Tuesday, April 29, 2008

16.43 On Time
There were three of us in the queue at the Post Office.

The chap in front of me was so busy on his mobile that, just as she was being called to Cashier Number Three, he walked right into the back of the woman at the head of the queue. RudePhoneChap was so agitated by his call that he couldn't keep still. Instead of waiting tidily at the 'please stand here' sign he veered off and bumped into the shelf of go-on, impulse-buy-me, you-know-you-want-too gel pens, treasury tags and rubber bands.

I hung back, to give him a wide berth.

Cashier Number Four became free. RudePhoneChap (still on that call) made no move towards the window himself, but was successfully blocking my path. Cashier Number One looked up, caught my eye and inclined his head towards Number Four, giving me actual permission to queue jump and adding, somewhat unnecessarily, "He's on his phone."

I made to edge around RudePhoneChap and it was only then that I noticed the white stick.
I stopped, half edged and suddenly uncertain ... I mean, he was still 'on his phone', but pushing in before 'ObliviousBlindMan' is a different kettle of fish from 'FuckingIgnorantGluedToHisMobileAndNeverMindTheRestOfUsChap'.

What should I do? What's the protocol? Cough discreetly and say "Cashier Number Four is free"? How would he know I was talking to him? How would he know where Cashier Number Four was? Hadn't I seen him bumping into things already? What if he didn't know he was in the Post Office even?

How about touching his arm, telling him it was his turn and guiding him along to Cashier Number Four? Me?Touch a stranger? Yeah, like that's going to happen...

By this time, a fraction of a split second had passed and all four cashiers were free. I looked at Number One and whimpered "But he can't see" while Number Four saved the day with an authoritative "Would you like to come down here Sir?"

I bought my stamps and fled. City life is going to be more complicated than I expected.

Trouble Is Real - Johnathan Rice


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

"...why d'you have to act like you know when you don't know?"

7.59 On Time
Waiting for the doors to open I could feel IntimidatingGermanWoman invading my space, pushing at the back of my knees with her holdall. I turned and smiled and said “Sorry”, partly because I’m english, and partly to let her know that I knew what she was up to.

Four or five songs is not a play list. It’s a ‘let’s see what you would’ve won’ glimpse at the possibilities.

The journey is too short! The train is too fast!

I Don’t Want To Talk About It – Rod Stewart
You’ve Got Ger In Your Pocket – White Stripes
Bastard – Ben Folds
Nonphenomenal Lineage – Grandaddy


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

"...you know we've made big plans, for ten year olds"

17.18 Eight Minutes Late
Still making big plans.

There's A Light Beyond These Woods Mary Margret- Nanci Griffith
This Flight Tonight - Joni Mitchell
Anchorage - Michelle Shocked
There's A Light Beyond These Woods Mary Margret- Nanci Griffith

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

"...who needs money, when you're funny"

7.59 On Time
Simon? Nooooo. Not Simon!

But apparently it was for the best, as it transpires that he is a decent bloke and very 'umble and determined to retain his integrity. Thus he could never, ever survive in that house of backstabbing wannabe Machiavellians.

I don’t think Margaret has had such love for a contestant since she was smitten with James "Wolf Fleece" Max in the first series.

As for Lucinda – to be put in an "appropriate skills set" you have to have some skills…but, what’s this? According to Lucinda’s biography she has worked in "IT in the financial sector". So, which is it? Luddite or Liar?
Well, 'Liar' either way actually.

What exactly does she imagine she can do?

I imagine her as being particularly adept at putting bows in the fringes of Yorkshire Terriers. If next week's task incorporates a quantity of dithering, a pinch of faffing and a large dash of away-with-the-fairies Lucinda’s a shoo-in.

The Seldom Seen Kid - Elbow


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

"...so throw those curtains wide"

7.59 Twenty Three Minutes Late. Power Failure North Of Preston.
I'm not bothered.
The sun is shining, the birds are singing and it's all the more time to listen to Elbow.

The Seldom Seen Kid - Elbow


Monday, April 14, 2008

"...one day like this a year would see me right"

Funny how sometimes you have to see the new songs performed live for them to make sense.

I've still got some reservations about The Seldom Seen Kid, but it seems churlish to whinge as last nights performance was relaxed, exuberant ... and the Academy finally has toilets!

Guy Garvey has the uncanny ability to catch everyone's eye with a conspiratorial 'you and me, we know what it's all about don't we?' look. And we do: he holds us in the palm of his hand then winds us round his little finger for fun.

