Sunday, August 31, 2008

Back Home

The key to contentment is quite simple. Spend time with the people you love. That's why we put so much effort and planning into our family holiday. In the middle of our hectic year we can take ourselves away to some sunshine and just be us. I feel so rested and so happy. I don't want to write a travel article about where we've been, what books we read, who we met, what the kids did, what the best ice cream in Barga is. Italy is such a warm and accepting environment for a rabble like us, great food, lovely people, quirky too. All I do want to say is "thank you" to Rachel, Joe, Max, Louis, Matt and Elliot for making this holiday such a fun and happy one.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Arriverdeci Marple

Right we're off on our jollies. Here are ten things I'm happy not to have to worry about for two weeks.

The start of the football season
The rain
Bitchy comments on message boards
The TIF debate
Rose Hill trains getting cancelled
Waking up to the Olympics on Radio 5 Live
Dan Bank road works
Worrying about the kids in holiday clubs
The price of fuel
The credit crunch

See you in September

Press release of the week

From our Insider Daily today:

Press release of the week. They don’t come much more PR-hungry than Stockport floorer Resin Surfaces and this week’s press release was a corker. The company has “solved a long-standing bathroom problem for global energy giant BP” by installing a special resin floor on an oil tanker permanently moored off Shetland. The tone was tactful, pointing out the difficulties caused by the tanker’s movements. If the Policy Exchange had been in charge, it would probably have been entitled: “All Jocks piss on the floor”. Mind you, remembering the UEFA Cup final…

There were wry smiles round Manchester at the news that Rangers were knocked out of Europe at the first hurdle.

Congestion conversation

I chaired a debate on Manchester controversial transport plans today at the Lowry Hotel, in a special event organised by pro.Manchester. I have to say Chris Oglesby from United City and Andrew Simpson from the GMMG both delivered barnstorming presentations.

Here's the nub: Oglesby says public transport in Manchester is "crap". Yet this bid is designed to get more people to use that "crap" service. To most people what's on offer is more crap and being charged to use your car. Simpson's slide showing what TIF really amounts to - four diddy extra bits of Metrolink - was met with gasps.

If I was a betting man I'd say the consensus in the room was with the no camp. TIF is dead.

Hello Calum

Grandad Eamon now has another little lad to dote on. Rachel's brother Sean and his wife Reena are now the proud parents of Calum Joshua Guru Curran. He's a lovely little fellah, getting stronger and bigger every day. Mum's doing well too.
My pal Andy Coyne always maintains that the Sikhs are the Irish of Asia, so Calum has a grand pedigree!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Once again...

It was difficult to know where to start with the Policy Exchange report on regeneration.

The Liverpool edition of our Insider Daily email had this to say today:

Among the avalanche of criticism heaped on the authors of the Policy Exchange’s Cities Unlimited report, Insider’s favourite comments came from Professor Michael Parkinson of the European Institute for Urban Affairs at Liverpool John Moores University. Parkinson dismissed the observations as “teenage scribblings”. Parkinson is currently compiling a report into the impact of the credit crunch on the UK regions, which will be unveiled at Insider’s UK Investment Forum in London in November.

As I said on here last night, it was a breathtakingly poor piece of work. But some of what they were saying wasn't that far from what the new urban orthodoxy is saying in Manchester and Liverpool: "Back winners, support the city centre and the rest can only prosper."

To be honest I then see the coverage in the Liverpool Echo - like this - and it's basically turned into bullying anyone who criticises Liverpool.

In praise of BOSSmag

I grew up reading tall tales and mad lists in fanzines. I wrote about that here. Just picked up BOSSMag following one of Taguey's raids to Liverpool and liked it.

It's far from perfect, but it made me laugh and it's certainly good to see the young lads keeping the faith and telling it like it is. More than anything it was refreshing to read fanzines written by people under 40 (30 even). So many ideas, reviews, thoughts and snapshots end up on blogs and message boards it's a shame. You can't beat the look, feel and smell of a zine.

