Thursday, March 31, 2005


My neighbour calls round this evening to invite me to his birthday drinks tomorrow night.

P doesn’t need any excuse to bang the Labour drum and of course the brewing election provides plenty of ammunition.

We’ve had numerous vigourous arguments over Iraq and how my faith in Blair has been fundamentally knocked as a result, but we can at least unite over our hatred of these bloody posters.

I show P the photo I took the other day of the ‘revised’ version. He’s similarly amused.

It can be very hard to disapprove of vandalism in such cases…

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Still Not Thinking What You're Thinking

Well it didn’t last long.

We now have this delightful new addition plastered over the top.

At face value it appears that this is a wholesale rejection of the whole concept of ‘early release’ by the Tories. I’m sure they’ve thought through the implications for the prison service and beyond of taking away any meaningful incentive for good behaviour and rehabilitation…

I’m probably just being cynical of course they’ve thought it through properly.

I mean they did enough thinking to include a lovely chauvinistic subtext in the sentence.

I’m becoming increasingly suspicious that a certain Mr Blair might in due course be found out to be a major funder of this ubiquitous poster campaign. Frankly that’s a more preferable option to thinking that these posters are making a significant number of people respond “hmmm yes, that is what I’m thinking!”

Monday, March 28, 2005

Out in the Peaks

It’s sort of so-so weather as Phil, Sarah and I head out to the Peak District, but fortunately keeps dry for our walks.

First off we stop at Parsley Hey and walk along the old quarry railway line towards Hartington.

My dodgy foot is holding up well so we decide to head home via Lady Bower reservoir for another short walk.

It’s so good to get out and catch some fresh air that the time rather gets away from us. Consequently I text Debs to put back our meeting time for a curry tonight.

She texts back saying she’s had a really bad week with several bits of bad news. Once home I ring her to find out what’s up and I find her tearful. She so deserves a break, but it’s not happening right now.

We decide to settle for a long phone chat and reschedule meeting up.

It must be all that fresh air, but my heavy eyelids suggest this is no bad thing.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Easter Fire

Maybe it was finishing up those bottles of wine last night, or maybe it was the loss of the hour, but either way, somehow I don’t quite make it to Sarah’s greeting Easter service in the park opposite her church at 6am.

Fortunately her parishioners are more motivated and 27 turn up for what might now become an annual affair. Sarah is delighted at the turn-out, even though it means she and her colleagues are somewhat zombie like for the 10.30am service and she only lasts until mid-afternoon before having to give in to sleep.

Phil is also delighted with the dawn-break events, but his pleasure is derived principally from the spectacular flames he achieved through a careful match to the chopped up church Christmas tree used to create the Easter fire from which the Easter candles were lit.

In fact he is so animated as he relates his tale of pyromania that I’m slightly nervous leaving him in the lounge with lit candles whilst I prepare tea. Tonight we have smoked salmon and palm hearts in a lemon vinaigrette, followed by veggie and preserved lemon tagine with couscous (hey if ain’t broke…) and finished off with the remaining half of the cheesecake.

Right…that’s me done with the whole cooking/entertaining thing some time I reckon.

Normal service will now be resumed.

Saturday, March 26, 2005


A nice quiet day today; outside of driving Sarah to and from B&Q (more anti-vandal paint to try and keep the local scallies from climbing into their and their neighbours gardens) I have the day to myself.

I plough through a backlog of emails and get close to getting up to date on Greenbelt actions.

Phil and Sarah, had planned to come round tonight to catch Dr Who. Sadly Sarah is just too tired, but being a nice friend I video it for my sci-fi tellyless freaks…I mean friends.

I settle in for a cosy night of plonk and DVDs. It’s a really good feeling to be on the second day off and still have two more days ahead before a return to work.

I reckon we should have more of these four day weekends.

Friday, March 25, 2005

A Good Friday

Custard powder safely procured, the cheesecake doesn’t turn out too bad, leaving the rest of the afternoon to tidy the house and get the starters and mains sorted.

