Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Playing catch up

I feel I'm slipping on this blog. Sorry. Something had to give during this phenomenally busy couple of weeks. Here are ten things that are on my mind at the moment, from the ten most popular categories on this blog.

Manchester put on a great show for the Labour Party this week. I've been at a do in Harrogate tonight and the (private) perspective from the white rose side of the Pennines is that Manchester is streets ahead of other UK cities right now. The Cushman and Wakefield report here confirms it.

I'm enjoying discovering new wine, but it's harder to find bargains at Majestic these days. The cheeky Chilean Merlot I like has doubled in price. New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is also soaring.

I was involved in two events at Labour Conference. It struck me again how much I am switched off the whole entourage of politics. I was impressed with Richard Leese and John Healey and their honest, very personal commitment to public service, but Labour are doomed. The Tories seem exciting, but that's only because they're in opposition and don't have to do anything. They are weak once you get past Cameron, Osborne and Boris. See if anyone else stands out next week.

It has never been a more fascinating time to be in business journalism. Scary, yes. Complex, yes. But truly remarkable times. I've marked some student projects for UCLAN this week and I am in awe of what these students are capable of.

I didn't go and see Blackburn Rovers beat Fulham. It wasn't a great game according to my kilt wearing correspondent, but I did notice that Keith Andrews got Man of the Match in one paper.

I went to the Marple food and drink festival, which was a fantastic reminder to us that we are very lucky to live in a community where people care about their neighbours and their environment. The best pie award went to Grenaby Farm, as I mentioned. But there were also a whole range of entries in the home made category, which I regret to say I can't remember. As for other food, I was also really delighted to see that Murillos were doing a roaring trade in paella.

The best programme ever to appear on telly - The Wire - has concluded its fifth and final season. We're catching up on DVD and have seen the first three episodes. And it's set in a news room. Unbelievably good.

The Glasvegas CD is brilliant music. I love the energy and the initial feeling of authenticity. But part of me thinks there's a cynical plundering of Definitely Maybe and the early Jesus and Mary Chain that smacks of trying far too hard to get attention. Or maybe I'm just a grumpy old man. Still, I can play Smoke on the Water on my six string now.

So here I am, in a hotel in Yorkshire, away from my family. All this talk of Ruth Kelly giving up her cabinet job to be with her family makes me sad that I don't see enough of my Rachel and my boys. We did our best to have a great birthday for Rachel this week, but we're both at it again straight away. You feel so guilty all the time, but we devote so much of what we do, what we earn and how we invest our love into our family. And on another note, last month we went to my cousin Mark Leamy's wedding party in Morecambe, today we paid our last respects to Uncle Doug and on both very different occasions I was struck by how close people are in different parts of my extended family, and yet I've become distant from it.
We're also so proud of Rachel's niece Emily, who has been on the X Factor. I don't think I properly appreciate what a wonderful extended family we have. And I still haven't seen little Calum! Honestly, I know there are family who pop on here, I just wanted to say "Hello, and I love you all very much".

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