Monday, July 31, 2006


Well folks it's official; James 'gift to rhyming slang' Blunt, has polled as more annoying than Traffic Wardens, tailgaters and Estate Agents.

However, the love rat has work to do if he's going to make number 1 as inexplicably, cold callers, caravans and queue-jumpers still out rank him.

I have every faith in the man to rectify this.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Evolution of a Worshipper

Personally I came in at stage four, fleetingly tried regressing to stage three on rare occassions (due mainly to peer pressure), but it never 'took' and from there progressed swiftly to stage five.

I think I've been stuck with my hands in my pockets for quite a while now and feel quite at home.

Though I do at cast stage six an understanding glance every now and again, so you never know.

Cartoon courtesy of Dave Walker at Cartoon Church. He's getting married this week, so why not make his day and buy something from his site. After all, honeymoons don't pay for themselves.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

IQ Time wasting

Caroline has blogged a link to another time wasting site - Test your IQ here.

I did the test and clicked 'show details' on the results page and apparently:

Your IQ score is 142!

Your mind's strengths allow you to think ahead of the game -- to imagine or anticipate what should happen next in just about any situation. Because you're equally skilled in the numerical and verbal universes of the brain, you can draw from multiple sources of information to come up with new ideas and this makes you a Visionary Philosopher.

You also have a knack for matching and anticipating patterns in all sorts of situations, a talent that adds to your visionary philosopher mind.

Not sure that sounds terribly like me...

Caroline also links to another site, which tells you more. Like typical occupations:
140 - Top Civil Servants; Professors and Research Scientists.
130 - Physicians and Surgeons; Lawyers; Eng1neers (Civil and Mechanical)
See! I knew I was too clever to be an Eng1neer!

Not sure I prefer any of the 140 alternatives though; civil servant? No thanks.

Still as crappy internet tests go it does prove one thing. Sally, Caroline and I are, in the words of the latter site, "Very Superior".

I've always thought as much...

Good scores all round though. They couldn't just be trying to flatter us into parting with money could they? No surely not. Maybe the greatest testament to our intelligence is that none of us signed up.

Still, 142 ain't bad eh?

I still can't balance on the unicycle for more than 20 seconds though...

Friday, July 28, 2006

Unicycle Challenge

I know of at least one blogger that should be good at this...

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Workload induced ‘Bad Person Syndrome’

There are signs when I’m overloaded, I start forgetting things. Things I shouldn’t forget.

I went to all the meetings I had to go to at work. Right place, right time, armed with the right information. Check.

Tonight I should have had Book Group (in the end it got cancelled at the last minute) – however, I remembered to take the book in question with me to work. Check.

I remembered I was going to Stuart and K’s house straight from work to call in at their BBQ – Check.

I remembered this would the last time I would be seeing T and E before they emigrate to Canada (or return home in E’s case). Check.

I remembered to take their card and present with me in the morning. Check.

I remembered to ring S&K to see if I should bring anything, now that I would be staying for the BBQ and not rushing on to Book Group. Check.

I remembered to stop at Sainsburys and pick up said items. Check.

I remember to check emails at S&Ks and reply to urgent Greenbelt ones. Check.

All going well don’t you think?

Too well really. There has to be something I’ve forgotten.

That’ll be that the soiree has two purposes; farewell to T&E and happy birthday to KittyK (eldest ‘favourite niece’).


I am indeed a very bad person. A bad Aunt who does not deserve to be loved lots and lots.

In the course of the evening I try various attempts to wiggle out of it.

“Well what did you get me for my bir…oh yeah you made me that amazing Malteser cake”.

Damn that one backfired.

“Well you got loads of presents today, whereas I buy you stuff at other times, like the stuff I brought back from Scotland.”

Better, better.

“And frankly I’m still waiting for a thank you letter for that!”

Fifteen all.

A little later KittyK enquires:

“Aunty L1z? Do you have real nieces at all.”

“Yes I have one. And if she ever found out I called you lot my favourite nieces I’d be in trouble.”

“Do you see her much?”

“Once in a while, they live in London.”

“How old is she?”

“Just turned eight the other week.”

“Did you get her a present?”


