Saturday, April 30, 2005

Red Alert and Too Much Baileys

This morning I went into town to attend to a hair emergency. A patch of red has faded to a bizarre yellowy-orange colour and is looking mighty strange. Thankfully Sylvia is able to save the day with a quick overlay. Obviously I usually denounce all hair dyes, but needs must…

I get waylaid into my favourite boutique and two pairs of troseurs, a top and a guilty conscience later I head home.

George appears on cue and after a swift glass of wine we head to That Café.

The menu is as always stunning. It changes weekly so there isn’t such a thing as a daily special, however for once they are offering a further choice of starters, mains and desserts our waitress informs us. The additional main, she tells us, involves “a rare breed of beef…I mean not like endangered or anything…just quite rare…”.

Always good to be reassured that one wouldn’t be consuming part of the ‘last breeding pair’…

I don’t think I’ve ever had even a mediocre meal at That Cafe and today is no exception. Of course it might be the vodka and the bottle of Vouvray taking, but I think it was probably one of the best meals I’ve ever eaten.

After a taxi home, we start on the Baileys. I have a just opened litre bottle, but as ever with George’s measuring technique it disappears rather fast. Having drunk the last drop I’m somewhat surprised to find a fresh glass full magically appear after I leave the room briefly.

Sure enough young Georgina has cracked open a second bottle. Which confirms what we all knew:


Accompanied by the opening bares of the dawn chorus we finally admit defeat around 4.15am. As I climb the stairs, I can’t help but be relieved that I reconfigured the futon in the spare room before George arrived…

Friday, April 29, 2005

Evening Sun

It’s just too beautiful an evening to stay in, so having tempted Sarah and Phil from their chores, the three of us head up to Turton.

After a lovely walk around the reservoir the light starts to fail and so we head up the hill to the Strawbury Duck.

Roll on summer!

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy

After a slightly shaky start the film gets into it’s stride and by the time Bill Nighy appears as Slartibartfast it’s turned into a right good romp.

Part of the cast work well because they continue in the spirit of the actors from the Radio and TV series (Martin Freeman makes an excellent Arthur Dent and Stephen Fry is superb as the voice of the book etc), whilst others work as a departure from previous incarnations (Helen Mirren as the voice of Deep Thought and Mos Def as Ford Prefect being cases in point).

Parts of the film are laugh out loud funny, whereas other parts are a little strained – possibly because you bring so much history with you as a viewer.

Hammer and Tongs have triumphed however in their realisation of Marvin the morbidly depressed android. Anyone who is a fan of their video for Blur’s Coffee and TV will recognise the creative style that brought us Graham Coxon as a milk carton.

Definitely worth a trip to the cinema though. Hopefully if enough people go then there will be sequels and I can’t help feeling that now they’ve got into their stride that would be a good thing.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

It wasn't me...

If the election is getting you down, then I recommend this site as an instant remedy (you'll need flash and volume...).

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Mucking About

Those of you that are old enough may remember the Abbeyste@d Disaster in Lancashire back in 1984.

A fuller summary of the incident is here, but in short 16 people died and a further 28 injured when a visit to an underground pumping station ended in disaster when trapped gases exploded blowing the structure apart.

Nine years later I started work with the water company in question and the importance of safe management of entry into confined spaces was drummed into us.

I guess the level of danger of entry into such spaces is largely unknown to the public at large and to the younger post-Abbeyste@d generation in particular.

Which would possibly explain why when of one of our colleagues in one of our Scottish offices, found this whilst undertaking a search for a particular make of m@nhole cover.

Needless to say that the jaws in our office were uniformly dropped as we clicked on the 'Dr@ins' link and explored their accounts of their expeditions into major dr@inage systems in M@nchester and W@rrington.

Even leaving to one side the dangers of explosive gases, flash flooding, trade efflu_ent discharges, playing around with automated mechanical gear that could switch on without notice, contracting Lypto_sporidium, interfering with hydr@ulic controls and risking causing a pollu_tion incident… oh and popping up through a m@nhole in the M62, who would want to spend their leisure time wading through sew@ge…in shorts?

Needless to say the details have been passed to the asset owner…

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Back Home

Nicky is the most fabulous host; a breakfast of cereals, fresh strawberries, fruit smoothies, warm croissant and brioche greet us this morning.

