Thursday, August 31, 2006

One Very Important Thought 

An owl walks into a bar. The barman says “How many times do I have to tell you? Get out! And never come back!”
It was a barred owl.

We went for an educational trip around the impressive Royal British Columbia Museum. Having shit for brains I’ve forgotten most of the things I learned, except that:
1) Sea otters swim on their backs, using their stomachs for eating off. Sometimes I do that too.
2) Sea otters eat 25% of their own bodyweight everyday. Sometimes I do that too.
3) When smallpox broke out in 1862, the Vancouver Island authorities didn’t exactly cover themselves in glory.

Somebody let the cat out of the bag.

We had lunch in a proper old school vegetarian restaurant - more of a canteen actually - in the Market Square.
It was staffed by attractive young people who looked like they were just filling time before their poetry careers took off, and you paid for your food by weight. It was like stepping backing into the eighties, to a time when Quorn hadn't been invented yet. It felt good to be among my own kind.

Afterwards we went to Miniature World, which caused Girlfriend to become very excited indeed.
Sadly, the miniature logging mill - with real miniature saws sawing real miniature wood! - is now switched off. The fear of being sued by small minded visitors with miniature logging injuries had clearly got the better of them. Shame. We were shown a video of the mill in action instead, presented in a seventies documentary style by a gigantic old man who operated the machinery as he talked. Appropriately enough, it sounded like something Boards Of Canada would sample.
Even the swing in the garden outside our room had been screwed motionless to the ground, out of a fear of the litigiously minded. Pathetic.

We went for an evening stroll through Beacon Hill Park, and spent a long time just gazing in wonder across the Juan de Fuca Strait, to the San Juan Islands and the Olympic Mountains beyond.
We saw a couple of whales doing that ‘spraying through their blowhole and splashing up water’ thing. It was incredible: to be able to sit in your local park and watch whales come and go - what kind of a life is that? I feel very envious of the people of Victoria.
In a cordoned off section of the park, some dogs and their owners were holding a ‘dog meet’, a sort of singles night for the benefit of both.
I took snaps of one of the world’s tallest totem poles.

Later on, we went to a Hang The DJ indie night at the Lucky Bar. The music consisted of bands trying to sound like eighties bands, interspersed with real eighties bands. It was quite good, especially the people watching. I hadn’t felt so transported back to the eighties since lunchtime.

Dinner Shot: Italian.

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Wednesday, August 30, 2006


A coach came along and took us to Tsawwassen. It was a dull journey. The outer suburbs of Vancouver looked a great deal less appealing than the bit we’d been staying in. We moved through flat, scrubby farm country, dry, dusty, the colour long gone from the grass, scattered fragments of dead farm equipment strewn all over the shop.

A mother and her teenage son in the row in front of us got on my nerves more than I could ever have imagined possible.
There’s probably a name for his condition, and I should be more sympathetic. Let’s call it Overbearing Mother Syndrome. He was very agitated, constantly hiding his head beneath his jumper, always touching his face and generally being highly strung.
Rather than being a calming influence, his mother only seemed to exacerbate matters. The word ‘clingy’ doesn’t begin to describe it. In the UK, mothers and their teenage sons do not stroke each other’s hair. I wanted to tranquillise the pair of them.
Instead, I switched on my jukebox and scribbled ink all over myself in the name of sudoku.

The coach drove on to the ferry and we milled about on deck, stretching our legs and looking for somewhere to sit away from crazy people. It was like being in a floating hospital waiting room. I half-expected my name to be called over the PA system, whereupon I would be led to a small room and ordered to drop my trousers and cough.
On TV, a news channel was reporting the retirement of the captain of the Canadian women’s hockey team, a tearful moment for all concerned.

The ride from Swartz Bay to Victoria wasn’t too promising either: generic strip malls, miles of them, and used car lots all the way. I’d been anticipating picture postcard-esque: this was just drab. Surely we hadn’t pitched up in the wrong Victoria?