Game, set and match to KittyK.

Hats off to her, a fine stitch up.

Mind you, when I got home, I found in my letter box a pink envelope from London. In it, in best eight year old hand writing, was a thank you letter from my 'real' niece.

I had to laugh.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Almost a night off

A Greenbelt friend is in Manchester with work and has suggested meeting up. It’s all a bit vague, but Stuart suggests we plan to go for a drink and curry anyway (apparently my buddy feels I need a night off from the Greenbelt work) and work out the details with Jim in due course.

I agree on the condition it’s early, as I will have to do some Greenbelt work when I get back and I don’t want to be stupidly late to bed (for a change).

So after work I pick up Stuart (ok I go on his computer and do an hour of Greenbelt work, but you know…) and head to the pub to meet T, A and M, the demob happy teachers.

After a quick round, we head to the Punjab for a good nosh and the usual ritual abuse from the waiters.

I do slightly worry about the reputation I’m gaining in that place, this being the third time I’ve turned up with the husband of one of their regular families… Still the lovely K is with us in a way, as she rings and we both have a good natter with her about how the break to Alton Towers is going.

Jim apparently is planning to eat first and then meet us (I’m told the man doesn’t like curries – weirdo!), but it’s gone quarter past ten when he rings and we’re already heading out the door.

Ah well it may not have gone as planned, but it was a lovely night off.

Well except I get home and do another couple of hours on the emails.

The Wit of the Staircase

L’espirt d’escalier – which I’m told is the posh way of describing the thought of what you should have said, that you have as you close the door or walk down the stairs.

See what I should have said in reply to odious man’s refusal to drop the patronising terms on the basis of "it’s the way I was brought up to speak where I come from", was:

"Where I was brought up, we call people like you wankers, but I’ll try not to use the term to your face if you’d rather I didn’t…"

Monday, July 24, 2006

I was only asking...

My washing machine has died a sad and noisy death, so having done some basic research on-line, tonight after work I call in at a retail park and enter large electrical retailer the purposes of this story we’ll call Retailer X.

After ten minutes or so one of their employees, a middle aged man, walks past and in decidedly patronising tone (which was strangely absent when he was speaking to male customers) enquires: “You alright there darling? Do you know what you’re doing, or do you need some help sweetie?

Well I do have some questions” say I. “Ok luvey, I’ll send someone over.

Ten minutes go by as I pour over the information booklet and try and reconcile kwh levels with different functions (I’m considering a washer dryer, but being a good eco kid I’ll only use the dryer part in rare circumstances, so my primary concerns are the energy and water usage in the washing cycle), but still no assistant.

The same guy comes back past. “Did someone come and help you darling?”, he asks. “Errrr not as yet” I reply. “Sorry about that sweetie, I’ll get someone to come straight over”.

Ten minutes later, still no assistant, but yer man reappears, apologising for the delay, he can help me now. “No problem” say I, “I can see you’re busy”.

So how can I help you darling?” he asks.

Well I want to buy a washer dryer, but if possible could you not call me ‘darling’ or ‘sweetie’, only I don't really like it” say I, in what I promise was a light smiley manner (no, really I know sometimes I’d say something like that dripping with sarcasm, but I was actually in a good mood and put it as a very polite, light-natured request…honest!).

Sorry no I can’t” he replied “it’s the way I was brought up to speak where I come from”.

That’s ok, it’s not a big deal, I'm only asking that you try your best not to. If you could just try I’d really appreciate it" I say, again very pleasantly, adding jokingly “and you’ll be much more likely to close the sale! ".

To which he replies aggressively “I can see our personalities are going to clash, this isn’t going to work.

Well bugger me, but I thought I was just asking about a washing machine, not proposing a long term relationship.

Ok, maybe I could speak to someone else then?” I suggest lightly, not about to have my mood dragged down, by this knuckle scrapper.

I don’t know”.

“Ok, no problem” I say, still smiling, but now in a rather bemused way, “I guess I’ll just take my money next door”.

I exit.

Next door in Retailer Y, a wonderful saleswoman, answers all my questions, gets the technical brochures for me…couldn’t be more helpful. Job done. As I go to leave, I thank her profusely for all her help and confess that I’d walk out of next door, because the sales guy was so obnoxious.

