Proper Followers

Tuesday, December 26, 2006


It's Boxing day and I'm well and truely goosed. I woke up this morning with a streaming cold. It was only a few weeks ago when I said that since I gave up smoking, I hadn't suffered from so much as a sneeze. Then earlier this month I came down with that horrible 24 hour thing, I felt terrible, I was either too hot or too cold. This time I don't feel so bad but I'm aching all over and my nose and eyes are streaming. In short, I'm well and truely goosed!
Nicola said she wanted a simple Christmas dinner this year, eventually choosing free-range chicken. No problem, I told her and went out to look for one. My looking involved a bloke in the local pub with a leather jacket. He told me he could get me a free-range goose! So, I went back to Nic and told her that the local farmer was going to reserve us one of his finest birds, specially bred for the Christmas table. Fine, she replied, I don't think I've ever had goose before!.
When the big day came, a couple of nights before crimbo, I went out in search of Farmer Giles. (rhymes with piles, as in, he's got piles of money!) I found him, drinking a large measure of brandy, in the aforementioned inn. How's my goose? I asked him, It's under the table somewhere, he replied. I cautiously lowered my head beneath the pub table, half expecting to be pecked by a live bird. No such luck! There was a single Netto carrier bag on the floor and on closer examination I discovered it contained a previously frozen duck. I couldn't get yer a goose, the farmer started to exlplain... Needless to say, I went elsewhere.
I suppose the moral of the story is :Never trust a pub farmer!
Finally, it was more a case of Whalley Range than Free Range...
if you get my drift!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Just talking at you...

It's funny the way that streets change, sometimes they even change their name. I was looking for a street yesterday and it had disappeared - not completely - but nearly. It was I found, hidden behind a building site hoarding. Maybe one day, when the development is complete, the little street will be returned to the public, as a right-of-way!
I was informed today that the iconic Paramount Theatre building on Manchester's Oxford Street is to be demolished to make way for yet another corporate Head Quarters tower. The Paramount Building is better known of course as the Odeon Cinema. It closed down last year sometime and the building has been boarded up. It's sad to see all these old cinema and theatre buildings disappearing, although if you take a walk along Oxford Street, Oxford Road, Peter Street and Quay Street you will still find many clues as to where these fine buildings once stood.
I was reading about the uptake of the electric car within the M25. The M25 is of course the London Orbital Motorway and covers a Metropolitan area of I believe some 900 square miles. The London based daily Newspaper I was reading, mentioned that some 800 people have recently purchased a quirky battery car (their description, not mine). These little 2+2 seater jalopies are made of fibreglass and run on batteries that you can recharge from the mains. Fantastic! But it gets better, if you drive one of these ev's you get free parking in Westminster and most other London Borough's. Not only that, but you don't have to pay road tax. Insurance, is cheap as chips! and guess what? You don't need to pay the congestion charge either! Anything else? I hear you exclaim! YES! I reply. In Westminster you can re-charge your battery electric vehicle for FREE!!! at no less than 26 on street charging points.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Catching Up!...

No news is good news, or so the saying goes...
It's not that I haven't any news to impart lately, it's just that I haven't been feeling too good for a few days and all of my computer time has been taken up with Nicola's Newsletter Raw Meat. Okay, so that's the sick note out of the way. So, if you're sitting comfortably, then I'll begin.
We've just reached issue number 75 with Raw Meat and it's a bit of a landmark, as it coincides with the seventh anniversary of issue number one. We issue RM on a monthly basis but for a time while Nic was doing her MA we only did it bi-monthly, if you get my drift, or if you're some sort of mathematician that has multiplied 12X7 in his/her head and come up with a higher figure than 75.
Anyway, what I'm trying to say is that not only is Raw Meat No.75 a landmark issue but it is also a turning-point-issue. Yes, RM#75 is the very last paper/printed/posted issue of Nic's Newsletter. From RM#76 onwards, it will only be available Online. You can take a look at it right now, just clink this link
With Raw Meat, we don't really want to lose all our old paper and ink subscribers. I know that we are picking up many new readers from all round the world and that is good for Nic's writing, exposure wise. However, I feel that if the Newsletter isn't dropping in through the letterbox once a month, people will start to forget about it. That's why, we are asking everybody and anybody to subscribe to our new FREE mailing list. You can do that by simply visiting the Newsletter site at: and leaving your e-mail address in the form provided in the sidebar. Phew! I didn't know I was going to write all or any of the above until I had started! I hope it doesn't sound to advertacky!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Google Eye...

