer at junior school. Still…

I realise once again how well Sarah knows me when Stewart summarises her response to him as "well L1z doesn't suffer fools lightly, but if she's making time in her schedule at this time of the year to see you, then it probably means she likes you".

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Expensive Blu-tack...

Today Stewart apparently went out to buy some blu-tack and came back with an iPod (reduced by £100 in Dixons). And I thought I did impulse purchasing!

Mind you, he, like I, has long been coveting a slinky white box of dreams that allows you to take your entire music collection everywhere you go.

To say he is delighted with his new possession is a major understatement. When I mention to him that Pip has some gizmo that enables him to tune his car radio into his iPod, Stewart’s response is to suggest that this might be a good enough reason for him to buy a car…

I begin to grow concerned that Stewart will not wish to be parted from his new toy long enough to keep our dinner date tonight. I think it was a close call, but apparently I have a “nicer smile than an iPod” and hence he’s at Velvet waiting for me as planned. I guess you have to take your compliment’s where you can. After all to get stood up for a MP3 player would have done nothing for my self-esteem.

After last night I had resolved that tonight I would a) drink less and b) not have too late a night. Both resolutions were broken.

Still it was a very good night.

Saturday, July 24, 2004


Tonight Jo and I went to see Fahrenheit 9/11.

I was expecting to like it given that I rate Michael Moore's previous work and agree with where he’s coming from on the majority of issues (even if, as below, sometimes I disagree a little with his methods).

What I wasn’t expecting was to actually admire it quite so much as a piece of filmwork in and of itself.

From the opening segment the film is immensely successful in it’s powerful use of images and sound in a way that takes you right into the pain of the atrocities being examined.

As one might expect with Michael Moore he also gets his significant political viewpoint over in a powerful and also at times hysterically funny manner.

That said, there are significant problems with the film in terms of its selective reporting and manipulative editing. Whilst Moore is never claiming to make a piece of robust objective journalism, I feel the level of bias evident, risks at times detracting from his message. At the end of the day, George W and his cronies provide so much damning material on their own, that the temptation to take cheap shots is better avoided.

An example of this is the section on the naming some of the countries involved in the Coalition of the willing. The involvement of countries such as Britain, Spain and Australia go unmentioned, whilst Moore chooses to point out that members such as Papua, Costa Rica and Iceland don’t even have armies.

As a British viewer, this lack of mention of our role in everything and Blair’s particularly shameful role in supporting Dubya so slavishly, makes the film uneasy viewing at times as it provides the opportunity to simple project the problem and responsibility solely on the US administration. This is however understandable I guess, given Moore’s clear targeting of this movie at the US audience in the run up to the presidential elections.

Jo was also impressed by the film and judging by the box office sales here and in the US, we're not alone. Disney must be smarting right now.

Well apart from the 2 minutes in the middle that she snored through. This it must be stressed, was undoubtable due to the handful of cocktails and bottle of Rose we had unadvisedly supped in the 90 minutes preceding the film, rather than a reflection on the film itself.

Probably not the best preparation for a film of this ilk, but then we never were very good at planning nights out.

At least the night had some symmetry as we end the proceedings in a late night watering hole until we are thrown out to take our chances with the taxis.

No great surprise...

...but it seems that UKIP MEP, Godfrey Bloom is wrong.

But then I suspect I'm not his type of woman given I have just single handedly pulled out the old, dead fridge-freezer, walked it through the house and out to the side of the house for the council to pick up.

I was however, slightly apprehensive as to what I would find behind the beast, after all it probably hasn't moved from when it was first installed nearly 11 years ago (my how time flies!).

So what did I find? Just a little bit of dust - hardly anything to get excited about. A quick flick of a damp cloth and it's all ready for the new appliance.

Heck even the grill thing at the back had virtually no discernible dust on it.

So my conclusion? Well Mr Bloom is wrong on so many levels, but I'll add this one: no one needs to clean behind the fridge 'more'. It simply isn't worth it.

Oh and those manufacturers who tell you to hoover the grill regularly to aid efficiency - well they're talking crap as well. Probably men who think their wives should do it...

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Lessons Learned and a Night Off

The major lesson learned this year is don’t go on holiday in July when you have a major festival in August.

Even taking the laptop with me and doing the odd hour or two here and there has not prevented me from having a huge backlog by the end of the week that I am now ploughing through.

July is a busy month in my slice of the Greenbelt world; a month full of deadlines. The ticketing forms need to be in, meal vouchers ordered, risk assessments chased up and global policy documents updated, Venue Manager Days organised, information to go out with all the tickets submitted, volunteer forms and references sorted, credits for the programme written and so forth.