We get a lot of people in here saying that” she replies.

Sunday, July 23, 2006


It feels very self-absorbed to keep blogging about Greenbelt work, but at this time of the year, what else is there to say? Maybe I should just say nothing, but hey this blog is as much (if not more) for me as it is for any third party reader, so I guess I shall continue to blog the mundane twaddle for a while yet.

Nothing exciting happened this weekend you see. No shoes were bought, no curries eaten, no gigs attended, no hair coloured, no BBQs’s been a weekend of work and rest.

It’s very weird to have a whole weekend when I don’t leave the house (well except to go in the garden).

But heck I even cut the grass and did some tidying up, so all in all I’m feeling pretty virtuous.

Just a bit dull.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Not a party girl

It’s been a long week, both in terms of day job and festival preparation. A lot of things seem to be cropping up very late this year. Mostly involving people wanting to set fire to things (a fine ambition in my book, but requiring lots of approvals).

By mid-afternoon a choice faces me, continue working for the day and hopefully break the back of some of the key issues, to go to T and A’s leaving party.

I can’t believe I’m making this decision, but something has to give. Trying to maintain a social life at this time of year is probably an unrealistic expectation, but even so.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Cumbria and That Cafe

The projects I’m working on right now are by definition in the middle of nowhere, all across the North West.

Most of the time though I end up stuck in the design visit, whilst my team undertake the needed site visits.

Today however, the Client and I had to undertake a meeting and a couple of site visits deep in the heart of the Lake District. The investigation side of this had us traipsing up and down hills, which was hot work, but with surroundings like this who can complain?

Very tiring though, so on the way back I text P&S to see if they’re up for an impromptu visit to That Café to catch the Early Bird deal. Anything to avoid having to cook (I’m knackered from all the fresh air) and a strong desire to be out of the house and hence separated from the computer and Greenbelt emails for a few hours at least. Happily they respond in the positive, I love spontaneous meet ups like this.

Excellent food (as if it would be otherwise!) to the extent that the waitress clearing our very clean starter plates (yes P did use a finger…) commented that she didn’t have to ask if the food was ok.

Back home just after 9pm and onto the computer to try and fight back the wave of emails that have come in today. Whilst on, B catches me on IM and we have a real good catch up on Venue Management. Still a lot of work to do, but he’s done wonders in the last couple of weeks to get it back on track. I just hope he hasn’t driven himself too hard, or as I comment, some sleep, at least occasionally, is a good idea.

Talking of which…

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Festival work and sea birds

Every evening at the moment involves hours and hours of Greenbelt work, often into the wee small hours. It’s that time of the year.

Sometimes I have the TV on in the background showing Big Brother or something that needs similar low levels of attention, other times my working is accompanied by tunes from my lovely iPod.

Something strange has happened over the last few weeks.

Intrigued by radio play that had me going "hmmm I like that, who's it by?" I purchased the Guillemots album when it was realeased last week. It's a very interesting sound and I find myself decidedly liking it.

I expect the hand of a good producer has kept the wailing bird noises to a level where they are interesting not overwhelming like they were when I saw them live last December.

Right now I can’t get the single Made up Love Song #43 out of my head.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Self-indulgent Ranting - deleted scenes

On second thoughts, let's save that pile of personal twaddle for the Director's Cut eh?

Monday, July 17, 2006

Belated photos

Sometimes it seems to take forever to get a camera in the same place as the thing you want to photograph and then get the photo uploaded to the web.

Or in other words I’m been meaning to blog this since Saturday…

Saturday morning I’m half awake when the doorbell goes and the postie hands me a jiffy bag that was slightly too thick for my rather narrow letterbox.

Clearly Paddington has been eating too many marmalade sandwiches…

Dressed for the Mancunion weather (for other suggestions see the comments on Caroline’s blog), I too have a lovely little bear friend now, courtesy of the wonderful Sally.

Better still, also included in the package is a wonderful Paperchase notebook and some matching stickers.