And I might even get the new John Power CD on their say so.

Overboard review

Delighted that Overboard got a nice review in the Scotsman. If you are in Edinburgh, do go and see it.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Are friends eclectic?

David Hepworth from The Word magazine sets a test. A randomizer - what five songs come up first when you shuffle the musical pack on your iPod (or equivalent MP3 player)? I was reading through the choices and thinking, what a load of bollocks. Who are these people? Is this just people trying to be eccentric and eclectic? I suspect so. No one has anything vaguely embarrassing.

Here are my first 10:
Martyr - Depeche Mode (hardly know it, one of Rachel's)
First Gear - The Rapture (must have been something off the youngsters at work, can't even remember where it came from)
Autumnsong - Manic Street Preachers (OK album track, but not a favourite)
Great Things - Echobelly (old 90s Britpop track)
Out of the Blue (into the fire) - The The (Excellent album track)
Those Canaan Days - From Joseph musical (on a for the kids playlist)
Let me entertain you - Robbie Williams (not very Word, but I like the Robster)
Babe I'm Gonna Leave you - Led Zep - (like it, but not my favourite by them)
Albert Hammond Bootleg - Half Man Half Biscuit (folk poetry)

I think because iPods are getting so massive, you just get all sorts ripped on and hope for the best. I must admit, I to tend to listen to playlists and new albums at the moment - Paul Weller's 22 Songs and the new Sigur Ros are my fave pair.

Catching up on The Wire

We've now watched the first two series of The Wire. I really do think it's every bit as good as so many people seem to say it is. However, no-one who I mention any of this to wants to know. They're way ahead of me. By the time we're up to date - mid September, I reckon, I can join in. Until then, observations on McNulty's Pogues soundtrack, the depth of Omar and the Shakespearean tragedy of Frank Sobotka will have to stay at home.

I like too the fact hardly anyone I know has actually watched it on TV, because it's on a channel called FX. Catching up, catching up.

Massive hat tip: Taguey.

Dan Bank

The traffic in and out of Marple is always a problem and it's about to get worse. Dan Bank is getting a complete overhaul for the next couple of years. I think it shows incredible foresight on the part of Stockport Borough Council to do the most invasive work during late August. When we will be away, thankfully.

I love the summer smell of the trees as you approach Marple from Chadkirk. It helps that the traffic is running smoothly.

A wintry picture taken from the bottom of Dan Bank up to Offerton Road is featured in a mod montage on the inner sleeve of one of my favourite albums of all time - All Mod Cons by The Jam. Bet you didn't know that, did you?

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Ince loses dressing room - this blog was first

As exclusively revealed on the Marple Leaf last week, OK, "noted with caution" Paul Ince had already "lost the dressing room" at Blackburn Rovers. The Daily Mail has now waded in with this.
Senior players don't like him, his staff and his training methods, apparently.

Bring on Keith Andrews, that'll sort it.

The Graun has also come to the same conclusion as me on league placings (14th), after this thoughtful piece by Barney Ronay.

Last night I watched the Carlos Villaneuva clips on You Tube. He looks ace. But then before you get too excited, you can do a search on this deadbeat and get a 3 minute compilation that makes the currently unattached, ex-Swiss second division player, an absolute world beater.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Edinburgh bound

My Godson Adam and his family are appearing at Edinburgh in a play they've written together. There's a piece in the Tameside Advertiser about it here. To my shame I haven't seen it yet, but I'm sure it's funny, warm and slightly eccentric. Joe and Matt are going up to see it next week.

Anyway, it's called Overboard and will be performed at Tiviot Place, Wee 3, Venue 295 at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival between 10-16 August.

