Sunday, June 28, 2009

Bruce Springsteen at Glastonbury

...looked and sounded amazing, especially from comfort of my living room.

Maybe it's the tired and emotional state I'm in, but just had a lump in the throat moment at the greatest line in rock n roll. Which is the 13th line of this.

Aches and strains

My left big toe is sore. My right achilles tendon is swollen. My knees are stiff, and the right one is grazed. I can hardly see straight I'm so tired. And my head is hot. I've got that Sunday evening feeling back. The feeling of pain and contentment, that so punctuated my 20s and early 30s; and I love it.

For the second Sunday running, I've been on my FA Level 1 coaching course at Wilmslow High School. The coach is a proper football geezer called Bill Prendergast, who's been at Crewe Alex and Manchester City. He has similar values to me on kids football and brings a real element of fun to the sessions.

While the lessons on the rules of football and how to operate at junior football level are classroom based, most of the time is spent being subjects in the other 22 coaches drills. It is absolutely brilliant fun. The others are either young blokes about my age who want to help the clubs their children play for, or even younger lads who are keen as mustard and brilliant at football.

Each of us was given a training routine from the FA course handbook to run, starting with a gentle warm up called "traffic lights".

My session involved getting 12 volunteers to play "three pots in" or "three and in" or "Wembley" as we knew it as kids, on four separate pitches, coned off my me. It should have been so simple, but I over complicated it, confused the rest of the players and had to run through it all again. I think part of the problem was I was 19th out of 22 and the rest of them were mentally shot. And I didn't really understand the pitch diagrams in the book.

We're being assesed independently next week, so we have to get it right in every regard. Starting with a session plan.

We drew our running order today for next week's big test. I'm 20th. Wish me luck.

Friday, June 26, 2009

The Leaving of Liverpool

I went to Liverpool today to be a panellist on a debate about the direction the city is going in. The chairman and host was Frank McKenna of Downtown Liverpool in Business (pictured, tieless) and a man with the eye on the prize of being Mayor of Liverpool one day. The debate was recorded and will be broadcast on CityTalk radio soon.

My role in proceedings, I suspect, was to be the gobby Manc who dares to criticise the dignity of This Great City of Ours. Anyway, I have a bit of a thing at the moment about Manchester's complacency and a crisis of confidence. So to hear people in Leeds and Liverpool spend so much energy worrying about "that lot down the M62" seems strange. Odd isn't it, how internal and exernal perceptions can differ so widely?

I also like the Scouse spirit and am not overly given to sneering Manc superiority - not actually being a Manc and all that - so they should have booked Terry Christian if that's what they wanted.

Anyway, I've been so busy rushing to get home through mad traffic, and enjoying curry, beer, kids, Twitter banter and warm weather, I've only just thought about the debate. I managed to say most of the above, and get away with saying - "get your chip off your shoulder" - and not get chucked down the fire escape. I also suggested a single stadium for Everton and Liverpool would be a potent symbol of the city's cultural maturity - adding, "and those Everton fans who say they refuse to share a purple seat with Doctor Fun should grow up."

There seemed to be a consensus that the European Capital of Culture year in 2008 was about the city feeling good about itself, but with little culture and hardly anything European. Unless anyone from the national media (or Manchester) says that, to which the response is that it was a terrific success. It feels like a great big Scouse wedding. Now they're having the scrap in the car park afterwards.

I also seem to remember predicting during the discussion that the Conservatives won't win the next election outright. I think I ought to expand on that sometime soon, but I'm tired and want to listen to some gentle music as I wait for my woman of the hearthfire to return from her girls night out in Burnley.

Some bookmarks at the end of June

A flat in my old house in London is for sale for an eye watering amount of money. I wonder if the lad from the flat on the first floor still keeps his stash of crack in that cubby hole under the stairs.

Real Journalism's David Conn plays sweeper in the epic tale of the BBC Panorama saga - Harry Redknapp, Kevin Bond and Sam Allardyce never sued.

Blogging is dead say the experts - here and here. And do you know what, there's a scientific theory of this, The Hype Cycle - here - blogging is heading for the "trough of disillusionment" and Twitter has someway to go on the way towards the "peak of inflated expectations". Personally I think I'm on the "plateau of productivity" with The Marple Leaf.

