2.305 Anniversary

Six years ago, I met Carole for the first time.

It was, as you may imagine, a romantic affair, with our first date (if you can call it such a thing) taking place in the Starbucks in Leeds train station while Caz was on her lunch break from work. I still remember sitting outside the Whistlestop shop waiting for her to arrive, looking at each and every woman who walked past wondering if that would be her and, in some cases, hoping it wasn’t.

And then she arrived. I didn’t know what she looked like at the time because we were set up by her sister and a colleague at work and, up to that point, I had seen one picture of Carole in which she was wearing a witch’s mask. Carole, meanwhile, had seen a picture of me in a skirt getting my legs waxed at work for charity. Or at least that’s what I told her the picture was for.

The first thing we did, after we’d said hello, was descend into a bit of a shy silence. We were now both sitting on the bench outside Whistlestop. We had not, at this point, made a move to go to Starbucks. The silence could have been a good thing or a bad thing had it been left to go on but it was interrupted. interrupted by something unexpected.

An apple made a break for freedom.

It was a sign. Sure it may only have been a sign that someone who worked for Whistlestop in Leeds was particularly poor at stacking fruit, but it was still a sign.

No word of a lie, an apple threw itself from the fruit box on the left of the shop front and began to roll along the floor, edging closer and closer to a life of freedom away from the trials and tribulations of being a saleable piece of fruit. It was at this point that I said something which, in hindsight, could have gone either way as well.

“Look,” I said, indicating the transient fruit. “That apple’s making a break for freedom.”

Now, luckily for me, Carole is someone who isn’t phased by someone saying something strange – a fact which is still true some six years later – and will play along with these kind of strange conversations and, luckily we hit it off. And here we are. Six years into our relationship. Six years today. Not everyone can remember things like that. Like when they had their first date. But then, not everyone thinks to start going out with someone on a memorable date like, say, Hallowe’en.

But I’m the kind of forward thinking chap who doesn’t want to get into trouble for forgetting this kind of thing. And the fact that we can base how long we’ve been going out for on the age of Carole’s niece is just an unplanned added bonus.

Who knew, six years ago, that I’d be living with a woman who talks as much in her sleep as she does when she’s awake? That I’d be in love with someone who has sat bolt upright in bed and asked if we have any bell jars, or that she can hear running water. That I’d fall for a girl who, on one of our first dates, polished the inside of her car – a fact I only know because there were little bits of yellow duster fluff all over the place?

That apple knew.

And I’ve been grateful ever since.



2.304 “Oo Hello! I’m Julian And This Is My Friend Sandy.”*

So Hurricane Sandy has battered the living shit out of the East coast of America. I don’t think that’s an understatement, really. I mean, yesterday we were just watching footage of a broken crane swinging in the breeze whereas today the weather has really stepped up its game.

And this, of course, means that the weather becomes news.

Meaning that, if they so wanted, the weather presenters could report on the state of the economy and things like that.

But there’s one thing that baffles me about weather reporting, one thing that’s never really made a good deal of sense to me.

Why the hell do we need to see the reporter standing outside in the inclement weather they’re reporting on? I mean, as the superstorm/frankenstorm got closer and closer to New York, more and more news stations seemed to have people out on the streets. There’s nothing I like to see more than someone reporting on how empty the streets are because people have been told to stay indoors while they’re being blown around like a crisp packet in a breeze. It just seems like an absolutely unnecessary thing to do.

I’d still believe them if they were standing, say, inside in front of a window through which you could see the absolutely foul weather. When it’s wazzing it down with rain here, for example, I can see that through the window. I can tell, from the rain hitting the ground, that it’s wazzing down. I don’t need Carole to put on a kagoole and go and stand in the street and report on the weather conditions. I can see it. And, if I can’t work out what the weather’s like just by looking, I can always open the door and stick my hand out. These are perfectly viable methods for determining the weather under normal circumstances but it seems that when the weather is out-of-the-ordinary the only thing we’ll trust is the sight of a small woman – because it’s usually a small woman – being blown around like the ball in a game of blow football.

