Proper Followers

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Nearly Crimbo!!!

Apologies to all six of my regular readers, I could concoct a shedful of excuses why I haven't been posting to this bloggage regularly. But well, I'm sorry! On a more positive note I would however, like to wish all of you a very happy Christmas and New Year! I'm saying this now because I will be away for the festive period and I doubt very much whether I will have access to a computer that is linked to the web. So, Happy Crimbo!
I think that most people know that Liverpool is the European City of Culture this year and that for them it has been a very successful time. We've been over a few times for different things, Nic goes to a place at Old Swan to see a Homeopath and we went to Crosby one afternoon to see the Amazing Gormley's and a couple of weeks ago we went to the new arena next to Albert Dock to see Echo and The Bunnymen. Anyway, congratulations Liverpool! Oh yes, and tonight in Manchester at the Apollo Theatre we went to see The Beatles! Phew, nearly got you going then, didn't I? What I meant to say was that we went to see The bootleg Beatles tonight!
I hate all this nonsense about the con-gestion charge in Manchester and I'm glad it's all over. The people have spoken and over a million of them returned their ballot forms with a big NO! vote. So, that's that then! The voice of common sense has won. Like I said all along, we don't have any traffic con-gestion in Manchester, all we have is a few blocked arteries and I'm still waiting for the council to contact me so I can tell them how to solve this problem once and for all.
There is a NEW MAGAZINE! Online and it's called Hive Magazine you can check it out HERE it's pretty much all about Manchester so I know you'll love it. Also, don't forget to check my latest poems at: SweetTalkingGuy you can clink-the-link-here if you like. Finally, finally Nicola Batty's Newsletter Raw Meat is now Online with issue ninety-nine at:

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Running me ragged!

Okay, first up is the diet. Or should I say the non-diet because I don't actually start the diet till Christmas eve. The plan is, and I'm sure all six of my regular readers and one of the two casual readers and the occasional reader of this bloggage, is already sick and tired of hearing this, but here I go again, I'm going to lose the weight first and then go on the diet!
All I ever seem to do these days is run around like a headless chicken. Everywhere I look there is something else to do. There are quite simply not enough hours in the day to do everything that needs doing here. Apart from all the chores and the extensive re-building of this house there is my son Jack. Jack expects me to do absolutely everything for him. He wants all his dinners making and all his clothes washing and he needs lifts to here and there and bus fares and clothes money and ... need I go on? However, I guess that that is the parents lot. On the other hand, if I didn't have all these things to do, what would I do? Would I be any happier? Any richer? I don't suppose I would, so I better put up and shut up!
In the weight loss stakes, I'm on day fifty with thirty four to go. So, I've crept well past the half way mark without even noticing. It is so easy to lose weight, I say this not as a boast but as a warning. The difficult thing is maintaining that weight loss, any fool can lose a few pounds but not many can keep it off for very long and herein lies the challenge. Once the weight is lost I need to make sure that I don't allow any of it to creep back on. Easier said than done, I hear the experienced dieters out there exclaim!
I don't wish to say much more on the subject of the con-gestion charge in Manchester apart from the fact that the whole thing is an exercise in madness. Okay, so this is where I stand on the issue. Vote No!
I was very happy to see that some of the former Fallowfield loop line, which has been left untended for many years now, has been cleared of the overgrown trees and rubble in preparation for the laying of new tracks for the Metrolink tram/rapid transit expansion. The bit of waste land, re-claimed is between Firsway and Chorlton, there may well be more already done but I haven't had a chance to go and check it out yet. On the downside there are still many hundreds of miles of dismantled railway routes in this region that there are no plans to restore.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Global Warning !!!

I was just looking to see if I could find the date of the post I made last year about the Beetham tower. I didn't find it (yet) but I came across the following little posting 'Talking Italian' and the four subbies after it, which deal with our little end of season break, last year. I enjoyed re-reading it so I thought you just might too, anyway...
We went on one of those end of season bargain breaks, three weeks for the price of two, granny goes free, and gratis car-hire if you book a budget airline flight thru the same agent. We only wanted to go for seven days so when the company lady added up the deal and subtracted the discounts they actually owed us money! How mad is that? When they say it's cheaper than staying at home, they really mean it. We'd have been daft not to go, so we packed our bags and headed for Lago di Garda!
It was a bargain break on a budget airline and we had to fly from Liverpool's John Lennon airport. How Rock 'n Roll's that? I had flown from Liverpool airport many years ago on one of those wind-up-and-go-planes to Ronaldsway in the Isle of Man. In those days Liverpool airport was called Speake and the terminal was like a garden shed! I know they've done it up now - it's more like a double garage these-days! Don't you just hate flying? I do! But what can you do, if it's cheaper to go abroad than to stay at home - then you'd be a fool not to go! Anyway, as it turned out we left on a miserable autumn day and flew for two hours to Milano, where we encountered summer sunshine.
We picked up the gratis hire-car from the aeroporto and drove for one hour to our accommodation on the banks of Lake Garda. The nice car-hire people had up-graded us to a large four door vehicle, which was very handy for Ziggy! So, thank you very much to the wonderful staff at Bergamo airport, which is about as close to Milan as Liverpool is to Manchester, but that's budget (bud-jet?) for you I guess. As it happens, it turned out in our favour as Bergamo is a lot of Kilometers nearer to Lago di Garda than Milano. So, the sun was shining and the camp site was first class, did I mention that we were in a tent? Well, you can't have everything, can you? And the tents are FM! flaming massive!
One thing we noticed this time in Italy was the number of people wearing some kind of uniform, we were strolling along the lake road when a bunch of people on bicycles came towards us, there must have been fifty people in the group, men, women and youngsters. There were fat people and thin people and tall people and small ones, but the funny thing was they were all wearing the same outfit, black Lycra style cycle shorts and a black and red vest. We sat by one of the little harbours on the Lakeside near Simione and a car pulled up and six young men got out. They walked towards the harbour wall in single file. They were identically dressed in long blue shorts and white pumps and socks and purple polo shirts with a little anchor motif on the chest. They climbed down the wooden ladder to a waiting boat and sailed out into the morning mist on the lake.
The best uniform buddies that we saw were the Soprano's. The campsite thermometer thingy read 32 degrees and these guys were dressed in wellington boots and orange waterproof trousers, big oven-mitt style gloves and blue polo shirts and dark glasses. They all looked and acted like Tony Soprano and they were the campsite bin-men. All the happy campers on the campsite had separated their empty bottles into one bin and their plastics into another, cardboard into a different place and general rubbish into another skip, all for recycling and then the Soprano's came along and recycled everything! Into one big dustbin-cart!
I found the posts I was looking for, the first one dates back to November the eighteenth 2006. The eighteenth being the first day that I could see the Beetham tower that winter. All of the leaves had fallen off all of the twenty seven trees that I can see from this window. The second posting is from December the fourth 2007. The fourth being the day the same thing happened last year. So what does all that prove? Global warming? I don't know, but I'll tell you that I can't see the Beetham Tower, yet, this year.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Running Backwards..