David Quinn feels deep in the trough. He shouldn't. Words Dept is a good blog - spread the word.

Augmented reality
. Clever stuff.

I bought these trainers in Liverpool today. Couldn't resist.

Season ticket sales going well down Ewood way.

As undergraduate sociologists in the 1980s we would debate the plethora of jokes that would follow a death or a disaster. Coping mechanism, or just heartless twerps? Following the tragic death of Michael Jackson, I present the case for the prosecution.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Seething Wells RIP

I was sad to read today that Steven Wells had died from cancer in Philadelphia. He was a writer for the NME in the 80s – sometimes under the name Susan Williams. There’s a great obituary from James Brown here: “the brilliant NME writer with no real interest in music”.

Other tributes here, here and here is his last column for Philadelphia Weekly. His last published words:

You could blame this fallacy on poor education, cultural deterioration, or simple moral decline.

Me? I blame it on sunshine. I blame it on the moonlight. I blame it on the boogie.

I met him at the Dukes Playhouse in Lancaster in 1982 after he performed at a poetry festival. I loved his punk poet stance and his aggressive polemics. He was probably the first celebrity that I met, though he would have been horrified at the thought.

When I was planning my own fanzine (Positive Feedback) he was so encouraging. He gave us an interview, and wrote back with a load of tips and hints which was brilliant and let us publish his ranting poem: "Agro Britain". So, he’s partly responsible for setting me on my way.

I have just replayed his terrific spoken word single – Agro Britain, Godzilla versus The Tetleybittermen, Ha Ha Ha, Police Dog. Brilliant.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Team Z - the strange world of junior football

It’s been a whirlwind end to the season at Marple Athletic. As you may know, three of our tribe play each week – Joe for the Under 10s and Max and Louis with the Under 8s.

Earlier this month Joe’s team braved torrential rain to compete in a tournament over in Warrington. They topped their first round group. The toughest opponents were a team called – on the programme – Team Z. Then they adopted another name on the score board, then another at a later point. But let’s just call them Team Z. They were big lads and one boy in particular had a great left foot. The last match in the group ended 0-0, which the boys were really pleased about. It certainly gave them the confidence to beat Mossley Hill, who had become a bit of a bogey team in recent tournaments. But something didn’t seem right.

At the Fleetwood tournament in May three of our boys were effectively accused of being over age. This is a tough call to make in kids football. Fielding players from an older age group is bang out of order. Passports were produced. Apologies were made. We’re a pretty serious club and wouldn’t ever do anything like this. It’s been known for players from a YOUNGER age group to make up the numbers, but never older.

ANYWAY! Our lads reached the final where they met the Team Z again. It was a good game. Marple lost after extra time. There was also this bizarre tournament rule once extra time started whereby a player was removed from each team every minute, starting with the goalkeepers.

To cut a long story Team Z won 3-1. As I said, something wasn’t right. In Under 10s football, if there is ever a problem, it’s usually with the parents. Except in this case there weren’t any. One Mum and a bloke in United shorts were running the team and they were pretty low key. And that, we thought was that. The boys were big and we just took it that they must feed them well in Z land.

Every other team they played that day complained about them. This usually happens when teams lose and there were a few teams present with gobby parents with a lot to say for themselves. The complaint was mainly that the kids looked big.

Anyway, wheels turned, days passed, questions were asked. Answers were received. It turned out that two of their players were 12. One was 14. I said I thought they were big. They were disqualified and Marple Athletic were declared the tournament winners.

At the club presentation night on June 12 we were able to present the trophy to the boys and spring this surprise news on them. The delight on their faces was something to behold.

But get this. Two days later they get beaten in another tournament. One of the kids in the team – a very big lad – was also playing for Team Z. But his mother assured he was 10. And that he has now found a nice new club away from the kind of cheats who would field 12 and 14 year olds.

I have seen a whole new world in my three years of involvement in junior football, but this takes some beating.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Take That and Freddie

I got a call from a well connected pal this afternoon. He'd had a cry off for Take That tomorrow night. Would me and Rachel like to come along? Other guests included Andrew Flintoff and some other talent from the same sporting stable.

We don't have a babysitter. Doh.

Dead cities

At a lunch I hosted last week at the Radisson Edwardian Free Trade Hall, a noted chronicler of urban affairs, Phil Griffin, contributed to the discussion with his usual colour and clarity. But can you guess which city he was talking about?