A bit of the impact, yesterday, was lost by the footage from the news feeds not entirely marrying up with what the reporters were telling us. At one point an excitable American man was telling us how the camera was showing us a harbour in which the boats were tossing and turning in the high seas. There was one boat. And it was, at best, bobbing enthusiastically.

But the medal went to the woman from Sky News. The blonde woman with the brown pack-a-mac who was made to stand out in the rain last night with her hood up so that she looked like some kind of avenging vigilante. Yesterday she was standing in front of the bay, or something suitably nautical-sounding, describing how there was no-one about, and how the water was choppy and it was dangerous and a myriad of other weather clichés.

And in the background a man went past on a jet ski like he was holidaying on one of the Greek islands.

* It’s from Round The Horne. Ask your parents!

2.303 Some Disruption May Occur

Because nothing is ever easy, there’s a whole heap of train disruptions this week due to some engineering works in Stalybridge. What this means, for those of us who have to get from Huddersfield to Leeds, is that the trains are now more of a dark art than they were before. They’re running different routes which means that the previous 20 minute journey to Leeds now takes something closer to an hour and, for me and my wacky start times, I have to leave the house at 6.25 and get the 7am train which – while it takes 40 minutes – does afford some quality reading time.

And I get a seat. Which is both unusual and quite nice.

But the most baffling thing about this is that Stalybridge is having all this engineering work done. Because, and I’m sorry if I offend anyone here, but Stalybridge is a bit of a hole.

I once spent a week commuting to Stalybridge for a course. Not for where I work now, but my previous job when I dabbled with the world of bookmaking. I had to go to Stalybridge every day – a place which, aside from the training centre we used, had almost nothing (I remember a Greggs and somewhere you could buy metalwork) – and learn how to do something or other that I have since forgotten about.

So, every morning I’d get on the train and we’d pootle along to Stalybridge. It took a while to get there so I’d enjoy a good portion of a book on my way, and then a group of people would get off in Stalybridge and go about their business. I say a group. There was me and – on a good day – two other people. Then, when it came to going home, I would head back to the station where I would be THE ONLY PERSON THERE.


The only person.

There were no staff members to be seen. No other travellers. No-one.

I was the only person there.

It was, in equal parts, exciting and scary as hell. If you were ever to be murdered at a railway station, that would be the one you’d be murdered at. But, on the plus side, the waiting room was reasonably comfy. And it was warm. So at least if you were murdered, you’d be reasonably comfortable in your final moments.

But now it’s being done up. And the track’s being tweaked and upgraded and things of that nature.

So I hope the two or three people who still use Stalybridge station enjoy all those upgrades and don’t feel too badly about the way they’re putting us regular travellers at an inconvenience.

2.302 Skyfall


We’ve seen it.

After what seemed like an insanely long wait from Friday until this morning, we were finally there to see what a lot of people are calling the best Bond film to date. So there was no pressure on it. None at all.

But before Bond, we were treated to a variety of trailers. And the feeling that Orange have run out of ideas for hilarious pre-cinema turn your bloody phone off messages as it’s still the Orange team with Cookie the mobile phone signal sniffing dog. It’s been that for months now – come on, Orange, sort it out! But in the trailers, along side an absolutely breath-taking trailer for The Life of Pi was the trailer for Jack Reacher.

6-foot-something, military powerhouse Jack Reacher.

Played by diminutive nut-job Tom Cruise.

It just isn’t right. The whole thing’s just not right. I don’t like it. I’m still going to go and see it (mainly so that I can more legitimately pour scorn on the whole thing like, for instance, why the hell are they starting with One Shot?). But I don’t like it. And I don’t think I will like it.

Anyway, Skyfall.

Well, it’s absolutely bloody brilliant isn’t it? If you’ve seen it, you’ll know that. If you haven’t seen it then you should rectify that as soon as you can. There’s probably another dozen showings between the time this blog goes live and work tomorrow. Get yourself to a cinema and see it. It’s brilliant.