All this is on top of all the ongoing stuff like: how will we provide a decent bridge across the creek, where can Stage 2 bands park up for unloading, how do we operate Centaur to get the vibe right for different events, how can we try and prevent the World Music venue drowning out the films next door, where should Radio greenbelt put their aerial (don’t tempt me…), what will happen to the clay sculpture if it rains, what about the planned fire-eater, how many muffins should I order for the Venue Managers in the Worker’s Rest Room…you know, the sort of things that keep you awake at night.

Time and money are both in short supply this month, particularly given I’ve had to buy a new fridge freezer, pay for the holiday and fork out car tax…ouch! OK so the shoe buying probably didn’t help, but I was powerless to resist…

Tonight I did however, manage the promised night off as best mate Sarah and I head out for a girly evening at our favourite restaurant, That Café in Levenshulme.

We even push the boat out (sssh don’t tell the bank manager!) and abandon plans to be good and go for the early evening deal menu. Sarah has had a crappy week at work and this is just what was needed…for both of us.

Even so, we head back at a fairly early hour so I can still fit in 4 hrs of Greenbelt work, calling back people who left messages whilst I was in the restaurant and making a dent in the 47 new Greenbelt messages that appeared in my inbox in the last 24 hours. Still it’s worth it to feel that I’m almost on top of things.

I realise as well that I'm not alone in doing these long hours at the moment. One of the phone calls is to a Greenbelt colleague, who has decided that rather than go home between his day shift and his additional night shift, he will stay in the office and do Greenbelt work. Even I'm not that dedicated!

People like this make the festival possible. I do so hope I haven't forgotten any of these hereos in the programme credits...

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Time Management

Life seems to be so busy right now, that my relationships seem to have boiled down to a series of text messages.

I go from battling the work deadlines through the day to spending entire evenings on the laptop sorting out Greenbelt stuff.

I am determined to have a night off at some point this week.

Maybe tomorrow?

Monday, July 19, 2004

The Office Revisited

First day back at work complete with post-holiday blues...

The day improves slightly as tonight at Book Group we discuss Brideshead Revisited. The first time I read this book I was impressed by Waugh’s style. The second time I started to really engage with the characters and became truly captivated. This time I’m bowled away by it, such a beautiful and skilfully crafted work. At times the sentences are incredibly long, but unlike some authors such as James, Wolfe or Miller I find that I’m rereading them not because I need to in order to fully extract the sense, but rather because I just want to revel in the language and the images conjured up. 
It was not till I reached the door that I asked the second-in-command, “what’s this place called?”
He told me and, on the instant, it was as though someone had switched off the wireless, and a voice that had been bawling in my ears, incessantly, fatuously, for days beyond number, had been suddenly cut short; an immense silence followed, empty at first, but gradually, as my outraged sense regained authority, full of a multitude of sweet and natural and long forgotten sounds: for he had spoken a name so familiar to me, a conjuror’s name of such ancient power, that, at its mere sound, the phantoms of those haunted late years began to take flight.
It may be hanging out with Tim all these years that is influencing me – this is by far his favourite novel. I have a feeling it is starting to become mine. Very few books grab me so much that I would want to read them again in preference to a striking out with some new, as yet unread, novel, but I know this is not the last time I will read this book and it will become a happy place to return to when I want a book to lift me up and delight me. 

Sunday, July 18, 2004

The Big Thaw

Sunday brings another trawl up the M5/M6, but for once the traffic is fine.
However I get home to find a puddle on the kitchen floor and discover that the fridge-freezer has packed up. Typically this would happen when the freezer is full and as I tot up the value of the food I transfer to the wheely-bin I start to wonder as to whether a call to the insurance might not be warranted after all.
It’s times like these that you find out who your friends are and within an hour I have three separate offers for tea. I take Phil and Sarah up on their kind offer and we follow it up with Shrek 2 at Belle Vue.

Saturday, July 17, 2004

VM Day

An early start this morning to make sure I make it to the Venue Managers’ Day at Cheltenham in time.
Gaynor and Ben have done a sterling job in organising today. The main purpose this year is to build up a sense of team and make them feel connected to the wider festival. Hopefully we’ve achieved something of that. It’s fantastic when they start swapping experiences and stories – I hope they feel the travelling was worthwhile.
In the evening a small group of die-hards head up Cleeve Hill to the Rising Sun and watch the sun set over the Malvern Hills (yes we have no idea why they call it the ‘rising’ sun either).
At closing time we head back to our various rooms at Hunters Lodge and Pitville Campus. Gaynor and I stay up for a few hours putting the world to rights in the bar. It’s good to have the time to talk like this, at the festival everything is always so busy.