Don’t be daft. Just round the corner from the bus station Victoria reveals itself to you in all it’s twee glory. And rather lovely it is too.
There were double decker buses, and boats in the harbour, mountains away in the distance and people getting married. It was as if somebody had taken the most touristy parts of London, squished it all into a seaside town in the Scottish Highlands, then filled it up with Canadians.
We rubbed our eyes in a cartoon-ish manner, spent a long time wandering around a T-shirt emporium - I’ve been waiting my whole life for this T-shirt to find me - then went to the pub.

We found a shop that was supposed to be a replica of a British corner shop, selling British sweets and groceries and trying unsuccessfully to make us feel homesick. There was a distinct whiff of parallel universe about the place: a passable attempt if the owners had never been to Britain, but everywhere was far too tidy and well organised. There was space on the shelves! Where was the stuff piled up on the floor? What about cheap plastic footballs and other assorted crappy toys?

Anyway, I bought a box of teabags. You know I’d never fib to you here: after a couple of mugs of tea, all my wobble head issues disappeared never to be heard of again. No word of a lie. That’s the miracle of Yorkshire Tea.

Here I am trying to stay vertical while waiting for the kettle to boil.
This is Victoria’s Parliament building, lit up like a Christmas decoration.

Wobble Head Factor: 7 becoming 0.

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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Do Something Pretty 

“That one,” said Girlfriend, nodding towards the foxy waitress with the pigtails and piercings.
“Uh?” I replied, pretending not to have already noticed her. I scattered pancakes, maple syrup and small pieces of artfully presented fruit about my person.
“That one’s a Slayer.”
Girlfriend, like many people, sometimes likes to live her life vicariously through the adventures of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It keeps me on my toes.
“Cool,” I replied, mopping myself up. “Are there any vampires here?”
She glanced around the breakfast room.
“Not at the moment.”
“Good. Oh look!” I said, gesturing towards another waitress with my sausage. “She’s Alan Smith!
“Bloody hell! She is, isn’t she?”
We passed a lot of time this way.

We did the guided tour at the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden.
We learned that if you did a perfect job of designing your “Scholar’s Garden,” you and your family got to keep it. And if you didn’t, the Emperor chopped your head off.
My understanding of Yin and Yang is now greater than it ever was. It was peaceful and instructive.
As we stepped back into street, we reminded each other that we should on no account drift east of Main Street, into the part of town the guidebooks all inferred were ‘rough as fuck’.

“It would have been helpful,” I said a few minutes later, “if there’d been some touristy street banners depicting drug addicts. ‘You are entering the Junkie District! Don’t say we didn’t warn you!’”
We quickened our pace and resisted the urge to look at the map.
“Left! Keep looking straight ahead! Nice and steady! Right!” I barked under my breath, working from memory, more by luck than judgement, as we navigated our way through a minefield of crazy people who’d fallen on desperately hard times.
Back in the safety of our tourist bubble, Girlfriend asked if I’d noticed the piece of paper nailed to a tree, the heroin advert with a phone number on little tear off slips. Nice. We don't really get much of that sort of thing round our way.

Later we browsed through Yaletown - where film stars stay when they’re in town - at galleries and suchlike, and later on still we went out for a posh meal at the Raincity Grill. I ironed my best shirt especially.

The food and wine were both very good indeed, only spoiled by the fact that my Wobble Head thing - mildly amusing previously - was back with a vengeance and was really getting on my nerves and making me feel nauseous.
Oh yeah - and I'd had to ask what the vegetarian option was because there wasn't one on the menu. That really pisses me off - it makes you feel like you need to have allowances made for you. Nobody wants that. It seems the swankier the restaurant, the more they want to make you grovel for it.
I felt shitty because Girlfriend had been looking forward to eating here for months, and I wasn’t exactly at my suave and sophisticated best. And to top it all off, I could barely finish my pudding.

Just ask the poor sods outside the Carnegie Centre - life is hard.

Dinner shot: Way too posh for taking photos.
Wobble Head Factor: 10

Monday, August 28, 2006


We bought two all day passes from the 7-Eleven and rode the bus to the Downtown terminal. From here we caught the Seabus - just imagine having this view as part of your daily commute - to Lonsdale Quay, then another bus climbing through the hilly suburbs of North Van and up to Grouse Mountain.