Last year I bought my young niece a whole pile of this very Paperchase stuff; stickers, mugs, notepads, pens, playing cards, photo album, pencil tin…the works. As someone wisely observed “you’re really shopping for the things you wish you could buy for yourself, aren’t you?”. Oh the irony, when we’re young we can’t afford it, now we’re old we can’t justify it.

But Goddamnit I want a notepad with plastic animal tags attached for no clear reason.

And now I have one.

Look, it’s true…zoom in and you’ll see…through the cover...on the first page, it clearly says in Sally’s handwriting: “Liz’s Notepad”…

I have such excellent friends.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Summer days and summer nights

Another easy day of rest and bits of work, interspersed with sitting in the garden watching vapour trails criss-cross the sky.

P&S come round for a BBQ in the evening and P and I again use the opportunity to make the most of the dying embers to clear some of the garden waste/indulge the pyromaniac within.

Of course if you stare at flames long enough you can start to see things.

The ink blots for a BBQ generation.

As darkness falls I try the other bubble generator I bought cheap in Tescos. This one uses flourescent liquid and then has blue lights that make the bubbles glow in the dark.

Very pretty, but hard to capture on a phone camera…

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Trees of Lebanon

After a long lie in to see off a threatened migraine, I reward myself for spurts of Greenbelt emailing and house-tidying, with periods of sitting out in the garden reading accompanied by Arcade Fire of the stereo.

Early evening I call around for S and we head to The Cedar Tree in the Northern Quarter. As we walk through the streets, we’re struck by how much things have changed in the past few years. Trendy bars, delis and shops nestle amongst the surviving older businesses, the textile merchants, the curry cafes and the wealth of shops that specialise in the unusual (be it paper bags, sewing machines, craft material or whatever).

The Cedar Tree too survives and its surge in business due to the revival of the area hasn’t spoilt its charm or service style.

By which I mean that the bizarre ‘wall from a B-movie alien swamp’ is still as inexplicable as ever, the proprietor propped at his table at the rear of the space, still ignores the no-smoking signs and halfway through the meal the waitress tours the table explaining that ‘yet again’ the credit card machine isn’t working, so can we pay in cash please.

Such eccentricities only add to its charm and the food is as fantastic as ever. Picking at dishes of falafel, baba ghannouj, tabbouleh, stuffed baby aubergines etc is just perfect in this hot weather.

Of course, it’s not lost on us, that as we chow down on these Lebanese goodies, the land of its origin is being bombed out of civilisation.

Sometimes the world makes no sense.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

The Kite Runner

Book group tonight sees me back in the pub and hopeful that the intention to discuss The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini will keep the conversation away from “how far does ‘early in the week’ extend in terms of a social week rather than a business week?”.

I enjoyed The Kite Runner, although the last part lets it down terribly. It may be a debut novel, but an author with sufficient skill as to present the first two-thirds in pleasant enough form and style, should have the ability and wherewithal to avoid clichés and excessive coincidences. Not to mention that it’s not a twist, if you signpost it’s imminent arrival with the sort of subtlety that means all but the stupidest of readers will surely have seen it coming a mile off.

That said, it’s a good read and I loved some of the early parts. If you enjoy books that immerse you in another culture and lead you through different worlds than your own, then I’d highly recommend it.

Seeing the recent history of Afghanistan through the eyes of someone who grew up there, escaped to the US when the Russians invaded and then returns many years later when the Taliban are in full force, is effective and deeply saddening.

Not the best book ever written for sure and no doubt current world events aided is publication and subsequent popularity, but I enjoyed it and let’s be clear, for all the limitations of it’s ending it wasn’t anywhere near as the crime against plotlines that was My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Pub arguments

I had arranged to meet T for a drink this evening. Usual pub, usual entertaining conversation.

Halfway through the evening, T’s friend D turned up, insistent that they had arranged to go for a drink tonight (a fact T disputes).

No problem you’d think, everyone ended up in the right pub. Happy days.

Except that the boys (being boys and boys with beer at that), spend the best part of the next four hours bickering about whether a firm date and time had been agreed.

Central to the argument is whether or not Wednesday can legitimately be considered to be included in the expression of “early next week”.