May I say if you take the longest possible historical view then it is that cities die.

There are examples all over the world of the corpses of dead cities.

And as we sit here in this room we are observing the death of a city in our lifetime. I think that is extraordinary. It has gone from being, when I was a child, one of the most prosperous cities on earth, to being virtually uninhabitable.

It is just horrific that it has gone from having 7 and a half million contented residents to being a dead place. However prosperous it thought it was it didn’t have a sense of its own decline.

It didn’t face the faults of its own internal mechanisms. One of which was that it was a mono economy.

Neither did it recognise when its cultural flagships were leaving town. That one of the reasons the city was as boisterous and prosperous as it was had actually just fled to the coast.

We have come to the end of the phase of post-industrial cities which began in earnest when Pascal Maragal said at the end of the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona that "we have reinvented the city as a cultural phenomena."

The gloves are now off. We can see cities dying before our very eyes. That is very cautionary.

Where was Phil talking of?

Friday, June 19, 2009

Bookmarks for mid June

This character is standing against Hazel Blears at the next election. I dare you not to peek at his book and marvel at the detailed research.

The Daily Mail run some quite ridiculous reader polls - this backlash is brilliant though, a Twitter inspired campaign to vote Yes to the question - should gypsies get preferential treatment on the NHS? - 93 per cent in favour when I voted. Hilarious.

A message to Yorkshire people who voted BNP. The people who voted BNP think that they have been told the truth. Hell, on the streets of Barnsley the people didn’t even know the name of the BNP candidate they had voted for. My job is to tell people the truth. I play music, so that should be easy – anything that’s a lie sounds like dissonance, out of tune, discordant to me.

I'm an enormous admirer of The Word magazine and all its podcasts, website stuff etc. I thought this month's cover story on Bono lapsed into nastiness.
‘Superstar saviour or sanctimonious git? Bono On Trial: A WORD investigation.’ is here.
Here's the case for the defence from Neil McCormick.

A Rovers blogger is here.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Football and Finance

Went to the Deloitte Football Business dinner last night. What a good do. The report on the finances of football is a peerless piece of research, Dan Jones always presents it very well and the guest list is top draw; good lads from around town who like football, mainly.

Had a good chat to Martin Goodman, the FD at Blackburn Rovers. It's clear from the financial position of Rovers in the Premier League that any activity in the transfer market will depend on the sale of Crocque Santa Cruz. That referee who sent Jason Roberts off against West Brom probably cost the club £1.5m. Matt Derbyshire looks like he's Greece bound. The new South African is quick and there have been enquiries for Keith Andrews from Premier League clubs. Amazing.

The continual difficulty is that Rovers have very little capital headroom. Any new investment would really help. This rather neatly follows on from the dialogue I've been having on here. But I still maintain that the Walker Trust is preferable to many flaky alternatives.

Other people at our table were Dan Jones, Graham Wallace of Man City, Ashley Lewis who used to be on the board at City and who now works for Steve Morgan owner of Wolves, Marple lad Phil Pinder, and Bill Dawson from Deloitte. Much banter on the fixture list followed.

On table 3, Brendan Flood from Burnley didn't show. But he has a lot on his mind.

Another feature of the night is the trivia question Dan Jones comes up with to keep me on my toes. His was: Name all 23 foreign managers in the Premier League.

Mine was can you name the five players who have played for at least four different European Cup or Champions League winning teams but have never won it themselves?

Dedicated follower of fashion and food

Got asked for London food tips the other day by William of Preston. Observations may be all worth sharing. A few clobber nods too.

I used to go to a good pie and mash shop on Exmouth Market near work but it’s probably in the middle of nowhere at weekends.

There’s one called Robins in Bethnal Green, near the tube. It’s not far from the Krays old stomping ground. Head back towards the City and you come to brick Lane, which is where you can get one of the best sandwiches you will ever taste. Jewish who don’t eat bacon boil a joint of salted beef, then serve thick thick slices with mustard in a beigel (pronounced Boygul). Nectar.

Thought you might like this.

I used to live in Pimlico and one of our local cafes was the Regency, nothing flash, greasy spoon, 1940s styling, but I last saw it when Morty gave Freddie a proper shoeing in the film Layer Cake.

