Monday, February 27, 2006


I seem to be collecting part written blog posts that I never finish. There’s just too much on right now to have time to blog properly.

To all those who have berated me for my irregularity, I apologise, I will try better.

Besides there was not much interesting to report – another migraine claimed the lion’s share of the weekend.

Part of the reason for all the busy-ness (and part of the migraine inducing stress no doubt) is that preparations for festival season are gathering pace fast. Emails upon emails, changes being made, decisions required, phone calls to make, meetings to be held.

Tonight Stuart and I were planning to meet up with Martin (the Shorter) and Pete at Martin’s place to discuss site layout issues, traffic plans and campsite policies.

Sadly Stuart has foolishly decided to fall for my usual Achilles Heel and have a migraine. Poor lamb, he has my sympathy (well assuming that the ‘man flu’ thing isn’t at play here and ‘a bit of a bad headache’ isn’t being compared to ‘someone drilling through my eye with a pneumatic drill, whilst wapping my brain against the inside of my skull and forcing me to comit stomach bile every 15 minutes for 7 hours’…).

Seriously though he sounds right poorly and wisely heads for a darkened room, leaving me to navigate the outer reaches of Bolton on my own.

After a lovely meal (as ever) in the wonderful Rose and Crown, we head back to M’s and pour over plans, policies and unfortunately, politics.

The former issues get run through easy enough, with decisions made, things are shaping up really well; it’s the people-problems side of things that stress me out.

This year there is more than usual, changes, politics, personality clashes, sensitivities, personal difficulties and more. The strain is showing and M and I share our deep worries.

As M puts it, things are creaking. Badly in places. And the sheer un-necessariness of much of it really stretches my patience.

I really don’t know that I have the emotional energy for this.

Friday, February 24, 2006


Tracey Emin in The Independent today, reflects on her week in a health retreat, detoxing with a good friend:

“I sat down opposite my friend Amanda Love – (no really that’s her name, and it gets worse: her middle name is Gaye – she wasn’t born Love, she married into Love) – and said to her very earnestly: “I know why I have been unhappy most of my life.”

She took a deep compassionate breath, lifted her brow and said “Why?”

“Because I don’t eat enough fruit.”

She looked at me in stunned silence at the simplicity behind my reasoning, and banged her head against the desk in dismay. With that we started to laugh. I was curled up on the floor, tears running down my face, screaming: “See! See! What did we have for breakfast this morning!”

All she had to do was say the word “mango” and it all started over again, a 20-minute giggling fit – not bad for two women in their forties! It’s fantastic to let yourself go and not hold back. Laughing must be one of the best things in the whole world. And I swear to God, the tears came from somewhere else!
I love this description of ‘girlie giggling’.

Plans are afoot for a weekend break for me and some of my very favourite giggling compadres. I predict much chocolate, much shopping, much drinking and much giggling. The sort of giggling that heals the soul.

More of you boys really ought to get down with the giggling thing.

It’s cheaper than therapy.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Manchester, England

Head still not right this morning, but I struggle into work (late admittedly).

As the day goes on my head clears and I just about feel well enough to pop into Book Group after work (on the promise to myself that I don’t stay late).

This week’s book was Manchester, England by Dave Haslam.

A fantastic read. So much of it chimes with my Manchester experience – it’s like someone has written a diary for you.

From Industrial revolution to post-Madchester regeneration, if you want to understand what makes this pop-cult city tick, then this is the book for you. If you want to understand the working class, ordinary folk, grass roots, creative push that drives this city you could do no better. It’s pleasingly so much more than the Hacienda years.

Some of the writing is a bit haphazard (a bit better editing would have helped), but it’s immensely readable and well just so Manc.

I share the author’s passion for the city. Maybe it takes outsiders like us who adopt this place, to be able to compare and contrast and see it for the gem it is?

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Where's my head at?

I was sensible last night, I didn’t drink and rather than join the post-pub frivolities back at T’s, I went home to bed.

So why oh why did I wake up this morning with an exploding migraine?

It’s like it’s been welling up since Friday and now ‘boom’.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


All of yesterday and again this morning a distinct, background throb was once again detectable in my head. For the second day running, work felt like wading through treacle as my brain failed to respond to any encouragement to wake up from its foggy malaise.

By lunchtime fortunately things started to improve and by the evening my head was clear and I felt happy to take up Stuart’s offer of a night in the pub watching the footie.

