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Can media workers walk an extra 1500 feet?

Can media workers walk an extra 1500 feet?

As part of the media megaopolis that will be MediaCity in Manchester (where the BBC and other media companies will have a rather substantial presence), there are plans by Metrolink trams to extend one section of the line by a whopping 400m, in order to ensure that commuters to MediaCity won’t have to walk too far.

When you see how close the other Metrolink stations are around Salford Quays, this will just make a farcical journey even worse. Are people really that afraid of walking these days? Even in lazy London, people will routinely *walk* between stations, so why can’t we expect Mancunians and transplanted office workers to do the same thing?

While I was around there for the weekend (before my car was rudely broken into and the PIN-locked satnav device stolen by two teenagers), I filmed a quick video to show the commute…

Metrolink and Waterstones, you're on THE LIST

Metrolink and Waterstones, you're on THE LIST

Today, I decided that I really ought to buy a book on accessibility guidelines and web usability. Eschewing the Internet bookshop options, I thought I’d venture into Manchester Central and get the book from Waterstones. I called them, and they had it in stock, so fine. The website said they were open till 7pm, so fine. Unfortunately, the Gods would conspire against me on this.

First of all was the problem of heading into Manchester. I meandered down to the local Metrolink, bought my ticket, and waited. And waited. And waited. Eventually, a tannoy announcement said that the line was closed but there was a railway replacement service instead. Unfortunately, it had just decided to leave when the announcement was made, and thus I had to wait a long time for the long one. Then it started to rain.

The replacement bus eventually arrived, we got on, got off at the station, waited in the rain at the station till the next tram arrived, then I got off that. And walked through the rain at Manchester city centre towards Waterstones.

To find it had been closed early for a stock-take — someone could have told me that. So I had to trudge home again, repeating my journey in the pouring rain. Having not bought anything at all. The whole trip took me three hours, all in all.

An average journey on the Metrolink…

An average journey on the Metrolink…

(whisper: What I am about to blog may lead me into trouble with the unsavoury criminal gangs of the underworld. Yet, I feel it is a story that simply must be told…)

On the Metrolink home, another guy comes in. He looks a little out of it, and to be honest, quite green around the gills. Although it could be the flourescent donkey jacket he’s wearing. He catches me looking at him, I smile back and get back to my magazine. He grabs one of those freebie newspapers, the ride goes on.

Two studenty students get on – long frizzled hair, black clothing, definitely the worst for wear for drink. Flourescent guy asks them if they want any drugs, and the conversation starts for the next few stops.

He’s Brian, with an Irish accent. He is also quite drunk. He gives them his phone number — loudly — three times, and phones home in order to arrange the deal for some weed and barbs at the next tram station. Even though the drunk students are lamely protesting that they’re trying to give it all up. He even gives them a potted biography of his life – he’s 27, got three kids by three different women. He works as a security guard at 10 quid per hour in order so the DSS can’t spot his drug dealing earnings.

My stop’s coming up – ironically, at the same stop where the deal is going to go down. But waiting at the door is a slightly dishevelled man, carrying a blue plastic bag. Said plastic bag seems to be full of some kind of liquid. Curious. Oh. It’s urine. and it’s starting to leak.

Thankfully the doors open and we all rush out. Brian and his new best friends are still at the tram stop, waiting for someone to pop round.

I’ve got no particular objection to people selling or buying drugs, but at least pretend it’s slightly illegal.

Madchester music meanderings…

Madchester music meanderings…

An American friend of mine is coming to stay with me in Manchester next week, and has expressed a profound interest in all things Mancunian and music, such as Joy Division, New Order, Happy Mondays, The Smiths, electro music, goth music, etc.

Alas, the only things I can think of to show her are the Salford Lads Club and what’s left of the Hacienda. Do you have any better suggestions ?!

The perils of dining out

The perils of dining out

A couple of nights ago, I decided to pop along to the North West Friends Dinner Group, a small meeting group just started up and dedicated towards good dinners.

So we met at the City Cafe, part of the City Inn in Manchester, recently raved by Manchester Confidential with a few entertaining stories about the volatility of the chef.