If you fancied a mooch around Chelsea’s manor, get off at Parsons Green, head for the green, turn right at St Dionis Road and there’s an authentic little boozer called The Jolly Brewer – Denis Waterman gets in on matchdays. Pub on the opposite side of the green is the White Horse (Sloaney Pony).

For clobber shopping I’ve discovered this great little shop on Beak Street at the bottom of Carnaby Street called Albam. Really nice classic originals.

There’s also a boss shop in Covent Garden called The Loft

You’d be mad not to pop into the Stone Island shop. My pal Andy Dick (lives at Churchtown near Garrrrrrrstang, know him? Leeds fan.) is on first name terms with the manager, pop in and have a chat, he’ll put you on a mailing list, let you have first dabs at new lines.

Real life, just around the corner

I've been using Twitter with gay abandon. I subscribe to the view that you've got to immerse yourselves in this kind of thing if you're in any kind of business that views communication as important.

Phil Jones has blogged on this quite a lot - this is his best summary yet - here.

Then there's this from Pav at the Oldham Chron. "It all sounds just a bit seedy if you ask me." Oh dear.

I also bow to the much greater judgement of Matthew (aged 7) and Elliot (aged 4) about their social network - Club Penguin. Why do you go on it boys?- "because of the Puffles and because of the fun". Good enough for me, chaps. You carry on.

There's a view that some people keep separate identities for work and the rest. I think it's a sensitive and important area to consider, but I draw the line at being anonymous. I only have the daft name Marple Leaf on Twitter because my real name and various versions of it were taken. Michael is the fourth most common name of English speaking men of my age, Taylor is the third.

I liken it to going to a business networking event. I gave up drinking at these things a while ago, for example, so have developed methods of moderating my behaviour. I do put my serious head on, but I always end up breaking the ice and talking like a human being. There are also so many areas where real life and work life collide. Yesterday, for example, I had lunch with the chairman of Mountfield Rovers Junior Football Club in his capacity as someone important around Manchester. Sure, it was important for our respective businesses, but we get on as human beings because we have a common link around our other roles as fathers and "football people".

Similarly, my Twitter followers and people I follow represent all areas of my life. They include serious people I know through business, national politics, community events, family members and through work. They also reflect other quirky things that make me happy like pies, trainers and winding up Alastair Campbell.

I can't separate all of that. But I can edit it. I am who I am. I don't blurt out everything about my life, but all that I'm happy to tell someone I meet at the Tripe Dressers Ball is all there in social networks. And just as I don't write about work on here that much, so too you won't find articles about trainers in Insider. That said, I'm doing a site visit to Umbro soon...

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Deli delights of Marple

Blimey, it looks like there's annother deli opening in Marple. The shopfitters have been working hard at a space at the bottom of Church Lane, next door to Corals.

That would make it 3. Deli Select on Hollins Lane is good for cheese and interesting snacks. And Toast on Market Street holds some lovely foodie events.

I hope there's enough to go around.

In defence of the Walker Trust

I was hoping to have a month off football. My post on the lack of action on the sale of Blackburn Rovers was commented on by Vinjay who didn't like my defence of the Walker Trust. As owners go I don't think they're so bad. He disagrees.

Absolutely. Apart from lack of funding, lack of ambition and lack of any communication whatsoever with the supporters they are wonderful.

1. Lack of funding
Basically, the trust stump up £3m a year, which tops up the TV money, the ticket sales and sponsorship. They aren't willing to hand over blank cheques to a manager to pay silly money for players. It has to be self funding and sustainable and sensible. We just aren't able to compete financially with Villa, City and the Big Four. Get used to it. Newcastle were big spenders. Look where it got them.

2. Lack of ambition
Mark Hughes helped Rovers punch above their weight? Paul Ince's appointment was a disaster bit it wasn't without ambition. The Academy set up is good. Some creative ideas to fill the stadium when needed were the envy of football.

3. Lack of communication
I disagree. Rovers chairman John Williams is, if anything, too open and honest.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

A few quick bookmarks

Frank McKenna on a grubby day for democracy. I'm his "friend".

Patronising crap in The Daily Telegraph on Northern technology companies
and the start-up scene being better in London - good comments at the end.

