Lost Weekend in Salford, Last Weekend in Salford

Friday’s drinks with friends came with free entertainment in the form of two drunken fights.  We got talking to three Dubliners, very nice people and first-timers to Media City UK, come to see one of their friends film at the BBC.  We waxed lyrical to Mike, Damien and Trev (!) about how great the atmosphere is here… then suddenly it was handbags and fisticuffs.  No armed police, they showed up later, just Dockyard bouncers and Media City Security staff.  Both bouts were over in a flash and handbags were duly shouldered, along with dubious responsibility.

It was all so fucking silly, teeny Salford ruffians, fat painted lasses and pissheads unable to hold their liquor.  Wankers who want to spoil it for everyone else and hide their tiny penises behind aggression.  The serious side is that when the police come I think haven’t they got enough to do in town right now?

I’m later irked at the fascination with the armed cops who agreed to selfies and explained how their guns work.  Women plaited their legs, flirted, posed and pouted for the i-phones, and one even tried a policeman’s helmet for size (in a manner of speaking).  I’m all for friendly relations between the forces and the public but this is a tad far.  I know these guys are trained but I kept thinking that while all this nonsense is going on there could be a terrorist lurking just yards away.  Anyway, in a few days’ time the armed patrol will cease and the selfies will have to wait until the next bomb blast.

I’m reminded of this: ten years back my wife and I flew into Heathrow from Tokyo.  Customs control was a joke; a man whose job it was to monitor the x-ray machine was flirting deludedly with a blonde, allowing bags to waltz through unchecked.  The brief and disingenuous massaging of his ego could’ve had us all blown to pieces.  Mercifully he got lucky, if not in the sexual sense, and we went unscathed. But I digress.  Friday was a good night shared with real friends and we finish up in the Ottermobile, drinking coffee and chatting till very very late.  And still no erection.

FA Cup day used to be such a momentous and exciting time for me (though my team never bothered with it till about eight years ago).  The build-up used to start on a Friday night with a TV show called Who Will Win The Cup?  And the Saturday was always sunny, and there seemed to be a different pair of teams every year, a different winner.  Now it’s just the big teams, and they’re relegated to BBC1 at 2pm with a limp summary of what they now inexplicably call The People’s Cup.  Nostalgia isn’t always a good thing, and they say it’s not what it used to be, but somehow this all seems perfunctory rather than a lively and entertaining run-up and I hanker for the days when this is the only live football we get and everyone seems to talk about it.

The telly in the Ottermobile is solar-powered but it runs dry just before kick-off, so I walk to a pub called The Matchstick and watch it there with the Salford lads.  A good game at least, which Arse won and Chelsea didn’t.  First time I’ve watched the Cup Final alone in donkey’s years.  I have to get used to that, being alone.  And retiring to bed in the Ottermobile alone.  And still no erection.  It’s getting worrying now.

Sunday sees a duller dawn.  I make a continental breakfast for me and Kim, then nip to the garage for the papers, and to fill my water tank, only to see it all run away as there’s a leak in my pipe.  I drive back to my stealth-camp and tighten the rusty jubilee clip.  Hopefully that’ll do the trick, if not I’ll call in on my mechanically-minded brother when I head into Cheshire next week.

Get a text from a friend who wants to go for drinks.  It’s been great spending the weekend with friends but soon I must move on.  I was asked if my plan to travel is a bid to find myself.  I said I tried to find myself years ago and realised I was lost.  I will always be so.  I’ll go through life not entirely fitting in anywhere, there’ll always be the desire to wake up to a new garden.  But it’s Bank Holiday tomorrow, and no doubt there’ll be more booze to be supped, beers to stop from going bad.  It’s a lost weekend in Salford.  And a last weekend before I move on.




So, depression.  Another serial-killer.  A far more potent and epidemic than the Poundland Terrorists.  I’d intended to write a passionate study of the black dog today, but it seems churlish and selfish when the weather is so beautiful.  Woke up on Day2 in Media City to birdsong and bright sunshine through my windscreen.  Decided to fill a bucket and have a shower naked in the open-air.  It felt invigorating, amazing, though I’m not sure those tipping up for work at the Bupa offices over the road would agree.

The Ottermobile boasts a toilet but it’s a tight squeeze, if you will.  I’ll spare you further detail as this is a blog, not a logbook.  But there’s space to do what I want and to get clean afterwards.  It’s important.  I’m quite anal when it comes to cleanliness of the arse.  I hope yesterday’s picture proves as much.  I’m getting bogged down.

Suffice it to say that I’m finding a rhythm to my new life.  Not a routine, I leave that for the employed.  A rhythm, in a 4metre square house on wheels.  I slept well again, but realised I haven’t yet woken with an erection since I embarked.  Good though, because it’d be a waste of space on my own, and space is at a premium.  I hope it’s temporary, nothing more sinister than it getting used to its new surroundings, and not because it’s a member of the over-50s club.