Plenty of time eh? You’d think…

Fortunately Stuart and Karen are a few minutes late (I approve of friends like this) so it just about comes together in time.

There’s an air of Ready, Steady, Cook to the proceedings due to the unplanned shopping (“what can L1z make out of the following ingredients?”), but it seems to work out ok.

To start I do a made up recipe of chorizo, red onion and cherry tomatoes sautéed in red wine, served on char-grilled polenta on a bed of rocket (damn fine if I say so myself – I’ll be doing this one again!). Main course is chicken, almond and apricot tagine (with assorted random veg) served with couscous. All finished off with the cheesecake.

Not bad. Not quite Nigella, but it’ll do.

The effort seems worthwhile though – a really lovely night. Good wine and fabulous company; so relaxed and lot’s of laughter. I’m so glad Stuart and Karen moved to Manchester. I vote we don’t let them leave.

Thursday, March 24, 2005


I’m supposed to be cooking for various friends over the long weekend. I meant to work out menus and hence a shopping list last night, but only got as far as fishing out my mum’s baked cheesecake recipe.

Even this however, I managed to leave at home.

I busk the shopping, making up recipes in my head as I wander from aisle to aisle. Something is nagging at me though, I know there’s a slightly ‘odd’ ingredient in the cheesecake, but can’t remember for the life of me what it is.

Fortunately my mum is very understanding about the mid-Tesco’s phone call querying “What’s the unexpected ingredient in your baked cheesecake recipe, that I won’t have in my cupboard?”.

Luckily she’s also on my wavelength and knows the answer: custard powder.

Unluckily, she has a daughter who is easily distracted mid-search: “oooh look Chorizo on special offer!”

So that’ll be a trip to Asda for the custard powder tomorrow morning then…

Wednesday, March 23, 2005


Fairly regularly someone will ask me why I have chosen, for the last 11 years, to live in one of Manchester’s roughest areas. The honest answer is exceedingly dull and can kind of be summarised by saying that I think that where you chose to live is one of the most political actions you probably ever make in life.

That said, all the good intentions in the world probably aren’t going to make that decision sustainable in the long term if you don’t also love the area.

Often therefore, if I don’t want to go into a long and tedious social justice related explanation as to why I favor my little corner of this city, I’ll simply reply, “because here I like my neighbours”.

Of course even that half-answer needs a lot of unpacking. On one level it’s about my immediate neighbours and the communal aspects of life on our close (united in adversity as one neighbour once put it). On another level it’s about the wider neighbourhood, the diversity of the population, the spirit and character of the place and people – its personality.

It’s hard to define all that in words – where would one start or end? One aspect is that it has a subversive underside. This is a neighbourhood that blocks off roads with child-decorated wheely bins, until the council relents and commits to thought-out traffic calming. It’s an area where age-old graffiti stating “Love And Peace Is What We Need” (sentiment taking precedence over grammar), battles with gang tags and where some wag once daubed “Free Ian Brown!” (who returned the compliment by naming one of his recent songs M13). Here green guerrillas plant trees on brown field sites in a bid to protect open space from inappropriate development and car adverts regularly survive less than a week before the local band of adbusters subverts them.

Tonight I catch sight of a new example. In fact, in future, when people ask me why I live here, I may simply answer “because when someone puts up a divisive, negative electioneering, fear-mongering turd of a billboard in this neighbourhood, this is what happens:

And in answer to the adverts tagline question: No, Mr Howard; I’m glad to say that on the whole round here, people aren’t thinking what you and your odious little chums are.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

World Water Day

It’s World Water Day today and WaterAid are running a scheme encouraging people to give an hour of their wages to save a life.

For just £15 you can fund a WaterAid project that will help some of the world’s poorest people establish lasting supplies of clean water and sanitation.

Go on, be a hero, click here and do your bit.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Escape to the countryside

My last full day down south and following a trip to my opticians (yeah, yeah, I know it’s about time I found one in Manchester, I’ve only been there 16 years!), we head for a quiet day out.