We head off mid-morning and after a trouble free drive back, arrive in Manchester at lunchtime.

I get home, unpack, cut the grass, pull a few weeds, cut back some greenery and then pour a long ice cold drink and sit in the garden making phone calls.

Mum is still struggling with the whole leg thing, but making slow but steady progress with the new strap thing. Caroline is still enjoying her freedom and it’s so good to be able to talk to her properly without having to keep an eye on the time. As ever she has me giggling uncontrollably…

As the sun starts to set, I retreat inside to the sofas and slob out watching videoed shows from the past week and catching up on emails.

Being away has been fun, but it’s also nice to be home properly at last.

Just wish it wasn’t Monday tomorrow…

Saturday, April 23, 2005


After the meeting finished a few of us headed up to Stathern Lodge to say hello to the Stewards who have gathered for their annual reunion weekend.

Amazing casseroles are being prepared in the kitchen, whilst outside rotten railway sleepers and broken pallets are being formed into the mother of all bonfires. Let’s just say that I’m glad that a handful of the Fire Crew are also staying at the Lodge…

Before the pyromaniac activities commence we head off for a meal at The Peacock in Redmile. Apparently it has changed hands a few time since the infamous meal we had there a few years back. The food has indeed improved immeasurably.

Well except for the rubber chicken that gets served to Sally.

Such is the litany of culinary disasters that have befallen Sally at Greenbelt related meals, it’s hard not to think that there has to be something more than coincidence going on here.

Ops Weekend

Delays in setting off, motorway closures and annoyingly slow moving horse-trailers on country roads, mean Karen, Rob and I scrape into the Greenbelt Ops meeting in Stathern a few minutes late.

That not withstanding, the day goes extremely well and we seem to make a lot of progress. Key decisions get made, important information disseminated and actions assigned.

Underlying all this is the delight of spending time with some of my favourite people on the planet. Consequently, whilst the meetings can get pretty intensive, but they never ‘quite’ feel like work.

It’s an exciting time to be involved with the festival; after years of crisis management and tighter than tight budgetary controls the news that we’re within a hair’s whisker of being truly back in the black is a fantastic vindication of everyone who dedicated themselves to saving this amazing festival.

It’s good to be able to talk about looking at responsibly building up reserves to avoid a repeat of the problems and it’s even better to be able to couple that with a new sense of future, a sense of truly moving beyond ‘fire-fighting’ and into proactive planning.

Time to talk about where we take things, how we improve the festival, how we can better look after our volunteers and so forth.

I’m constantly amazed by how much people put into the festival and this has never been truer than in the past half decade, when sheer determination and personal sacrifice have kept the festival from going under. It feels like we weathered the storm together, against all odds, and are now emerging at last into the sunshine – tighter than ever.

Exciting times.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Alnwick Gardens

I wake with a slight headache. Hmmm that glass of Chenin Blanc last night did taste an awful lot like Chardonnay, which could explain this. It tasted so like Chardonnay that we did double check with the waitress but she assured us it wasn’t…but then given her views on the acceptability of serving rotten fruit on desserts (“it’s just for decoration”) I’m beginning to think I should have argued about the wine more forcefully…

Anyway the headache combined memories of last night’s food catastrophe persuade me to skip breakfast, but Sarah is braver and ventures down.

Her text message to me of “they’ve just served me rancid fruit!” suggests it is a decision she comes to regret quite quickly.

Apparently the orange segments in juice are ‘fizzy’ and whilst she eventually persuades the staff that this isn’t ‘good’, no apology is forthcoming.

This is their fatal mistake and it means that as she settles the bill Sarah is no longer able to hold her tongue and when asked “was everything all right for you” replies “well I suppose if we hadn’t had a woeful dinner in the restaurant last night, I might have been more forgiving of the rancid fruit at breakfast this morning, but….”.

This statement doesn’t appear to come as too much of a surprise to the concierge, who apologises profusely and promptly knocks off the dinner and breakfast charges from the bill, without Sarah having to say anything more. This redeems the situation considerably.

I’d stay in the hotel again happily, but I would never ever eat there again.

Anyway…moving on…

Another glorious day weather wise and so we head to Alnwick Castle with its famous water gardens. It’s surprisingly good and this water engineer is in seventh heaven!