We join in with Richard Hawley to sing 'Happy Birthday' to Pete's sister. We wave at Guy's mum. Twice. And we're damned if we're going to be beaten by Sheffield when it comes to the community singing.

Elbow are such a cracking live band. You really ought to get out there and see them.

The Bones Of You
Leaders Of The Free World
Great Expectations
Forget Myself
Grounds For Divorce
The Fix
The Stops
The Loneliness Of A Tower Crane Driver
On A Day Like This

Encore: Station Approach, Grace Under Pressure


Friday, April 11, 2008

"...looking for all the world like for once it was you, not me, who had been struck."

19.45 On Time

1982: I am sitting on the floor in a patch of sunlight with my back against the wall, knees up. It is late afternoon. I don’t remember what led up to this, but I have the broken pieces of a teacup in my left hand. I don’t think I broke the cup, but I don’t think it is an accident that it was my favourite and it is now in pieces.

I scrape the sharpest of the broken edges across my arm, slightly above the wrist, three or four times. It stings a bit. There's not much blood.

The picture fades. The scars fade. There is no evidence of what happened next.

Struck - Joe Henry
War Baby - Tom Robinson
Landed - Ben Folds
Marlene On The Wall - Suzanne Vega


Thursday, April 10, 2008

"...I want too much"

16.29 On Time
In my job I spend a lot of time telling people things they don't want to hear.

I don't mind this.

If I sugar coat, or accentuate the positive without good reason, it will only lead to disappointment further down the line and I like to think that most people, after they've had some time to think about it, would rather be told the truth than have their time wasted.

I take a lot of flak that I could probably avoid by being more conciliatory, and I sometimes wonder if I'm not, perhaps, secretly hoping for conflict - which is odd as in my 'real' life I would do almost anything to avoid confrontation.

I spend a lot of time telling people, in a range of degrees of subtlety: "You won't get your money back". I wouldn't say I relish it exactly but, in some cases, imparting this information gives me probably more pleasure than is healthy. I don't know what went wrong with my wiring to result in me taking such perverse delight in the misfortunes of others although, in my defence, I only enjoy the ones who deserve it.

Want Too Much - Joe Henry
One Day Like This - Elbow
The District Sleeps Alone Tonight - The Postal Service
A Century Of Fakers - Belle & Sebastian


"...'cause you see I knew that song so long before we met, that it means much more than it...might"

7.59 On Time.
Have I finally arrived at the place where, in the film version, there would be a flashback or two (OK, three maybe ... four, tops) then I would smile ruefully, shake my head a little in disbelief and get on with it?

King Horse - Elvis Costello

My Eyes Adored You - Frankie Valli
Desire As - Prefab Sprout
How Was It For You - James


Wednesday, April 09, 2008

"...and I'm five years ago, and three thousand miles away"

17.18 Five minutes late.
My head is clear.

It's as though nothing ever happened - ever.
I have no history, no context, no back story.
I am a clean sheet, a blank canvas.
I'm waiting to be written.

But there's nothing more daunting than an empty page.

The Seldom Seen Kid - Elbow

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Monday, April 07, 2008

"perfect weather to fly..."

7.59 On Time
I stand alongside BibleMan because he seems to know where the doors will be. I’m prepared to overlook his devotion to Ezekiel if it means I get a seat. This morning I sit across the aisle and slightly behind him. He opens his bible, studies it for about 10 minutes and then moves on to the sports section of the Telegraph.

I glance at the woman sitting directly across from me – she’s at it too! She has a smaller, but equally well thumbed bible and appears absorbed in Deuteronomy. Is there something I should know about this train?

I’m reminded of the first time I ever flew.

A tiny, insubstantial plane from Manchester to London; 6 o’clock on a February morning.

Freezing, barely awake and apprehensive I sat down in the lounge and became aware that it was full of priests. At least a dozen of them. It was as though I’d fetched up in the middle of an episode of
‘Father Ted’, only before ‘Father Ted’ existed.

I figured it was probably a good sign, on the whole, in a hedging my bets, having it both ways kind of way. If the plane showed any inclination to plummet to the ground (and in the unlikely event of God existing) their combined prayer power would presumably counteract my non-believing.

The second time I flew was with
Aeroflot. The third with Aeroflot during a thunderstorm. Flying hasn’t much troubled me since.

The Seldom Seen Kid - Elbow

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