Don't you just hate the commerciality of this season? It's not quite bonfire night yet but all the shops are displaying their Christmas stock.
Nothing untoward to report, this diet is so easy to maintain and the weight continues to fall off, although I really don't know or quite understand where it all actually goes to. But it disappears and each day I feel closer to my target. It has slowed down a little this week, which I expected but I know that by next week another significant amount of flubber will have gone forever.
How do you know when to start your diet? is one of the many questions people ask. My reply is always, Tomorrow! You see, you need a time and a place to start anything and you need time for your imagination to inform and impress your mind of the decision. Also, although you don't have to follow my advice, I recommend just two days in the year as an actual starting date, if you truly desire to succeed. The dates I recommend are the first of February and the second of October.
To be successful in the weight loss stakes you need to have many tricks and tips up your sleeve, I gave a few last time in the post below this one, you can scroll down a litttle bit to find them if you like. By the way, did I say 'don't try this at home?' Okay, I'll say it now! DON'T TRY THIS AT HOME!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Raring to go...

Happy Birthday to my sister Kim, your card is on my hall table!

One of the extra things I have started this week is to introduce exercise into my regime. I started with a skipping rope in the back yard but found it hard going. I like the idea of using this device but I don't think I'm quite ready for it yet.

Okay, so I failed on the skipping rope task, but I will get back to it in a week or so when I've lost a few more pounds. In the meantime, I have taken up a special exercise program that I devised a couple of years ago. It is a latchkey regime which means that I can do as little or as much as I feel able to do at any given time. The idea is, (1) you purchase a set of those soft tennis ball sized plastic balls that you can buy in a bundle of fifty or a hundred for a pocket money price from your local toy shop. (2) You count out thirty six balls and place them in a bucket or basket. (3) You throw the balls onto the floor. (4) You then start to pick up the thrown balls and put them back in the bucket or basket. (5) You throw the balls on the floor again and pick them all up again. Phew! I think you probably get the idea now!

Now this is a good one! I divide my day into two halves, during the hours of daylight, I drink black coffee. After dark in the evenings I drink Mint tea. When I say this is good, it must be, 'cos I hardly ever drink tea, however, over the last couple of weeks the mint tea has become an important tool in my quest to lose the weight first and then go on the diet! The amazing thing I discovered was that when you drink this stuff, you don't feel hungry! So, it's ideal for me, as after seven pm, I don't eat again till seven am. when I break my fast.

The water tricks are probably the single most important thing I have learnt. As you should know, you need to drink lots of water just to stay alive! But when you're losing weight, it is essential! You need the water to help flush out your system, your kidneys etc. If you don't drink the water, you die! I'm not being alarmist here, you see you can go without food for a long time but not without water. I drink a minimum of four pints each day and the way I do it, is two pints first thing in the morning and another two pints in the afternoon about an hour or so before I eat.
I also try to drink other amounts of water throughout the day and if I have to drive anywhere I always take a litre bottle with me.
I mentioned that I drink black coffee and mint tea but being used to having milk in the top of my coffee I now put a little cold water on top instead. I don't suppose it makes much difference really as the coffee soon cools enough to drink anyway, but it's just one of those things I do so I can drink it straight away.
I drink my (four) pints of water from a beer (pint pot) glass which I fill up about two thirds of the way with freshly drawn very cold water and then I top up the glass with boiling water and drink it down in one go. I find the temperature, doing it this way to be just right.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Photo Copyright Brigitte Greenham (c) 2008
Official photographer to the stars...

Okay, here it is the official 'Fat Photo' the only trouble is that it doesn't look fat enough, but believe me, this photo was taken on October 2nd 2008 when I was thirty-six bags of sugar overweight. Each bag represents 2lb in weight. Therefore, I started this weight loss program a whooping seventy-two pounds oversize. The target I have set myself is to lose this excess by Christmas eve! How mad's that?


When I say don’t try this diet at home, I mean it. This quick weight loss method is for seriously overweight people. If you only need to lose a few pounds, I suggest that you watch your portion sizes and join a gym.


This method of reducing is so powerful that you often need to force yourself to eat. If you are a gasper, things become potentially more dangerous as you are likely to substitute eating for a cigarette.


The way this rapid reduction takes place is by eating high protein foods; the idea is for you to eat as much and as often as you feel the need for food. You won’t put on any more weight, in fact the more high protein you eat, the faster you will reduce.


The thing is, if you’re seriously overweight, you’re already carrying around tens of pounds of unused energy. The high proteins that you eat start to go to work on this fat store immediately. After only a few days your bowel movements will change and your stomach will shrink and in the process you will lose maybe six to ten pounds of excess weight, perhaps more.


Now that’s what I call quick weight loss. On top of these changes, you will notice a boost in your energy level straight away. In my job I need to lift a heavy weight several times a day and I noticed that after losing just eight pounds of flubber that the regular weight I lift seemed a lot lighter. Quite possibly, for every pound you lose, you can lift an extra pound. That’s the way it feels to me anyhow.


Okay, so just to make things a whole lot more complicated I’m going to add a few twists and turns, tweaks if you like to this already very very successful program. The first thing I’m going to introduce is another rapid reduction method that is also a proven stand alone, time tested and trusted dead cert fail safe system. My name for it is Balls! And yes you can do this in the privacy of your own home, if your Doctor says 'yes'.


The next little tweak that I’m going to make is to introduce a third method, which is based on the Doctor Hays food combining technique. I first came across the idea in Italy, where they actually had something quite different, that they called the separation of tastes. I liked the way that they served many small courses in the restaurants and that each one was a different food. A meat course, a fish course, a pasta course, etc.


Moving on, the next twist I’m adding in to the equation is a little something that I nicked off my Buddhist friends. They tell me that they only eat from sunup till noon each day and then they fast. So I’ve adapted this to suit my lifestyle and the way I use it combined with the other methods I have mentioned. I simply say that if I am going to breakfast at seven am, then I will need to stop eating by seven pm the day before. In effect from seven in the evening till seven am the following morning I am fasting and then at seven am, I break my fast with what people tell me is the most important meal of the day, breakfast. How simple’s that?


The next little turning of the tables in my favour is going to be the compilation of all this knowledge. Everybody I meet tells me that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so not only is it the breaking of a twelve hour fast but also it is the time when you need to take on the fuel to carry you through the day. I haven’t worked out a percentage figure for this one as yet but it is going to be high. Something like forty-five to fifty-five per cent of your daily calorie intake, perhaps. I noticed that when we eat at three pm instead of six pm I don’t feel hungry later on, but when we eat at six pm or later, I just want to keep on snacking till I go to bed. How mad is that? So on top of the high percent breakfast I think that a main meal lunch would suit me best, leaving only a few percent of calories for an evening meal. Just a thought.


I recently discovered that some sorts of tea can play tricks on the mind to make you not want to eat. Of course the Chinese have known this for centuries and every now and then you'll see an advert for some kind of herbal tea diet. I had never given them much thought before, imagining that they would probably taste foul etc. And anyway, you have to pay for that sort of information and I'm not that daft am I? I'm not really a tea drinker, I think it's the way that it's usually served in England, with milk, that puts me off. When Nicola started drinking herbal teas about a year ago, I steered clear. That is until I ran out of coffee last week. So, I tried one of her mint teas, with two sweeteners in it. Delicious! I liked the taste so much and the effect it has on me, offsetting any hunger pangs, that I decided to include it in my Mad Weight Loss Program!

And finally...