In my parent’s world this translates to a drive out to the country and a trip to a garden centre.

In contrast to myself, my parent’s have never been city lovers. Born in East London they moved to the southern suburbs after marriage, but work commitments never allowed them to escape fully. They would rarely go into central London through choice, seldom taking advantage of the cultural delights on offer in the big metropolis. Rather at every opportunity they would head out of the big smoke and were both keen hill and mountain walkers in their time.

It was always understood that they would retire to one of the places they loved – probably the west-country, returning to my Dad’s maternal family homeland. The MS has put pay to that though, they need their friends and established support networks around them more than ever. Accordingly they settle with trips out as often as Mum can cope with.

This is not the retirement that either of them hoped for; worked so hard for. The sadness is tangible.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

In Need of a Break

Mum’s leg is out of a cast, but is now in an amazing boot affair, that stretches up to her knee, is fastened with numerous velcro straps and then inflated.

Needless to say this is not making her mobility any easier, but having seen the X-rays of her impressively broken fibula I can see the need for protection/support.

Generally she would try and get around the house (they live fully downstairs now) with the use of a wheeled frame. Although this is a slow and tortuous means of getting around (we’re talking 20 minutes to move from one room to another – and no they don’t live in a super-large house before you ask!), it does mean she uses her muscles as much as possible and maintains a small degree of independence. Sadly at the moment, getting up from even the motorised armchair is difficult and frequently impossible unaided and any ‘walking’ is only possible with a static frame and more times than not she has to resort to being pushed in a wheelchair.

She’s naturally worried about how much ability will return when the boot is eventually removed (at least another few weeks yet).

All I can do is let her cry on my shoulder and encourage her to do the exercises the physio has recommended.

It feels so crap to not be able to do more. MS is a shitty, shitty condition and it kills me to see my mum suffer so much.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Daarrn Sarrf

I’m down in London for a long weekend to see the folks. I usually favour the train on environmental grounds, but the journey times and prices are just prohibitive for this trip, so against my green conscience I elect to fly with Jet2, the new budget service running between Manchester and Gatwick.

It’s a bit of a contrast to the BA shuttle that I’ve used in the past. There are only 3 flights a day so the times aren’t always the best and with no self-service check-in facilities, and out of the way check-in desks and departure gates mean you need to allow more time either end. Then again, at these prices (from £30 return incl taxes) it would be foolish to grumble. OK you don’t get a snack and a freebie drink, but then on an hour flight that’s not really a hardship (and let’s face it swiping a freebie Smirnoff miniature feels good, but…).

Happily my brother and his family have also come across for the afternoon, so I also get to catch up with them.

I didn’t think large Easter Eggs for the kids would survive the journey particularly well, so I opted for smaller eggs to use for an Easter Egg hunt, which went down a storm.

Once all the eggs were found, ‘Aunty L1z’ got dragged outside by J and R to play football.

Well I say football…4 year old J (complete in England replica kit and announcements that he is Michael Owen) seems to have an interesting approach to the game. Let’s say he has an eclectic approach to sport, happily accommodating aspects of netball (picking up the ball and moving it across for a better shooting angle) and rugby (about to be tackled? Simply throw yourself on top of the ball) as needed.

It’s no surprise that his older sister, feels the need to approach Granddad for a whistle and yellow and red post-it notes to be used as cards. In contrast to her younger sibling, she’s one of life’s natural referees, with a tendency to get a bit hung up on things being done 'right'.

Still when the referee/goal keeper is only 6 years old and the defender only 4, it’s very easy to sweep up a giggling monster under each arm and score at least one goal yourself.

Not that they seem to mind, any opportunity to be swung around or turned upside down is unfailingly met with great enthusiasm. Why is it that kids love being dangled upside down so much? When do we lose that desire?