I think it might be called 'The Google Earth' it was in the newspapers yesterday and on the local tv news. I know what they were talking about 'cos Jack's got it on the computer and it's pretty good.
The only trouble with it, is that it's about six years out of date. If you don't know what I'm going on about, let me enlighten you.
'The Google Earth' is an online map thing that uses arial or satellite photography, I don't know which! But it's pretty good if you want to go from A-B address-wise.
Jack found our house on the map, and this is the bad bit - it showed our old car outside in the street - we've had two VW vans since that picture was taken - plus the car that we have now which is eighteen months old.
Anyway, like I said he found our house and then he clicked on something he had pre-set and the picture started to fly.
It went westwards to Liverpool then across the Irish Sea and Ireland and out across the Atlantic to New Jersey and landed on the Quick Mart Store that Jack informs me was used in the film Clerks.
Whether he was right or wrong doesnt really matter, as I thought it was a pretty good demonstration.
So, what were all the News Bods up in arms about? Well, the Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham contingent had discovered that the pictures of their cities were ages if not eons out of date whilst anybody clicking on a London location would find a bang up to the minute picture.
There were/are of course valid reasons for this predicament and like the Google spokesperson said.
Hold on, what did he/she say?
I can't remember, some gobbledegook! But I'm sure it was all true!

Friday, November 24, 2006

Proper Job!...

I see Frank Sidebottom's got himself a proper job with his new tv slot, the 'Proper Telly Show' on Manchester's Chanel M. I believe it also goes out on sky tv and ntl. Nice one Frank! or should I say Proper Job! like they do in Cornwall. Anyway, the thing about this 'Proper Telly Show' is that it goes out in black and white, then the repeats are shown in colour. How clever is that?
I met Frank Sidebottom once, at the Buzz Comedy Club in Manchester. I was standing at the back after Frank had been on and this bloke came out of the dressing room door. I told him I really enjoyed the act. And do you know what he said? He said, It wasn't me! I've not got a paper mache head! or words to that effect. But he would say that wouldn't he 'cos even his mum doesn't know that he's in showbusiness, does she? Proper Telly! Proper Show! Proper Job! Proper Joe!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

What really annoys me #2...

As previously promised, I was going to have a moan about bus deregulation, but everybody else seems to have jumped on the bandwagon and put their twopunnce worth in first. So, just to put the record straight I'm going to reprint a little thing I wrote on the subject in 1991 in my publication WN FUNZINE.
Hi, I'd just like to get a few things off my chest about the 2/8 (two and eight, rhymes with state) of public transport in this country. Firstly, it is painfully obvious that 'deregulation' didn't work. Secondly, the 'mini-bus' psychology of certain operators is a retrograde step.
A) Because it makes our streets reminiscent of a Banana Republic.
B) Most of the so called drivers are madmen.
C) These buses don't appear to run to a timetable.
D) They don't go where you want them to.
E) They are uncomfortable.
F) They are difficult to get on and off, with shopping etc.
G) They are driven much too fast.
H) They are reknowned for 'sailing' past bus stops.
I) They always seem to charge different fares.
J) Only the driver is allowed to smoke.
In closing I might add that ALL Third World economies are mini-bus MAD!
Of course there remains a lot left to be said about the state of the nations buses. In Manchester we seem to have reached crisis point. There are two or three big operators and a few other players. Nothing's changed since I wrote the above piece apart from the fact that a lot of the smaller operators have folded. At one time we had the crazy situation of having over seventy bus companies competing for business on our city streets. Now we are back to the near monopoly situation, with private companies in the driving seat (no pun intended) instead of the local councils. Anyway, I'm going to stick a couple of rhymes, on my daft poetry blog, that deal with the bus issue. The first one Buses was also written in 1991. The second one Bus Degradation was a little later, I think 1992. Anyhow, to check them out, you can clink the link marked My Poetry . Or go to or clink on My Poetry in the right hand column of this blog.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Scraping Skies...