Eight hundred million people do not have clean or adequate amounts of drinking water and in the west we literally pour millions of gallons of drinkable water down the drain every day. But even in Britain and America where we have clean water on tap for the most part, millions and millions of people are walking around dehydrated. If you don’t drink at least eight 10oz glasses of water a day, you’re probably one of them. What’s going on?


Tuesday, October 07, 2008

You'll Never Believe It!

Okay, right! This is what's happening - I've been to see Docter Dreama, and he has given me the orl kleer to start a mad diet.
Diet? You? I hear my six regular readers scream. You don't need to go on a diet, you've already done that, remember? Well er, yes I do and yes I did, the trouble is no one believed me.
But you did do it didn't you?
Yes, I did it! but I didn't have any photograhic evidence.
You did, I saw the 'after' photo!
I know, and that's the problem, everybody saw the 'after photo' but not the 'fat photo'.
But how can you do it all again?
Simple, you see since last christmas I've been actively piling on the pounds to the tune of a couple a week.
So you're really fat again, that's mad!
Yes, it is total madness and between now and next christmas I'm going to lose all that blubber again!
When you say next christmas do you mean the one coming up in ten or twelve weeks?
That is MAD!
Exactly, and that's why I'm saying DON'T TRY THIS AT HOME!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Self Service

Don't you just hate shopping?
Or have I lamented this theme before?
To death! I hear the cries from the threepennies.
Anyhow, supermarketology is one of those things that won't go away in a hurry. I was in one of our local supermarkets today, not to be confused with the street mini-markets or the giant hyper-markets that abound these days, when I suddenly realised that there were about a dozen self service tills, now I have seen these tills at a few places recently but it was only today that I realised that not only were they (the supermarket bosses) making the customer do all the work but they were at the very same time depriving a dozen or so of their own employees a job. Now if you add up the wage savings of twelve staff times a minimum of two shifts per day i.e. 24 staff working eight hours each times seven days per week then divide that up into how many actual staff they save if each one only works a forty hour week then multiply that by the minimum wage then multiply that by 350 stores then multiply that by four big national players and it all adds up to about £1m per week. That of course is small beer for the multiples but this is only the start. Now that they've got all of these people tilling up their own purchases they'll be out to expand it until they don't need to employ any check out staff any more, just more and more uniformed security guards to check out the customers. Mad? of course it is but that's supermarketology for you.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

No Left Turn..


Once upon a time there used to be a railway station in Manchester called Central Station. Then one day just like many other railway stations in the same city it closed down. Eventually, men came along and dug up the tracks and demolished a bridge that took some of the tracks across Deansgate (over a major road). There was now no way of turning Central Station back into a railway terminus. For another decade or so the beautiful building stood empty and decaying. Until some bright spark had the idea to restore the huge building and to turn it into a conference centre. Which he/they did and then renamed the premises GMEX which stood for Greater Manchester Exhibition Centre, I think. Anyway, after many years of exhibitions, conferences and concerts (I went to see Manchester Band James there in the early 1990's) another bright spark came along and re-branded the building yet again. It is now called Manchester Central. Yes, the very place where the Labour Party Conference is taking place right now, this week!
Five hundred miles south of Manchester another disused and empty railway station of similar age and proportions to Central Station was eventually turned into a beautiful art gallery and museum of sorts. The place I'm blogging on about of course is the Musee d'Orsay in Paris. I have had the good fortune to go there on a number of occasions. We, Nic and I, love going to Paris and Nic has written about it much in some of her novels. Anyway, to cut a long story short, I have a print of a picture by Gustave Caillebotte Les Raboteurs de parquets in our house. The original of course being in the Musee d'Orsay. I had it on a chimney breast in a position where you needed to look up to it and it just didn't feel right to me there. So, I swapped it today to another wall in a lower position where you have to look slightly down on it. And BINGO! it works for me again. Not only that, the pic I swapped it with, Portrait of Mario by Modiglianni (who spent the latter half of his life in spitting distance of the old railway station) which I now have to slightly look up to, also works better for me. So there!


Don't forget to clink-my-links and talking of Modigliani and the Portrait of Mario HERE is a link to a poem I wrote about them. Many thanks for visiting Proper Joe's and please leave a comment. Finally you can read my latest poems on the home page of my pub-poetry blog SweetTalkingGuy..

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Plot Thickens..

Every day something new happens to change the plans I have previously plotted. No matter how hard I try, sometimes I just fail to get things right. Take the plastering of Nicola's new sitting room for starters. There's about two days worth of work left to complete this little project, but try as I might something always comes up to prevent me from finishing this job.
I really can't remember whether I mentioned the Jakarta style bi-cycle rickshaw on these pages recently but anyhow, I would really like to make something along these lines. I know that I have talked many times in the past about The Ziggy Bike and how Nic would like me to build one and then we located one and found it was a niche market toy costing over three thousand pounds (GBP). Well I've had another butchers and I think we could build one with a little help, perhaps.
I don't know why it's called a tacsy but it is a bit like a taxi I suppose. It is a long-bike like the Xtracycle with a side-car arrangement that takes two passengers in a sofa style seat. The rider (tacsy driver) sits in front of the passengers on the right-hand side much like a London cab. I feel that a similar design could answer a lot of questions for us.
I have a few new ideas that include photography for this blog. I always wanted to take pictures when I was a kid and it wasn't till after I left school and started work in Piccadilly that I actually got around to doing it. Sadly, most of the pics I took all those years ago are now lost (by me) but I do still have a complete set of photo's I took in the 1970's and titled My Secret Railway. The railway in question was one of the many dismantled routes in south Manchester, which was walkable in those days but is so overgrown and swampy in places now that it is impossible to follow for the most part today.
Okay, I got one of those crazy party political leaflets shoved through my letterbox the other day and although no one in the right mind is going to ever vote for these sad and naive people they did have, I thought, one good point concerning the proposed road charging scheme in Manchester. They said that they oppose the introduction of the con-gestion charge because it would make Manchester dependent on future car traffic to raise revenue to pay for the scheme - rather than reduce car use across the whole city.
Now I think that's a valid point. What say YOU?

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Blooming 'eck...

Okay folks, sorry about the delay in getting back to you all but yes it's me and I'm finally back from the back of beyond. I didn't realise it was so long since I last posted to Proper Joe's. Anyway, I'm here now and bar one more little trip, I should be able to post as usual every Tuesday. Or perhaps I should say nearly every Tuesday just in case!
I have managed to update a couple of the other blogs in our stable, in this little part of Bohemia. Yesterday for example, Nicola's Newsletter, Raw Meat managed to make an appearance for the ninety-sixth time. Yes, Issue 96 is now Online at .
You can of course check out all of Nicola's novels and find out a little bit about her on her website
The other blogs I have managed to update recently are my pub-poetry page SweetTalkingGuy.. and my Doktir Nairobi blog, Gobsplot. Which is of course an anagram of blogspot.
The blog that I really want to write for, Space Invaders! might have to wait a little longer owing to technical difficulties, i.e. me not being able to access our old computer at the moment where all my SI (fi) is located. Anyhow..

Friday, August 01, 2008

Back in September..

Sorry Folks!
Gone Camping!

I'll be back in September

for a few days and hope
to post something then..

