In The City

Some regard February as one of the bleakest months, a hungover, dog tired month following in the aftermath of all those lights and milestones and celebrations. But the streets of Manchester seemed as busy as usual, though there was a deflated air about the place.

Manchester is a city. Of course it is. But whenever we venture there, we remark that we are “Going into town,” which is what my wife and I, along with our son and daughter, did that particular afternoon.

Soon enough after a few retail stops, our stomachs began to dictate the pace, and we called in a place in Piccadilly Gardens for lunch. Although tourists seemed thin on the ground, from our vantage point we could see a few eager beavers clamouring aboard the Manchester Wheel. What to them must be a prominent landmark, convenient for getting their bearings, is to us but a regular sight. Familiarity may not breed contempt, but it certainly instills a way of becoming blasé about things.


While we waited for our food, the kids gave colour to the grey day. The shadows grew longer, the afternoon frayed at the edges. Our conversation mingled into a myriad of accents and tongues, belying birthplace, roots, and levels of hunger.

image The food arrived. Believe it or not there is a plate under there. You could hold the pizza up to the window and block out that revolving wheel. Things could get a bit messy, though.


My wife began to feel uncomfortable beneath the regular stare of a fellow diner at our neighbouring table.  He looked Greek, and was either bowled over by one of our city’s charms, or there was spinach stuck between her teeth. I had to cross my legs beneath the table as she would not allow me to go to the toilet and leave her there with the children, wilting beneath a stranger’s gaze. Eventually he left, and I was more relieved than her.

In the men’s toilets, above the hand dryer, was the following advice:

Enjoy your food the Italian way, with your (clean and dry) hands. Buono appetito!

 One of the more hygienic, and repeatable, suggestions I have ever read on a toilet wall.

After we had finished, we all fell back out into the dying day. It had grown noticeably colder, and everything appeared somewhat gloomier and hurried than before, so we decided to bring our visit to a close, heading back towards where the car was parked.

Evening was definitely arriving, yet the crowds kept on passing, and the wheel kept on turning.


The Woman Who Couldn’t Find Herself

I loved the story I heard today about the woman who accidentally joined a search party that was looking for her.

She was one of a group of tourists who were travelling by bus to the volcanic Eldgja canyon. At a rest stop she went inside to change her clothes and freshen up. On her return her fellow tourists didn’t recognise her. The story of a missing passenger soon spread among the group, and this woman obviously did not recognise the description of herself. Soon she was part of a fifty strong group searching the area for a woman wearing the clothes she had just changed out of.

Meanwhile the coastguard was moving to begin its own search.

At 3.00am in the morning, someone in the group had a eureka moment and realised that the woman that they were searching for was actually in the search party, searching for herself, and the hunt was called off.

At 3.00 o’clock in the morning.

In Iceland.

I bet that hapless woman was popular. Oh how they must have laughed about it all the way home.

I would point the finger at the coach/bus driver-shouldn’t he have done a head count? And if nobody had sussed who the missing person was, and then the police had got involved and found the original clothes in the bag of the woman, would she have been arrested on suspicion of murdering herself?

I have heard of people going on long journeys and pilgrimages to ‘find themselves’.

But really ?

“I would like to report a missing woman.”

“Okay madam who is missing?”

“I am.”

“And how long have you been missing?”

“Since I got changed.”

“Can you give me a description of yourself?”


“Why not?”

“I have no idea what I look like.”


People are great.