The result was depressing, but the entertaining company more than made up for this.

Included in the rag bag party was prospective bridgegroom T, his best mate and prospective best man D (up visiting from London) and T’s mother.

Inevitably the conversation got onto "so you two have known each other since childhood" territory, which combined with the future prospect of wedding speeches led only to one place: D telling us embarrassing tales about T.

Which is fine as it goes, but no sooner had he completed the first tale (involving a holiday to Greece, a Polish girl and a bridge) with the immortal punchline involving a BJ, the party fell silent. Nervous looks were exchanged. A full five seconds later, the penny drops for D. "OMG your Mum’s here!".

Which just goes to show, sometimes embarrassing tales have unlikely victims.

I haven’t laughed so much in a long while.

Sunday, February 19, 2006


I appear at last to be emerging from a 2 day long migraine.

It started late Friday afternoon at work and hasn’t left off until now.

Not a horrendous one as they go, but it just wouldn’t stop.

What happened to my weekend?

Wednesday, February 15, 2006


A difficult phone call. How do you explain why you feel a certain way when you don’t fully understand yourself?

All I know is that, now gained, I’m a little reluctant to give up this ‘space’. Reluctant to open up again to the uncertainty.

Slowly maybe.


Monday, February 13, 2006

Monday in London

In a happy bit of coincidence it’s half term this week and so my sister-in-law had already planned to bring my niece and nephew over to see Nana and Grandad.

They’re good value for money – very entertaining!

Late afternoon, I pack my bags and head All Hallows on the Wall for a Greenbelt Management Group meeting.

With everything that’s been going on I haven’t been to the last few, so there’s lots to catch up on.

And then it’s the late night train home.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

London Weekend

It’s so good to see Mum so much better, but physically things are still tough, they’re being let down on the care front and Dad is clearly exhausted.

Still I’m mainly just thankful to see Mum home and bright and alert.

We even manage a trip out, lunch up at a pub on Epsom Downs and a bit of a country drive.

We round the day off with watching Pride and Prejudice. I remember Mum wishing she were able to see it at the cinema, so given it was out on DVD this week, it seemed the perfect present for her.

A grand girlie night in – pizza and Jane Austin. Even Dad seemed to enjoy it.

Friday, February 10, 2006

M25 pile up driver

Getting the train down to London, I browse the complimentary copy of the London Evening Standard.

This story catches my eye.

Peter Aldred, 41, speeding in the outside lane of the M25, attempts to retrieve a dropped sandwich, loses control, veers across the motorway and hits a Smart car, which then crashed into a lorry.

Fortunately no one was killed.

So what would you do if you were that driver? Ring the police? Call for an ambulance?

Nah, obviously the best choice s to drive off to Spearmint Rhino’s and boast to a pair of lapdancers about what you’d done.

Smart thinking girls however, figured action was needed; whilst one kept him…errr…entertained, the other told the management and called the police.

It’s the last line of the article however that stands out though.

“In December, Aldred caused a major security alert when he joked to the crew of an Inverness-to-Luton easyJet flight that he had a bomb.”

A serial twat then.

Or put another way, that’s 10cc you wish his mother had swallowed...

Thursday, February 09, 2006

No Blah

Well there should have been an entry here about how the latest Blah Manchester went and the subsequent meal at The Cedar Tree.

Sadly a migraine means all plans were shelved.

Still hopefully Stuart will provide a full review on his site...if he can just come up with a title for the entry.

Suggestions below please…

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Should I stay or should I go?

The circus continues. Senior managers are circling my desk on a daily basis.

Fatted calves are being killed, promises made…

Would it be professional suicide to suggest that we settle it by a representative big cheese from each organisation going head to head in an It’s a Knockout style contest.

Penguin suits and foam in the car park?

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

The Quest for the Rest

Ah you lovely I understand!

Accordingly I encourage everyone over to this site to share in Polyphonic Spree glee - you too can unite the band in The Quest for the Rest.

Many things on each stage do little things, but you have to get them doing them in the right order...

As a starting tip (thanks Pab & Shaun), the tortoise likes cactus seeds, but so does the rat, if supply outstrips demand however there's enough for all...


PS the first person to mention harpists will get a slap to the head...

Monday, February 06, 2006

Surname Profiler

Thanks to Small Rituals for this excellent link to this surname profiler.