I looked out of Jack's bedroom window today and I saw the Beetham Tower. Nothing unusual in that, if you know Manchester, you'll know that you can see this sky scraper from more places than you can't. The reason I mention it is because, only yesterday I couldn't see it at all. I looked for it yesterday and the day before that, but it wasn't there. You see, it was there really, I just couldn't see it because of the leaves on the trees. However, the last few days have been quite windy and cold at times and enough of the autumn gold things have dropped off the trees to allow me to see the Beetham Tower.
The bottom half of the Beetham Tower is a hotel. And on the twenty third floor, which is sort of halfway up the building, there is a panoramic viewing room. Jack was telling me that when he went to the cinema across the street, in the old Great Nothern Warehouse, he could see a queue of people waiting to be admitted to the Hilton Hotel. How mad is that?
Although, I do know that the view is pretty good from up there, because I used to live on the sixteenth floor of a tower a mile or so away in Salford. From my kitchen window, in those days, I could see the Runcorn Bridge, which is thirty five miles up the Manchester Ship Canal. Heady days!
Before I go, I must mention the Penthouse apartment, or whole top floor, I believe in the case of The Beetham Tower, which is occupied by the architect who designed the building. I've read that it's worth in excess of £3,000,000 (yes, that's Three Million British Pounds!) and that he has imported an olive grove of three hundred year old olive trees from Italy and has replanted them in a giant conservatory on the roof of the tower, five hundred and sixty one feet above the Deansgate pavement. The highest residential accomodation in Britain? Go on Tarzan, eat your heart out!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

No Smoke Without Fire...

I went to the dentist today to have two fillings replaced. I was sitting in the waiting room, when the fire alarm went off. At first nobody moved, everybody thought it was a false alarm. Then a woman banged on the dentist's door and shouted 'Everybody out!' So all the people in the surgery, including an irate woman at the front of the emergency queue, had to file down the two flights of stairs and out of the building. All the gaspers huddled together and lit their cancer sticks, then they blew smoke over each other and anybody else who happened to be in the vicinity. One of the gaspers burnt himself with his own cigarette. Another one set fire to a piece of paper and they all laughed at the feeble joke 'There's no smoke without fire!' We stood outside for about ten minutes and a lady came round with a clipboard and accounted for everyone. When all the paperwork was done she said we could go back inside. She said it wasn't a false alarm, it was a fire drill!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Kippax...