The status of Wednesday vis-à-vis the week at large, was discussed in length and in the sort of dogmatic manner only drunken men can bring to such trivial questions.

Entertaining as it was to spectate upon, I don’t think I’ve ever felt more sober.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

You are BEAUTY. You are TRUTH. In you I find my SALVATION.

Sleep came eventually, making up for it’s earlier elusiveness with intensity.

I wake to hear my mobile ringing. As I answer to Caroline, I catch the time, it’s nearly 9am. I’ll ring you back I yelp as I jump out of bed and into the shower.

In best Hugh Grant “Fuck, fuck, fuckety-fuck” mode, I get ready in under 15 minutes (thank the lord for powerful hairdryers) and make it into the office around 9.45am (the traffic is so much better later on it seems!).

This is the first time I’ve slept through my alarms (all three of them, count ‘em, the bedside alarm clock, the mobile phone alarm and the DAB radio) since I was like 18 or something.

Thank God Caroline rang when she did.

As I say to her later it’s one of the many pieces of proof to support the theory that we must remain friends for ever and ever.

Other supporting evidence would include the fact that she was ringing me to thank* me for the package that had just arrived in the post from Manchester. A card with a cartoon figure complaining that “I’ve emailed God hundreds of times and he never answers…I find it highly unprofessional” accompanying the latest mutant giraffe memorabilia that I’ve found. As I rushed out the house late, I met our postie who passed me my mail including a package from Bristol. A card showing Jesus and the disciples, with the caption “Judas wanted to be leader, but after the multiplying loaves miracle, he knew there was no chance” and this wonderful keyring:

Therefore not only are we so much on the same wavelength we buy each other amusing religious cards and ‘standing joke’ nonsense items, just “because”., we also post them to each other and receive them on exactly the same day.

Spooky but cool.

I love my new keyring. This shoe-buying lady is very happy.

The day improves as I plough through a ton of work (some of the team are off, so interruptions are few and far between). I work late and make it home around 7.30pm, just as IM decides to phone. After a long chat (I think I was less acidic this time) and tons of Greenbelt emails it’s time to hit the hay.

A long day.

* I think that’s the right word

Monday, July 10, 2006

Management Group, Associates and Partners

After several smaller conversations with various individuals and the main Management Group meeting, it’s time for the Associates and Partners Reception.

One of those social occasions when you’re absolutely supposed to speak to people you have either never met before or certainly don’t know very well. In many ways my idea of hell.

Fortunately a reasonably unusual name on the guest list had caught my eye and the person in question was indeed a former Manchester resident and colleague of best mate S. Grateful for any such crumbs that are tossed my way, I screw up my social courage and say hello.

It’s enough of a connection to get us talking. He asks if I’m one of the ‘five’. I reply in the affirmative, a little puzzled as to how a relative outsider to the organisation, knows this shorthand nomenclature. “Ah” he explains, “I’ve just spoken to N”. I should have guessed. How I envy her ability to handle these situations. Chances are, by the time I’d managed to achieve my feeble “err hello I think you know a good friend of mine”, she’s charmed five strangers (at least three of whom will magically have found themselves volunteering to cover some key need we have).

Sigh…I can only watch and learn.

Fortunately as we take our seats, I find my name card on the same table as several people I know including the lovely Jude. We remark that for once we’ll actually get the chance to talk and catch-up before I rush off.

Sat to one side of me is the excellent Y, one of those people that has an infectious sense of mischievous fun and a smile that just lights up your day and has you grinning within seconds of saying hello. I always knew he was a metaphorical prince among men, tonight as we discuss which particular region in Africa he hails from, I discover (“my Grandfather is the king”) that as it turns out he’s also a literal one.

No doubt my social manners are an affront to the monarchy, but he seems very forgiving and at least I know what the sushi is when it arrives. His face when I explain is a picture, “it’s raw what???”.

I lead him through his first experience as best I can and he sticks to the salmon and the nori rolls, which I explain as rice, prawn and a bit of cucumber. After he’s eaten I expand the explanation to include what the dark green element was. For a moment he refuses to believe me. Then the truth sinks home. He’s not the only one with a mischievous bent.

I suggest it might help to think of it as cabbage that grew in the sea.