In the meantime have you tried this yet?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Which way now?

This is my first digital photo and guess what? I didn't actually take it. I was present when it was shot and I did help frame it but I didn't actually press the blooming button and it wasn't my camera. No, all credit must go to Nic's mum Pat Batty. The photo is of course one of the fancy chimneys at Bramhall Hall.
We went to Bramhall Park recently, where we had a light lunch in the yard outside the cafe. As it was such a pleasant day we then went for a stroll around the Hall and gardens. This was when we/she took the photo of the chimney. There are some very nice places to walk in the park and it is well worth a visit, especially if you like watery things as a stream called Lady Brook, complete with weirs, runs right through this park.
In my version of the Manchester A-Z (2002 De Luxe) The grid reference is 4F page 151 photo copyright (c) Pat Batty 2oo8

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Shout it out!

Okay, I bet you never thought you'd see it on my page but Yes Please! I want the con-gestion charge, not only in Manchester and London but Bristol and Birmingham and Glasgow and every other town and city in the UK too. I want it in every village and hamlet on this Island, in fact I want it in every place that I'm ever likely to go. 'You've changed your tune,' I can almost hear you say. Oh no I haven't, I reply. You see, when I say that I want the con-gestion charge, I mean that I want the local councils and the powers that be to pay ME! Every time I'm stuck in traffic, every time I'm held up or delayed wherever and whenever that may be. You see it is my firm belief that if the road signing and the traffic flow was improved, then there wouldn't be any need for this nasty con-gestion charge at all.
Clink-this-link If you want to read more of my road mad stories.
Clink-the-link to The future is free?
Clink-the-link What I said about the mad roads in June 2007.
Clink-the-link to my July 17th 2007 posting
Clink-the-link to my bit for July 24th 2007.
Clink-the-link On the Buses..
Clink-the-link Madchester.. Congestion What?
Clink-the-link London, Electric Vehicles!
Clink-the-link Bus De-regulation!
Clink-the-link Fifty-five minute ride..
Clink-the-link Cottonopolis!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

The Hottest Day..

It's been one of those hot and muggy sort of days today, I feel sticky, even now at this late hour. It's almost midnight here and yet it's still very hot. We had a little rain about seven thirty but it didn't last for long and it was a kind of hot water rain, not the cold heavy stuff we're used to in Manchester. Well, that was the weather report and I only mention it (the weather) because last week on blogs elsewhere I was complaining about the abundance of rain and lack of sunshine in this neck of the woods.
Have you had a butchers hook yet? If you don't know what I'm rabbiting on about, I'll explain. Space Invaders! is my-work-in-progress-novel that I'm actually writing warts an' all Online. You can clink-the-link Here. Now I'm not saying it's the greatest thing since sliced whatsit, or anything like that. I'm not asking you or begging you to buy the book. It is in fact absolutely free for anyone to read (if they want to). Anyhow, all I'm asking is have you had a look yet? If you do venture over to Space Invaders! please remember that this Online version is only a rough first draft and that the final publication might well be very different (improved, hopefully!).
A BIG Happy Birthday to my nephew Toby! Hi Toby, I guess you think I've forgotten your birthday, well I haven't but yes I did forget to send the card on time, you should get it in the morning, only a couple of days late! So, Happy, Happy Birthday Toby! I trust you had a great day and all the very best wishes for this next year, writes Uncle Andy.
Phew! It's one of those weeks where everybody seems to be having a birthday.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


What's all this nonsense about road charging? Okay, I thought we had dealt with this stupidity already on this blog but obviously the powers that be don't read these pages, so here we go again. Manchester does not need road charging in any shape or form. There is no congestion in Manchester or on the roads of Greater Manchester or on the routes into and out of this metropolis.
What we do have however, is a growing number of blocked arteries. These are caused by bad planning, bad road signing and deliberate attempts to slow the traffic flow by the different local councils. One of the things that annoys me and other motorists in this city is the number of no right or no left turn signs.
No amount of arguing, ranting and raving or just plain and simple shouting about the bitter cost of road charging will make a haporth of difference because the powers that be have already decided what they want and what is best for us. Yes it always comes down to that in the end doesn't it? Us and them! You see, while everybody else is out there debating the pros and cons of road charging, they (the powers that be) have already introduced it.
You see, what they've done is they've made it so difficult for anybody to park in the city centre. If you can find a space you have to pay and if you overstay you get a ticket. And then all the nearby places like Hulme where the motorist could park and walk to the city centre they've gone and made it residents parking only. Fair enough, the local residents need somewhere to park of course they do, but what about all those vacant lots, surely some of them could be made into car parks.
Sometimes it seems like the streets are really congested, but if you travel by bike like I often do, you will know that the traffic is directed into congestion corridors. What I mean by this is that there are many alternative routes in this city that are unused. I can cycle right across the city centre in the evening rush hour using the empty back streets and hardly meet a moving car at all. In fact I've noticed the same vehicles going round the same circuit time and again either looking for somewhere to park or trying to pick up their son/daughter/wife/etc. from the shops, just driving round and round wasting fuel, time and energy at great cost to us all.
The message to the faceless powers that be, must be, Think again! Firstly if they did introduce a charge to enter or leave the city at different times of day it would be the very people who live and work here who would have to pay extra for the privilege, how mad is that? Secondly, all the other big conurbations in this country have already rejected the idea as unworkable. Thirdly, in the case of Cottonopolis I believe it would be very wrong to introduce a road charge, after all what happened to Free Trade?
Anyway, before a road charge could be made all the alternatives should be looked at. In Manchester and throughout the area we have hundreds of miles of disused and or dismantled railway tracks. The local A-Z map used to say: reserved for rapid transit in the year 2000. The latest editions don't and the year 2000 has long since come and gone. What we still have though are unused routes that could be made into dedicated bus ways etc.
Don't you just hate buses? We shouldn't but we do because they are too expensive, they don't go where we need them to, they take stupid congestion corridor routes etc. If we are serious about alternatives to private car ownership then we need to get the buses sorted. The first thing we need to do is de-privatise the blooming buses. It makes sense doesn't it? They (the powers that be) don't want us to have private cars but they are happy for us to pay top dollar to line the pockets of the private bus companies. How mad do they think we are?
The future is free, or so they tell me. You see what really happens is, it's free to get in but you have to pay to get out. And that is exactly what road charging is like. In short it's a swizz! But there is a solution, of course there is. If we did introduce road charging in five years time and get a shed full of money from the government for being a guinea pig, would this amount be enough to de-privatise the bus companies and if not, well, it really isn't enough, is it? The solution is make the buses free for everyone! You think that's mad? It would be mad not to!
Clink-this-link If you want to read more of my road mad stories.
Clink-the-link to The future is free?
Clink-the-link What I said about the mad roads in June 2007.
Clink-the-link to my July 17th 2007 posting
Clink-the-link to my bit for July 24th 2007.
Clink-the-link On the Buses..
Clink-the-link Madchester.. Congestion What?
Clink-the-link London, Electric Vehicles!
Clink-the-link Bus De-regulation!
Clink-the-link Fifty-five minute ride..

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Split Knee Loons!