An extract from a story I wrote for Noel Bayley's book The Kippax - A Celebration in 1994.
"Skinheads and Greasers in the Kippax, dad?" Billy asked. He was just seventeen and the blue shirt that he was wearing with the 'Brother' logo emblazoned across the front was identical to ten more on the field of play and a few thousand more on the Kippax Street.
"That was twenty-six years ago, son." Rocky replied, pulling his New Yorker hat down over his ears and the collar of his donkey jacket up over the wooly thing. "Skinheads and Greasers, Mods and Rockers, Suedeheads, Rockerbillies, Punks, Bovver Girls... you name it son, they've all bin 'ere at one time or another!" he continued, as Swindon stuck the ball into the North Stand net. "Bleedin' 'ell, and we didn't play shit like this in the old days either!" He gasped in not quite disbelief at going a goal down to the bargain basement of the Premier League. 'Come on City, come on City...' the Kippax chanted almost in unison as the game restarted.
"What was it like then dad?" Billy asked, "In your day?"
"Sky blue, white and maroon, Billy, And red and black - all over. I came 'ere fer two seasons and never saw the Blues get beat once, son."
"You must've missed a few matches then dad, eh?"
"Only one or two, son... When yer Uncle Bob got married, that was one of 'em..." Rocky stopped in disbelief as the ball whistled past Dibble and into the City net. "I don't believe it!" he cried, "What are they playing at?"
"Keep your wig on dad, it's been disallowed!" Billy said.
Rocky stuck his hands deep into the pockets of his work coat and consoled himself with his memories, 'Mulhearn, Book, Pardoe, Oakes, Doyle, Heslop, Lee, Bell, Summerbee, Coleman and Young,' he mused. "Yeah, those were the days son!" he said out loud as the game settled down. "We used to sit on the crush bars 'cos we were too small to see over the crowd. An' sometimes we'd stand on the railings at the very back and kick the corrugated iron wall with our heels. They used to call us 'The Kickers'"
"The kids still do all that, dad."
"Yeah, but it was different in those days, Billy."
"Yeah, it would be wouldn't it? You're about forty now!"
"Thanks a lot son. I've always said, 'You're as young as you feel!' haven't I?"
"And how old do you feel dad? Come on, give us a break. Twenty thousand nutters all decked out in the latest gear? When was that dad?"
"Well, that's what it felt like, Billy. It was true for our mob anyway. We was always smart as owt but I suppose you're right. There's always bin a few divvies about... there always will be won't there? But as far as I'm concerned the Kippax is what Manchester is all about!" by Danny Wise (my pen name).

Friday, November 10, 2006


I got a bit of stick on a couple of web sites for saying that it was too expensive to go to see City at the new stadium.
I wasn't having a go at City or at City fans and supporters.
Firstly, I am and always will be a City fan.
I may not find myself in a position where I am able to find the money or the time to visit the stadium, so I guess whoever it was that called me an armchair supporter, was right.
I support arm chairs, in fact I wouldn't sit on anything else.
Secondly, because I don't go to the match these days, I can't call my self a City supporter, because I don't support them financially.
I was a season ticket holder for many years at Maine Road.
I stopped going after they made it compulsory to sit down.
The last song I sang at Maine Road was 'You'll never seat the Kippax!'
Yes, my daft poetry blog StraightTalkingStreetTalkingSweet... is at:

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Road Calming...


What’s all this road calming nonsense about? The truth is nobody knows, it’s just one of those mad mad things. Councils get a bee in their bonnet about speeding drivers and road safety and parking issues. And, in all fairness to them, so they should! The problem is of course, what to do about these issues and how to keep everybody happy, not least central government, who may well whip away significant amounts of funding from local authorities if they aren’t seen to be doing something. In Manchester, the roads are terrible, they always have been and they probably always will be. We used to complain about the poor state of the roads (and pavements) because of the potholes and we still do. However, we now also have to contend with these stupid irrational so called speed bumps and other road calming measures. Recently, the powers that be have started to apply their tar macadam humps to bus routes? How mad is that? The bus routes are also the main roads and therefore the access avenue for the fire, police and ambulance services. I recently watched the TV documentary about the paramedics in Liverpool, who may I add do a fine job. The disturbing thing on the programme was when they were rushing a pregnant woman to hospital, she and her unborn baby felt every speed bump that the ambulance hit.

In Manchester and some other places the solution to the problem could be as simple as burning off the existing asphalt surface to reveal the beautiful cobble style stones beneath. (I say cobble style, because I’ve been informed that they’re actually called setts) In doing this of course the original tram lines will also be uncovered and with a bit of ingenuity applied maybe we could actually see some trams on the streets in the areas where they are needed rather than the hair brained scheme that presently exists.

Just as an aside, I’ll explain that we’ve got three Metrolink tram routes in Manchester, all of them go to places they don’t need to go to. The Altrincham line pre-existed as a very busy suburban railway link. The Bury line also pre-existed, as I think, the only third rail line in Manchester. The Eccles line, the most recent addition to the system, does have some good points, in that it will serve Cornbrook and Pomona if any development ever takes place there and it does enable some of the good people from Ordsall to take the tram with the gentry from neighbouring Salford Quays. The wisdom of continuing it any further in the Eccles direction escapes me, as Eccles already has a railway line running straight through it.