I have another remarkable realisation, that I’ve stopped banging my head on cupboards.  That’s good too, because I need to keep these marbles; I finished The Guardian Cryptic Crossword in 30minutes, a sure sign of that being so.  I smiled in self-satisfaction that I’d given the compiler a good match.  It’s good to smile, even smugly I guess.  And I’m smug to know I’m going for a glass of wine with friends in this beautiful city, this brilliant sun, and to know that others will be stuck in offices with their agendas and their routines.  And to know that I’ve opted out of that.  I’ve more on this in future posts, but for now I’ll pop a cork and keep on smiling.

Depression, the Black Dog, the Serial Killer, can wait another day.


First leg of my journey is Bradford to Manchester.  I lived here a long time.  I love the city and I always will.  I have some work stuff to do for ITV, but there was another thing kind of driving my choice of destination for the first leg…  The motorway kept telling me to expect delays as there was a ‘major incident’.  We all know now the horror of what happened, and to call it an incident seems somewhat underbaked.  My first impression of the aftermath of the blast isn’t surprising; people just going about their business, determined not to let these people (again a word that doesn’t befit those I’m thinking of) get to us.  Andrew Neil called them Poundland Terrorists, let’s stick with that.  They’re certainly not people, human beings.  Ofcourse people are talking about it, about the cruelty of such an act, and we can all see the armed presence on the streets.  We all care.

Woke up this morning after my first night’s stealth camping in Media City.  I used to pay £800 a month for a posh apartment here, now I’m in a clapped-out van worth about the same as three months’ rent.  It makes me laugh, it actually makes me feel good.  Sarah Beeny would be proud of me.  More of this opting-out off-grid analysis in later posts because I want to stay on the topic of what’s just happened here… the loss of lives which are more important than mine.

Had a stroll to buy the papers to read up on the horror.  It made me cry again, to see such atrocious fallout from the crime – bits of kids excitedly visiting this great city to see a gig, and finishing up dead, hurt or at the very least traumatised at the encore.  The nation, like the city, mourns.  I’m sorry to say though, I smell rats in the debris, both political and journalistic.  Re the latter, of course the media love this type of thing…

… in the medium of print, there were reports of Man Utd’s victory over Ajax last night, and reports that it was won for those who lost their lives.  Pogba said “we did it for them.”  They did not.  I’ve nothing against Man Utd., or indeed Pogba, and I’m not for a second saying he doesn’t care, but winning a trophy for them, he did not.  Still, I shouldn’t dwell on the hyperbole in the papers, it’s depressing.

Which brings me back to one of the fundamental reasons for me making this journey through our lands.  Depression.  I’ve suffered all my life.  I’ve taken pills, I still take pills.  They do no good.  So I’m wondering if this life-experience, all new to me, might help in some way.  Laughing this morning is a good start.  But I don’t want to say more about this yet, not today, because like I say there are things more important in the world to worry about.  More profound things than me to get concerned and depressed about.  I will, however, add a picture that I feel might lend support to how I feel about Poundland Terrorists.


Campervan Experiences Coming Soon

Thanks to my loyal readers (all three of you) for your patient wait on my delayed ‘travelblogue’.  More pictures to follow, but the reason for delay is that the f*cking brakes went on the ottermobile.  Quite a scary moment in Halifax as I thought I was going to bang into someone’s arse (!).  Anyway, this is to say that I’ll be coming soon (!).

While I’m in the business of giving thanks I’d like to offer gratitude to those who’ve encouraged me in my prep for this venture.  Thanks to Kim, Karl, Wendy, my friends, my brothers and my kids for their help and positivity, but especially to Jayne, whose support and kindness has been unfailing – kind and humorous when I’ve been up, heartening and cheering when I’ve been down.  A bouquet of roses for her.  Regarding any bouquets of barbed wire, they’ll be delivered I’m sure in future posts.

Anyway the wait is nearly over.  Soon as I get the brakes fixed there’ll be no stopping me!

Soap “Supremo” Joins the Great Unwashed

Hi and thanks for joining me.  This is very new, but I’m soon to be going on an adventure taking me from the higher echelons of TV Soaps to the Highlands of Scotland in a converted, clapped-out van (the ‘Ottermobile’).  It will be an honest, emotional roller-coaster and a candid diary of my journeys, adventures, exploits, cock-ups and piss-ups, with only my guitar, my brain and my hands to put food on the camp stove.  I’ll be embarking on my adventure in the coming weeks, so please bear with me and get ready to fasten your seatbelts for what might be a bumpy ride!