Note To Self: Never, Ever, Again

Saturday, and the sun was out. Manchester drew all of us to her with false promises and sales bait.


My wife, son and I threw ourselves foolishly into the throng. If there was to be any trouble this day, my son had the Arndale covered, patrolling ahead in his army get up. Cute eh? Sure. So far, so good.


As the day drew on, we decided to split up.

That’s how it all began. Just like one of those movies where a group of youths are being stalked by a homicidal maniac, and they decide to split up as you yell “Stick together for God’s sake, stick together!”

Jen took James with her to buy him some trainers, while I was given free reign to lose myself in Waterstones. An hour later I emerged with a book containing a dialogue between the Pope and a Rabbi. I was curious to see if I got a mention. If you should get yourself a copy, and the subjects are arranged alphabetically, try to remember that Jackdaw comes shortly after Devil.

Now came the tricky part- the time to meet up again. We were both in our home city, both of us with mobiles fully charged and with credit. Easy, yes?

Wanna bet?

The barrage of texts began:

Me: I’m out now. Where are you?

Jen: We are in Subway having a drink. We’ve still to get the trainers yet.

Me: Okay, tell me where you are in about fifteen minutes.

The clock ticked. The Fates chuckled.

Jen: Got trainers. Will meet you at that cafe in the Arndale.

I waited a while. The Fates now eyed my empty apple juice bottle. I moved on.

Jen: Here now. Where are you?

Me: I came out as I finished my drink. I’m in HMV, upstairs, near to where you are.

I foolishly expected her to come up to me.

Jen: I’ll go somewhere else.

Now that makes sense. Later:

Me: Where are you now?

Jen: Debenhams.

Debenhams? Debenhams? Where the Hell was Debenhams? I had to think a minute. It’s outside-yes, definitely. Debenhams was not inside the Arndale. I made my way out onto Market Street, blinking in the bright light. Now-which way? Left or right? I was beginning to get a bit tetchy. I waited a few minutes, calming down while listening to this guy on his pan pipes.


He drew quite an appreciative audience, until a woman set up some speakers and blew him away with some rap-techno-I’m too old to understand this shit-thing. It was symbolic of my afternoon. The piper packed up.

I wandered further up Market Street, phone still in hand and ready to stab. Then I spotted it: Debenhams. Hallelujah. I wandered in: more than one floor, great. We began the dance again.

Me: I’m in Debenhams. What floor are you on?

Jen: Come back out, I’m outside TK Maxx.

I was seriously starting to get pissed off.

Me: Where’s that?!

No reply straight away. The day grew hotter. Grip on the phone got tighter.

I think I know where that is. I re-emerged onto the street. I trudged up to the corner, dodging the people who seemed set on a collision course with me. Rounded the bend to where the shop was. Sharp intake of breath: THAT’S NOT TK MAXX, THAT’S FUCKING PRIMARK! Cue very fast and hard typing:

Me: Where’s that????

Jen: Out of Debenhams, straight towards the Arndale. It’s on your right.


I moved down. Teeth clenched. Snorting through my nose. No sign.

Jen: I mean the left.

I dropped my bags all dramatically, then picked them up again. It made me feel better. I turned to the left. I saw her, gazing searchingly through the crowds, James looking like he would need reviving Β right there on the floor where he was slumped.

I was tempted, really tempted, for one final round:

Me: Meet me near the flats over the road from The Angel pub.

Jen: Whereabouts?

Me: Twelfth floor.


20 thoughts on “Note To Self: Never, Ever, Again

  1. Hahahaha as one of four, this is pretty much every Saturday afternoon of my childhood, except this was the olden days before mobiles so we all just yelled for each other and frightened everyone else in the vicinity.

    And I just got homesick for Waterstones!


  2. Hahaha oh my goodness Andy! I totally understand your frustration. I have been through similar thing and you just want to throw your things and just sit on the ground waiting for them to come to you. Thank you for sharing that story!


  3. Haha, this is a great post! I can empathise with your perils on some level, (perhaps the twelfth level?) as I was in Manchester myself just yesterday and got mercilessly lost in the museum, although that definitely wasn’t such a bad place to find oneself lost in. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow you were in my neck of the woods? I could have bumped into you! Fancy that πŸ™‚ Last time I was in Manchester Museum was when I wanted to see Lindow Man. And there you were: Pickering Girl

      Liked by 1 person

      • I was! πŸ™‚ I’ve never been around the main city but it was quite tremendous. I went for the University applicant day, to my ever-enduring surprise my short story that I posted a short while ago must have done the trick to get me an offer for the Literature with creative writing course! Only 15 out of 300 applicants could receive offers, so I couldn’t believe it. (2015, indeed a good year!)
        It did cross my mind that I may have bumped into you! Along with Brian Cox… Although my co-traveler did remind me of the population of Manchester and my hope dwindled slightly.
        Haha, perhaps my sheer fright in the face of the toad exhibition could have given me my own little spot in the museum… Pickering Girl: a statute you can look at, but don’t rubbit.
        Hehe. πŸ™‚


      • Did you open the drawer with all the spiders in?! That’s a great achievement, with the odds stacked so against offers. Have you decided what to do? And I hope I came before Brian Cox πŸ™‚


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