Conversation flows easily at our end of the table assisted by the Fair Trade wine. Y explains what his organisation have planned for this year’s festival, including a massive chocolate fountain, linked to their theme of looking at addiction. I introduce him to L and suggest that her mum would make an excellent case study. As I regale him with stories about M&M fragments in laptops and Terry’s Chocolate Oranges being speared with biros on the train to Bristol, his eyes widen in incredulity. I can see it now, the lovely Sally perched on a stage being interviewed “so when did you realise that the cocoa was actually now controlling you?”..

Suddenly I see the time. I’m late. I should have left 10 minutes ago. I should make it, Just. Better run. I make rushed farewells, grab my bag and head out the door at a pace.

A voice shouts “Liz” Wait!”.

I turn and find a gorgeous ginger muddled head flying down the steps behind me and swooping me into a bear hug of an embrace. Now there’s a way to make ya feel right royally loved.

Yep, foiled by a larger group around the table than really allowed conversation from one end to the other and I guess both mindful that our purpose there is to talk to the guests not each other, Jude and I have yet again failed to really catch up. Buggeration.

I run to the tube and despite some minor delays on the Northern Line, I make it to Euston in time to run across the concourse and onto the last train to Manchester. Three whole minutes to spare. Too close for comfort given the consequences of missing it.

As I settle back and enjoy a long cold lemonade, it’s time for the final part of the post-Management Group ritual, a lovely chat with Sally. Such an excellent way to unwind – I love that she’s up at this time of night and puts up with our “tunnel!” interruptions. She always has me laughing or crying or more often than not crying with laughter.

The laptop saga forms the main grist to our mill and apparently it’s just as well that on seeing DC’s shiny new toy I didn’t make a facetious remark along the lines of “ooh do you think Sally would like one of them?”.

We roll in to Manchester a little after 1am, and seasoned traveller that I’ve become, I’m first off the train, first into a taxi and home by 1.15am.

Now if only I could sleep…

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Headbutts and Super Novas

After a day of Greenbelt work, P&S come round to catch the second half of the World Cup final and the final episode of this series of Doctor Who.

The last part of the final is marred by an appalling display of bad behaviour by Zidane. What an unbefitting way to end his international career.

Doctor Who makes happier watching thankfully. A fine end to an excellent series and a good way to see Ms Piper on her way.

S shares that the news that I have been sucked into Doctor Who has altered her mother's view of me. Let's be honest it's altered my view of me.

It's like a drug, you think you can control it, you watch a bit socially, you record it as a favour for TVless friends, next thing you know you're coming out with things like "the Doctor's got two hearts hasn't he?".

I'm going cold turkey.

Til Christmas.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Time Flies

I don't know where today went.

Some emails, a bit of reading, a bit of tidying and suddenly it's 5pm and I still haven't done the one job I really had to do - buy some fish. Ah well a whole hour should be sufficient to nip to the shops, tidy the house, prep the food, get the main course in the oven, get the DVD cued up...errr...

Needless to say all the tasks don't quite fit in the available time. Happily P&S are cool with the phone call at 5.45pm suggesting a slightly later start time. Or as S puts it "I'm sure P will be fine with that, he's just got in the bath". As ever it seems we're in synch.

P regularly cooks wonderful fayre for us and so I feel like I owe them a decent spread in return once in a while. In a nod to the 70's we start with Melon boats, served with fresh raspberries and a summer fruit coulis. Next is a swordfish, green bean, butternut squash, chick pea, apricot, honey and almond tagine served on a bed of cous cous and finally a fresh fruit brulee wih a caramilised crust (oh for a blow torch, but the grill does ok).

We fit in two episodes of Doctor Who and catch the end of the World Cup third place play-off. Only one episode of the good Doctor left, scheduled for tomorrow, so in the meantime, if you know how it ends, I don't want to know.

Friday, July 07, 2006


It's a bit of a dash after work, but I manage to dump the car and get the tram to Old Trafford in good time to join the other seven of our party for the Twenty-20 cricket (Lancashire vs Yorkshire).

