Friday, January 30, 2009


In the bleak midwinter frosty wind made moan, but not half as much as my stomach, which refuses to STFU.
“I'm famished,” it whinges. “Let’s eat.”
“Have you got worms? You’ve only just had breakfast,” I reply.
“Ooh! Ooh! There's still some of Creepy Keith from Account's old mince pies in the stationery cupboard!”
“You've got to be kidding.”

It’s been a dowdy old month. We gained Barack Obama but lost Tony Hart and John Martyn.
With every new day economic forecasters predict it’s going to be worse than what they said yesterday.
Bankers, bemused as they are baffled at how they’ve brought the world to its knees, help themselves to huge bonuses, because that is all they know. Then they're baffled by the outcry.
They’re striking at the refineries, the dole queue is lengthening with every news cycle, down and down and down we go into the murky depths of woe, nothing to be done but brushing twice daily and hoping that the crops don’t fail, and this morning we received the news that Creepy Keith from Accounts has broken up with Advantage, his lady friend from the Runcorn and Widnes area.

“Aww, that’s a shame,” said Stella, my eighties style yuppie witch of a team leader, when the story broke. “You liked her, didn’t you?”
“I liked her arse,” Keith replied.
“How about a sort of cake thing from the machine?” groaned my stomach. “What do you say we have early elevenses?”
“It was by mutual agreement,” sighed Keith. “Ours was a brief but passionate affair. We banged like fireworks in the night sky.” Stella sighed too. “It was an amazing journey for both us, but in our hearts we knew it had run its course by Charnock Richard.”
“Bollocks. You got dumped, didn’t you?”
“Get lost,” he answered. “I dumped her if you must know. It was costing me a fortune in petrol.”
“I knew it!” she laughed. “I knew you’d be too tight to sustain a middle distance relationship.”
“So anyway. Why don’t you and me give it another try, Stella? How about it? I’m footloose and disease free.”
“Let me think about that for a few minutes, Keith,” she said. “Time’s up. No freaking chance.”
“Oh come on. You’re not doing anything,” he pleaded. “Let me take you out tonight and I’ll show you what I’ve learned.”

At that moment my stomach made a rumble of Richter scale magnitude. The entire building shook. Car alarms hollered in the car park. From my desk, whole sheets of paper fluttered to the floor. Stella and Keith fell silent. They stood in the doorway staring at me.
“Oops,” I said sheepishly. “Must be feeling a bit peckish.”
“Here,” said Keith. He delved deep into his manbag and threw me a banana.

Keith’s banana felt soft and warm in my hands. I carefully peeled away the browning spotty skin then, with some trepidation, put the squishy flesh in my mouth. I wanted to eat it, I really did, but it tasted rank and I couldn’t go through with it.
“Nothing personal, Keith,” I gagged, “but that’s disgusting. Sorry.”
“What is it with bananas?” he fumed. “That was good and hard when I left the house. By the time I've come to work it’s soft as shit.”
“My friend Becky gives me one every morning,” said Stella, seeing her chance. She rifled through her handbag and pulled out a long, curved purple thing. “See if this is more to your taste, Tim.”

She handed me the strange plastic object and I undid the clasp, and there inside the casing was a perfect yellow banana. I devoured it slowly, savouring every bite. Stella looked delighted, Keith less so. Uneasy silence filled the room, all but for the sound of my joyful masticating.

“So do we have a date tonight or not?” he asked when I eventually finished. He picked up the purple case and examined it with a look of contempt.
“Not,” she answered calmly. “I would say definitely not.”
“I don’t know why I bother, Stella,” he shouted. “Same bloody difference at the end of the day,” and with that he stormed out of the room, slamming the banana case on my desk next to where his flaccid fruit lay.

“Duh, Captain Obvious. The difference is…” Stella yelled down the corridor after him. “…The difference is that my friend Becky’s never goes soft before I’ve come.”

I poured some coffee style drink down my shirt, threw the uneaten banana in my wastebasket, then set about picking up all the sheets of paper that had fallen to the floor, re-arranging them into the correct order. It took up most of the rest of the day, but didn’t really take my mind off it.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Live! In Concert! 

If you're in the Lancaster area on the evening of Satuday February 21st and specifically don't want to hear me performing half an hour's worth of original songs and maybe a couple of 'interesting interpretations' of more well known tunes, then I feel obliged to recommend that you keep well away from the Olive Room on the top floor of the Gregson Community Arts Centre, 33 Moorgate, Moor Lane, Lancaster, LA1 3PY.
A little bit of support, however, from a nice person such as yourself would be, you know, genuinely appreciated if you can, like, make it.