Big it up for David Ottewell at the Manchester Evening News - great scoops on Hazel Blears, James Purnell and fair play to him for the anti-BNP campaign.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Rovers takeover - nothing doing

There's been no movement on the takeover at Blackburn Rovers. There has been a rumour that Red Bull were looking at it, but that was rooted in the new away kit being like that of Red Bull Salzburg who Rovers played in 2006.

They erased Salzburg's past, which didn't go down well with the fans. So don't expect to see a warm reception for this, should it ever come to pass.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Silver linings on dark clouds

There aren't many, to be fair. Seeing the BNP elected is every bit as depressing as I contemplated. I thought I'd feel better if I bobbed along to the rally in Piccadilly Gardens after work, instead I got even more depressed. A big cheer for the chairman of the Unite Against Fascism campaign. Why? He ran a campaign that failed. They played music by Sam Cooke and Bob Marley and blithely announced that such music would be banned by the BNP. How ridiculous.

The chanting and banner waving was pathetic. The speaker announced that "direct action had prevented the BNP from gaining entry to Manchester Town Hall last night." Cue huge cheers. Oh dear. Er, they did manage to get in. Look, he's here, the one with one eye, making a speech, here. And the pictures of the protests looked dreadful. Political street fighting and thuggery from the fascist left. That's right, the fascist left. Go and read the messages on the Manchester Evening News website.

Jonathan Schofield felt the same way, here.

So, what has happened here? Here are some thoughts.

Ear I Am is good. Blame lies with the people who voted for the BNP. End of. But who are they and why?

The spread of support for the BNP was concentrated in key areas for them. True, they had a small bedrock (about 4 per cent), but they needed peaks of support of about three times that. So, taken as a whole, support in Manchester was low (3 per cent), as it was in Stockport (about 4 per cent). But that was outweighed by support in the borough of Pendle which saw BNP support at 12 per cent. But drill down even more into the support for the BNP at the Lancashire County Council election and the picture begins to emerge that by working the streets of Colne, Burnley and Padiham the BNP got their vote out in large enough numbers to lift it over that 8 per cent threshold region wide.

We know that part of the world pretty well. Colne is a white town. Nelson is mainly Asian. When you analyse the Lancashire County Council district votes you see how Nelson North, mainly Asian, with a slate of Asian candidates for all the parties, the BNP did badly. In Nelson South, they still did less well, because it is a more integrated area. But up the road in Colne, it's a different story. A segregated housing policy (by stealth, or otherwise), a lack of integration between communities has bred a deep sense of them and us. It's a hopeless situation. It's exacerbated by news reports where no descriptions of the criminals police are seeking are released. Everyone in the area knows the subtext, but it's a truth that is unspoken for fear of stirring an already incendiary pot.

And where it matters, the BNP are the only party prepared to listen to white working class voters. Fraser Nelson made much the same point while on the stump in Watford.

This is the first important point to note: there is no explicit talk of race, immigration or the death penalty (which the BNP supports). Just rats. This chap had a problem; his councillor fixed it and secured at least one vote. This is a significant and new aspect of the BNP’s strategy. Just as Lib Dems talk about holes in the road, not holes in the nation’s finances, the BNP (in spite of its nationalist identity) focuses relentlessly on the local. It targets councils with huge (normally Labour) majorities which have, for whatever reason, lost the will or capacity to campaign and govern well. The BNP then seeks to make itself useful: most recently, by sending squads to clear litter in strategic locations. It is a devious ploy: distracting public attention from the racist reality of the BNP by presenting itself as the ‘helpful party’.

But why are people even giving them the time of day? In the paper today Sunny Hundal makes the point about the failure of politicians to get any kind of anti-fascist message across.

I hope this result also puts an end to anti-BNP gesture politics. There are those photo-ops where all the parties come together to tell people to "vote anyone but the BNP". If such people gave us a reason to vote and didn't sound like such vacuous robotic idiots on television, then more of us might even be persuaded to vote. These sorts of gestures only reinforce the BNP's anti-establishment credentials and ensure that people who want to vote "none of the above" vote for them.

Add to this there was a complete lack of positivity. A complete lack of hope. No-one is offering a brighter future. Not even Cameron's shiny new Conservatives.