It's cricket, but not as you know it. Everything that would normally be white (from the kit to the wicket) is red, blue or yellow, and the one object that would normally be red (the ball) is white.

Oh and they play the Artic Monkey's I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor, everytime a new batsman walks up to the crease.

And you have cards with a 4 on one side and a 6 on the other, that you wave at the

Best of all (well if we're going down this whole not-really-cricket avenue, we might as well do it in style...) is Lanky the Lancashire mascot. Considering it's a bloke in a costume, it's remarkably in proportion compared with many of the mutants that can be found on the market.

Of course I just had to get him to sign an autograph for a certain friend...

Post match (Lancashire lost :-( ), half of us head back into town for a drink at Piccadilly Kro Bar. We sit outside and watch the kids use the fountain for slalom practice.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Blog Links

It's been long overdue, but I have at last updated my Blog links that can be found in the sidebar to the right.

It's a fairly random list of Blogs written by people I know, no doubt incomplete. It should however hopefully be a bit more up to date than it was, with links removed to blogs that haven't been updated since Queen Victoria was on the throne (or updated so infrequently as to make it seem that way) and links added to some newer bloggers.

At least ten of you, should be interested in the last one added...

Also long overdue is a link to this blog post by the lovely Stuart.

He's currently starting out on his dissertation on 'Church in the Future' and is asking for people's thoughts on the following:

"We see many different expressions of church popping up in different places, each one attempting to connect with the culture in which it exists. I don’t wish to investigate which is the best model because in many ways I think that perhaps it is very much horses for courses.

"However, what I do want to investigate is this, what is it about church that we need to incorporate into whichever model we choose. What is it about church that can’t be left behind?"
He's asked me to encourage anyone with thoughts on this over to his site to have the conversation.

I can offer no particular reason as to why we should help him with his homework in this way, other than a) he's a lovely, wonderful person who deserves all good things and b) no doubt I'll end up proof-reading self-same dissertation so if it could be made as interesting as possible through the gathering of your wise and diverse thoughts on the subject, that would obviously be nice for me as well.

If nothing else you can comment on Dave Walker's cartoon about how to make a church brilliant:

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Impromptu Barbecue

I’m still at work at 5.40pm when S rings to enquire “Fancy a barbecue this evening?”.

“Sounds lovely” I reply, “do you want to use my garden?”.

“That would be great. P said I wasn’t allowed to ask you if we could. I said that our friendship allows such cheekiness.”

“Absolutely, it’s one of things I love most about it.”

I understand the way S hates the way her garden is overlooked. So hard when you live next door to the job and your parishioners assume your life and by extension your garden and visitors are their business too. Besides setting the garden up is the least I can do considering they’re doing the shopping and food prep. Besides if you can't invite yourself around to your best mate's house from time to time, something is wrong.

We pick at pitta bread and humus, grapes and melon slices, whilst we wait for the barbecue to heat up. The main attraction follows and comprises fillets of Marlin cooked in foil with some spices and olive oil and drizzled with lemon juice, served with salad and fresh bread – heaven.

Chunes on the iPod, bubbles from the bubble machine floating across the garden and fine conversation as we burn up a pile of wood and watch the sun set.

Nights like this won’t be so easy when they move to Wolverhampton, though S is adamant that part time work and train connections will make it happen. I do hope so, I’m going to spur of the moment meet ups like this more than it’s possible to say.

It’s rare to find friends that you are this comfortable with. No best behaviour, or tidying up, or being polite, or not saying the impertinent. Plus when I tell P&S about my fuck up from Saturday, they both opine that I did the right thing and that to agree to one thing publicly and then try and unpick it privately, would have been worse. I do point out that this isn’t exactly in accord with the views of others who were like actually there. Besides they’re probably biased. Another reason I love them and will miss them like crazy come November.

"Can we leave you with the washing up? I'm shattered."

"Of course you can - you just cooked me an amazing meal. Least I can do!"

Time to make the most of the summer months I think.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Redcurrants Anyone?

Back from work early enough to enjoy an hour or so in the garden reading a book and picking some tubs of redcurrants to satisfy my father's annual Summer Pudding requirements.

I have two very large redcurrant bushs, with branches laden with fruit (and that's even after many a branch succumbed to the over-zealous attentions of a certain gardener.