I believe there'll be three other turns as well as me. Further details will probably appear here if and when the organisers ever get round to it.

Don't say you weren't warned.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Sign O' The Times 

I received a new wallet for Christmas because the old one had burst at the seams.
Either it was my enormous personal wealth what done for it – unlikely - or it was the vast accumulation of bits of paper I've been carrying with me everywhere for the last decade which took it beyond bulging point.
Old shopping lists, dentist appointment cards, half used books of stamps, notes and observations on the human condition which now make no sense to me and probably never did, set lists for concerts I've never performed, gift ideas, all manner of autobiographical detritus in scrap paper form, forgotten but not gone, and all of it covered in fluff.

This morning I had a bit of a clear out and transferred all items worth keeping from the old wallet to the new one.
This included a To Do list which I must have written sometime in May or early June. Twenty one tasks in total, just four of them crossed out and accomplished.
It's a touch cringeworthy, reading as it does like a mid-year version of a New Year's resolution list, not to say potentially embarrassing should it fall into enemy hands.
Any glimmer of ambition that's committed to writing, no matter how small or modest, is going to look a bit daft in the cold light of day. Especially if read out in a silly voice. It's the British disease. Anyway, I've appraised the situation and reckon I can tick five more items off the list. That's not too bad, no?

'This shouldn't take long' tasks:
Arrange phone line for upstairs room – done.
Make DVD shelves – done.
Make and send out party invites -Yay! Done! Party been and gone. Boo!
Clean and oil bikes,etc. – yeah well, it was a wet summer, we didn't actually get out on our bikes, so, erm, I'll do that when it warms up a bit.
Remove stains from hall floor tiles – erm, well... Er, it's a job that requires care and attention and strong chemicals, you don't want to be hasty. I'll do it when, erm, it's a bit warmer, honest.

Others tasks are more long term, and shall we say, Artsy Fartsy. Stop sniggering at the back:
Get into HDR photography – not yet, but keep meaning to. Hmm.
Do more recording – done, but only a bit, and not well enough yet. That said, I did have a tune played on local radio last week - three times! - so you know, that's progress of sorts.
Do more performing – again, have done a little bit. My thumb piano version of I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For is still discussed in polite circles. Have really enjoyed it but can't help thinking I should be doing more and better.
Get to grips with the garden – nope, not at all, really, other than mowing the lawn. I've been thinking a lot recently about rhubarb and potatoes and runner beans – if the magazine racks and bookshelves of WHSmiths are anything to go by, who hasn't? 'What Carrot Variety Weekly' indeed. It's a sign of the times. I'm determined to board that bandwagon though, yes sir. “Have potting shed, will be smug about fruit 'n' veg.” That's our battle cry.
Make book and CD shelves out of old shed – I'm getting round to it, honestly. Nothing goes to waste, etc.
Take piano lessons – onto it. I'm going to make some calls tomorrow, honest.

And so it goes. The one which reads “Join Athletics Club??” I'm putting down to youthful exuberance. Honestly, what was I thinking?
So to conclude this report, I guess the main thing to say is that nine months into our “Let's Try Living in Lancaster” experiment, last year's biggest undertaking by some way, bigger even than "Learn To Eat With Chopsticks" (still a miserable failure on my account), me and Girlfriend are both liking it a lot.
I won't presume to speak for her, but as for me, I feel much better in myself, thank you Nurse. It's still just like being on your holidays and I feel very positive and encouraged, somehow, just by being here, which may sound daft, but there you go. I never promised not to sound daft.
Here are some recent snaps.

Christmas Lights in Dalton Square.
Lancaster Canal, Frozen, With Bridges and That.
Lancaster at Dusk from Williamson Park.
Castle Hill.
View of Aldcliffe Road and Canal, From Train Leaving For Preston.
Weird Garden Centre Christmas Lights, Viewed From Speeding Train.
Frost in Fairfield Orchard.
Sunlight on Frozen Allotments.
Ducks on Frozen Canal, With Walkers and Pleasant Lighting.
Snow On Distant Mountains, From Williamson Park. You Could Almost Mistake Lancaster For, I Dunno, Vancouver Sometimes.

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