Sunday, January 17, 2010


Sunday 17 January 2010

This morning I wake up in Stockport. A month ago (maybe even a week) I would never have expected to ever find myself in Stockport.

It was Pauly’s house that we stayed in last night and this is a grand construction, so many floors and so many rooms. The problem is that when we came in at around 2AM this morning I didn’t really pay any attention as to where the bathroom was and now wide awake I need a piss but unfortunately do not know where to go for it. What a schoolboy error.

As I creep out of bed (awkwardly shared with Racton due to the sofa bed being broken) I slip out onto the landing and into what appears to be a Coronation Street scenario. Thankfully the Granada God looks down on me with sympathy as it turns out that the toilet was right next to the guestroom and soon I am relieving myself, entering into a life of relief.

The time is still early but the sun is out and the world is silent. Up North ain’t so bad after all.

Impressively Racton and Pauly are soon up and roving, long before anyone else in the house displays any initiate to murmur. Briskly packed up we head out to catch a bus back into Manchester with view to getting some much needed breakfast (of the fried variety).

Thankfully I do not have a hangover or headache, which considering I passed out on the floor of Justin’s place is in itself an impressive feat (on a minor scale).

With some poor bastards around us doing roadworks on a Sunday soon a bus comes along and we board it buying another £3.50 Dayrider ticket in the process.

Outside the sun has come out today and all things begin to look gorgeous if somewhat nervous. As we ride the top deck of the bus Pauly gives us a potted history of all the places we are seeing. In some ways it reminds me of the bus journey from Tulse Hill to Brixton but in other ways it is thoroughly “grim up North.”

Upon arriving into Piccadilly and the heart of Manchester we head over to the apparent pseudo hip greasy spoon Koffee Pot. Stereotypically it has a person that looks like the missing Gallagher brother working behind the till. Despite Pauly’s reservations I like the place, it is bright and welcoming to a beautiful morning. Again this city feels so different to London, this place is more like Berlin or how I would imagine New York to be.

Partly I suspect that it is the Frank Sidebottom drawing on the wall behind me that puts me in a positive frame of mind and when the food turns up it truly hits the spot. This morning represents the first time that I have had Black Pudding and as I ask the other two what it is Pauly suggests he does not tell me until after I have consumed it. In the end my fears of it being like a mushroom are not realised as it turns out to be meaty. Pauly then tells me its called Black Pudding because it is made from bloody sausage (or something). That’s cool by me, in fact it probably makes it taste that much more nicer in my mind.

Northern hospitality gets displayed as the Gallagher brother heads over and says “do you want some more toast lads?” at which point Pauly points out that the act of generosity probably came from the kitchen accidentally making too much.

Acting like true tourists we begin taking photos of the tablemat, trying not to be patronising but it is tough in the face of such garish tackiness. It is around this point that Justin arrives with Chris who has to be on a train back to Nottingham very soon.

Soon we finish off breakfast and meet up with Justin on his way back from the train station. From here we hit Café Nero where I briefly get grief for buying a refreshing mint Frappe. Those guys soon shut up when they have a taste.

Not long after this we lose Racton as we seen him off to the station and back to London. Soon afterwards Pauly also jumps ship leaving Justin and I to our own devices in the centre of Manchester.

Obviously we wind up in the Arndale Centre because shopping is now the all consuming modern number one leisure pursuit and activity of all circa now. We hit TK Maxx with Justin looking for a hat but instead we find on that better suits me and my old Little Pete Wrigley look.

Afterwards we stagger around the shops including Waterstones and Fopp, where I discover the sudden urge to buy three Ivor Cutler CDs. Fopp in Manchester feels very different to Fopp in London, the staff seem friendly and the store is just set out differently. When in Rome.

Eventually we wind up back in Piccadilly Records where I buy some Billy Childish seven inches that for some reason I can’t seem to find/buy in London. Go figure.