Waiting to get into the City Cafe, the person in front of me (a distinguished older gent) greeted the maître d’ with the immortal words:

“I don’t want to eat. I just walked by and just wanted to tell you that you are gorgeous. Absolutely gorgeous.”

He then shook the hand of the understandably stunned maître d’ (imagine an older David Platt) and then walked off.

Gradually, a gang of about seven people assembled for dinner and conversation as we all got to know each other. Then the food arrived. It was lovely and tasted fine, but why are the portions so tiny ?! The little haddock-on-bread I took a picture of cost £10. No side dishes – I had to order extra. There’s barely enough there to do more than taste and sniff at the food.

Or am I just a greedy sod? Is this the portion I should expect to get in a posh hotel restaurant?

Strange headlines for the week…

Strange headlines for the week…

Ripped off from the latest newsletter from Manchester Confidential:

  1. Vaginal Tightening straight from a Manchester surgery. Illustrated by a smiling woman – because obviously an operation like this is bound to be pain-free.
  2. A bold headline stating that size matters. When it comes to apartment hunting of course.
My little piece of heaven in Manchester

My little piece of heaven in Manchester

Last night, I found a little bit of my personal heaven right in the heart of Manchester.

Down below, a basement bar. But not just any old basement bar – it was themed around cult film and television. There’s a full-sized Dalek in the DJ booth. A glass cabinet by the bar with various spaceship models. Framed posters fill the walls – and the customers in the bar were a good mix of people. There’s even a pub quiz every Wednesday. I bet they serve Romulan ale behind the bar too…

And above it, just to make it heavenly, there’s a cheap Chinese buffet. So I can fill up with alcohol, geek TV and good times, and then nip upstairs for noodles afterwards.

Does it get any better than that? 🙂

Where do all the Chinese people go?

Where do all the Chinese people go?

I’ve had an interesting few days following my parents all over Manchester’s Chinatown.

And for two days (well, evenings) I have followed them to two main kinds of places:

– Chinese restaurants. Before the last couple of days, I had no real idea where the good places to eat in Chinatown were, beyond the vague reputation that Yang Sing has. After this, following my parents, I have deduced that an awful lot of Chinese people prefer to eat outside Chinatown, in restaurants conveniently placed above Chinese supermarkets. Places like Tai Pan, Tai Wu or Glamorous.

While all three of them are just like eating in a Hong Kong restaurant – down to the excellent food, trolleys serving dim sum/yum cha and standoff-ish service – Glamorous just has to be seen to be believed. It’s a mixture between Hong Kong cuisine and Blackpool glamour. Anyone with an allergy to neon lighting – and fish tanks full of live lobsters and crabs – should steer clear.

– But by far, the most popular place appears to be the local casino near Chinatown. My Dad has spent a good few years there and I’d always imagined it to be almost akin to Las Vegas in its setting – why else would you want to spend till 3am in there?

But I got there and it was just a run of slot machines (which my parents would occupy), bored croupiers watching Chinese men throwing down 50-quid notes as if it was paper on the roulette table and the Chinese equivalent of Granny from The Kumars at 42 flirting with another blonde croupier on the blackjack table.

It was highly amusing watching my Dad walk around the casino showing me the cool bits. Such as the FREE tea, coffee and soft drinks. My eye was more on the free Chinese cakes that were being handed out around the casino, although you were supposed to tip the waitress.

Having said that, I managed to win £40 on the virtual roulette table. While my Dad was content to sink money into the slot machine all night.

Competitive git…

Competitive git…

It’s been years since I played a trivia quiz game like Trivial Pursuit. But some kind neighbours put together a board games night, and I realised how hideously competitive I can get without realising it.

While everyone else was having a laugh and not particularly bothered about point-scoring or whatever, I was scanning the rules book to try and figure out where the points should have rightly been allocated, and other really wanky things like that.

In my defence, I never actually questioned the moderator’s decisions. And I’ve had a hectic two days in Glasgow – and before that, my parents came to stay with me. So I’m now going to spend the weekend relaxing by myself. Woot!

Party at my first real day of work

Party at my first real day of work

It’s my first day in my proper office and my proper desk. And they’re throwing a party tonight! Alas not for me, but to celebrate some good results.

I think I’m going to like it here!

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