I happened to be in Manchester this week. Of course, I live in Manchester, what I mean is I was in Manchester city centre. Although it’s a city, when travelling there we always say “We are going into town.”

Local vernacular and all that. Anyway, there I was – in Manchester. Not much had changed since my last visit. One thing I did notice, though, is where you used to be able to buy a can of Pepsi or Fanta, there is now this:

An eyelash dispenser. Whatever next?


Some of the homes on our estate have been without water for a while. There were reports on social media of water tankers scattered around the area. I’m not sure what the problem is, or if these tankers are indeed flushing water through drains as has been suggested, as I’ve not taken that much interest because our home has been unaffected by the problem.

However, yesterday morning, as we were on the school run, we spotted one of the tankers parked up on a neighbouring street. There was nobody with it. We turned onto a main road and saw another two tankers, again unmanned, as though they’d been abandoned.

“More tankers!” exclaimed my wife. “It’s like they’ve taken over the world. Just appeared overnight.”

It’s normally me that’s given to flights of fancy.

We approached the school and, lo and behold, more tankers were in the small car park outside the gates.

“They’re even here!” she said. “They’re like aliens. Everywhere we go they are hounding us. It’s like the world’s coming to an end and they are our masters.”


Maybe there’s a story in that.


I’ve always believed that it’s the insects that will take over in our absence.

I’ve been sorting through my Mum’s things since she passed away. Donating furniture to charity, giving things to people that we know, to friends of friends, anyone who would be grateful of them. Dismantling bit by bit the things that make up a part of who I am.

While emptying her kitchen drawers I spotted an ant trap on her window ledge. She had been plagued with them off and on over the last few summers. This was her last response – an irresistible cocktail of sugar and boric acid.

Some lines came to mind from a Walter Tevis novel I’ve just read, a novel about ‘another’ alien invader:

Or think of living with the insects, of living with the shiny, busy, mindless ants

which prompted the question: should we co-exist? Or should we exterminate?

This summer it will be someone else’s dilemma.

Generations: Mind The Gap

How throwaway comments can lead you elsewhere.

Threads, I call them, when you’re writing them down, ideas or memories that immediately join with another.

I recently heard an elderly lady remonstrating with a young lad about manners, and how “we knew how to behave when we were young.” I’d heard similar stuff when I was growing up. No doubt she had, too. I think the glasses we wear to look back with are often rose-tinted.

I remember one woman telling me all about her generation. It sounded like some kind of Golden Era, and my young self back then was thinking yes, but Hitler was your generation, too

Of course I didn’t say that. I was a polite lad and I kept my mouth shut. But I realise now that I was cherry picking individuals while she was generalising.

Anyway, this memory trail led to me to another point in time a bit closer, around 2006. I was going to go and watch a Scottish girl who was about to appear in a small gig in my home city of Manchester. A young singer-songwriter who was starting to be name-checked a lot in music magazines, her debut album was imminent and I was curious to check her out, but for one reason or another I couldn’t make it. Soon the album, This Is The Life, arrived and it persuaded me that I’d missed out that night.

She’s recorded several albums since, but on that first one is a song called Youth of Today, where she defends this generational issue from the perspective of youth. This is a live version, recorded on a French TV show.

But then, conversely, in another song on the album,,she approves of the old idea of celebrity in the form of the iconic stars of the silver screen, as opposed to today’s obvious example of the WAG. Not sure who she had in mind, but “you know who you are.”

For those of you who may have struggled with the Scottish accent in the last video, this one includes lyrics!