Slowly we head back to Chorlton on the bus at which point Justin and I discuss music, writing and accountancy. He asks me again if I have considered a return to music but it is something that just does not feel feasible at this time. I do still possess a healthy degree of knowledge about the industry but any contacts I may have had from the Gringo Records or studio days are now long since exhausted in what is such a fast moving and crumbling industry. In some ways what Justin is doing is spot on, taking a very fresh perspective and approach where existing labels and institutions are haemorrhaging money through not being flexible or keeping up with the latest developments. That said to turn anything music into real money these days seems to be something of an impossible task/feat. More so than ever it appears to be about who you know and not the standard/quality of your product.

Scarily it is now seven years since I ditched Gringo Records and it was fucking difficult to do anything then but in comparison to the environment today, those almost seem like good times. Instead of music I profess more my interest in publishing to Justin, my desire to do another book, to perhaps publish a book by another person and to maybe hook up and collaborate with somebody else on a written project. Suddenly my enthusiasm flows with this subject.

Once back in Chorlton we stop by a Morrisons where Justin buys some sausages for dinner. So this is what a Manchester supermarket looks like? It is busy with an air of desperation.

Upon returning to Justin’s crib the kebab from last night now takes revenge on me as I disappear for an extended period. This turns out to be tough to recoup from.

In the end we spend the afternoon lounging about first watching Italian football on ESPN before putting on the Danny Baker football DVD that I bought Justin as a birthday present. Is it a Northern thing to feel so relaxed on a Sunday afternoon? I sure as hell never feel this way down South.

As night draws in we wind up watching new episodes of The Simpsons (including “Every Man” by Seth Rogen). During the episode I test drive Justin’s Nintendo DS which he has offered to sell to me for £60 which a bunch of games. Realistically by this point in my life I should have outgrown Nintendo and such things. Realistically.

We head back into town with the intention of catching UP IN THE AIR. Once arriving back at Piccadilly we hit a place called Barburrito, which is some kind of Mexican fast food joint. On a dank Sunday evening in January the only other people in the joint are a bunch of Emo Goths that really should know better at their age.

For an extended while we look for a place to grab a drink on a Sunday night in Manchester and options seem surprisingly limited. Eventually we find a bar in what appears to be a hotel. Again we are the only people in the place. Was Manchester always such a ghost town?

Eventually we head to where the movie is playing. It is being screened inside a vast place called the AMC, which appears to be an old mill converted by some American corporation with one eye on cashing in the English pound. Alas it appears to be a project that has failed which now rather resembles some kind of mall that has fallen into disrepair, just a barren building with a multi screen cinema complex at the end of it. This could be something straight out of a Romero movie. This is England.

UP IN THE AIR turns out to be predictably slow but thankfully and fortunately very good with it containing the kind of depth a viewer has become accustomed to from the people involved with this movie. In this current economic climate the concept of being laid off really strikes a chord/nerve with the viewer along with the idea of loneliness and wasting your life on superficial items. These are very tangible themes being dealt with her by the movie. With his performance George Clooney aces yet another role being suave in impressive manner, measured and with a heart. Once again however Jason Bateman (as with Juno) gets to play a real dickhead.

I find I am able to identify with the corporate world being displayed in the movie. Never does it slip too far into sentimentality when it so easily could have and impressively it is one of those movies that manages to make you feel clever. I would compare it to Lost In Translation crossed with Garden State in a nice suit with the obvious quirks of Juno thrown in. I can easily imagine people hating this movie as much as I liked it.

One of the highlights turns out to be Vera Farmiga who appears to have come out of nowhere to represent kooky stunningness in the style of Maggie Gyllenhaal. Within this movie her character serves to represent what a person needs to be to survive in this day and age. Towards the end Danny McBride from Eastbound And Down turns up to do a great turn.

After the movie we emerge slightly stunned and wounded from the harsh display of modern reality that we have just been subjected to. When the bad things happened at the vital points you wanted them to.

Despite the movie being such an apparent downer afterwards we emerge in high morale, perhaps from the relief that “hey, we ain’t that guy.” As we head to a bus stop Helen points out a majestic hotel to me that was supposedly/apparently set to be the Nazi Northern headquarters had the Hun won the war. It would make sense as it is a truly regal building situated on Mosley Street.

Eventually we get back to Chorlton where proceedings take on a typical Sunday evening, which entails watching Match Of The Day 2 before turning in with resignation with view to facing another working week.

That just happened.

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