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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The only trouble with it, is that it's about six years out of date.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Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham contingent had discovered that the pictures of their cities were ages if not eons out of date whilst anybody clicking on a London location would find a bang up to the minute picture.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!