Right, back from Manchester. Stuff:
Got there Friday afternoon and met the lads in Piccalilli, et and drank. The station has been impressively gentrified since I was last there, and I'd be much happier sleeping in there now than I was when I did in approximately 1997 after a particularly debauched evening. Went to Belle Vue dog track, which is named for its irony value. Proceeded to lose £50, which was by far the worst performance of the four of us over the fourteen races. Proceeded thence to Rusholme for the de rigeur curry, which was passable.
Saturday, we rolled out of bed, had brunch in Debenham's, as there appears to be a dearth of greasy spoon establishments in central Manchester. Went out to Trafford Park shopping centre for some tenpin bowling, and were confronted by a hideous neo-classical monstrosity, apparently borne of the worst dreams of the most tasteless unimaginative architect in town. Inside was living hell as these places generally are at any given time, but especially on a Saturday afternoon. No natural light, free and irritating whistles inexplicably handed out to every child in the place, and the dregs of society in general. Drank more. Scored 162 and 152 and regained some pride after Friday night's performance.
Off we then went to Old Trafford to watch Eng-er-land play the plucky Formeryugoslavrepublicofmacedonians, started yawning profusely after about twenty minutes, got vaguely annoyed by the typically twattish fans in front of us, and was amused by the player who was tackled so hard that he did a little 360 degree spin about two feet from the ground. He then cried and limped off. Game was gash otherwise, but the stadium is very impressive, especially with the 72,000+ crowd. Fully intend to go to the Super League Grand Final 2007, but will miss the one next week as it's too short notice, although I could probably sneak a ticket even at this late stage.
Left the stadium, walked into town, drank. The Thirsty Scholar hasn't changed at all, nor does the Salisbury appear to have done, although we never went in because the lads are a bit scared of middle-aged leather-clad fat blokes, so we also partook of some chrome-plated wallet-drainer pubs. Drank more. Went back to hotel.
Sunday, got up, had brunch at over-priced chrome bar, but it at least served Theakston's XB, the first time I've had it in years, and it's still probably the best ale I've tasted, although Orkney Dark Island is also competing for that accolade. Came home, briefly stopped for a pint to watch Hull Kingston Rovers win promotion to the Super League for 2007 (well done), and I also hear that Sheffield Eagles have begun their climb back out of the lower reaches by beating Swinton to reach National League 1 (well done as well). Next week I'll be hoping for Hull (not KR) to beat St.Helens next Saturday teatime. Hopefully there won't be Premiership football to preclude my watching this game in a boozer, although I may (now I think about it) be able to see it in Walkabout, as they have more than one telly, and lots of Aussies.
Things of note that I discovered: Lukas Wooller, the keyboardist from Maximo Park was in my year at school. How the hell did we not notice that before?! Clearly he's the most successful of the eight-dozen of us so far, but we've a while to go yet! Mick is going out with Farrah (sp?) who went to school with Nicola, a lovely ex-girlfriend (I'd love to say friend, but I think I was about ten years too young at the time to keep up with her and we drifted), and she's now living in Paris and is no doubt rich and successful. Others from that group are squeezing out sprogs, the usual stuff.
Next year, we may revert to a cricket test match India or West Indies appear to be the choices. Vegas has been mooted for 2008 for our 20-year anniversary of meeting, but that will take greater organisational skills than we showed this year...
Thanks for paying attention this far, normal service resumes in about ninety minutes when I retire to the scratching pit. Toodle pip.