Don't you just hate shopping? I'm talking about all that city centre stuff, being dragged around from store to store looking for the latest trend. That's Jack's idea of shopping, he just knows what he wants and doesn't stop till he gets it. My idea of shopping is to find a bargain but Jack, he just wants the latest thing regardless of price.
While I was waiting for Jack to reappear up the escalator in one store I had a look at the sunglasses on the bargain counter. I finally found a pair that were big enough to fit over my distance glasses when Jack arrived and informed me that the ones I had chosen were for girls. I hurridly put them back on the shelf.
You know the old saying 'What goes around, comes around' well, in the fashion stakes that is really true. We were in one place on Saturday looking for Jack's 'must have' jeans when I spotted the latest trend 'Loons' and in all different colours. If you're anywhere near as old as I am you'll remember them from the early 1970's. They had a special stitching on the knee and we used to call them 'Split Knee Loons' and some of them came in two colours one shade above the knee and another below the knee. Not to be confused with 'two tones' and 'two tone tonic strides'. Which of course were something quite different.
The Harrington Jacket is one of those items that keeps on making the rounds. They keep on cropping up in different places and sometimes it seems like they've never been out of fashion. Even when they couldn't be found on the high street, you could always get one from the Army and Navy stores and these days of course there's loads of sites on the internet that sell them. But what I want to know is what the original name for the Harrington jacket was? You see, In England we call them Harrington's after a character in an American tv soap (Peyton Place) who used to wear one.
Okay, that was quick, Baracuta G9 is the real/original name of the Harrington Jacket and guess what? It dates right back to 1938 which makes this year its seventieth aniversary. Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra both wore the Baracuta Jacket in Hollywood films. I've been told that the Baracuta company is still in business in Britain and that they are producing a seventieth aniversary G9 jacket. So there!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Nothing much to say..

Jack's latest 'must have' item, is a set of digital drums. 'You can practice all night without disturbing anybody' he tells me. So, off we go to the digital drum shop to have a look. 'I don't want those ones' he says straight away, as I look at the five hundred quid set near the door. 'They're rubbish, we've got some like that at school and you don't get a proper sound from them,' he continues. 'That's the sort I want!' he shouts, running over to the two thousand five hundred pound equipment.
Funnily enough, I've been working on Nic's Digital Book this week. She wants me to make a CD version of her autobigraphical stories The Ziggy Collection. Not an audio book, you understand but a text version that people can read on their computer screens. A sort of E-book perhaps. Well anyway, we're calling it a digital book and we're putting it onto CD and into a dvd case with a nice cover. (A picture of a Ziggy Carousel, drawn by Nic's dad.) The idea of putting it into a dvd case is so that it can go on your bookshelf just like a paperback book might.
For those of you who don't know, Nic writes a monthly Newsletter, Raw Meat. She's been doing it warts 'an all, every month (just about) since the end of the last century. Now, eight or nine years doesn't sound like a long time but in this digital age. It's well, erm, an eternity?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

April Showers..

Anorobic anorak? Yeah, right! Leave it with me. I don't know much about the above mentioned process, but it was in the news this week. The gist of it is, is that some local authority's and government departments want to build a plant to process waste. Which is a great idea a bit like my own little idea that I'll let you develop here.
My idea/challenge to you, is to build a system that will capture some of the energy generated as a by product of driving your car and re-using it as power in the home. I believe that all the components and technology to do this already exist and that somebody with a technical mind could develop a product of this nature... go for it!
I was talking about shopping local last time and putting my money where my mouth is, I went out and bought a new kitchen knife from a local shop. Great? It was! and it was sharp too, possibly the sharpest knife I'd ever used. I was chopping the onions and slicing the tomatoes and having a great time till... Ouch! I cut into my fingernail and made a bloody incision into the delicate skin behind it. I rushed to the cold water tap and struggled to clean and dress the wound, the plaster wouldn't stick. It was then that I thought 'wouldn't it be great if you could buy Liquid Skin in a tin and spray it on.'

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Nearly nearley...

It's a good job that I said I'd update this blog nearly every Tuesday, because I missed it last week and I very nearly didn't show again today. So, sorry about last week and I apologise to each one of you who turned to these pages, only to find that there was no update.
Well, I am here today and I do have something to say, if I can find it, hold on a mo..
That's right, last week I came down with an awful cold, it was one of those things that just drains you completely, you think that you'll never recover and then the next day you're 'right as rain!' So, today, I'm back on form but still not totally recovered. At least I can see the monitor and the keyboard so perhaps, we can put the world to rights once again.
'Shop local' was the message I had intended to lead with last week. I try and use my local shops because it's a case of 'use 'em or lose 'em these days. The last thing we want to do is to lose our local shops. In this little bit of Bohemia we are probably more fortunate than some of our more affluent neighbours when it comes to local shops. We still have the famous 'corner shop' on every other block and other good shops like Hensons Hardware on Great Western Street and Arties Barbershop on Claremont Road.
Don't you just love all those convenience stores that are springing up on every high street. To give you an example, we've got ten of them on our street, each one of them is a double fronted mini-market with a fruit and veg stall outside and a Hal-AL butchers counter inside. They're very nice and convenient if you run out of something or just want a bar of chocolate but you couldn't afford to do your weekly shop there. Or could you? You see, sometimes the local shops are actually cheaper than the big stores. And, you usually don't have to wait in that big long queue. The best thing about them though is that they are local and they are convenient.
Have you been over to visit my Online Novel, Space Invaders! yet? If not, you can clink-the-link HERE and transport yourself through cybersapace and take a butchers hook. What you will have to realise, of course, is that it is very much a work-in-progress-novel. So please don't expect a polished and finished masterpiece - 'cos it 'ain't...
Do you want to know something serious? Only joking, but I do have a link here to a Serious Thing, it is in fact the title of a little number by Misty's Big Adventure and Grandmaster Gareth who stars in this video is one of the famous people who shares my birthday - you-can-clink-the-link to Grandmaster Gareth in my sidebar. Oh yeah, Misty's is my/our fave/fab Birmingham band and even I - who hates going out of the house thesedays - have been to see them a couple of times in Manchester. Erotic Volvo at al. (EV is the mad dancer by the way).

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Snow weather...


Over the years we've had a number of Volkswagen vans and campervans. We've also had loads of problems with them. Anyway, at the moment we have a big car and a trailer tent, but we're thinking of changing it again for a van.
You see, we just love vans... They're so easy to get Nic in and out of and they suit our lifestyle...
We can just throw all the camping stuff in the back of the van and head for the beach.
It's a big headache though, searching for the ideal vehicle. We know what we want, it's just that to get the van we want would cost a fortune, so we will have to compromise - but isn't that true for everybody? Well, No! But...
Jack wants us to get a long wheel based Transporter with lowered suspension and tinted windows and the whole thing painted in black. Nic wants a day van with a rock 'n roll bed and a picnic basket. I want a fully loaded campervan with a massive drive away awning.
Somewhere between the three ideals lies the compromise. For a start, I've already seen/located a low mileage short wheel base Transporter that's fitted with a wheelchair ramp and floor tracking and more to the point if we're being realistic, it's just about within our price range. So...
The downside to the van I've located is that the wheelchair ramp is at the rear, which means that we can't have a tow-bar, which in turn means that we can't tug the flaming trailer tent. I don't know if we can de-fix the rampage and enter by the side loading door which is what we have always done before, mainly because all the old Transporters we had, had the engine at the back. Anyway...