Friday, July 16, 2004


For my last full day in Dartmoor we decide to check out Buckfast Abbey. The beautiful gardens and the abbey area a delight and we even make it off the premises without purchasing any of the infamous Buckfast Tonic Wine or yet another strange giraffe type alien creature for Caroline’s collection.

We head back via Dartington and find another quiet part of the moors to chill out on, before heading back to the hotel where I do Mum’s hair (extensive use of a curling tong and not a burn in sight – see I can be trusted really) and pack ready for an early start tomorrow.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Relaxing and not so relaxing

We try to mix more active days with relaxing days so that Mum doesn’t get too tired, but even so I fear the week will leave her shattered. She maintains it’s worth it, but I also know Dad will suffer alongside her.
Anyway in an attempt to try and measure the pace, we head to a secret little spot we’ve found up on the moors. In a sheltered valley, beside a beautiful stream and an old clapper bridge, we get away from it all and lap up the sunshine.

The only things that disturb us are about 2 passing cars, some cattle and a herd of Dartmoor Ponies.
Come the evening however I'm pouring over the laptop I brought with me. The thought of hundreds of Greenbelt emails waiting for my return seemed a worse option than a little work each evening.

 I wonder though if this was a mistake and is preventing me from completely switching off properly…

Wednesday, July 14, 2004


Today we meet up for a picnic with one of Dad’s cousin’s who I’ve only met once before.
The day goes OK despite an early disaster when I fall foul of the uneven ground (who put the hills in Dartmoor?) and manage to tip Mum out her wheelchair.
Fortunately it was a very slow gentle affair and other than a slight graze to the cheek from her sunglasses no injuries are sustained. Dad and I manage to lift her back into her chair and all is well.
Naturally I am mortified and cannot apologise enough. Mum however is completely cool about it. Whether this is part of her usual amazing loving and forgiving nature or a side effect of the Prozac who knows.
Dad on the otherhand has seized on this for all its comic value. I suspect I will not hear the end of this anytime soon.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Living Coasts

We decide to give the Living Coasts at Torquay a try this morning and despite my usual distaste for zoo type affairs, they seem to have at least tried to establish natural environments for the coastal birds and seals here.
It certainly is fascinating to be able to get so close to the waders, auks and penguins and see them from above and below.
The centre is set out amazingly well and is a fantastic optimisation of what is actually a very small space. It’s totally wheelchair friendly and the café terrace offers unparalleled vistas across Torbay.
After lunch, we follow the coast round until we reach Babbacombe. The funicular railway down to the beach area claims to be wheelchairable, but the sloping paths at each end and a seriously intimidating 45 degree ramp off the car is far from suitable. Once we get to the bottom, Dad and I are seriously concerned re our abilities to get Mum back up.
Fortunately I manage to sweet talk the Beach Amenity Manager into letting us bring the car down the twisting access road (usually off-limits) and the problem is solved.
After all this excitement I drive us back to Ilsington so that Mum can have a rest and I a good long swim before yet another mega feast in the amazing hotel restaurant.

Monday, July 12, 2004

Cornish Roots

Today we drive over the moors and into Cornwall. We head for Kit Hill a place of stunning views and immense sentimental attachment to my Dad (who trust me doesn’t normally do sentimental) as his beloved mother grew up in sight of it directly below the Tamar Bridge in Salt Ash.
The trip provokes him to break the normal silence about his childhood and I get a rare insight into his parents and his rather austere upbringing.
We head back to Gunnislake and take the Tamar Valley Railway down to Plymouth. Gunnislake station is fully wheelchair accessible and the guard couldn’t be more helpful getting the ramp out and helping us board.
Being away right now means I’ve had to miss the Move festival in Manchester. I was in two minds anyway, but chances are the lure of Morrissey and The Pixies would have won out.
Reading reviews it appears that on the Saturday night some of the crowd were sporting T’shirts reading “Stereo-who? I’m here for The Pixies”. In line with this half the crowd apparently disappeared before the headliners took to the stage. Ouch, that’s got to bruise old Kelly Jones’ ego. Maybe he’ll write another bitter whine-fest like Mr Writer as a result? Let’s all pray not.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Text Wars