Anyway, back to the road calming bit, thinking about it actually, the answer to the road calming equation would be to re-introduce the street trams we had up till 1949. you don’t see speed bumps in Market street do you? You don’t need them with all those tram tracks coming out of Piccadilly! In conclusion my unwanted/unasked for advice to local councils and to Manchester in particular is to reveal the cobbles and re-introduce street trams. But, will they listen?

Thursday, November 02, 2006

What really annoys me...

Shopping really annoys me, it's not so much the having to go shopping for food and supplies bit, it's more the stupidity of the kidology of the whole thing! that really annoys me. What do I mean by that? Well, we went down to Chorlton today and called in the Unicorn Grocery to get some good stuff, I bought some buckwheat flour to make gallettes and Nic got some wholemeal rice, as she's eating only brown things these days. Ruth bought a vegan cake and we bought some organic stuff, just to annoy Jack. The thing I like about this grocery store is that they have lots of real food, the thing I don't like is... well it dosen't really matter, I don't get to go down there very often but I have been going now and then since it opened. In fact, I first tried wholemeal pitta breads there and I've been eating them ever since. Also, in the early days you used to be able to pay 10% of your bill in bobbins. Bobbins are the unit of currency for the local LETS organisation, of which I was a member. LETS stands for Local Exchange Trading System, don't you know. I suppose what really annoys me is that the likes of Unicorn Grocery don't have a store front in Moss Side! Now that really would be radical!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Holding the Fort...


We seem to go everywhere, all the time. Our latest escapade took us to Norfolk. I drove Nic down there on Monday so she could stay at some crazy place and visit her friend. The bottom line is, she’s still down there and I’m back in Manchester looking after the fort. Then Jack and Nic’s mum went down to Norfolk yesterday as well. Jack is on holiday from school, so I guess it’s like a big adventure to him. Anyway, the other day when I drove down, we made a small diversion off the route to the Lincolnshire town of Spalding, where we stopped for a late lunch and what some Americans call a comfort break. On leaving the town we first passed a cafĂ© called Joe’s, soon followed by a warehouse building that advertised the name of a banana importer. It reminded me of The Banana Factory near St Helens, that my mate pointed out to me many years ago when we were on the road. We were driving down some street and my mate said “Do you want to see the Banana Factory?” I thought he was joking of course, but to prove the point he stopped some local kids and asked them where the Banana Factory was. One of the kids replied “Go to the top of the road and turn left, you can’t miss it.”

With Nic and Jack being away for a few days, I actually managed to watch some television. I usually only ever manage to see Coronation Street and East Enders and sometimes Match of The Day and more often than not I miss at least some if not all of most of them. So it was nice to sit down in front of the box with a cup of coffee and to watch the Evening News programme all the way through followed by the local news bulletin after that. And then, some! Later, I even managed to watch a comedy show. Then a stupid thing I can’t remember the name of but there was a really annoying bloke with a bald head hosting the programme and two teams of two people. On one of the teams was Pam Ayres, which is the only reason I didn’t change channels, she had some younger bloke as her team mate. The other team had Nicholas Parsons on it with some young woman who looked and sounded like a Literary Agent. It was one of those really low budget BBC shows that should have been on the radio. But I watched it ‘cos I like Pam Ayres. On one part of the show they had a couple of film clips where the contestants had to guess the home town of a speaker by his accent. Great! I loved it, what a fantastic idea! Did I say boring show? Not now, this was cutting edge stuff! The only trouble is, when I suggested the idea to the BBC fifteen years ago, they returned my script entitled Everybody’s Accent. And I’ve still got the rejection slip to prove it. Funnily enough, it was only the other day when one of Nic’s helpers asked me why I bothered to keep rejection slips. Now, we all know why! Don’t we?

Saturday, October 21, 2006

First Class Post...