But there is light at the end of this dark tunnel. These people are nutters. They will now have to face the same level of scrutiny as other politicians for the decisions they make and the examples they set. Not just the things they have said. On Radio 5 live this morning Nicky Campbell gave Griffin an open shot at goal to say something other than just to bleat about race. He blew it, he dismissed global warming as a hoax (much as he dismissed the Holocaust, here).

Pretty much every councillor they've elected has been a total disaster, there's no reason to assume this odious man will be any different or more competant.

So we've got fascist MEP. He's going to cock it up. That will be worth watching. Until then, keep hope alive, keep love alive. And speak truths. As George Orwell said, "liberty, if it means anything, is the right to tell people what they don't want to hear."

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Ten thoughts on the current political turmoil

Gordon Brown sounded alright on the radio as I was driving back from Harrogate yesterday. But when you see his body language and facial ticks you can tell he's absolutely wretched with it all.

James Purnell looks like a weak weasel now.

And Hazel Blears looks ridiculous. She is completely disconnected from reality.

Caroline Flint clearly was onto something when she said she was just part of the window dressing. I think she was marked down as some kind of Sarah Palin figure - and looked what happened to her. Also, she says "er, you know" more than David Beckham. Comments below this are interesting.

The appointment of Sir Alan Sugar - like the phone calls to Simon Cowell and Piers Morgan - is a joke. He is no longer a serious business figure.

Why do pundits rate Alan Johnson? What's he done? Apart from come across as a normal bloke?

David Cameron looks ludicrous as he hops up and down getting giddy about an election he can't lose. Isn't it a worry that he doesn't say anything of substance at all?

Isn't politics horrible? I have friends who are attracted by the idea of public service, but would you seriously want all this grief?

With Nick Robinson wittering on about politics and personalities, I almost miss Robert Peston.

The BNP getting a seat in Burnley is awful. Really bad. They polled 8000 votes across Lancashire, a good share. Assuming those same fools also voted fascist in the European election, they could be well placed for hitting the 8 per cent share in the European elections that they need to get their leader elected. HOWEVER, I cannot believe they have got their vote out in such numbers in Greater Manchester, Cheshire and Merseyside. They did in Cumbria. AND, there's the UKIP factor which might soak up the protest votes. Fingers crossed.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Bookmarks for early June

Time travel seduction - This is one of the funniest things I've seen in ages.

Somalia beat Rwanda to win the Third World Cup - from The Onion - "In the Third World Cup every group is the group of death."

Thinker Charles Leadbeater is coming to do some talks in the North - The Art of With

Roque Santa Cruz - the first Paraguayan Rugby League player

Nice Trainers Mate - Another good website about trainers

A reference to the story of the Adidas Opus Dei

Spiteful piece about Rafa Benitez

I've been at the Yorkshire International Business Convention today - enjoyed being part of a sizable Twitterati - made some new chums - #yibc - feed results

Caroline Flint - her resignation letter - and an old favourite for old time's sake

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Vote today, stop the BNP

Have you voted? Go on get out and vote. Make sure the fascists don't get in.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

London - salt beef, kofte and Eccles Cake

Got a gentle nudge from my bessie mate John Dixon today, wondering when The Marple Leaf was going to diss his hood. I'd spent a brilliant weekend with John and his wonderful little lad Michael. We didn't do a lot, but that's what quality time with the people you love is all about - time with them.

I do love the range of food in London. And John was good enough to organise our diversions around my old foodie faves.

In no particular order they were:

A memorable Eccles cake from this posh gaff opposite Spitalfields

A salt beef beigel from Brick Lane

Turkish from an Okakbasi in Highbury

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Yours Sancerrely

It was so good to welcome Rachel, Elliot, Max and Louis home last night (they've been camping in the Loire Valley in the centre of France, as you do). I managed to keep the house looking tidy, though the fridge had a bachelor look about it - one bottle of beer, half a carton of milk, fresh coffee, pate, cheese and some mouldy salad that needed chucking.

Happily it is also now stocked with nice cheese like Rocquefort and, best of all, five bottles of Sancerre. I think this is the king of white wines. It has everything it should have and never disappoints. I am writing this whilst sat on Bristol Temple Meads station and stuffed with a top lunch from Hotel du Vin, but the thought of being sat in our conservatory as the sun sets, crisp glass of Sancerre in hand, woman of my hearthfire at my side and the twittering of Marple's avian community filling the dusky air will keep me sane for the next 4 hours.