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.