I see that the Manchester postmen have done it again, no wonder they look happy. I am of course refering to a small bunch from the sorting office on Oldham road. Fifteen of them to be precise, who have just scooped Nine million pounds between them on the National lottery. A spokesman for the group, said that they had kept the same numbers every week from the outset of the lottery, eleven years or so ago.
Which reminded me of a story I read once, about a widow who won the football pools. She claimed that her husband had been playing the same numbers, week in week out for thirty years before he died. She simply kept the same bet going till she won the jackpot.
If I won the lottery I'd just say that I had picked the winning numbers for the past six weeks and this week I decided to buy a ticket. After all, you can't win if you're not in! can you? So the moral of the story is 'put your money where your mouth is!'


Which is my way of saying HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my sister Kim!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Happy Birthday !






Wednesday, October 18, 2006

My History thingy...


History is his story, her story, your story, my story, our story. Maybe, this blog will never be read, perhaps my story will never be told, your story, his story, her story may never see the light of day but somehow our story will survive and someone somewhere, somehow, in a future day will read it.

My day’s coming to an end, I’m tired and I’m ready for bed. My day has been an ordinary insignificant one. I could bore you about the housework I did this morning, enlighten you about the timesaving gadgets that I used. I could tell you about the price of fuel, the price of bread or the price of eating out, but I’m sure that these things are well documented elsewhere. Anyway, didn’t Oscar Wilde (whose birthday it was yesterday) say something about knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing?

I needed some cash to buy things from the local corner shop, the shopkeeper doesn’t take credit or debit cards so I had to take a short ride on my mountain bike to the cash machine outside the bank on the corner of Claremont Road and Lloyd St. There was no point in driving the gas guzzling thing parked outside my house and besides I needed the exercise. So many people never do any exercise in the city, they drive everywhere and park on the pavements, I guess they’ve got no respect for themselves so they don’t respect anybody else’s space.

The bank is in shouting distance of the site of the former Maine Road stadium where my boyhood hero’s Manchester City used to play. Sadly, they have moved to a new football ground called The City of Manchester Stadium, which is where the 2002 Commonwealth Games were held. I used to go to all the matches, but the ticket prices are much too expensive these days. I used to like to stand on the Kippax Street side of the ground, but those days are long gone. A different crowd go these days and the regulations for Premiership games say that the supporters must be seated. I don’t think it would suit me at all.

Anyhow, I rode past the recently demolished stadium, the developers have put up a green fence and are planning to build new houses soon. What a waste, there’s so much more that could have been done to revitalise the Moss Side area. I turned round and cycled back towards the corner shop. Well, it’s after midnight now and I really am going to bed. Good night!

Saturday, October 14, 2006


We've got blacks and whites

and arabs and jews still fighting

and those muslim brothers are

still killing each other down there.

They've got soup kitchens in LA

and red cross parcels in Bombay

and in Moscow and Tashkent

nobody can pay their rent.

Naive, nuke you? but don't you worry

about the brew queue, there won't be any

broth left on mushroom cloud day.

'Cos, you've just lost The Word World War!

I submitted the above rhyme to the History Matters - pass it on campaign, which is intending to create an everyday snapshot of life in the first decade of the twenty first century. They're going to compile a mass blog on tuesday the seventeenth of October, to record for posterity how we all lived for a single day. If you are able to take part you can log on to their website at:

Thursday, October 12, 2006

True Temperance?

It was seven thirty am when I stumbled out of the shower. I dressed and entered a large room which had a panoramic view from the balcony .
“Good morning,” my Auntie greeted me in English, ushering me towards the dining table, which was laid for breakfast. “Minerala?” She asked, pouring the fizzy water into a large glass anyway, and urging me to drink.
I had only taken one sip of the carbonated beverage when my Auntie reappeared with a big jug of orange juice, she poured an amount into a glass and watched me to make sure I drank it. As soon as I started, she presented me with a pot of tea.
“Herbassa?” she asked, and started to fill a china cup.