Still plenty left. Any takers?

Sunday, July 02, 2006

One hundred and forty miles in a mobile sauna

Sunday morning finds us holding a meeting on the grass outside Hunters’ Lodge, putting the last pieces of the Festival ops stuff to bed as we watch waves of people walk up to the racecourse for the annual Race for Life.

Nine of us then head up to the Rising Sun at 12.30pm for a lovely farewell lunch al fresco.

Leaving at just after 3.30pm (it was a leisurely lunch!) R and I head off in beautiful sunshine. However, as we head into the West Midlands the weather breaks and we drive incredibly slowly through some of the heaviest rain I have ever experienced anywhere in the world, accompanied by a spectacular electric storm. The combination of high temperatures, high humidity and having to have the heater blasting the windscreen to keep visibility, leave us ready to reach for the birch twigs.

We make it back to Manchester in about 3 hours, but then spend the next 20 minutes trapped in the car at the foot of R’s block of apartments, whilst some unseen hand throws large buckets of water at us.

Eventually R rings the lovely M, to beg she come down with an umbrella. M arrives at the car with waterproofs but no brolly, a disagreement commences about how many umbrellas they own and where they may be found. As the puddles threaten to rise above the car door sill, I suggest they might want to defer this discussion to later!

Tired, but satisfied after an excellent weekend, I make it home. Signs of potential migraine are increasing despite having taken medication enroute, so I crash out and a couple of hours sleep sees it off.

Sadly however this means I have to turn down two potential social options, curry with P&S and the party at T’s I’d really hoped to make.

Another time.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Festival Ops and Programming Group

Festival Operations and Programming Group have arranged to hold meetings on the same day on the racecourse this year - allowing for an extended lunch where lots of cross-group sub-meetings and discussions can take place.

There’s so much to get through and so little time to sort it in. The July ops meeting is always packed and the kick-off of a certain football match at 4pm this year adds an extra pressure. Why did I agree to chair it again?

We just about make it, though a few sub-meetings will have to happen later this evening and tomorrow morning.

Exciting stuff getting planned and excellent solutions are found to some key problems. We’re getting there.

Competing constraints are always a nightmare and in one case there are serious concerns about how we can run a key venue in what is a very problematic space. What ensues is a masterpiece of lateral thinking kicked off by Oli. In a process reminiscent of those sliding puzzles with one piece missing, we work through various versions of “move A to B, B to D, C to E, D to C and E to A, quene B through foyer X, D through foyer E, black out part of C, move that horse and jump thing in B, work out if there’s really a café in foyer Y, move that installation from F to G and Bob’s very much your mother’s brother”.

Simple really…

Happily the final resolution, whilst needing a bit of work to achieve, looks to be better than we could have possibly hoped for. It’s such a pleasure when all these diverse interested parties get together and graciously collaborate to make it all work out.

I make one spectacular fuck-up, when one party fails to have taken in a previous agreement (made at a previous meeting and revisited in recent emails) and is ploughing on regardless. They’re working on one premise when it’s been agreed we’re actually going with as very different set-up. It reaches a point where it comes to a head, where a proposal publicly made by said individual is in direct contradiction to the agreed set-up and I stupidly go “err we need to talk about that” in public. To say I was kicking myself is an understatement. It was one of those moments when you have to make an instantaneous choice about how to deal with a very awkward situation and you just panic…and in this case make the wrong decision about how to handle it.

Bugger, bugger, bugger.

The day improves as we head for the BBQ set-up by the wonderful Pete & Janet. An earlier start than usual with big screen set-up for all but a small group of dis-interested parties (weirdos!).

We’ll not talk about the game itself eh? I think Dave Walker sums it up rather well in this cartoon:

cartoon from

Cartoon by Dave Walker.

Suffice to say that the post-match meeting Oli, Ben and I had to go through some major Venue Management stuff, our levels of enthusiasm and creative thinking may not have been quite what they might. We get there though and that’s the main thing.

Heading back to Hunters’ the drinking and socialising continues into the wee small hours.

And this time I partake.

The world is back spinning on its usual axis.