Returning to Manchester

Today began like any other work-day – scrambling through breakfast time with the children, before retrieving my bicycle from the shed in the garden, and pedalling off down the road to do battle with the local army of trophy mums in the winding Victorian streets that surround our house.

After arriving breathlessly in the office and making a round of coffees for everybody on my floor (which sounds far more grand than it actually is – there are five of us), I was pitched straight into a call in the conference room with a client. This is the usual bit where I remind you that I can’t say anything about this part of the day, for all sorts of reasons that I’m not going to repeat all over again. Thankfully the meeting didn’t last long.

An hour later I was back on the bike, and whistling through the now empty streets towards home once more. In the junk room I discovered the clothes I had prepared last night, still in their suitcase, and free of cat hair. I remembered to close the door last night. I’m not sure how it works, but I suspect a great proportion of cats brains is occupied with sitting on things they have not sat on before, or picking their feet out while sitting on anything that feet pickings might adhere to nicely.

After a quick change of clothes – primarily dictated by not wanting to take two pairs of shoes with me, and the need to wear something that my work shoes wouldn’t look ridiculous with – I picked up my backpack and the clothes bag, and set off on foot for the railway station. We only live ten or fifteen minutes walk from the local station – which is pretty marvellous really. Unfortunately it’s a sleepy little station not unlike the one in the first Narnia movie (“Pewsey?”) – meaning there is no ticket machine, no cafe – not much of anything really. Because of this lack of anything, I had craftily ordered my train tickets on the internet last week, and sat very smugly as the train driver apologised that the ticket machine had gone wrong, so nobody could buy a ticket and would have to do something or other (I stopped listening).

The better part of four hours later I trundled into Manchester Picadilly railway station – but not before a tramp took up station on the seat adjacent to me. I think he may have been taking one of the “legal high” drugs, given his zombified appearance. Thankfully he was just conscious enough to realise the train had stopped, and shuffled off without having to be helped.

I had a decision to make. Taxi to the hotel (which would be fast, and expensive), or jump on the municipal railway (which would be slow, and cheap). Given that I had not tried the railway to the hotel before, I quickly found myself navigating a touch screen on the platform, and trying to figure out where I should be standing. The platform was very long, and the trains were very small. Like a sheep, I stood where everybody else was standing – and the tactic served me well.

Half an hour later I was confronted by another touch screen – this time in the hotel foyer – and a concierge who was trying to be helpful at ever turn. I suspect they receive hotel inspectors at random, given the Toy-Story Barbie levels of cheer they shine at you. After getting my room key and the pile of fifteen receipts with adverts for this, that, and the other printed on them, I said goodbye to Mr Barbie, and got in the elevator to the twenty thousandth floor (no, really).

I would tell you what I did tonight, but it would largely be a repeat of Saturday afternoon – when we took the children to see Wonder Woman at the cinema. Actually, I didn’t write about that, did I. Let’s just say the movie was very, very good, and it has now become the third movie I have seen twice at the cinema – behind Jurassic Park, and Avatar. If you’re on the fence about going to see Wonder Woman, perhaps I should recount the teenage girl sitting alongside me in the cinema – who was giggly, sarcastic, and chatty with her friends on the way in, and snuffling rather a lot towards the end. I of course knew what was coming, and left the cinema with a few tear stains too – but then I’m probably the softest person I know.

I’m back in the hotel now. I’ve gone through the free supplies of coffee and UHT milk. I may have to go on the hunt for some juice later – but that will entail getting into the elevator to descend the twenty thousand floors though.

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