Tickets are £7.50 or £6.50 for concessions and can be reserved by calling the box office on 0870 241 0136 or by visiting

iPod Touch - a toy not a tool

I have finally managed to get my iPod Touch to connect to our Wifi at home. I did this despite being told by our service provider that I couldn't, or shouldn't. However, as I'd clumsily wrecked our settings on the livebox thingy I had to get a very nice lady in India to talk me through the resetting process again. In so doing I worked out how to do it. The next obstacle is to get the calendar on it to sync with my Outlook. It has been a major pain in the backside, which only started when I upgraded to the version 2.0 software for £5. Cheers, Apple.

The issue here is whether Apple want to have their sleek products considered elegant toys, or a genuinely useful business tools. I still they are fancy toys.

Bloggers and the media

London blogger Dave Hill writes here about a small spat between his local paper and the local blogging community in Hackney. We don't have that simmering cauldron of tension and competition between the paper and the blogs here, but I'm often approached for comment by the Stockport Express's district reporter for Marple, and sometime they follow up on various rants on here.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Pre season thoughts on Blackburn Rovers

Right, I've had a month off football. Or rather, this blog has had a month off talking about Blackburn Rovers. I'm glad, because in many instances I do encourage my children and workmates to refrain from saying anything if you can't think of something nice to say.
On Wednesday my friend Stephen Ashworth invited me down to Northwich to see a Rovers reserve side play the Vics, a club surrounded in turmoil and dark plotting of which Ashy is being invited to join in.

Here are ten thoughts - five bleak, five more positive, on what's been happening.

Selling. We have sold our most effective player from last season - Brad Friedel. Gutted isn't the word. He is an immense goalkeeper. There was a sell on clause for David Bentley. So, we split the proceeds on his sale with Arsenal. Is there a player that doesn't want to leave?

Managing. Paul Ince has - according to a good source in football agent circles - "lost the dressing room" already. His pre-match prep is patchy compared to Hughes and Ray Mathias takes the training. He likes winding players up by telling them there have been offers from other clubs. He wasn't even at Northwich, why?

Media. There's this from the Fiver yesterday which sums it up:
As for Blackeye Rovers, although they've now lost their two best players - Bentley and Brad Friedel - in the space of a week, they can comfort themselves with the thought that Bentley's attacking threat will be replaced with 84-year-old property magnate Robbie Fowler's pac ... Oh. Well, they can comfort themselves with the thought that Friedel's comforting presence has been supplanted with occasional goalkeeper Paul Robinson's handl ... Ah. Well, they can comfort themselves with the thought that Roque Santa Cruz isn't being linked to every half decent club with a few pennies to rub togeth ... Gah!

Bad buying. Robbie Fowler. Please, no. At Northwich he looked more like he should be in a veterans tournament. We are also being linked with Keith Andrews from MK Dons, Jermaine Penant, an Ecuadorian, a Mexican and a Chilean. And Robbie Fowler. Hughes had a great network, he sprung some great surprises. This looks like the old boys network.

Support. Season ticket sales are down on last year, despite some imaginative pricing. 2000 off the target according to the minutes of a fans forum. It's always a struggle.

Performances. We played alright in Portugal, according to those who went. The Vics game seemed to be a bit of a run out for Gallagher and Darbyshire as wingers, to see if one of them can fill Bentley's position.

Behind the scenes. Chris Ronnie isn't buying the club. Well, he never was really, it was as a front for a few others. The price I was told was £50m, which is ludicrously high for a club of Rovers size and the support we get. The best solution is for a supporters trust, underwritten by the Walker trust. Jack Walker's legacy was always never to see it sold to Cheshire property developers backed by Icelandic banks, etc. Better news is that the Walker Trust are reinstating the £3m they pay the club. I would like to think that this had something to do with it.

Good buying. Paul Robinson is a good keeper. That's a good signing for us and a good move for him. And he seemed to be a nice chap too; we chatted in the car park after the match.

Young players. Alan Judge looked good at Northwich, and the way in which the bench were instructing him, he's a key player.

Prospects. I'd settle for 9th now. But I think we'll struggle this season - 14th.