Monday, March 17, 2008

Life goes on...

You can clink-the-link to my really bad pub-poetry blog and watch my son Jack's film The Escape. The best action film ever...
We've mentioned recycling before on these pages and we/I most probably will do again. Recycling is one of those things that has crept up over the years until we can't remember what it was like when we threw everything in the dustbin. Well, in this little bit of Bohemia there are still some people who throw everything straight onto the street. We have had wheelie bins for more than ten years now and people haven't really got used to them here. They've got used to the fact that all the back alleys are littered with the filthy smelly rat infested things - but they haven't in general figured out what to do with them yet.
You see the problem is that if you put a wheelie bin in your back yard the local robbers and thieves will use it as scaffolding to help them break and enter into your house.
(1) They push the wheelie bin against your back wall underneath a window.
(2) They jump up on top of it and smash a window.
(3) They kick in the glass, pull down any curtain or blind, kick in any security grille.
(4) They enter through your smashed window, run into your house, kick down any locked doors.
(5) They grab your laptop, your mobile phone, any money, jewellery, bank books/cards.
(6) They exit, usually the same way they entered, almost before the alarm goes off.
(7) It all happens in the time it takes to read this.
Now the thing is, there are so many of these discarded wheelie bins in this neighbourhood that the robbers actually use them as get away cars. After they've robbed your house by first of all using a wheelie bin as scaffolding, they now use a second wheelie bin, that they find in the back alley, to wheel your goods away. The police know all about this trick and often check the wheelie bins to see if any stolen property has been dumped there. Sometimes, they even find a robber or two hiding inside one of them.
The answer in this area would be to use a different kind of wheelie bin. You see, not only are the wheelie bins a nuisance to the householders and an eyesore to the general public, but they are also a health hazard, when they are left discarded in back alleys and overturned. Once they are overturned they become overrun with mice and rats and the fly tippers discard their rubbish on top and before you know it the whole alley is infested. Individual wheelie bins should be scrapped in Moss Side and other areas of Manchester and replaced with those big wheeled bins like the shops have.
If you go out into the suburbs you'll see different coloured wheelie bins, green ones for one kind of mess and brown ones for another and black ones for this kind of rubbish and blue ones for that sort of muck and this one'll be collected on this day and that one'll be collected on that day and the other one'll be picked up every fortnight and the first one'll be emptied every other Tuesday etc. Well, I'm sorry folks, but that won't work here! Because, we still can't manage the one black plastic wheelie bin that is emptied on the same day every week. However, I do have a solution that will work for a non-suburban terraced house neighbourhood.
What we need is a big wheeled bin, like the shops have. Say one for every ten or fifteen houses. It would be neatly stationed at the end of a back alley and it would be for general household rubbish. Once this is in place and working, then you can introduce different big wheeled bins for different things. The trick is to have just one general rubbish bin at each station and one other bin. The other bin would need to be clearly marked for its intended purpose. At each station the second bin would be different to the second bin within a short circuit. So at the first station you could have say, a glass bin, at the second station, a waste paper bin, at the third station you might have a cardboard bin, at the next station a plastic bottle bin. etc.
Then the issue of collections needs to be addressed. The faithful council binmen do a great job in all weathers and get little thanks for their efforts from the public or their employers. It's not easy having to cope with some of the mess, filth, and vermin that these men must face on a daily basis. On top of that you must take into consideration the terrible weather, the wet and the rain in winter and the heat of the great British summer and the associated smell and sickly stink that goes with it for the underpaid Hygiene Operative. Most of the above could and should be a thing of the past. Instead of having weekly or fortnightly collections, I believe we should introduce daily collections. Why?
Okay, the reason why we need daily collections is to stop the filth and vermin and the fly tipping building up.
How to go about it? One way would be to allow the crews to go round a neighbourhood and empty the general household bins and then for the men to be paid a bonus for each tonne that they tip.
When? This could start as soon as the old wheelie bins are removed from our streets and the new big wheel bins are neatly put in place.
WHERE? You could start with my back alley, if you like.
"Alright," said the councilor. "But we already have recycling points at all the supermarkets and some roadside collection places in some areas. Also, we have a fortnightly doorstep collection of certain recyclable goods. So, I can't see your problem!"
Okay, my problem with the supermarket recycling skips is that they have little letter box sized windows that you have to push the cartons or the bottles into. That's fine on a sunny day, if you've nothing better to do and you've got time to walk or cycle to the supermarket car park and stand there in the wet and freezing cold shoving bits of tat through a fuggin sharp metal slit with the gas guzzling Cheshire set laughing at you from their heated and air conditioned Chelsea tractors on their way back out of the city.
The thing is, nothing will change, no one will listen to what I have to say. Why should they? They, the powers that be, didn't take any notice of what I said about how to solve the congestion issue. They didn't listen when I told them what to do about the metrolink, local rail and buses. They didn't respond when I suggested that the Manchester supercasino project could be replaced with a money spinning, job creating, economy solving Eiffel style tower, so why will they scrap the individual wheelie bins in inner city neighbourhoods and replace them with hygienic big wheel bins like some shops have, now? They won't? What do you think about all this nonsense?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

On the buses..

The simple solution to the bus pass fiasco that is sweeping Manchester and other places is to make the blooming buses free for everyone. You think I'm joking? Think again! If this city is seriously worried about congestion and pollution then the future, as far as the buses go, must be free. Not just for people over sixty years of age. Children in Manchester need free transport Now! Shoppers in Manchester need free buses Now! Workers in Manchester need free buses Now! Buses are already free for kids and senior citizens in London, why not in other areas too?

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Much too much...

When is too much not enough? And other questions of this ilk might be asked of those who don't know when to quit. I am of course talking about the Manchester Supercasino! The problem is that it's political and there's no easy answer. It's one of those, just when you think you've won, you've actually lost, situations. But that's what gambling's all about, surely. Okay, 3,000 prospective jobs have been left uncreated and another eyesore site in east Manchester remains on the drawing board. So, what's the answer?
If you want a quick-fix to get the economy moving in an unemployment blackspot and severely deprived neighbourhood, then looking to the skies is the quick-fix solution. Of course, when I reveal my little plan to you, you'll come up with a dozen excuses of why it won't work. You'll reject it out-of-hand and you'll be amazed when another City, town or village takes the idea on board and profits from it. The quick-fix solution is build an Eiffel style tower. You only have to go to Paris to see how many tourists flock to this attraction.
Over a hundred years ago Blackpool built their scaled down version of the Tour de Eiffel, and the landmark that still stands today, is the reason why the Lancashire seaside resort remained such a popular destination throughout the last century.
The Parisian tower has four lifts, (elevators) one in each leg, whisking the never ceasing line of tourists to the viewing platform, some six hundred feet above the ground, and another lift takes people even higher, although not quite to the top, which is reached by steel steps and is over nine hundred feet up in the air. Which is of course equivalent to the height of a ninety plus storey building.
So Manchester, this is your big opportunity to cash-in and make a profit from the Supercasino site by using my quick-fix remedy before some other local authority sticks up their version of The Trifle Tower! or maybe The Eye-full Tower, perhaps The Awe-full Tower or would that be too awful to contemplate? Anyway, whoever does it, (and someone will) will profit and big-time too! Why? Because it's a tried and tested method! Of course the next version of this steel construction will have to be higher and have some super facilities. But, build it and they will come, in their hundreds and in their thousands with all their tourist Dollars, Euro's, Pounds and Yen. A project of this nature will create many many jobs and it will secure the economy of the whole area.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Up in the air.