Friday, March 18, 2005


A text from the witty Sarah S reads:

"They appear to be letting horses run all over our lovely Greenbelt campsite. Surely this must be some sort of health risk?"
I can only reply to reassure her that any germs left behind from the great unwashed in August will almost certainly have perished by now and therefore the lovely horsies are quite safe.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Homeland Security

Inspired by Jude, the current US Terror Alert level is:

Terror Alert Level

Click the image to see the other options...

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Conference Call

More Greenbelt tonight as we have the second of our Ops Managers/Festival Manager/Programme Manager telephone conferences.

At the risk of sounding like Sally’s blog, can I record that Cullen was less than 10 minutes late.

An hour seems to whiz by as we pour over the latest site plans, programme, staff issues and so forth.

It’s all good stuff, though I’m coming to regret my comment to Ben last night re “it feels like we’re further down the line re knowing what sort of venues we have this year”. As ever there is much flux.

Of course the minute I put the phone down I remember that I needed to speak to Sarah re the VM/Planning Group issue. Ah well that’s probably better in a one to one call anyway.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

The calling

A night of Greenbelt phone calls tonight as the realisation that it’s now March starts to kick in big time.

As ever it’s a question of people catching up with each other as and when time allows. One phone call is with Dave E at the end of his three-hour commute home from work (madness!) and another with Ben takes place in stages between acts as he’s duty managing a gig in York.

As ever it’s hard to stick strictly to Greenbelt business when you get to catch up with people from across the country. If only we all lived in a Greenbelt town and could see each other more regularly...actually scrap that idea, it sounds hellish!

I guess we need to settle for infrequent meetings, rushed emails and occasional phone calls to keep this strange pseudo-community together.

Some how it works. Though I’m not entirely sure how, as we struggle to find a Saturday in June or July that both Ben and Pete can make for a joint Venue Managers and Planning Group meeting on site.

Ben suggests the solution will be found in the answer to “well which one of us do you need most L1z?”, but alas the honest answer of “both of you!” is no help at all. Perhaps I need to get like Solomon and cut them in two or something…

Time for bed…

Sunday, March 13, 2005

What lurks beneath...

As I arrive at Phil and Sarah’s, they are in the process of refilling the fridge-freezer that has been scrubbed within an inch of its life. They’re the first to admit that the defrosting and cleaning was well overdue and the cleaning cloths and the ice-block of titanic-sinking proportions that lie in the sink bear witness.

The tales of what was found ‘growing’ in the broken seals did nothing to improve my appetite, but even that was as nothing to the sight of four wet, slimy, black slug-like items siting on a plate on the working surface.

My first guess was that these were rancid prunes that had been found down the back of the salad drawer, but I’m far from the truth. These, it transpires, are what remains of the Army and Navy tablets that Sarah and I bought for Phil in Hawes at New Year.

Even in their prime (see above) these tablets are possibly one of the grossest inventions known to humankind (think Fisherman’s Friends and multiple by 1000). Trust me however when I say that being left in a coat pocket until they go slimy and stick to their paper bag, followed by being stuck in the freezer for a few months and then removed and washed in hot water, does nothing to improve them.

Of course the question I wish I hadn’t asked was “but why are they now on a plate?”. Phil answered by simply popping one of the slugs in his mouth.

The fact that I managed to eat the tea they had prepared, after this incident, is no small testament to my ability to be a polite guest.

After tea, Sarah and I head off to see Hitch at the cinema. Phil scorns us for paying to see such Hollywood commercial nonsense, but hey, like I’m taking any notice of his views on matters right now!

It’s a watchable enough film; light and enjoyable. If you fancy a bit of good old Holywood feel-good fluff, you could do a lot worse than this.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

The Duke Spirit/Mercury Rev

Usually I’d ring a venue to find out support details and timings before heading out for a gig, but not having had the time to do the research, Phil and I take a chance and arrive at the Academy a little after 8pm. It came as a complete surprise and unexpected bonus therefore, to discover that the second support, who had just started, were the very wonderful The Duke Spirit.

Their set doesn’t disappoint either. Very tight musically and they seem to be winning over a good section of the crowd (which is the most any support act can hope for).