It was a ‘life imitating art imitating life’ ride, because the setting - large houses set in woodlands; big windows with, presumably, most of the daylight blocked out by trees; a sort of dank, gloomy sixties vibe lingering throughout (think The Graduate set in a forest halfway up a mountain) - was exactly as I’d imagined it would be from reading Doug, as we call him. I don’t know if we passed along or nearby to the real Rabbit Lane, but we might as well have done. It was the closest I’ve ever felt to stepping inside the pages of a novel.
For your safety please hold on.

The cable car ride up Grouse Mountain was spectacular.
As mountains go it’s pretty commercialised, with a large café staffed mainly by gossipy teenagers, and a shop selling ultra-hi-tech outdoor clothing, a dream come true for rubber and zero-weight fleece fetishists everywhere. The Smiths’ Panic played on the sound system. I wanted to buy two of everything, but settled instead for a can of Red Bull and a salty snack to try and calm myself.
In winter, the good people of Vancouver come here for a spot of night-skiing after work. I’m so envious and I’ve never skied in my life.
We walked a little higher, up the dirt track and away from the logging arena, for a more panoramic view. On a clear day, and today was nothing if not clear, you can see as far as the San Juan Islands a hundred miles away in Washington State. The sky accessorised Girlfriend’s new earrings perfectly and - holy crap! - we came this close to a grizzly bear.

Later on in Gastown, I snapped the world’s most photographed steam powered clock.

There was a birthday celebration at a nearby table in La Casita. Everyone had lined up their cameras on a nearby shelf to go off on self-timers. It was like a film premiere with invisible paparazzi. Before I could stop it, even mine got in on the act.
Girlfriend kept her eyes peeled for Mounties.

Question: Is having a rainbow flag in your bar or restaurant a bit like, say, being accredited by the Soil Association? Does your establishment have to meet specific standards of gayness? Do mystery shoppers from the Gay Association come along and secretly assess you, then mail you a certificate confirming how many stripes you’re qualified to display on your rainbow? Or is it just an unregulated free for all?

We closed the day with a few drinks in the Denman St. Free House. There was a rainbow flag inside the door but the place was at most only half-gay, as far as I could make out. Three lads came in, very excited about something or other, knocked back shots of some cocktail containing absinthe, and were off again in seconds. And that was it!

We got chatting to Moose who waterproofs decks.
He had a lot to say about most subjects and seemed a very decent bloke. He sees his daughter alternate weekends and seemed to be hurting a little about it.
I did shots with him of a drink that sounded like yoghurt, and every time I asked him or the barman - who, incidentally, knows his English football better than many English football fans I’ve met - to repeat the name of the drink, it still sounded like yoghurt. So we did shots of yoghurt. I returned the favour by buying us both shots of Sambuca, set on fire with flames.

It was a good night, and when we finally left - Citrus Mules are fantastic, by the way. Ever tried one? You really should - he asked me and Girlfriend, in a voice that was half-jesting but all the way sincere, “Am I an asshole, guys? Honestly? Am I an asshole?”
“Absolutely not,” I promised him, and I meant it.
If you’ve enough self-awareness to be asking the question, then it's already been answered in the negative, and that’s what I really think. Hic.

Dinner shot: Chimichangas!
Wobble Head Factor: 7

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Sunday, August 27, 2006

Girlfriend In A Coma 

There was a man outside Hilary’s Café carrying a placard.
“Have a beautiful day!” he said in a friendly voice. “Thank you. We will,” I replied.

We love breakfast in cafés when you’re on holiday. It’s just the best thing. We walked in, placed our order, then found a nice table from which to soak up the bustling atmosphere and coffee aromas .
Only later, when the shouting started, did we realise Placard Man was staging a protest over unpaid fridge repair bills. He was very vocal. Negotiations between the two parties had clearly come to an impasse.
We were itching to hear the other side of the story, but what can you do?
The lady who served us seemed kind and patient, and wore an expression of resigned embarrassment about the man outside. He would not stop.
I’m afraid it kind of took the edge off the moment. Nobody wants to dine in the middle of a war zone. We felt strangely guilty. On the other hand, it made not one dent on our appetites, and breakfast was great.