A text message from Caroline confirming she has made it home, adds to my excellent mood.

The gardens are much better than we expected and this combined with another day of blue skies and searing sunshine make us decide to postpone our visit to the Baltic for another day and spend more time here.

Sarah feels that my fascination with the ‘how do they do that’ is perhaps detracting form the romance of it all, but what does she expect?

I think by the time I start musing about whether my hydraulic design skills would be transferable she really starts to worry and drags me away from a mesmerising vortex based water feature.

We get a salad in the wonderfully imagined treehouse complex before a quick tour around the Poison Garden (with guide) before setting off home.

The only stop on the way home is at Hartshead Services so I can take a Greenbelt telephone conference.

Who should draw up alongside us?

Once back in Manchester we pick up Phil and head to the cinema. We were slightly surprised that WAP had suggested that Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was already showing and it turns out our suspicions were well founded. We plump instead for Sahara, which is an enjoyable enough romp with some excellent lines eg
Dirk: What would you do if you’re about to be exposed as the worst polluter of modern times?
Al: Run for president

Not a bad way to spend a birthday all in all.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Lindisfarne and the Cheviots

Breakfast at the hotel is a little haphazard, but this is easily forgiven due to the utter splendour of the dining room. True to the claims on their website, the dining room is fitted out with the panelling, columns, fixtures and fittings of the SS Olympia – the Titanic’s twin sister.

It’s truly incredible and has to be seen to be believed – it really does feel like you’re in the fine dining room from an ocean going liner of yesteryear. Opulence and excess would seem to be the general effect they were going for.

Holy Island is by contrast a more simple and bare affair.

It’s one of my favourite places in Britain and as we walk across the island with the sun on our faces and the sweeping wind in our hair I feel myself start to totally relax and open up.

My dodgy foot is playing up a bit, but it would take more pain than that to stop me wanting to walk this beautiful island (btw question for Pab – where does your project’s policy lie re causeway linked islands?).

We catch the low tide again at around 4pm and make it back across the causeway safe and sound.

Longing to get up into the moorland we take the scenic route back to Alnwick heading up into the Cheviots. Clear blue skies and bright sun stay with us all the way - it’s simply beautiful.

Arriving back in Alnwick we decide that we need to experience at least one evening meal in the amazing hotel dining room and so decide to chance a menu that is decidedly uninspiring.

The atmosphere and setting is amazing, but even this cannot really compensate for what follows.

To cut a very long and surreal story short, I would recommend this hotel to anyone – the bedrooms are gorgeous, the dining room is simply stunning, the housekeeping and reception staff lovely and even the Northumbrian music night in the bar was…well…quiet enough to be ignored from the lounge area (which is all one can ask for really). Just don’t eat here.

Well at least not unless you like over-priced bland dishes, vegetables boiled into submission, rancid fruit and appalling service.

Seriously it has to be the worst meal out I have ever experienced – and hey I regularly partake in the culinary doom fest that is a Greenbelt Ops weekend…

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Alnwick via Durham

Sarah and I set off on our mini-break to Northumbria. We have a hotel booked in Alnwick and want to spend time on Holy Island, but other than that our plans are open.

On an impulse we decide to stop off at Durham on our way past. I’ve never visited Durham before (it’s smaller than I imagined) and I’ve eager to see the cathedral.

Built on an imposing summit in a large loop of the River Wear, seeing the cathedral is not a problem. More challenging for someone unfamiliar with the city is how to get to the Cathedral.

Parking in a multi-storey shopping centre car park and taking a shuttle bus just doesn’t appeal, so we find some on-road parking out of the city centre and walk back along the river until we find a footbridge across. Riverside woodland paths and old cobbled streets, fit much better with our carefree holiday mood.

The cathedral is stunning. I find myself staring up at the vaulted ceiling until my neck aches. I’m so glad we chose this detour.

We arrive in Alnwick in the bright sunshine of mid-afternoon, find the hotel and check-in.

The White Swan is a 17th century coaching inn and the frontage and foyer (complete with open fire) bode well. As we wind our way up to our rooms the décor falters somewhat and the worn carpets, woodchip wallpaper and exposed pipes start to raise concerns.