I was in Poland to visit my dad’s sisters and my cousins. I had done some research on my family history and had found out that nearly all of the Sewina family had lived in a handful of villages near Namyslow, for the best part of four hundred years.
I gulped most of the rest of the bottle of fizzy water down, I needed something to re-hydrate me after all the Vodka and Beer I had consumed the previous day. I picked the tea cup up and started to raise it towards my lips. I could see my Auntie watching me, she had a big smile on her face, she was holding a slice of lemon with a pair of sugar tongs.
"Citrona?" she enquired, releasing the lemon into my tea cup with a little splash!
“Thank you” I nodded, taking a sip of the hot liquid. “Thank you, it’s good!” I said.
Now that I was drinking the lemon tea, my Auntie disappeared into the kitchen again. She soon reappeared with a glass jug of strong coffee, which she placed on a mat on the table in front of me. From somewhere she produced another cup and began to pour the nutty brown coloured liquid into it, she then added two heaped teaspoons of sugar and started to stir. The coffee smelt really good, so I swapped cups and took a slurp of the strong brown stuff, my Auntie, attentive as ever, hurried back to the kitchen and fetched a small jug of milk. “Mileko?” She asked, pouring a little into my coffee and stirring it. I now had five drinks in front of me including the milk. Oh yes, and a table full of good things to eat. There were cold meats, farmers cheese, yoghurts, bread rolls, hard boiled eggs, sliced tomatoes, cold sausages, gherkins, jam and pickled mushrooms. I didn’t really want anything to eat, so I played a kind of musical chairs with the array of drinks. I had a bit of a hangover and I remembered that my cousin’s husband had told me that a good cure was to drink the gherkin water. I looked at the gherkin jar on the table but I couldn’t face the contents. My Auntie, as ever saved the day by opening a bottle of the local beer and pushing it into my hand. It wasn’t quite eight am yet, “Peever, peever!” she said, insisting that I took a sip of ‘The hair of the dog!’ Of course, the moment that the beer touched my lips, she unscrewed the seal from a bottle of luxury potato vodka and threw the cap away, she produced two shot glasses and opened another bottle for herself. I didn’t eat much of the food that morning but my Polish breakfast was one experience that I’ll never forget! Ok, Joe?

We went to visit a friend at the weekend and he told us that he was having his fortieth birthday bash at the Kro bar on Oxford Road, opposite Manchester University. I told him that my mate told me that, the building used to be the headquarters of The Manchester Temperance Society. I drove past the University yesterday and I took another look at the location, I'm fairly sure that my mate was right, I remember the building myself and if it wasn’t where the Kro bar is now, it must have been right next door. Anyway, years ago me and my mate used to go in the Yates' Wine Lodge on Oldham Street, it was better known as The Blob Shop! In those days and it had spittoons and sawdust on the floor, it also had suicide toilets, they were downstairs and many a time someone would trip and fall down them after one too many Blobs! The bar is still there in Manchester’s re-branded Northern Quarter, today it is called Matt and Phred's Jazz Club. Getting back to Yates', there used to be a little notice behind the bar, it read: TRUE TEMPERANCE IS MODERATION! Ok, Joe?

Sunday, October 08, 2006

The Binman's Cafe...

Every time we found ourselves in Salford, me and my mate would go to the binman's cafe. I don't remember if it had another name but all the lads we knew always called it The Binman's in those days. It was an amazing place run by a woman with an all women staff, apart from one little old bloke with a sweeping brush. The building itself was old and looked, smelt and felt like a dilapidated Salvation Army Hostel. But the breakfasts were spot on. You had to order from a small counter where the dedicated toast lady, was always busy burning, scraping and buttering the toast. She had an amazing system, where she would toast one side of about a hundred slices of Mothers Pride, then when the orders came flooding in, she would start toasting about a dozen pieces on the other side. There were always a lot of binmen in the large cafe and they seemed to know their eggs from their bacon. 'You can't beat eggs! can you?' my mate always used to say, as we walked in. Then he'd order The Scrambled Egg Full Monty. Just to disprove his point.
There was another Binmans Cafe in Leeds, that we would use on a regular basis. Again, I can't remember the name of the joint, but I do remember the owner of the place was called Les and he had lots of tattoo's on his hands. We only found Les's Cafe because we were driving past early one morning and we saw two bin wagons parked up outside. 'Pull up here,' my mate said to me, 'they must do a good breakfast if the binmen are in!' Well, I couldn't argue with the logic of that, could I? And of course, my mate was right, the Yorkshire binmen had led us to another Proper Joe's Cafe. Ok, Joe?