Stewart is at T in the Park and is delighting in texting me every hour or so with news of the latest band he has seen and just how fabulous PJ Harvey, The Pixies and all are.
He knows this is making me very jealous, in fact it occurs to me that this may indeed be the point.
After two days of this I decide to mount a counter attack and start pointing out that whilst he may have the better entertainment, at the end of the night he’ll be grabbing a dodgy overpriced kebab, risking food-poisoning and heading back to sleep on the hard ground in his cold tent. I on the other hand will spend half an hour in the private pool working up an appetite for the gourmet dinner before curling up in my huge, luxurious, warm bed.
It seems to do the trick and as it turns out, apparently the tent was not only cold, but he was kept awake all night by a group of twats nearby singing “Have a Nice Day” ad nauseam.
Stereophonics in the wee small hours? Surely there should be a bye-law against that.

Saturday, July 10, 2004

Bristol and beyond

Seeing Caroline last night and this morning was heaven.
I even managed to see Kathryn when she came to pick up her son Giles fresh from his week’s work experience at Caroline’s offices.
In a marked improvement on my last visit, we manage to boil water for pasta without issue!
I had to leave Caroline’s mid-morning to continue the journey on to Dartmoor where I and more importantly it seems, the lunch I will bring with me are awaited.
We are becoming regulars at this divine (and rather luxurious!) country house hotel. They are so good to us, which makes all the difference as Mum has MS.
Coming away like this is a struggle, but it means Mum gets out and about a bit and hopefully I can share some of the caring load to give Dad a bit of a break (provided he ever allows this and manages to relax!).
It’s good to be able to spend time with them and the location is fabulous and happily not overrun by other visitors. This combined with the gourmet dining and great facilities mean that I do feel like I get something like a holiday myself.
I could get used to the daily swims.

Friday, July 09, 2004

Heading South

Another weary trudge down the M6/M5 after work. Despite heavy traffic in places I make it to Bristol before Caroline has finished at the cricket, which her temporary 14 year-old house guest has taken her to.
It all works out perfectly however as I have managed to come away without a watch and so Caroline recommends a shopping mall to call in at. She apologises profusely (now there’s a surprise!) for the cricket situation, but as I say to her, never ever apologise for a situation that results in me going shopping!
I find a lovely Guess watch at a third of its original price in the sale in John Lewis’.
Even better elsewhere in the mall, I discover the most fabulous pair of shoes ever. I have no idea what they will go with, but they speak to me. They speak to me and what they are saying is “Buy me! Buy me!”.
Sadly they don’t have my size, but I leave with the name of the style and the phone number of the Manchester store.

 They will be mine…

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Plans for Poland have been shelved

As I've mentioned before I'm currently working out of an office complex that resembles something a James Bond style villain might form out of a disused volcano crater.

It has been observed by a colleague however, that given recent developments, I do not have a glittering future as an evil would-be world dictator.

Shame really - I had such good ideas about how things could run better.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Electrical Storm

I love the drama of an electrical storm, I can stand and stare at the sky for ages mesmerised by the force of nature.

The down side is that stormy weather is one of the biggest triggers for my migraines (the neurologist assures me I'm not as much of a freak in this as I or you might imagine).

So if you see me rubbing my temples and scrunching up my eyes, then there's a good chance that a storms a coming.

Of course one of the other big catalysts is stress and so it could just be that you're just really pissing me off. But trust me, the difference between the two scenarios is usually quite clear.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Evil Cats

Stewart, bless him, had clearly made the effort; a lovely meal, candles lit, that CD I wanted to hear on the stereo…all set for a lovely evening.

I met the cats and as ever the fact I’m not a cat fan didn’t seem to deter them and all was well.

Then one of them came and sat on my lap, which clearly was a step to far and within minutes my eyes are streaming and I’m starting to sneeze.

Despite this it was a lovely chilled out night, and by about midnight my eyes had returned from pink to white. However, I feel I should profer my apologies to Solo and Sweep who spent the night outside.

Monday, July 05, 2004


At Book Group tonight we discussed Unless by Carol Shields.

The group was split roughly 50-50 as to those who enjoyed it and those who didn’t so much. I was in the former group and thought the book raised some interesting questions about greatness versus goodness, the role of women in the world in general and in literature in particular, the nature of families and the importance of the small things, the putty that holds everything together.

That said, I felt it was rather dated it some of its polemic and at times rather self-conscious about it’s devices.

The question of goodness reminded me of How to Be Good by Nick Hornby. Hornby isn’t I’d say as accomplished a writer as Shields, but his book concentrates more completely on the issue of goodness and what it might mean. In Unless on the other hand the issue is just one of those broached and is seen generally as being something distinct from greatness, much smaller and unassuming and on the whole undervalued.