Happily these concerns evaporate the moment we open the doors to our rooms. These have obviously been refurbished quite recently and are amazingly sumptuous with deep reds and dark woods. Unbelievably good considering the late-deal room rate we got of £29.99!

Having dumped our bags we head out to explore the town. It’s very lovely and the glorious afternoon sunshine shows the golden sandstone off to its best advantage.

We eschew the hotel’s pedestrian and uninspriring dinner menu and find a nearby café/restaurant that is surprisingly good (whiskey and marmalade bread and butter pudding…yum!).

Monday, April 18, 2005

Last Day at Work

The last day at work before taking leave is always busy and today was no exception.

It’s not helped by the fact that we have a major project meeting with the client on Thursday. Well I say ‘we’ I’ll still be in the North East on holiday. This means that by the end of today, I need to not only have all the work ready to present, but I also need to go through it all with a colleague so they will have the answers to hand in the meeting.

Think I’ve covered everything, I guess the proof will be in how well the meeting goes and whether my mobile stays quiet.

After work I make it to Book Group to discuss Jackie Kaye’s collection of short stories “Why Don’t You Stop Talking”. I’d only read about half the collection, but have enjoyed those tales well enough. I don’t think they quite make the standard of her novel Trumpet though.

I make it home with just enough time to throw a few things in my travel bag, before collapsing exhausted into bed.

Sunday, April 17, 2005


For those of us who aren’t about to go out physically defacing those despicable Tory posters, this web based facility might appeal.

Yes you too can now create your own version of the Tory fear campaign, the options are endless! Hmmmmm I could play all day...

Apparently the following one appeared briefly on the blog of Iain Dale, the Conservative candidate for North Norfolk. Then it mysteriously disappeared...which is a shame.

Saturday, April 16, 2005


Sadly I see that Unitarian Jihad has already suffered its first schism, although it appears a friendly enough split.

Accordingly if you'd prefer to get your Jihad name from The First Reformed Unitarian Jihad Name Generator, then go here

Ship of Fools boards are currently discussing the Unitarian Jihad. I like the idea of 'moderate' bumper stickers such as "It's not as simple as that!"

The revolution starts here!

Friday, April 15, 2005

Unitarian Jihad

This communique is doing the rounds (thanks to Kirsty for the link):

Greetings to the Imprisoned Citizens of the United States. We are Unitarian Jihad.

There is only God, unless there is more than one God. The vote of our God subcommittee is 10-8 in favor of one God, with two abstentions. Brother Flaming Sword of Moderation noted the possibility of there being no God at all, and his objection was noted with love by the secretary.

Greetings to the Imprisoned Citizens of the United States! Too long has your attention been waylaid by the bright baubles of extremist thought. Too long have fundamentalist yahoos of all religions (except Buddhism -- 14-5 vote, no abstentions, fundamentalism subcommittee) made your head hurt. Too long have you been buffeted by angry people who think that God talks to them. You have a right to your moderation! You have the power to be calm! We will use the IED of truth to explode the SUV of dogmatic expression!

People of the United States, why is everyone yelling at you??? Whatever happened to ... you know, everything? Why is the news dominated by nutballs saying that the Ten Commandments have to be tattooed inside the eyelids of every American, or that Allah has told them to kill Americans in order to rid the world of Satan, or that Yahweh has instructed them to go live wherever they feel like, or that Shiva thinks bombing mosques is a great idea? Sister Immaculate Dagger of Peace notes for the record that we mean no disrespect to Jews, Muslims, Christians or Hindus. Referred back to the committee of the whole for further discussion.

We are Unitarian Jihad. We are everywhere. We have not been born again, nor have we sworn a blood oath. We do not think that God cares what we read, what we eat or whom we sleep with. Brother Neutron Bomb of Serenity notes for the record that he does not have a moral code but is nevertheless a good person, and Unexalted Leader Garrote of Forgiveness stipulates that Brother Neutron Bomb of Serenity is a good person, and this is to be reflected in the minutes.

Beware! Unless you people shut up and begin acting like grown-ups with brains enough to understand the difference between political belief and personal faith, the Unitarian Jihad will begin a series of terrorist-like actions. We will take over television studios, kidnap so-called commentators and broadcast calm, well-reasoned discussions of the issues of the day. We will not try for "balance" by hiring fruitcakes; we will try for balance by hiring non-ideologues who have carefully thought through the issues.