Like you, I don't have much time for TV these days, so the last thing anybody would want is Internet TV! Or is it, you see there are advantages to watching TV on the blog rather than on the box. The main thing in my mind is interaction, if the image on the screen is lacking you can quickly move on to something else. And I'm not talking about more TV, 'cos you can already do that on the box, can't you?
channel m TV for Manchester
Okay, this channel, channel m TV for Manchester is not strictly an Online thingy although you can watch clips at the Manchester Evening News site and at their web page as linked in my sidebar. The funny thing about channel m is that I used to be able to watch it on my old portable telly without an ariel and now with my digi-box I can't get it and I can't get it on terrestrial TV 'cos my remote control is broken and it's cheaper to replace the set than the handset if you get my drift, and I don't need to!
This one seems like a good little project. They're based just up the road from us in Old Trafford and my son Jack used to go along to some of the things they organised. He used to be really excited about going 'cos he loves making films and writing plays and performing in his band and I always thought that he would be able to do something really good with an opportunity like that. But no, his mates stopped going for one reason or another so he doesn't go (Lets Go Global) anymore.
Manchester-Live TV
This is a new one to me, but I like it. Manchester-live.TV are starting their own Online Soap Spinning Jenny and are actively looking for people to audition. So, if you fancy being an Online actor or actress, I suggest you clink-the-link. There are some good video clips on this site. If, for example, you want to find out what the restoration of the John Rylands Library on Deansgate looks like - this website is a good place to start. I'm waiting for someone to do one on canal walking, I'd love to do it myself of course but... Well, they won't ask me, will they?
Then of course I've got all these dead good ideas for a traffic movie, set on the Mancunian Way. And there's that other thing I want to do about cycling and green machines and Ziggy Bikes and my-home-made-extra-cycle! Dream on!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

February, sick and tired...

We hardly ever watch TV these days, apart from football, Coronation Street and East Enders, only joking! Don't you just hate TV, all those adverts, and guess what? People actually watch the shopping channels  There are some good things on it, so they tell me. Anyway, we actually sat down the other day, which is quite hard to do in our front room with all Jack's musical instruments. He's got two drum kits now and an electric guitar and a massive electronic keyboard which he calls a piano! On top of that there's the full size slate-bed ex-pub pool table, a leather sofa and chair and a wall size TV and we've only got a little house. But that's what it's like in this little bit of bohemia! On my calendar I've got things written down that I have to go out of the house for. There's the Dentist, The Doctor, The supermarket and Jack's band practice!
One thing I hate more than TV is Jelly Fish! Don't get me wrong, they are beautiful creatures and they play an important part in the eco-system of the sea, don't they? Anyway, I don't like them 'cos I stood on one once and yes, they do sting! So, we managed to find the sofa underneath a pile of books and magazines and we sat down to watch the dreaded box! And, guess what? It was a documentary about Jelly Fish. Dirty big, massive flipping Killer Jelly Fish! One sting and you're brown bread! No anti-dote, no second chance! So, the Japanese government had sent out some fishing boats to kill the killers before the killers could kill them. We sat, watching the wholesale slaughter of thousands of these poor creatures .
First off, they trawled the Jelly Fish in big nets from two fishing boats. Then they pulled the nets to the surface of the water between the two boats and then the fishermen leant over the side and hit the Jellies with sharp rakes and hooks till they died. The idea was to wipe out the Killer Jelly Fish population - but the plan backfired! You see what actually happened was that after so many Jellies dieing, nature took over and instead of each Jelly Fish laying say 100 eggs. Now each one was laying 1,000 eggs to re-populate the waters. If Jellies can do that, what about Cod? Or any other fish, or living creature for that matter! Just a thought..
I suppose that everybody knows by now that the best team in England, Arsenal (at present) were hammered by Uni-ted in the FA Cup at Gold Trafford the other day. Everybody also, probably knows that my team Manchester City annihilated Uni-ted in the Premiership 2-1 at the same venue, not only that, but City have got the double over Uni-ted as they also beat them earlier in the season at Eastlands. So, that must make City the best team in the land. But, where does that leave Barnsley? I hear you scream! Barnsley having knocked Liverpool out of the FA Cup 2-1 at Anfield last week could well be named the best team in Europe, if Liverpool go on to win the European Cup! Barnsley? The little Tykes!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Here we go again!

It was reported today that the Department of Transport had admitted that a tunnel linking Manchester's Piccadilly and Victoria railway stations was one possibility being considered. I remember similar plans in the 1970's that came to nothing and the reason then will be the same reason why they won't come to fruition now. You can sum the whole thing up in one word COST! It would simply cost too much. In 1970 the cost would have been five million pounds, which was much too expensive then. Today it would cost five hundred million pounds, which would be much too expensive now. There are a number of alternatives to the Picc-Vic link and if you scrawl through the archives of this blog you'll come across some of them.
I intended to tell you about the Piccadilly tower a couple of weeks ago, as work has recently started on what will become Manchester's tallest building. I am, however, more exited about another tower in Piccadilly which has not been started as yet. I am of course talking about the site of the former Aytoun Street Unemployment exchange building which has been empty for several years now. I heard/read that the building, which is still standing (just about) has been sold for five million quid to a developer who is going to demolish it and build a sixty storey tower. I'm interested in this project because of the location. The site is bordered by The Rochdale Canal, Aytoun Street tramway and I think it's Roby street where the Waldorf Hotel is, anyway it'll be a tight squeeze!
I see that the sun shone for the Manchester Derby this weekend, in fact the weather here was better than Rome or Athens. It was a sad affair, it being the fiftieth aniversary of the Munich Air disaster in which so many young players lost their lives. I am talking about football, in case you hadn't realised. I don't want to say too much about this fixture apart from Nice one Sven! Oh yeah, my team Man City beat Uni-ted 2-1 there were seventy six thousand people in the ground including the British Prime Minister, the Irish Premier, the ex president of Thailand and the King of Sweden and everybodys favorite ex Uni-ted and England player Sir Bobby Charlton who of course was a surviver of the Munich air crash.
There was a tacky picture in the local newspaper the other day of a dozen or so high rise towers clustered around the Beetham/Hilton Hotel skyscraper at the Castlefield end of Manchester's Deansgate. The report said, and I paraphrase here, that this artist's impression of a Manhatten like skyline could be on the drawing board for Manchester. Really? I for one wasn't taken by the design of these mediocre boxes. If we're talking Manhatten, what about some of those iconic buildings like the Flat Iron and the Chrysler building? We really don't need another local authority style tower block in Manchester. Do we?
As I already mentioned above, 76,000 people turned out for the Uni-ted v City match on Sunday and at the same time a couple of miles up the road in Manchester's Chinatown another 60,000 people spilled out onto the streets to celebrate the Chinese New Year. We went down to George street and Faulkner street in Chinatown and had a look at the Chinese arch, I've seen it many times before over the years but this time I took a really good look at it. When it was first built it was one of only two authentic Chinese arches in the western world, the other one being in San Fransisco. The red paint on the arch is reputed to be made from pigs blood. And two or three years ago the arch was restored at a cost of £300,000.
Okay, I'm sorry, I apologise to all of those nice, nice people who have paid a visit to my Online Novel Space Invaders! For one reason or another I haven't been able to do very much work on the project so far. However, this is going to change. I really really want to write this novel/novella call it what you will and I want to do it Online, for you, with you, if you like. Comments, advice critique etc. are all welcomed and any comments on the blog version of Space Invaders! may very well end up in the final publication! So, what are you waiting for? Me? Duh!
Don't forget you can visit my really bad pub-poetry blog at: SweetTalkingGuy...
The February Issue of Nicola's Newsletter Raw Meat is now Online at:

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Super What?

