Proper Followers

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.