We are Unitarian Jihad. We will appear in public places and require people to shake hands with each other. (Sister Hand Grenade of Love suggested that we institute a terror regime of mandatory hugging, but her motion was not formally introduced because of lack of a quorum.) We will require all lobbyists, spokesmen and campaign managers to dress like trout in public. Televangelists will be forced to take jobs as Xerox repair specialists. Demagogues of all stripes will be required to read Proust out loud in prisons.

We are Unitarian Jihad, and our motto is: "Sincerity is not enough." We have heard from enough sincere people to last a lifetime already. Just because you believe it's true doesn't make it true. Just because your motives are pure doesn't mean you are not doing harm. Get a dog, or comfort someone in a nursing home, or just feed the birds in the park. Play basketball. Lighten up. The world is not out to get you, except in the sense that the world is out to get everyone.

Brother Gatling Gun of Patience notes that he's pretty sure the world is out to get him because everyone laughs when he says he is a Unitarian. There were murmurs of assent around the room, and someone suggested that we buy some Congress members and really stick it to the Baptists. But this was deemed against Revolutionary Principles, and Brother Gatling Gun of Patience was remanded to the Sunday Flowers and Banners committee.

People of the United States! We are Unitarian Jihad! We can strike without warning. Pockets of reasonableness and harmony will appear as if from nowhere! Nice people will run the government again! There will be coffee and cookies in the Gandhi Room after the revolution.


Startling new underground group spreads lack of panic! Citizens declare themselves "relatively unafraid" of threats of undeclared rationality. People can still go to France, terrorist leader says.


I’m not Unitarian, or a citizen of the US, but this is the kind of jihad I could get behind…


Sister Howitzer of Looking at All Sides of the Question

Get your Unitarian Jihad Name here.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Getaway Plans

For a while now Sarah and I have been planning to go away for a minibreak later this month. Air travel is out however as Sarah feels she’ll be using up more than her fair share of eco-impact this year with their trip to Namibia.

We thought about Euro-star for a while, but to get decent connections in London, means a really early start from Manchester and more hassle than probably either of us need. Accordingly we’ve downscaled to just ‘getting away from it’ somewhere in the UK.

Somehow this has lured us into a false sense of security re the need for getting organised. It is after all a fine line between benefiting from late deals and leaving it so late that everywhere is booked up.

Thank goodness for the internet. Eventually we find somewhere that whilst not exactly what we were originally looking for, will hopefully suit as a base from which to explore.

At any rate, the bargain late deal price of only £29 per night per single room, leaves money in the budget for grand days and nights out.

We’re planning to spend time on Lindisfarne and visit the Baltic at Gateshead on the way home, but suggestions for other things to do in Northumbria or places to eat out of a night around Alnwick will be most welcome.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

L1z's Advice Shop

It appears that my recent comments about Mum’s broken leg and treatment have led innocent googlers to this blog by mistake.

I don’t know what results the following search was throwing up before they added the ‘exclude’ logic:

slightly twisting her ankle foot -bondage -cuffs -restraints

…and frankly I don’t want to.

The phrasing and terms people use to search with, continues to intrigue me. What was the person above after? Is it relevant that the ankle is female? Are they seeking advice specifically for a ‘slightly’ twisted ankle, rather than say a ‘moderately’ twisted one?

Whatever the exact nature of their search for knowledge, I fear my blog will have provided little wisdom.

Indeed the same could be said for 90% of the searches that lead people here.

I feel bad about this.

So…just in case they come is my attempt to try and provide some helpful info for some of the recent searchers that have graced these pages.

Let me start by tackling two of the most common searches:

Firsty, the buffet deal at the Nawaab in Levenshulme – look we only went once and it was frankly average, so my advice is to save your pennies and go to their proper restaurant on Rochdale Rd. But...if you value quantity over quality and you insist, and seeing as so many of you want a map, try here. Ok I’ll be even more helpful, as you head out of the city centre on the A6 (Stockport Road), it’s on your right and it looks like this:

Now, if you go, can you mention to the lovely proprietors that they need to get their own sodding website. Thanks.