I want to read Unless again when I have more time to better grasp what it is trying to say about this and the other issues raised. As it is, I’m not sure I completely understand why the narrator’s daughter having dropped out from life, now sits on a street corner with a sign around her neck that simple reads “goodness”.

No time to join the others in the pub after we've finished as I need to get home and (yes you've guessed it) do more Greenbelt emails. There's a pattern forming...

Sunday, July 04, 2004

The joy of small things

I catch up on some much needed sleep, but then force myself out of bed and commence the household chores that have been building up.

I manage to chop up the tree that had blown down in the garden and once it’s out the way cut the long grass and trim up the honeysuckle to ensure that at least some daylight can penetrate to his bathroom window.

Having cleaned the kitchen, and made my bedroom vaguely respectable I allow myself some time to indulge in techy-ville before knuckling down to the Greenbelt work.

Now I know it’s not much, but I’m somewhat proud of the fact I managed to locate, download and master some software that will let me ‘rip’ CD audio files to MP3s. In fact I can even rip sections of tracks. I also managed to link my new mobile by Bluetooth to my desktop and laptop and viola, the net result, is lots of new ringtone options for my phone!

Oh and I also transferred the photos of the cows that I took yesterday to my PC. Now if I could just work out how to upload them to a website…

Saturday, July 03, 2004

Hair and cows, but no shoes

A novelty of sorts this weekend…I’m actually in Manchester.

Today was spent in town, getting my haircut and coloured (no folks, no one’s hair is naturally this colour!) and trying to do some shopping.

Between the hair and the shops I meet up with Tracy, Phil and Sarah in Waterstones’ café (top marks for having Tea Direct as their standard tea!). In an act of immense will power I tear myself away, knowing that I cannot put off the search for a pair of shoes any longer. I even manage to get out of Waterstones without purchasing a single book – quite an achievement for a bibliophile like myself.

Passing by many a brightly decorated cow, I wind my way through St Anne’s Square towards Market Street, only to find all the Arndale Centre, Market Street, Royal Exchange, Marks, Selfridges and surrounding shops have been evacuated over a suspect package.

I kick around the bits of town that are still open, but I can’t find what I’m after and so I head home defeated.

The moral of the story being, shop first, cafe later.

Friday, July 02, 2004


Stewart persuaded me to accompany him to see Patti Smith supported by Television at the Academy tonight.

Patti Smith I was quite up for – I’m not super familiar with her work (somewhat before my time), but what I know I like and I certainly like people who cite her as a major influence.

Television on the other hand, are a bit of an unknown. I think I’ve got Marquee Moon somewhere, but it’s not hugely my cup of tea.

Well things don’t start well, due to one of those minor life dramas (friend collapsing and ending up in hospital, but discharged a few hours later) I’m running late. This means that Stewart misses the first ten minutes of the Television set (a fact which he very sweetly doesn’t appear to hold against me, though I know from the fact that he’d rung to find out what time they were going on, he really wanted to be there in time to catch the entirety of their set).

It’s clear that on a musicianship level these guys can cut it, but live I want a bit of charisma. Just a very little will do, but no, the only expression that even troubles any of their faces is concentration.

Also given that this is the 21st century, haven’t we got beyond 10 minute guitar led intros? Indeed were they ever justified?

Being left entirely unmoved by Television and fighting the tiredness off with Red Bulls, I fear for the success of this night out.

And then Patti enters…

“ I’m trampin’, trampin’ – try’na make heaven my home…”

From her opening note the audience is transfixed. What a voice, what a presence!

I think I may have found my role model for later years. If I could have even an ounce of her passion at that age I’d be delighted. The woman rocks.

There are few things as engaging for a gig-goer as a performer clearly loving every second of their music and performance. She inhabits every note, every beat and draws the audience in – fabulous!

We can only hope Television were in the wings taking notes.

Thursday, July 01, 2004


I spotted my first cow of the Manchester Cow Parade today.

A bright yellow one on top of a building overlooking the A57(M) Mancunion Way.

I don’t think I’ve really got my head around what this cow parade thing is about, but I’ll keep an eye open for more bovine friends when I’m in town at the weekend.

Alternatively, apparently this one can be found just around the corner from me at our local art gallery project, which has at long last managed to get a sign over the door (ImiTate - geddit?). In fact it seems that this cow, is actually a very special cow with a built in webcam. Right......

Still I've learnt one thing today, according to the cowparade website "cows will walk up stairs but never down stairs". Every day's a school day.