Based on UCL research it will show you where the highest incidences of your surname are found in Britain, based on the 1881 and 1998 census data.

If you follow the Geographical Location and Frequency and Ethnicity links you can access even more fascinating data.

For myself the site tells me my surname is staunchly English and based on the 1881 data (a time before mass geographical mobility) originates from eastern areas (which would tie in with my paternal line being traced back to East Anglia). It also tells me that these days a lot of my clan seem to favour residential bungalows...

Comparing the two maps (1881 on the left, 1998 on the right) you can see how the name has spread between the two dates. Most intriguing is the strong showing in 1998 in the Shetland Isles.

Given the ratings are based on occurence rates rather than straight number counts, presumably you'd only need a large family or two to move to the Isles to get this effect...

Maybe I should look them up?

Sunday, February 05, 2006


Two computer problems have me foxed this weekend.

Number one, try as I might I can't manage to extract the tracks from my legally purchased copy of Richard Ashcroft's latest album, to put on my iPod.

The stupid f***ing copy protection is preventing every effort. The help file says I should be able to do it, but it just ain't working.

I follow it's guidance but iTunes states the copy protection prevents it converting the wma files, which I've duly saved to my media library and suggests I try from the original CD, which is fine except it thinks the original CD is blank.

Other ripping programmes are either similarly stumbling or producing corrupted and totally unlistenable MP3s.


I'm the kind of customer EMI should like. I buy the CD, I don't download illegally; but frankly shit like this is tempting me for the first time. Is that the result they were looking for?

Second conundrum is this. It should be a nice Polyphonic Spree game where you reunite lost band members with the rest of the gang.

Trouble is neither myself nor S last night can make the bloody thing work. Sure we can get one band member to flap his arms, the gecko to scamper away and the tortoise to rouse briefly, but beyond that progress is definitely limited.

Come on readers, put us out our misery, what are we missing?

Saturday, February 04, 2006

The Wonderful S&K and Millie the Wonderdog

Text messages are exchanged that establish the following:
  • S&K are childfree tonight
  • It would be lovely to meet up
  • How about going for a meal
  • Curry or something different?
  • We could try that Carribean place in Rusholme
  • OK we can always resort to Indian if we don't fancy it
  • Fine we'll pick you up around 7.30pm
  • Lovely - see you then
Those who know the protagonists will be unsurprised to know that what actually happened was:
  • S&K arrived at mine nearer to 8.30pm (football traffic apparently...)
  • By which time S had decided he fancied a curry
  • We ended up in the Punjab
And a lovely time was had by all.

Post curry we headed back to S&K's and...well I'm not sure exactly what we faffed about on over drinks (internet and so forth...)...and I did get the opportunity to meet the newest family member - Millie the hound from the pound.

Lovely creature, but not exactly the fiercest guard dog you'll ever meet - what with her being scared of the dark and all.


Friday, February 03, 2006

A Cock and Bull Evening

S,P and myself head to Great Northern to catch Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon in A Cock and Bull Story.

Fittingly the surreal and haphazard nature of the film was echoed within the audience itself.

Large group of lads mucking about all the way through, random people coming and going throughout, people in front of us going to get a member of staff who proceeded to clean something up (first with a black bin bag and then came back with a cloth and bucket...meantime the 3 young women came and sat next to us...except there were only 2 spare sits, so despite the unlucky third lasses protestations they refused to move the expanse of spare seats to our left, leaving the poor girl kneeling up on a hard platform trying to see over the top of a barrier.

It was all very strange and confusing, but entertaining at the same time.

Bit like the film really.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Fowl play?

I believe that City fans are a little miffed this week.

I understand.

It’s not just that Fowler is leaving, it’s the sheer glee he’s showing about ‘coming home’ to us Reds.

As Simon Hattenstone puts it in today’s Guardian:

"Fowler grew up an Evertonian, but ended up the ultimate Liverpool Red. A few weeks ago he scored City’s third goal against Man United, ran over to the United end and stuck up five digits. The four fingers and thumb represented Liverpool’s five European Cup victories compared with United’s two. As far as Robbie was concerned, he’d scored the goal for Liverpool not City against United. Perhaps that is why so many supporters love him – because, more than anything he is a fan. It’s just a pity the bastard isn’t a City fan."
You’ve got to feel sorry for City fans on this one. Especially any City fan with a wife who queued up hours to get them a signed Fowler autobiography for Christmas.