Secondly, advice for all you people searching for Crazy Frog or Sweetie the Chick ringtones. Stop. Now. No really…STOP! Look they’re bloody annoying and are only going to make you come across as an advertiser’s wet-dream or one of the sheep from school too mindless to go out and chose an individual piece of music for themselves. Go on, be different, I dare you! Put something decent on your mobile – in years to come, when we’re all watching "I luv 2005" and laughing at the muppets who fell for this tacky, commercially motivated fad, you’ll thank me, I promise.

Right, now we’ve got those two out the way, I’ll move on to providing advice for some of the more specific searches that have led people this way:

  • "leftover roast potatoes" – do nothing, they’re lovely cold the next day with salad. You really don’t need a recipe you know.
  • custard powder (define) – well how can one really define this chemical miracle? It starts out pink in the tin, but turns yellow when you add liquid. No one knows why – life is like that sometimes. Move on.
  • making a motorised armchair – just don’t. It so sounds like a bad idea and the elderly relative that you have this in mind for probably has enough problems without you unwittingly creating a hydraulically powered ejector seat
  • latest kids newsagent's magazines in s.a. – it’s that one with a free thing-a-mee on the front. Trust me.
  • i was falling in love "80's so – so? so what?
  • malmaison i-pod – buddy if you left your iPod behind in a Malmaison hotel, then searching on the internet isn’t going to bring it back to you. I feel your pain bro, I really do, but I suggest a phone call to the reception desk might bear more fruit.
  • bagel cream cheese locks – ok you clearly need professional help and I’m not even going to try…
  • narcissim workplace – is it self-admiration or yellow flowers you’re after? Nodding in the breeze or nodding in self-appoval? To be honest the workplace probably isn’t the place for either.
  • gag reflex throat infection – next time: spit.
  • email with man popping out of screen – no idea which one you’re after, but it sounds a hoot, when you find it make sure you send it on to your entire address book now wontcha?
  • webcam cats "dartmoor" – get out more
  • clapper twats – I have no idea what this means, but I will be adopting it as a new insult
  • coping living and diying – (sic) I do understand how over ambitious home-improvement projects can lead one to ponder deeper, existential questions. Frankly I blame that Changing Rooms show. My advice: paint the room lavender; it’s very calming and then it all won’t seem so bad.
  • nearest place to see "bad santa" and the time it starts – From your house? OK, up the road half a mile, turn left, across the first set of lights and it’s on your right. Hurry – it starts in 5 mins.
  • wise words on motivation – you really have come to the wrong website I’m afraid.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Good News!

I love physiotherapists. Well more specifically I love the physio that my Mum saw today.

Apparently she was lovely and listened to the problem and understood. Then, in contrast to what the consultant had told Mum last week re there being no ‘lighter option after the boot’, she came up with two proprietary ankle strap affairs that are meant for just this problem whilst the ligaments heal.

She only had one to hand, in a slightly too small size, but even with that, Mum was able to put weight on the foot without it turning over completely and managed several ‘walks’ up and down the parallel bars (albeit with rests mid way).

Straps in Mum’s shoe size are now on order and hopefully will arrive soon.

This is such amazingly good news, better than I dared hope for. Mum feels that standing is no longer something she will never do again.

She’s happy. And so am I!

It’s so rare to get a bit of good news with Mum’s form of MS. I can’t tell you how made up I am.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Gardens, boots and curries

It’s a lovely sunny day, if rather windy, but I decide that I should take the chance to cut the grass and hack back some of the overgrown greenery in the garden (after all I’m sure John next door will appreciate it if his bathroom window isn’t completely suffocated by honeysuckle). It doesn’t take too long to get the main things done and I retire for a shower with a sense of achievement.

A long conversation with Mum however confirms that no such feelings of progress and achievement are happening for her. Since the ‘boot’ came off her leg on Thursday she has been unable to ‘stand’ on her left leg without the whole foot turning over. She’s in tears.

This is so frustrating, as we really hoped that once the break had mended enough to have the boot removed her mobility would be improved. Sadly the opposite it seems is true. It’s hard to see how the strength of the ligament etc can be improved if she can’t put any weight on it successfully. She has physiotherapy on Monday – maybe they will offer some hope.

The Consultant on Thursday raised the possibility of surgery, but those of you that know what happened last time, will understand why none of my family are keen to go down that route unless absolutely necessary.

Needless to say all this is putting yet further strain on Dad.