Welcome back to Proper Joe's blog the home of Inland Driftwood (how green's that?). Anyway, it's Tuesday and it's update time on this page so here we go...
In the US they're branding today as Super Tuesday as so many Americans go to the polling stations to choose a candidate for Presidential nomination. Here (in England) it's plain and simple Shrove Tuesday, better known as Pancake day.
Don't you just lurve pancakes, we do, and we've been making them and eating them all day! We started off this morning with some sweet American style pancakes served with maple syrup and soon graduated onto fruit pancakes, Welsh drop-scones and sticky Scotch pancakes. For lunch we made cheese and lime gallettes followed by Gran Marnier crepes with Chantilly cream. This evening we made a special thick batter with four different types of flour and cooked it in a large tortilla pan, when both sides were set we transfered the pancake onto a round pizza tray, coated the base with a home-made tomato sauce and sprinkled grated cheese and mushrooms on top and bunged it into a pre-heated oven for a few minutes before serving with a green mixed leaf salad. Delicious!
I was going to mention the new towers that are being built as I type and tell you about the ones that escaped and the one that got refused planning permission but, I've been distracted by a picture of a Ziggy Bike. A Ziggy what? I can almost hear your thoughts! A Ziggy Bike! What's a Ziggy Bike when it's at home? Okay, good point. Ziggy is what Nicola calls her wheelchair and therefore a Ziggy Bike is pretty much the back end of a bike attached to a wheelchair, or a bike with the front wheel taken off and the front forks bolted to the back of a wheelchair or imagine an ice-cream bike without the freezer box and then put a wheelchair in its place! Phew! That's what a Ziggy Bike is.
Well, I'm only telling you all this because we want one. We've looked on the web and found a couple of likely candidates, the only stumbling block now is the big price. It's not that we can't raise the dosh, we probably can. Also, if I have to give up driving and everybody (well lots of people) is telling me that I should, for one reason or another, then three thousand pounds or so to purchase a Ziggy Bike doesn't seem very much. Until you look at one, that is. And then you realise how un-green it would be to pay so much for something that you could buy all the bits for for about 10% of the price. Don't you just hate all this Niche Market ripoffski . I do!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Jump the gun...

I was talking to Ruth today, she works with us, she's Nic's personal assistant, and she told me that the daffodils are already out in the local park. Now, I seem to remember that daffs don't usually show 'til St David's day. So, I looked out of Jack's window and Lo+Behold! We've got daffodils growing on our field. When I say field, I mean that bit of grass and twenty seven trees that have sprouted since my next door neighbours houses were demolished in 1999. I told Ruth and she said: "I told yer, it's global warming!"
Now if you'll believe that...
People think that I'm some sort of dinosaur because they think that I don't believe in dinosaurs. They think that I'm some kind of alien because they think that I don't believe in global warming.
Now, for the most part I let people think what they want to think and let them believe what they want to believe about me. But sometimes, I need to put the record straight or some of us are gonna be 'brown bread' and pushing up daisies along with the aforementioned daffs before anything is actually resolved. So, here we/I go, I do believe that dinosaurs and their ilk existed and roamed this earth way back before mankind came here.
What I don't believe is that the dinosaur skeletons in the Natural History museum in this city of Manchester and/or at the other gaff in Kensington are real! They're not, they're just models and some of them look remarkably like the dinosaur models at the Crystal Palace site which were created by an artist before any actual dinosaur bones, let alone skeletons were ever found! Trust me, I've been to all of these places myself, on more than one occasion! In the Nat Hist Museum in London (Kensington) the dirty big massive dinosaur in the entrance hall actually has a plate on it that says:(I paraphrase) This is a model copied from the Chicago Mueseum! How much more proof do you people NEED!
Okay, I get the picture, I'm not a dinosaur. I believe you when you talk about climate change and global thingy. What I don't believe is that we can do anything about it. You see, these things happen in cycles and no matter how hard you peddle uphill against the wind you 'ain't gonna git' to the top that much faster! Now, you can't talk to people about these issues 'cos they've, for the most part, been brain washed to believe that it's all our fault that global whatd'yer call it, is happening. Who's manipulating who here? and why? Perhaps it's something to do with the feel good factor. If we recycle this and don't use that then maybe just maybe another generation of people can inherit the earth! If we keep on polluting the atmosphere like this we'll destroy the planet!
Okay, of course it's good to be green, look at me, I cycle everywhere these days. Not only that, I recycle nearly everything I/we use in this house! I'm trying to cut my carbon footprint down and I won't be flying anywhere this year, unless I have to! Oh yeah, and I'd really like to grow all my own food and generate all my own electricity, make all my own clothes and shoes, hold up! scratch the clothes and shoes bit, that's taking the green machine a little bit too far. But, hold on a mo! There just might be someone that makes clothes and shoes that I can trade pizza's with. Did I say Pizza? I meant...
So, what am I saying? Quite simply that, yes we should be thinking green! There's nothing wrong with that, it makes for good housekeeping as far as I can see. However, don't think even for one moment that by being green that you're actually going to stop climate change. You're not! There's plenty of people out there that'll tell you different and governments and other powers that be are starting to see the potential of manipulation of the masses through such endeavours. But, it's the same old card that religions used to play it's called The Guilt Trip! Don't fall for it. It really isn't your fault!
Yeah, forgive me, I get a bit heavy sometimes, I do need to lighten up a little. I was going to have a rant about the buses and the bins but I think after the above half a dozen 'digs' I think I'll go onto something a little more positive.
I've got this thing about towers, I just love finding new towers when I'm out and about in the city. When I say new, I mean of course new to me, as most of the ones that I really like are a century or more in age. What I really, really like are what I call Venetian Towers, they aren't strictly Venetian, I guess, but I perhaps like to think of them in this way. Especially the towers that you find alongside the numerous canals in Manchester.
I was over at Salford Quays at the old number nine dock on the Manchester Ship canal the other day and guess what? They're building towers there, this time for the BBC who are creating a media city on the banks of the MSC. But the tower that caught my eye was just a little further upstream near Mode Wheel lock. I think it may be a water tower or some kind of pump house, I'll have to go back on the bike and take a better look.
I've just found a great blog called Beyond The Blog! It's run by a guy called Anthony North and the hit counter reads 182,000 + hits. I'm telling you about it (yes, all six of you!) because I want to reccomend it to you! I can't tell you too much about the site because I haven't been able to spend much time there yet but I can say that Anthony really does have something to say.