I've nicked off work early (4PM counts as early in these overworked and overwrought weeks of midsummer) and I'm in a costa coffee joint under the Manchester Airport flightpath somewhere in suburban Cheshire. I'm giving the costa coffee joint a considered 6.5 out of 10, with points knocked off for:
a- the fiddly inhouse wifi connection (I would have started writing this a good 30 minutes ago but have had to procure some kind of plastic card from the counter, tell the Costa Coffee corporation all my contact details not once but twice, and create a 'costa lovers' account which I am informed has been pre-loaded with 40 points- enough for an extra shot of espresso. I'll save it for a rainy day).
b- the fiddly Costa Coffee saucers with the eccentrically placed hollow for the cups which cause you to wobble your overfilled cup of americano all over their carpets so there's not much of it left by the time you get to your table.
against which we should take into consideration:
a- the non-wobbliness of the tables (if there is one thing that is guaranteed to get our heckles up here at Crinklybee towers it is a wobbly coffee shop table)
b-the nearness of the non-wobbly tables (at least this one ) to a functioning electricity socket
c-the chirpy friendliness of the Australian barista girl
d-the opportunity to witness a stand-up row (not very suburban Cheshire, I must say) between two customers, the point at issue being the validity or otherwise of Stockport Council disabled parking restriction notices during late afternoon hours.
So, 6.5 out of 10. Now then. 10 things, for your brief delectation and delight, that I've been doing since last time:
1. Headed back to the old neighbourhood-the hall of the St Mary Catholic Club, to be precise- to enter our produce in the annual allotment show. The phrase of the day was 'are you showing anything?' and the clientele was an admirable mixture of several of M19 subcommunities including Old Irishmen with one tooth each and the committee's cohort of theatrical gentlemen who had taken it upon themselves to curate the show. By 'enter our produce' I mean put forward for consideration a cute and perfectly composed photo of Frankie sitting in the den we built with our own bare hands last winter, entered under schedule 32, 'a photograph showing what your plot means to you'. We were beaten into second place (out of a field of two) by a frankly rudimentary snap of some onions in a basket. Philistines, every last one of them (not that we are bitter, at all).
2.Visited Liverpool to watch a giant grandmother winched aboard a lorry in charge of a troupe of cross-channel vaudevillians being paraded through the city streets amid scenes of mass clamour.
3. Been involved in a road rage incident in the work car park arising from the impatience of a sandwich delivery clerk on the one hand and my work-induced overtiredness on the other. The least said the better (and I think there were only three witnesses all of whom are my friends and allies, so we will be OK).
4.Dug up approximately 200 potatoes, and a half dozen courgettes the size of airplanes. The latter would have swept the field in class 23 of the allotment show (courgettes) or even class 46 (hopelessly oversized vegetables) but we weren't organised enough to get them there in time, neing too busy emptying cupboards to fit the potatoes in and finding 52 imaginitave ways to cook a courgette.
5. Taken part in an organised exercise in critical mass, if you please, by riding the cordoned off streets of Manchester in a bright blue bib advertising the services of a satellite broadcasting company.
6. Discovered (15 years after everyone else and thanks to an unsolicited upgrade in our ondemand TV package) the joys of the cross-Atlantic televisual emission 'The West Wing' which (in case you are the other resident of the Universe who hadn't heard of it) takes as its subject the intra-office shenanigans afoot within the offices of a fictional democratic president, (played with aplomb by one M Sheen, a well-known filmic thespian).
7. Semi-adopted next door's cat. And wholly adopted a furby (what's a furby? Ask the nearest pre-teen).
8. Discovered (thanks to free tennis classes at our local park- yes, we live in the suburbs now, have I not mentioned) that I have been serving the ball entirely in the wrong way during my (admittedly intermittent) 30 year tennis career.
9. Developed a bad back (or 'I've been bad- with my back' as my cousins from Blyth would have it). Something to do with the tennis, and the bikeriding, and the potatoes. No, probably the overwrought overworkedness of these midsummer days (see introductory paragraph above also point 3)
10... er... signed up to Costa coffee 'Costa Lovers Club' and garnered myself 40 points towards an espresso.
I know, clutching at straws there by the time we got to the pre-advertised double figures (or indeed scraping the barrel. Clutching at the barrel. Scraping the straws. Something idiomatic anyway).
There you are then, first post of second decade. Off to the sunshine now before the coffee gets to me good and proper. Bon weekend a tous.