The whole situation just feels like it’s too much for me to handle. How selfish is that?

Phil and Sarah manage to cheer me up as we head out for a curry (we had considered Thai, but then figured we couldn’t afford it).

Of course a return to the Punjab provides the opportunity to laugh with Ahmed about their concerned call to Stuart.

I think he knew we were joking when we told him that the Radcliffes were being unfaithful and visiting a different curry house…

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Still in Hospital

Just about the only silver lining that I can see to Caroline still being incarcerated in hospital is that she is at least generally available anytime you want a chat. Small compensation I know.

I wish there were something I could do to speed her recovery, so she can get home. It’s just so frustrating when every promised step of progress seems to constantly get delayed. It looks like it will now be next Tuesday before the OT finally accompanies her to her flat to work out the practicalities of her being discharged from hospital.

Honestly sometimes you’d think they didn’t want her bed freed up!

Caroline reassures me that it certainly isn’t because she’s so lovely and pleasant that they don’t want to see her go. And given her history of NHS staff baiting, somehow I believe her!

Friday, April 08, 2005

Rusty Cogs

Well I managed to get through the week ok and seem to have fought the bug off successfully (being good and resisting the temptation of invites out, have probably helped).

Hopefully after a weekend of plenty of sleep and taking it easy, my brain will stop feeling like a rusty old steam engine.

Thursday, April 07, 2005


The sore throat and stuffed up head suggest I’m coming down with the bug that seems to be going around.

Time to reach for the Echinacea…

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

My favourite crap website of the week

Thanks to Dan for the link to Idiotica's twist on the Britney Spears lyric that leads you to "I'm addicted to you, but I know that you're Toksvig". Try pretending to be the real Sandi and follow the links...slightly disturbing.

Just one of the gems on Idiotica, good to see that The Onion has also in turn been spoofed in That Shallot and some people who read this blog (you know who you are!), should probably check out ebidotica.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

A night in

Sarah and Phil are struggling to find something to do for their wedding anniversary.

In the absence of a better idea they decide that tonight might be a good night to try out the pub quiz in a local pub with friends.

I’m kind of relieved however when Sarah calls back to say that apparently the quiz isn’t starting until 9.30pm so they’ve decided against.

So an early night – lovely.

Now if I could just sleep…

Monday, April 04, 2005

The Time Traveller's Wife

We have two new members at Book group tonight and they both seem lovely. It’s good to have new views and opinions represented.

We had all enjoyed reading Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Travellers Wife and it sparked a full hour and 1 half discussion. It’s a startlingly accomplished and original debut novel and I’d highly recommend it.

The basic premise of a relationship between a couple where one party has a genetic disorder that causes them to slip through time (sometimes for a few hours, sometimes a few days) is a clever device that allows a lot of other issues to be explored about life, relationships, connectedness, modern life, fate, free-will and so forth.

Perhaps it’s greatest strength is that it uses the time travel premise as a gentle backdrop, but it does not dominate the larger novel. If anything I would describe this book as an unashamed love story. That said, and not being a fan of your Mills and Boon style genre, it is extremely fresh and rarely cloying.

Inevitably the whole time-travel concept throws up contradictions and problems, which Niffenegger handles better than most. There are a few plot holes and unanswered questions that she ducks a little, but whilst for me these did jar the narrative slightly the recovery was swift.

The biggest issue it seemed to raise for us as a group was about free-will versus fate and the passivity of the ‘wife’. If you could know things about your future from visits from a future-self, or a partner’s future-self, would it be reassuring and something to accept and go along with, or would you fight against the idea that your life is already mapped out. Would you buy the house you ‘know’ you come to live in, would you automatically accept the relationship you ‘know’ you have?

I suspect our varying responses to that say an awful lot about us as individuals.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Where did the Weekend Go?

Sunday morning, doesn’t really happen and the afternoon is spent catching up on emails and phone calls.

To be honest, I could do with a night in (and my wallet certainly could!), but as ever I have no will-power and so when Phil rings suggesting we head to Dimitri’s, well…

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Hair, March, Shoes, Party...

The late night, last night was probably not a good idea given I have to be in town this morning to get my hair cut and coloured. As I close my eyes whilst Peter trims the fringe, I realise I’m in serious danger of mot opening them again.