Thursday, October 05, 2006

To market, to buy a fat ...


We went to the new market in the Manchester Arndale Centre this morning to buy a fat fish. In fact we bought two, or a brace, as some fishermen say. We also bought loads of fruit and veg and some farmhouse cheese and a couple of cakes and a shortbread-man for Jack.

I was impressed with the clean modern layout of the food market and the excellent access for Nicola's Ziggy. I was even more impressed when I discovered the Pancake House and then the Polish food stall.

There was a Greek take-away called Zorba's and a Thai eaterie too. But to cap it all there was a stall set out like a pub bar, which sold real ale on draught. The sign above the stall said: Paradise Brewery. I said to myself: Proper Joe's Pub! Ok, Joe?

Fifty five minute ride...

Here are some facts and figures
from my Fifty five minute ride…

The dry rot church is actually called St Georges.
Dry Rot is the title of one of Nicola Batty's novels.
The Bridgewater Canal is the oldest proper canal in Britain.

Saint Georges Island is built on a former bus depot.
Ziggy is the name of Nicola Batty's wheelchair.
Nic's Doctor is at City Road Surgery Hulme.

The main Chester Road is the A56.
The Hulme Arch spans Princess Road.
The Mancunian Way, A57(M) is the Manchester inner relief route.

Bridgewater Way is the new bit of the A56.
Castlefield Basin, originally Junction, is also known as Castlefield Quays.
The Venetian Church, was built as The Congregational chapel in 1853.

Hulme Lock, Bridgewater Canal - R. Medlock - R. Irwell.
Pomona Lock, Bridgewater Canal - Ship Canal.

The Manchester Ship Canal is Thirty five and a half miles long, two hundred and thirty feet wide and twenty eight feet deep. The fixed road and rail bridges that cross it are more than sixty feet high.

Pomona Strand is an abandoned road at Pomona Docks.
Pomona Docks, Originally Manchester Docks, now derelict, on the Manchester Ship Canal.

Cornbrook Bridge, stepped access to Bridgewater Canal from Cornbrook Rd.
Royce Road, where the first Rolls Royce car was built.

Salford Quays, formerly piers 6 - 9 in The Port of Manchester.
G-MEX, Greater Manchester Exhibition Centre, formerly Manchester's Central Railway Station.

Princess Road, A5103 - City centre - M56 motorway.
Arties Barbershop is on Claremont Road, Moss Side.
Moss Lane, Is the home of Hydes Brewery, they now also brew Boddingtons Cask.

Dublin is the capital city of Eire.
Venice has nearly as many miles of canal as Birmingham.
Birmingham doesn't have a Ship Canal, yet!

Throstle Nest Bridge. There used to be a pub on Seymour Grove called The Throstles Nest.
Metrolink, Manchester's tram system.
Horse bridge. Bridge to allow barge-pulling horses, access to the opposite towpath.

The actual story Fifty five minute ride... is presently being serialised in Raw Meat, you can read it at:


Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Proper Joe's Cafe ..

When I was on the road we used to eat out all the time, my favorite meal in those days was breakfast. We went to FAT LIL'S in Sale one day and my mate asked if Fat Lil was in.
The waitress looked horrified, "Do you mean Oversize Elisabeth?" she asked.

We used to eat at all the greasy Joe's Cafe's all over the country. I always ordered the same thing. Double eggs, bacon and beans, two slices of toast and a cup of tea. My mate always asked for 'The Full Monty'.

We used to grade the Cafe's as follows, Greasy Spoon, All Day Breakfast, Morning Coffee, Afternoon Tea, Joe's, Never Again, Bin-man's, Fast Food and Proper Joe's.

Welcome to Proper Joe's blogspot.

I'm making a quick first posting to let you know I'm here.