Afterwards we walked around Stanley Park. It’s a ten kilometre circuit, a peninsula with sea on three sides. Cyclists and rollerbladers get their own lane, which they must travel in an anti-clockwise direction. On paper this sounds a tad authoritarian, but when you see just how many people are out walking, jogging, skateboarding, cycling and rollerblading on a Sunday morning - literally thousands - anything else, except for everybody going clockwise instead, would lead to certain carnage.

Vancouverites are, without exception, slender and gorgeous and committed to worshipping at the temple of the body beautiful. No wonder you don’t see many old people about - they’ve all dropped dead while taking exercise. A steady trickle of ambulances carried away the expired, all of them sixty or thereabouts, all of them in shorts, and most of them on wheels. Way to go, old dudes.

We passed a rock balancer at work. Part performance art, part mystic happening - the improbable stacking of boulders as a metaphor for the fine balance of, you know, the natural world and stuff - it was an amazing spectacle. He worked quickly and confidently, and didn't change his mind once he’d decided what he was going for. We never saw one of his works fall down. A crowd gathered, open mouthed in wonder, whispering “How does he do that?” We hung around for twenty minutes or so, putting five dollars under a stone for a greetings card before wandering on.

I asked someone to take our picture under Lion’s Gate Bridge, looking towards Grouse Mountain. It was a bit of a fan moment, both being significant landmarks in Douglas Coupland’s Girlfriend In A Coma: a kind of literary equivalent to standing outside Salford Lad’s Club with a gladioli in your ear and a handful of deaf aids.

Then we cut inside for a walk in the woods. Stanley Park is North America’s largest urban park, nearly a thousand acres of dense rainforest, a semi-wilderness in the middle of the city. How great is that?
At Beaver Lake, a conservation group had set up a stall with, amongst other things, a glass display case crammed full with birds that looked as if they had been deaded for that very purpose.
“Here is the last known breeding pair of Yellow Spotted Something Or Others,” a sign might as well have read. “We killed them only this morning.”

Still, I like the way you don’t have to have conked out dead before you can have a commemorative plaque put on a bench in your honour. I’d like one of them for me and Girlfriend, please.

I could have spent a lot longer watching an exquisite Oriental girl in tight black T-shirt and shorts with a formidable forehand in the tennis court district, but, well, you know, the guy in the baseball cap was looking at me funny.

Later on we hopped on a ‘bathtub’ ferry and had lunch on Granville Island.
There’s a big indoor market with a really good food hall. We sat at a table by a window and spent a happy hour watching crowds wandering around with paper plates piled high with international cuisine and hoping that somebody would free up a bloody table soon so that they could eat.

In a former industrial area that had lain derelict and rat infested for decades, there are now some light and spacious art galleries. Hooray!
Only one company with a questionable slant on sustainability stood in the way of Art’s relentless advance.
There was some really good stuff on display, bold and imaginative and prohibitively expensive. I made some excuses that we’d never be able to fit anything in our rucksacks and scarpered off for a beer.
There were shops that sold dresses and that.

It was evening by the time we wandered along Sunset Beach back up to the hotel, and the rollerbladers showed no sign of letting up. I was beginning to fancy a go myself. There was even a car park that the council had cordoned off as a learners area. Would that ever happen in my hometown? Somehow, I don’t think so.
A common story of love and sorrow came to an end here.

I don’t know if it was the time difference I was taking some adjusting to, or being on that little ferry, or having carried a heavy bag on my back yesterday, or maybe the rock balancing guy had put a curse on me, but I had a real Wobble Head on. I felt dizzy all day. I could be standing at the sink brushing my teeth, for example, and I’d have to steady myself, like I was still on that boat. Oh well.

Had curry for tea and drank loads of beer.

Breakfast Shot.
Wobble Head Factor: 10

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Saturday, August 26, 2006

Big Yellow Cab 

The cabbie was a mentalist. He weaved between lanes, he ducked and dived, he flicked between radio stations - bhangra, bhangra, bhangra, a genteel panel game about opera, bhangra - with the attention span of a man who doesn’t have one.
He asked about where we were from, recommended hotdog stands, gave driving tips and general advice on how to proceed in life that, if followed, would likely get us killed. He was a fun guy.
“It doesn’t matter how you laugh as long as you’re laughing, ’cos if you’re not laughing you’re crying,” he hooted joyfully as pedestrians scattered and bounced off his hood in all states of consciousness. And hey - he drove a Prius.