Of course the whole role of the support act is a tricky matter, but having gained the audiences attention, a little more interaction would have been well placed. As it was the personality of the band relies heavily on the capable shoulders of the lead singer, but a little more charisma from some of the guys, to match their musical talent wouldn’t go amiss.

Those reservations not-withstanding though, their set is cracking and I’m immensely glad we decided to take a punt and come in time to catch the second support.

Phil, sums up his impression of them thus “well I like anyone who favours the Caslon font setting…”.

And so on to Mercury Rev, whose use of the backdrop projection is a little more adventurous. In common with the music, it does very occasionally have you starting to wonder if it’s all just “artsy bollocks”, but no sooner has that doubt strayed into even the outer reaches of your mind then you’re caught up in yet another moment of transcendent beauty, so passionate and piercing in its intensity that all can be forgiven.

This is music that transports you to another world, an exquisite world of dreams and magnificent journeys.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a singer inhabit their lyrics as much as Jonathan Donahue, every word delivered with immense care and meaning. And what a voice! One can forgive the occasional over-the-top theatrics and the out-sized cuffs and collars, for a voice that soars like his. The man is poetry.

It’s a long time since I’ve been to a gig, where the music captured me so completely.

By the time they bring the encore to a close (and Donahue in particular is a man who knows how to earn, take and enjoy applause), I’m reluctant to leave this world that we’ve all escaped to for the last hour and three-quarters.

We leave happy – reminded as to why Mercury Rev albums (Deserter’s Songs in particular) are always up there on our iPod lists of ‘most played’.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005


I spent much of today with a scale rule and a calculator staring at blown up prints trying to assess lines of scud, black slime and green lichen to try and determine a filling level on some old tanks

Oh the glamour...

Monday, March 07, 2005

Sexing the Cherry

At Book Group tonight we discuss Sexing the Cherry by Jeanette Winterson.

It’s a book I like a lot and this is my second time of reading. The first time around was many years back and other than the lasting impression of the Dog Woman, the details had faded a little.

Parts of it are so heavy it could drag a reader down and some elements so light they lift you up.

Concepts of heavy and light are central to Sexing the Cherry, but they’re not the only topics explored and it’s perhaps in the confusion of competing themes and discussions that the book’s weakness lies.

Having read the book in a hurry, I don’t feel I’m done justice to what Winterson is trying to say about the nature (or otherwise) of time and the way matter is actually largely points of energy with space in between.

I do like what she seems to be trying to say in all this about competing notions being able to be held simultaneously; multiple truths, in tension.

In the Flat Earth Theory Winterson writes:

“The earth is round and flat at the same time. This is obvious. That it is round appears indisputable; that it is flat is our common experience, also indisputable.”

Her theory goes on to consider how maps are magic:

“In the bottom corner are whales; at the top, cormorants carrying pop-eyed fish. In between is a subjective account of the lie of the land. Rough shapes of countries that may or may not exist, broken red lines marking paths that are at best hazardous, at worst already gone.

“A map can tell me how to find a place I have not seen but have often imagined. When I get there, following the map faithfully, the place is not the place of my imagination. Maps, growing ever more real, are much less true.

“And now, swarming over the earth with our tiny insect bodies and building houses, it seems that all the journeys are done. Not so. Fold up the maps and put away the globe. If someone else had charted it, let them. Start another drawing with whales at the bottom and cormorants at the top, and in between identify, if you can, the places you have not found yet on those other maps, the connections obvious only to you. Round and flat, only very little has been discovered"

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Duke's Canal

Lunch today with Debs at Dukes 92 (named after the adjacent Duke's Lock - the 92nd lock on the Rochdale Canal at the point it meets the Bridgewater Canal) is fun. It’s cool getting to know a new friend (we met through Book Group and this is our first get together outside of that).

Debs refers to it in texts as our ‘first date’ and points out that she doesn’t put out until at least a second date (best to be up front about these matters eh?).