I’m not the sort to enjoy pampering as such (heck I can’t even enjoy a soak in the bath without getting bored), but there’s something about being shut off from the world for a few hours with bits of foil on your head, that is strangely liberating.

It helps that both Peter and Sylvia (my colourist – yes it is important to make the distinction!) are excellent company and it’s more like dropping in on good friends and catching up on each others news.

Once I’ve been suitably trimmed and dyed (heck you didn’t think this read was natural did you!?), I head down Cross Street towards the main shops. Halfway I met by a march which as it draws near I realise is the pro-Asylum event. Sure enough at the tail end I find P and S and so join up with them for the remainder of the walk to Albert Square. I do feel somewhat guilty however that whereas they’ve marched from Cheetham Hill, I’ve just tagged on for the last few hundred yards.

We’re met in Albert Square by two other sets of marchers who have started out from the south and the east and its encouraging seeing the number of people that have turned out (including Brides Without Borders if you’re wondering about the outfits in the photo).

We sit on the steps and munch our lunch, before Sarah and I leave Phil to complete his stewarding duties whilst we set off to the shops.

We both need shoes (well doesn’t a girl always?), so we agree to go shoe shopping together. Not withstanding the semi-ironic visits to the occasional chick-flick this is probably the most ‘girlie’ thing Sarah and I have ever done together.

S points out however, that given we are both looking for hardwearing, comfortable shoes for work, another interpretation could be applied to us…

The shops are hellishly busy and S in particular is thwarted by shoes that look great but don’t fit or that are out of stock in her size. Once P is finished with his duties she throws in the towel and heads for home. Not having the flexibility of mid-week shopping I have to stick with it. I’m blaming the departure of my friend/conscience for the fact I came away with a total of 3 pairs…

On financial grounds I decide therefore to avoid further temptation in clothes shops, which leaves me just enough time to get a present for tonight before heading home exhausted.

I just about have enough time to change and wrap the present before Karen and Stuart call round to pick me up.

And so on to M and L’s Silver Anniversary Party up in Turton. Hard to believe I know anyone that’s been married that long – I’m in awe!

It’s a great do, with the whole of the Rose and Crown given over to the party. I’m also delighted to see numerous Greenbelt friends have also made it, from as far away as Lowestoft.

A fab night, made all the more amusing by the realisation that Stuart and Karen’s Hannah, has at the age of 11 discovered sarcasm: “you were my ‘Aunty L1z who I love lots and lots’, but you might be becoming my ‘Aunty L1z’”. The odds on her making 12, reduce significantly as the night wears on!

Friday, April 01, 2005

Climbing the Walls

As I wait for Jo to start our girlie night out I notice this hidden gem climbing up the walls of a building on Chorlton Street. I like finding little surprises like this in the city.

Jo and I kick off our girlie night by joining P and friends for a few drinks to celebrate his 40th. Something I say misleads P in to thinking we are the same age. I retort “errr no, you’re 7 years out” and in all seriousness he replies “oh right, are you 47 then?”.

I mean I know it’s been a long week, but… You can go off people you know.

The conversation moves on and we indulge the birthday boy as he holds forth on his favourite subject, The Labour Party. He’s blind in his devotion to the party and fervently proselytises on its behalf at every opportunity. His only misgiving (and it takes several rounds for him to crack and confess he has any) is that as an atheist he detests all things religious and thinks Labour loses its path when it gets into bed with “those religious nuts”.

His despising of the religiously fanatic, is somewhat ironic however given he’s worse in his way then any bible basher I’ve ever met. Seriously in the 4 years that I’ve known him I’ve yet to have a single conversation when he doesn’t bring up the Labour Party. Of course such earnest devotion only inspires me to take the piss a little and in this case, point out the irony of his position. This culminates with the sentence “But P mate, you may be an atheist, but in your own way you’re just as bad as those mad bible-basher types. Basically you’re the conservative-evangelical fundamentalist of the socialist world”.

Given that I’m several drinks in, I’m quite impressed that I even managed a sentence like that. As it turns out, so is a complete stranger at the bar, who turns around laughing and insists I repeat it to her male companion. I suppose it’s one way to make new friends.

In due course Jo and I move on and after a lovely meal in Eden we head on to Baa Bar and Via Fossa.

So much for my planned ‘early night’.