I wasn’t sure whether I’d get myself to the Radiohead gig in Manchester on Tuesday. I didn’t feel well and was a rubbish travelling companion for most of the way. Once we’d changed trains at Barrow, I woke up a bit and enjoyed the scenery – the sands of Morecambe Bay, the birds, the derelict caravans and the old rail stock at Carnforth, rusting and side-lined, reminding me of rail journeys in childhood when the trains were named and carriages had separate compartments.
You forget what city life is like living in Cumbria too long and I was very excited by Manchester Piccadilly: the huge, empty old buildings around it, the Pret a Manger (always a bonus) and just the volume of people. At the Emirates cricket ground there were 50,000 more! There was a large police presence, some on horses, organising and herding but, once inside, it was a total free for all – a crush really. It was hard to see the band, apart from on the screens but the sound was good (loud) and they were on form and, I thought, gave it everything they had – the most important thing.
I was so happy to see my sister who had driven up from Leamington Spa. We grew up in Oxford when one of the band worked in Our Price and sold us records on Cornmarket Street when we were children. we saw them advertised outside pubs in Jericho in the late 1980’s before they were famous. So it was a special night, as much about the past as the present. We couldn’t get out of the carpark afterwards as the roads were gridlocked so we went to a 24 hour supermarket and bought wine which we shared in the car. We saw a fox slink across the road on the way back, which was a novelty for me as much as it was an expectation when I lived in London. The hotel (not named here but definitively named and shamed on Tripadvisor) had ‘overbooked’ so my sister didn’t have a room. We made the best of it and laughed over the obscenities of George Formby and other silly things before she had to drive back at about 3am.
My partner brought home a feral kitten this week, found in some derelict flats. It came to him and he ‘had’ to have her. She’s already putting on weight and (hopefully) the fleas have been eradicated tonight. She’s a lovely little thing, playful but happy to play on her own too with bottle tops and boot laces.
We went to Whinlatter forest on Saturday. We walked the ‘red’ trail to the streams and I washed my hands in the waterfalls (a thing I always do). I desperately wanted to see a red squirrel but didn’t. We heard a chiffchaff calling its own name repeatedly and note-perfectly and saw some very unusual dragon flies. Today we went to The Farmer’s Arms in Portinscale, near Keswick and had a late lunch and a pint.
I’ve written a bit this week, but have struggled with the content of what my ‘brain’ – for want of a more psychiatric term – is coming up with. What’s being written obviously needs to be written. Nothing’s certain at the moment, job-wise, house-wise, health-wise and in other ways too. That’s the hardest thing. Certainty, even when it’s devastating, is somehow easier for the human condition to deal with I think. I’ve loved reading the sequel to The Unexpected Pilgrimage of Harold Fry – The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessey. I found the hospice scenes especially moving and they brought back memories for me. I also found it believable and very moving, a book I would’ve liked to have written.