After a light lunch we decide that the weather (cold, but startling blue skies and piercing sunlight) is perfect for a walk along the canals. The plan is to walk to the far end of the tow path at Canal Street, have a drink in one of the bars and then head back to the car at Castlefield. Sadly, long before we reach our destination, we are forced up onto the streets as British Waterways have closed the tow path for construction work. It also means that several lengths between locks are drained right down and the pleasant waterside vista has been reduced to exposed silt and (thankfully not too much) debris.

Emerging back up to street level you realise how the sunken world of the canals passes under the hustle and bustle of city life. We decide to compensate for the loss of peace and quiet by switching route and admiring some of the amazing architecture as we pass. We swap tales of buildings we’ve been inside as we pass by. How the Palace Hotel converted the stunning old Assurance Building sympathetically, whereas Malmaison seems to have imposed it’s modernism on its warehouse origins so much more brutally.

We stop for a drink at Space before heading back, cold, but happy.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Gorton Market

Phil and Sarah are back tomorrow after a week’s break in Bruge (very cold, not much to do and all closed by 9pm apparently), so I decide to finish off my week of house checking by getting them some food in for when they return.

They regularly rave about the proper bagels that are to be had from Gorton Market at the weekend. Apparently one of the bread-sellers, goes up to the Jewish Bakery and brings back various goodies. Accordingly I figure that some fresh bagels, cream cheese and smoked salmon, will make a suitable welcome home gesture.

Unfortunately I get caught up by a couple of phone calls and by the time I make it over to the market, I search and search and there’s not a bagel to be had.

Then again the trip to the Co-op on the market site doesn’t turn up any salmon or cream cheese either so the whole concept is best abandoned.

The Co-op is due to close in about a week or two’s time after a slow and steady decline. It’s a real shame as it’s one of the best sources of fairly traded goods in the area.

The imminent closure means that the shelves are even emptier than usual. On the brighter side there is an increasing range of goods reduced to clear.

So unfortunately for them, P&S end up with simple bread and milk basics, whereas I more fortuitously come away with a half case of Fair Trade wine at knock down prices.

Yes, yes, I know I should be on a budget, but it was reduced you know…

Friday, March 04, 2005

Cash flown

I stop at the cash point to withdraw some money for the weekend on the way home.

When I read the balance on the receipt slip, my first and violent reaction is “oh f***! I haven’t been paid!”.

More worryingly still, on checking the recent transactions I work out that “double f*** - I have been paid”.

Youch! That’ll be the credit card payment going out for the car insurance, service, MOT, new brakes etc then.

OK time to rethink the weekend (month?).

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Questions continued...

And five for the lovely Steve L:

  1. Where did you get that coat from (and are you sure no animals were harmed in the making thereof)?
  2. Is blogging all about narcissism and if so what makes you think it’s of the benign variety?
  3. The UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights, seems to have the basics covered, but there’s always space for one more – go for your life!
  4. Appearance wise you are clearly the bastard love child of Geddy Lee (the hair, the facial fluff) and David Beckham (the nail varnish, the sarongs), but to whom do you owe credit for your emotional, political and intellectual pedigrees?
  5. You can select a super-human power for the day – choose well my friend, choose well!

Questions for Jude and Steve

Writing questions is possibly even harder that writing answers, but here goes with the first two:

Questions for Jude (I've tried to be gentle!):
  1. Why do you blog?
  2. Who has had the biggest influence on your life?
  3. Describe the perfect sandwich
  4. Tell us about your most embarrassing work moment*
  5. If you had a crest of arms, what would be on it and what would the motto be?

*I feel I need to point out that Steve F had a hand in this question. He felt sure you’d have some good stories to choose from…make of that what you will!

And for Steve F (who has volunteered by phone):
  1. If you could only keep one technological advancement from the past 10 years, which would it be and why?
  2. What is the biggest misconception you fear people have about you?
  3. If you had to lose all your five senses bar one, which would you want to keep?
  4. What did the last text message you sent say?
  5. What do you think your life will be like in 20 years time?
Answers on your blogs please!