He dropped us off at our hotel some twenty one hours after the first taxi had picked us up, and it was still only mid-afternoon.
Question: If the sun is shining through your little window when you take off, then stays in exactly the same spot in your window for the entire journey, all five thousand plus miles of it, does it mean that you’ve been travelling at the speed of light?
I made a mental note to collect some data on the return journey.

I took a photo and a couple of Anadin then crashed out in seconds.
After a short nap we checked out the neighbourhood and added our names to the list for a table at Milestones Grill and Bar, the original one, on the corner of Denman and Davie Street in the West End, then had a stroll on the beach, checking out the volleyball game and dodging rollerbladers until it was time to eat.

We’ve both wanted to visit Vancouver for - oooh - years and years. It was one of those great pinch yourself moments to finally be there. We grinned like twerps and felt very excited.

For dinner, I plumped for the Go On, You Only Live Once Cheesecake, while Girlfriend opted for the White Rum, Champagne, Peach Liqueur and Sangria Slushie with a Cute Plastic Toy On Top.

Monday, August 21, 2006

I Wanna Stay 

…out all night with you. Yeah, you make my world alright.

It seems to have been raining for weeks. The air feels cool and autumnal.
Outside my window, brave souls on a voyage to the lady at the gate with the dreamy soft white baps wrap themselves up in overcoats, leaning into the wind and rain like it was a test.
The Company X Summer Fete on Saturday was, by all accounts, a washout. Surely it can’t be over already?

At lunchtime Rex the security guard brought round some early bottles of homemade wine for us to sample - damson, blackcurrant, elderflower. The good stuff.

“My friend Becky’s Dad grows fruit on his allotment,” said Stella, my eighties style yuppie witch of a team leader. “She says every year her and her Dad have this competition to see who can produce the best wine.”
“Try this,” said Rex, pouring each of us a shot. “Mrs. Rex calls it Old Reliable because… well, never mind why. Just have a taste.”
It was rich and velvety and warming. Damson. I told Rex I’d take a dozen.

“Sometimes when I’m feeling stressed out - because I do get stressed out sometimes, believe it or not - Becky will say “Come on Stella. Get a grip, girl. Come with me and I’ll show you my soft fruits.”
And we’ll go down and sit on the porch outside her Dad’s shed, and we’ll talk and drink for hours on end, or sometimes we’ll just say nothing for ages, but it doesn’t feel uncomfortable or anything, it just feels nice, and she’ll have her hair tied back with a ribbon and she’ll be wearing this really pretty red and white gingham dress she’s got which buttons down the front and reminds me of picnic cloths and days out when I was a kid, and we’ll watch the sunset together and try to imagine what it must be like to be seventy years old, or eighty even - OMG, can you imagine that? I can’t begin to - and she’ll put a blanket over me when it gets cooler and we’ll wait for the stars to come out, and she’ll tell me their names, and when she doesn’t know their names she’ll just make something up and make me laugh. And then I know I’m going to be alright.”

“This one tastes of blackcurrants,” I said. “Delicious. Is it blackcurrant?”

Rex nodded and smiled.
The sky darkened. The rain was really lashing down now. Way over on the bypass, the cars had their headlamps on, barely one o’clock in the afternoon, and look at it, so murky.
Further in the distance, Preston, city of umbrellas, was slowly dissolving to grey, it’s hopeful citizens dashing from offices to shops, from shops to offices, searching for bargains and a break in the clouds, and wondering when it will all stop.

“My friend Becky’s is dark and sweet and tastes of strawberries,” said Stella from a faraway place, dreamily. “Sometimes I think could happily spend whole days and nights down there.”

We braced ourselves for the gathering storm, thunder and lightning, cats and dogs, and I thought about taxis and airports and hand luggage restrictions and the fear of flying and long delays expected.

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Sunday, August 20, 2006


Girlfriend in the garden, two years ago today.

And now look…
Echinops and alliums.
Not sure. My Mum thinks possibly salvia or maybe veronica.
Definitely sweet peas.
Zebra bamboo, cordylines, table, chairs, grass, concrete, other stuff.
Wisteria, trellis, completely ignored bird box, Japanese maple.
Another echinop.
Kettle, Girlfriend, kitchen clock.

