Trial By Tesco

Evening shopping in Tesco. I kind of switch off, go on autopilot, just pointing the shopping trolley in whichever direction my wife, Jen, is heading for.

We were in the main aisle when my usual air of mundane despair was punctured by the sight of a man reacting to two young lads who passed him. They were about ten years old, full of swagger, owning the place like they do. He was middle-aged and a little off.

I saw him whirl and watch them go, then as they vanished from view down a joining aisle he went after them, but his delay proved fatal as he couldn’t find where they had gone. He walked up and down checking several other aisles with no apparent luck.

I can be quite discreet in my curiosity, but I made the fatal mistake of mentioning it to Jen who was caught in rabbit and headlights eye contact with him. Quick as a flash he was by our side.

“Did you see those kids? Eh? Did you? How disrespectful were they? Blowing their vape thing like that in the middle of the store. Right as they’re passing me!”

I neutrally inclined my head, but Jen encouraged him with an appeasing “They don’t care, do they?”

“Vaping in the middle of Tesco. I’m thirty-eight. If I say something to them, you know what happens then, don’t you?”

A few scenarios were playing out in my mind. Jen just advised, “You’re best just leaving them to it. It’s not worth the trouble.”

“I get sick of it though. You have lovely eyes, by the way.”

“Thank you.”

He examined mine. “You have old eyes.”

Yeah, thank you.

“I’m gonna go find ‘em,” he continued.

“Leave them to it,” Jen replied.

“ I can’t leave it. I know you could, because that’s the nice kind of person you are.” He looked at me. “And he couldn’t either, could you? I can see it in his face. In his eyes.”

That would be my old eyes.

“No, I’m off after them.” Then he gave me one final piece of advice. “You need to swap that,” he pointed to the trolley I was pushing, “for this,” he brandished his basket that had just a couple of items in it. “I’m going to twat them with it.”

I wished him good luck , which meant yes, you go and leave us now. Jen pointed out that that was the kind of conversation she had all of the time when she worked in mental health.

We spotted him once again, near the checkout, when his loud conversation drew our attention. He had indeed caught up with the two boys. Rather than “twat them” he’d bought them both an Easter egg. “But I’m not a paedophile!” he told the woman at the till.

We made a quick u-turn despite what was still on our shopping list and where it might be located, and managed to avoid him for the rest of our shop, me warning Jen that whatever happens she was not to make eye contact again with her lovely eyes.

But then, outside in the car park, we ran smack bang into him again.

Fuck’s sake” I barely disguised beneath my breath.

He pulled the collar of his t-shirt down, baring his neck to Jen. “Here, have a sniff of this. What do you think it is?”

She dutifully did, “Hmm . . . I’m not sure. Creed?”

RUBBER!” he shouted, then jumped into the car that he was stood beside and hot-rodded right outta there, engine revving, wheels screeching.

Next week I think we are going to give Aldi a try.

The Lion Growls Tonight

Some snow came in last night. It wasn’t a lot and it wasn’t a surprise.We had been told that it was coming, dragged down by some northern, arctic air, but going to bed last night it was just a few flurries.

What was a surprise was the message this morning that my kids’ high school was closed. There wasn’t that much on the ground, not enough to wall us up alive, and certainly not enough to turn our uphill main road into an impasse. (Yes, I know that it’s only an uphill main road if you’re going up it and not down it, but that’s the direction the school is in.)

It seems that the reason given was that other towns received more snow than us and that’s where some staff would be travelling from.

I don’t ever recall schools closing due to weather when I was young, not even in our younger primary school days. But, then again, in the 70’s wellies were cool.

We could be forgiven for starting to think of climate change and unseasonal weather, but apparently we get more snow here in March than we do in December. Who knew? Not I, and I’ve only been here all my life.

I have heard that saying: If March comes in like a lion, it will go out like a lamb.

It wasn’t really roaring last night though, maybe just giving a little warning growl.

I had some things to get this morning so I walked down to the town centre as I’d originally planned. The kids were still in bed, not even aware that school was shut. Wouldn’t it be great if they woke, thought they’d overslept and scurried off to the best days of their lives?

I’m scurrying off now to another day in mine, hoping you all have a great weekend, but before I go can I just give a shoutout to the meteorologist, on TV at 7.30am, who explained that “snow is crunchy beneath your feet.

I’ll never be ignorant again.

Not Gonna Sleep Tonight

Today I came across this Daguerreotype portrait of a teacher with her students, estimated to have been taken sometime in the 1850’s.

It took me a few moments to realise that there was only one lad amongst the class.

Mainly because, I know I’ve said before that I do love old photographs, but I’m sorry:

those kids are creeping the bejesus outta me!


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!

A Return To Mancunian Vibes

After recently visiting the sounds and sights of Mars, it’s back to a more local setting today.

Though he’s slipped from his northern roots, Noel Gallagher has cast his mind back to his Mancunian beginnings with his latest High Flying Birds album, due out in June.

Titled Council Skies, here is the cover reveal:

That spot, where the band’s equipment sits, is the preserved centre circle of Manchester City’s former home in Moss Side. For eighty years, this was where fans watched their heroes in blue take the kick-off that would begin their games.

There is a generation of City fans today who never got to experience Maine Road, the club having in 2003 relocated to the Etihad Stadium in East Manchester. With the former stadium now demolished, houses have been built around that circle which has been left for sentimental supporters, like both Noel and myself, who have long historic and emotional ties to the place.

Having said that, I’ve yet to go and pay homage, but it’s on my list.

My first game was in 1982 and my last was that final one, held there twenty-one years later.

In addition to the hundreds of matches that has drawn me through the network of surrounding side streets of that inner city town, there has also been the odd concert, too. I was there for one of the two-night gigs put on by Noel’s former group, Oasis, when they were at the height of their powers in the 1990’s, with Britpop in all its pomp.

I can remember the moon coming out, the blue moon, adding to the saved inner image as it hung above us all, a sign of the musical Gods’ approval, as the band belted out Champagne Supernova.

It was a great night. A great band with great support (Ocean Colour Scene and Manic Street Preachers ). Maybe my favourite ever gig.

On the other night, a couple of my friends were mugged in one of those shadowed back alleyways as they made their way back home. What the Gods giveth the Gods taketh away.

All sorts of memories. Most of them good.

Looking To Spring

There’s snow on the ground and fog in the air.

Only a little snow, merely a dusting. Only a little fog, let’s call it mist.

I recently hoped aloud that 2023 would be better than 2022. Well, in the last couple of weeks I’ve been to the funeral of an ex-work colleague, lost a lad my wife and I have known since the 80’s, and spent the whole night in hospital at the bedside of my wife’s uncle before he passed away yesterday, his brother and nephew with him while I grabbed a couple of hours sleep.

We are not even out of January yet.

If you look carefully, among all of the chaos, I’m still there, recording.

But City Jackdaw can’t only be a list of unfortunate and tragic events. We’d all need therapy.

We all need balance.

As the year goes on there’s other stuff going on. There’s plans to make. Projects to complete, projects to begin. Children to lead through this patchwork of emotions we call life.

Winter only lasts so long. There’s new light coming.