And see Steve, I resisted asking why you have so much Cliff Richard and Amy Grant on your iPod.

Mainly because there is no good answer to that one…

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Chain Queries

OK so this is how it works, Kathryn devised these 5 questions for me to answer on my blog (I had asked her to be gentle but...) and I in turn will pose 5 questions for the first 5 people who volunteer in the comments here.

These volunteers then provide answers on their respective blogs to the bespoke questions I'll pose for them each here. They also ask for 5 volunteers... and so it goes on...

1. Tell us your favourite old film for a wet Sunday afternoon.

I don't think I can narrow it down to just one, but to cheer myself up I'd go for one of the following DVDs:

    • 24 Hour Party People (it's the Manchester I
      fell in love with!),
    • Human Traffic (to regain the Saturday night vibe),
    • Dogma (an alternative church experience?),
    • Moulin Rouge (so sumptuous, who would care what the weather outside was like),
      The Royal Tenenbaums (I love its strangeness),
    • Being John Malkovich (well it's one way of escaping to someone else's reality I guess),
I could go on forever, but I've already stretched the original question more than is fair, so let's leave it there.

2. If you were not involved in your present career, what would you choose to do with your time? (aside from the inevitable "voluntary" full-time commitment to a certain Festival of our acquaintance)

Well quite possibly something to do with events and festivals in a more professional capacity.

Outside of that though, I guess I'd look for something that allowed me to exercise my creativity and brain in combination with working with people and making the world a better place in some small way. Maybe if I had the talent I could be a writer for half the time (and hopefully pay the bills) and then spend the rest of my time doing voluntary work in urban regeneration efforts or something to do with asylum.

But let's face it, if I could really think of a viable/more preferable option, I'd hardly still be following this glittering career path now would I?

3. Your house is on fire. What one thing do you save, and why?

I always loved Ricky Gervais' answer to this question: "one of the twins".

I can't match his wit however, so I'll go with the honest answer, which is my heart says "my iPod", but my head says "imagine the absolute nightmare that would ensue if you lost all your Greenbelt files!".

As a means to both ends therefore, can I go for my computer hard-drive? That way I'd have a back-up of my music collection, so a replacement iPod could be uploaded with ease and I'd have 95% of the Greenbelt stuff I'd need. Not to mention loads of contact details for people, photos, videos and so forth. Let's face it an awful lot of the things that matter to me, either through their beauty or usefulness, are now stored electronically!

That sounds terribly unsentimental doesn't it? I guess I'm not the sort to have little treasures and invest memories in physical objects (and one learns not to get too attached to material possessions in my neighbourhood). Then again I did manage to get this far before the booming voice of practicality broke in with "grab your insurance documentation fool!", so I guess there’s hope for me yet.

4. If you could spend a day with one person from the past, who would it be and why?

I really had trouble answering this, I don't really have heroes in the same way some people seem to.

I think therefore that I'll plump for my maternal grandfather as opposed to anyone famous. He died before I was born, but my Mum clearly adored him and always says he would have loved teasing me mercilessly.

By all accounts he sounds like a kind, gentle and intensely homourous man who was devoted to his family. I grew up knowing him through mum's reminiscences and a large black and white photo that sat on a small windowsill in the living room. He wears one of those smiles that goes right to the eyes. I wish I had known him, I think we'd have gotten on.

5. What makes you believe in God, on a good day?

I suppose (on a good day), I see God reflected all around me. I see the fingerprint of a creator in people and situations all the time, I don't really know how to explain it. It can be found as much in the broken person as in the (seemingly) whole, as easily whilst drinking a beer outside a bar as away from it all up in the hills. I don't know how to explain it properly - little glimpses of some sort of 'otherness'. Mostly I guess it manifests as a sense of something else around and within me, which I tend to put down to the presence of God's spirit, but it could equally well be a form of mild indigestion I guess ;-)

Oh dear, they're really not very exciting answers are they? I'm sorry Kathryn, I don't think I've done your questions justice.