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Thursday, August 17, 2006


Mike stumbled into the office this morning looking more than usually worse for wear.
“Bloody hell!” said Stella, my eighties style yuppie witch of a team leader. “It’s Sham 69!”

He shrugged and let out a quarter-smile, which is the most you ever get from Mike. He’d been to Blackpool’s Festival of Oi! weekender, or in his case, a long weekender.
“Sham 69 didn’t show up,” he winced.
“That’s anarchists for you,” I said. “No sense of duty.”

He hobbled to his desk and lowered himself painfully into his chair.
“So were there a lot of zimmer frames flying around in the mosh pit then?” asked Stella.
“Yeah. It were ’kin’ brilliant,” he said. “I’ve got bruises on my bruises.”

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

When The Routine Bites Hard And Ambitions Are Low 

Here’s a serving suggestion. Eat cherry tomatoes on a conference call. It sounds like somebody’s having a snog and will drive everybody to distraction. It breaks up the routine, I suppose.

“Whoever is making kissing noises, will they stop it now?” said Pestilence, who can’t stomach that kind of thing.
“It’s Keith eating tomatoes again,” said Stella, my eighties style yuppie witch of a team leader.
It was me actually. I was puncturing their skins then slurping the juice, more loudly than I’d realised. I carried on regardless.
“I don’t know who it is,” said Creepy Keith from Accounts, “but it’s not me.”
“Yes it is, you libidinous hippy,” said Stella. “Either that or you’re making out with someone, and everybody knows that’s never going to happen with another human.”

Meanwhile, in water cooler news: we’ve got one.
Stella ambitiously believes it will herald a new era of trendiness and cosmopolitanism. Soon we’ll all be two sizes smaller, dressed like fashion models, and it will become the place for people with great teeth to congregate and discuss last night’s telly, like they do on the telly.

“Yeah, but you also thought,” I reminded her, “that having a vending machine with a cappuccino facility would turn us all into continental café dwelling sophisticates. All that happened was everybody suffered chocolate powder burns and spent the rest of the week lisping.”
“I thought no such thing,” Stella objected.
“You almost bought a beret.”
“That was a joke. I’m funny, remember?” she said, before flouncing off to do linguini with her friend Becky at Mamillas.

“Bring us back some olives,” I called down the corridor.
“I don’t know if you’re sophisticated enough for olives,” she shouted back.
I harrumphed loudly and did my “You think you’re so clever” look, mainly for my own amusement since she was in the foyer by this time.
She rang me from Tabs’ desk on reception.
“What kind do you want?”
“There’s a lot you don’t know about me,” I yelled, forgetting that I was now on the phone. “Get stuffed.”

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Monday, August 14, 2006


On the train on Saturday, halfway between here and Manchester, a girl with a pink nanopod thingy settled into a seat across the aisle from me and Girlfriend.
In the spirit of all things Mancunian, I contemplated stealing it from her just before dismounting at Salford Crescent, leaving her tuneless and Piccadilly bound, then selling it on to one of the nerds at the blogmeet.
Lucky for me I didn’t, because it transpired she was none other than Lovely Kate The Manchizzle, the organiser of the whole shebang. What a blogmeet faux pas that would have been.

It was different from the last one we went to. Then it had been odd to meet people for the first time and yet feel as if you knew them already, or as well as you can know a stranger after closely scrutinising their diaries for a sustained period of time.
But Saturday was different because, with the exception of Manchizzle, Crinklybee and to an extent Mancubist, I didn’t know anybody there. For all we knew, they may just as well have been a bunch of, say, computer enthusiasts.

So it was a bit odd, but good odd.
We sat around in the café at Urbis, but somehow it didn’t seem - to a retiring type like me, anyway - very conducive to mingling. I think somebody counted twenty two of us.
It was better afterwards when a hardcore subset marched off to The Hasbeen and Halfwit, a caravan of geeks with name stickers on our T-shirts, and took to drink.

