Wednesday, 3 September 2008

A Blue Sky

There are mornings when I love coming to work in Manchester. Days like today when there’s just a bite of Autumn in the air. It makes it feel particularly good arriving in the city early. The buildings are at their best in the oblique light, casting strong shadows. The architecture is what nourishes me when I’m here. There’s always a building that I can stand and admire. That’s not to say that the city suddenly makes it to my list of Madeley’s Top Ten Haunts but days like this make my brain work in a random fashion and that’s always to be welcomed. Thoughts jump in and set their slippers amongst the usual bric-a-brac of half-resolved plots, story ideas and reminders to return Bill Oddie’s lawnmower.

Each time I arrive in the city, I’m struck how it’s growing upwards. The Hilton Tower dominates everything. It always makes me wonder why the lesser buildings stopped when they did. It makes me wonder why the builders of the Hilton tower stopped when they did. Didn’t they think to themselves: we’ve got to here so we might as well keep going? But I guess that’s the eternal problem of building these towers. They have to stop eventually. Every one of them is a testament to the architect’s failings. I suppose they’re a bit like blogs. Something eventually declares: here and no further.

Human failings are on show too. There was a young woman on the train this morning. Impeccably made up, though, in my opinion, a little too made up, her skin was like brushed terracotta and she had a presence like some Chinese god over in the corner of the carriage. Unfortunately, she was also on the larger side of petite – there’s no nice way of saying that which won’t immediately attract criticism but there you go – and she clearly aware of the fact. Yet hers was one of those faces that you can’t help but still see thin. The excess was quite different to the feature living at the centre. Her very being was like that of a very thin model onto whom weight had been so brutally applied. In a post-Nivea world where ‘big is beautiful’ and cellulite is to be admired, I’m meant to say that this didn’t make her any less attractive. I might even say that I believe this and she inhabited a rare place in female beauty. But I still do wonder how she copes. I wonder how she feels. That obesity could happen to me wouldn’t be such a huge loss. You can believe this or not but I’m on the raggedly side of scruffy and never look in a mirror. But when a woman so clearly cares about her appearance, invests so much energy into her looks, the result is a mixture of calamity and vanity, pride and tenderness, hope and despair.

Final thought for the morning. What use are one pence pieces? I’ve had nine of them in my pocket all week and I know I’ll never get rid of them unless I get into one of those hostage situations for which Elberry yearns when I get to throw a handful of change in the face of a Channel 4 extremist. Pennies only exist because companies refuse to price their products sensibly. They are testament to all those bargains that end with the 99p price tag. That I have so many pennies in my pocket marks me out as a man who likes a bargain.


katyboo1 said...

I use my pennies to bribe my children. My five year old in particular believes that pennies are fantastic and make her immediately wealthy just through ownership of one. She offered to buy my husband a Ferrari last week. It's all a question of scale!

Monika said...

If you keep collecting them, you could eventually buy one bargain item at the one pound shop?

Anonymous said...

Katyboo1 has the right idea. i collected my spare change in an empty coffee jar for a year, and when i couldn't think of a present for my ex-MILF's young daughter, just gave her the coffee jar. The girl had great fun counting it out - it was £15 in the end.

Or you could put them in a sock and hit people with it.

katyboo1 said...

I quite like the idea of putting them in a sock and hitting the children with them at the moment, but then it is quite close to bed time. Perhaps if they come round gracefully enough I could give them the money in the sock as a reward?!

Dick Madeley said...

Elberry: meet Katy.

Katy: meet Elberry.

I sense that the clash of worlds couldn't be any more extreme. Or perhaps, Elberry, you've found your natural calling as a child minder. And, Katy, perhaps you've found your natural calling as a psychotic intellectual with a craving for Dante and the martial arts.

Monka, that is the best idea of the day. I'm surrounded by Pound stores. I often like to go in and ask the assistants how much different items are.

Unfortunately, it might take a while longer to save up. I have managed to lose the pennies, though I don't remember spending them. I think they have just naturally fallen through holes in my pockets.

Black Cat said...

I feel for the girl on the train.

I feel for the architect's limitation.

I feel for your continuing depression... xxx

Richard Havers said...

I wonder if the term 'to spend a penny' will eventually die out. Logically of course it ought to as it's been years since it cost an old penny to go to a public lavatory. However, there are many old sayings that have no basis to exist in the modern world that cheerfully live on.

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