I’d say it’s a Bond fan’s Bond, as well. The fact that it’s directed by a fan of the series, Sam Mendes, helps. But there are so many nods to the 50-year history of the character and all the cinematic outings that it’s an absolute joy to watch. And Javier Bardem is an absolutely brilliant bad guy. Brilliant. The first scene between him and Bond is magnificent and it only gets better from there.

There’s so much I liked about Skyfall. There’s so much I want to be able to say about it. But I don’t want to spoil anything. I don’t want to tell you how brilliant the opening sequence – a good chunk of which makes up the trailer – is. But it is brilliant. I don’t want to spoil anything for you. I shouldn’t spoil anything for you. You should experience every single little piece of the film for yourself – every nod to the past, every moment for the future – because otherwise you’re doing yourself a disservice.

But I will share something with you, concerning Adele. Now, she’s put her ample lungs to the theme song for the film. And it’s been out as a single for a couple of weeks and everyone’s a bit “meh” about it. I, personally, quite like it. I like the fact that you can single it out as a Bond theme from the tune hidden behind Adele’s belted-out lyrics. And I like the fact that it’s used throughout the film – along with the iconic Bond score – to make up the film’s soundtrack. But I especially like the fact that when it’s belted out of cinema speakers with orchestral backing and the opening credits playing it actually works quite well.

“James Bond Will Return” it says at the end of the film. As it has for the previous 22 in the series.

This time, before the cinema run is out, I think I will too.000000009s


2.301 Bananas In Pyjamas

Everyone’s had the dream where they turn up to school or work naked, or something along those lines. And you get told by someone who’s in tune with the nonsense of decoding dreams and all that gubbins, that it’s something to do with some sort of anxiety that you’re feeling towards something in your life. Probably work or school, I reckon. Given that’s where you’re naked. It’ll be something like that, anyway.

So what does it mean when you dream about pyjamas?

I’m only asking because I have, erm, this friend who has dreams on two consecutive nights in which one of the things he can remember most clearly is pyjamas.

In the first of these dreams, my friend told me, they’d dreamt that an improvisation group performed in their front room but, when sitting down to watch them, my friend realised that he was wearing pyjamas. And this seemed a little odd and out-of-place. There was also a stain on the left leg of the pyjama trousers. That’s probably not important.

And last night, so my friend says, he had a dream in which he was invited to a dinner party but thought it was some kind of casual thing and turned up in pyjamas and everyone else was wearing swanky outfits and he felt a little bit out-of-place.

I’ve looked it up in a dream dictionary and it turns out that dreaming about pyjamas means that you’re in need of rest.

But I’m – I mean, my friend – is asleep when these pyjama dreams are happening. Is that not rest enough? What more rest can I have than being asleep? Surely dreaming about pyjamas meaning that I need more rest so I – I mean, my friend – sleeps more and dreams about pyjamas is some kind of infinite loop that can never be escaped. How will my friend know when he’s had enough rest? Will he just suddenly stop dreaming of pyjamas? What, in the dream world, is the opposite of pyjamas? What, come to think of it, in the real world is the opposite of pyjamas. Do they even have an opposite?

Oh no, wait, I’ve just looked on another website and apparently it means I’ll have – I mean, my friend will have – family joy ahead. Although if, in the dream, you’re always wearing pyjamas then it means there are intimate times ahead. Because, as everyone knows, there’s very little that is sexier than elasticated cotton trousers. Or, as my research into this subject showed, a ladies Spongebob Squarepants onesie (perfect for the fun-loving girl, the blurb says).

Well, that’s certainly got to the bottom of the mystery and my friend is now a lot clearer on what his subconscious is clearly trying to tell him.

I think, if I’ve read it right, that I should sleep through either some family joy or some intimate time. That seems to be the gist of it.

Not me, I meant my friend.