Favourite moment was when wide eyed and innocent Andrew, who has diligently kept a journal for years but - get this! - doesn’t publish it on the internet, ended up next to a bloke who then proceeded to show him his tattoos. At length.
Crinklybee was as friendly and chatty as I’d hoped him to be - although a decent haircut and a shave wouldn’t do him any harm - and it was a great pleasure.
There was Mancubist who writes terrifically well about stuff happening around Manchester, and Craig who has a whole portfolio of money spinning blogs. After learning this I made a point of going on about how repugnant adverts on blogs are, but he took it all in good heart. Girlfriend took a bit of a shine to him on account of his Gary Kelly eyes.
There was Ian who rants amusingly, Geoff who writes eloquently about The 43 Bus, Yer Mam who gives good musicblog, some bloke who writes about the telly, a man into model trains, and several others I don’t mean to offend but who have managed to slipped my memory. It’s easily done.

Noticeably: not many girls present. Manchizzle, Girlfriend, and Yer Mam’s girlfriend (I think) and that was all. Then again, I suppose blogging’s not really a chick thing, is it?
Obviously, there were a few weirdoes and undesirables present, but I just told them I was Backroads and they didn’t bother me after that. I can recommend it.
So to summarise: enjoyed v. much. Kudos to Kate for putting it together. The next one’s in November, apparently.

The journey home was tedious though. “I’m sitting in the railway station…”

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Monday, August 07, 2006


No job related grouchiness for Juggling Protégé. Gifted and able, his meteoric rise will one day be the stuff of biopics. His employer can’t get enough of him, it would seem. He told us about the latest deeds of daring do that he’s done.
Charlie said that wedding photography is becoming increasingly raunchy these days, in a ‘eurgh’ kind of way. Is it? I’ve been out of the loop for a while.
Fairly Famous Actor said that Vancouver is beautiful, amazing, and Leanne told us how she’s been able to spend more quality Leanne time with her family and friends lately. It didn’t work out between her and Tina, and she was absolutely gutted, probably still is a bit. But she knows she’ll be alright in the long run, because that’s what she’s like.

I said “Does anybody want to sniff my shot?” and Girlfriend and Charlie collapsed.
All but one agreed that chilli vodka is even more eye wateringly unpalatable than it used to be, the unluckiest draw on the stick. It doesn’t bother Girlfriend in the slightest, but then again, she is part asbestos.

There was some “I’ve had a few drinks and I’m feeling invincible” talk on the subject of a half-marathon, with me, JP and Canoeing Instructor all saying “Well I’ll do it if you’re doing it. Are you doing it? Go on then, I’ll do it if you will.” I’ve no idea which idiot brought that up.

On Sunday I got me a coming out of retirement wedding photography gig. It’s been ages and I’m quite excited. We took a stroll around the grounds to check out locations and what have you, and only an imbecile could screw it up. Wer-hoo. And, at last, it’s the justification I’ve been waiting for to buy a whizzy new camera.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Forgotten But Not Yet Gone 

One of the things I like most about working for Company X, perhaps the only thing, come to think of it, is this:
You are never in any doubt as to how much your contribution as an employee is valued. Because it is sod all.

I’ve worked at many places where staff have laboured under the misapprehension that they’re making a difference to their collective fortunes, that their efforts amount to something, that a benign God-head figure is looking down from an oak panelled boardroom and will, any day now, bestow generous rewards upon them in a gesture of merciful gratitude.

That may be the case where you work, or it may not. No such room for misunderstanding here at Company X.
The board of directors would like you to clear your desk, each and every one of you, and piss off, right now, never to darken their door again. They might never publicly express it in those terms, but you only have to see the look in their eyes to know it to be true.

The last of the leavers left today, Seriously Weird Nancy, gone to paint watercolours, and take long walks and even longer baths, and there was no collection and no leaving drinks at the pub.
It’s kind of sad because she thought she was more popular, more appreciated, but as I’ve come to learn over the years, you don’t necessarily reap what you sow. All those homemade flapjacks and fairy cakes - where did she think they would get her?

Bill Surname, CEO, has announced there will be no need for compulsory redundancies at this time. The interest in voluntary ‘early release’ was over subscribed by ten squillion to one.
We can all get back to work now and focus on our core business activities, he says, safe in the knowledge that our immediate futures are secure, and nobody believes a word of it for a moment.

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