Another day on the first floor of an office block that apparently has the skill and sentience to regulate its own environment, another wishing to get out and wander. My stuffy, ill air-conditioned soul yearned to romp, skip and dance through the endless rugged moors with their chirping, chirpy birds, but all I had was the arse end of city centre Manchester. It would do. The sky was largely blue, it was warm and it was outside of the office.
And lo, it did come to pass that I did set foot out on to Store Street, Manchester, M1 2WD. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this end of Manchester, it can best be described as; part crumbling remnants of previous railway yards, part a litter of car parks and high vis-jacketed attendants glowering and part former hangout of itinerant lunch-time prostitutes. Hell, it even has a side street with a name that sounds camper than Elton John at a tent convention; Sparkle Street. What’s not to like?
With the sun beating down on my clammy roof-top, out I stepped out and crossed the road. I looked left, looked right and left again, all the while minding myself not be run over by the growling boy racers as they sped along the road in their supped-up shopping trolleys. It was then, that I happened upon one of those moments that makes you want to laugh uproariously and question human nature at the same time.
As I passed behind the parked coach, I saw a sight that sums up the glory and the agony of the English summer. There, resting regally upon his green, canvas deck chair sat a man, but this was no ordinary man. This was a coach-man, the driver of the coach parked so neatly and he could not have been more at home. Fag in his left hand, mug of steaming tea in the other, Daily Mail newspaper resting on his lap he was relaxed, but I was not. It was possibly the nicotine stained white quiff that contrasted effortlessly with his remaining yellowed teeth as it flapped it delicately upon the breeze. It was possibly the hacking cough that erupted as he inhaled said cigarette. But no, what really got me, what clinched this as the epitome of the English and their attitude to summer was the sight of his concave, white fluffed chest rising and falling above his perfectly arced pot belly as he sun lounged by the side of the road, at the arse end of Manchester. Where was my camera when I needed it most???
And we wonder why other countries don’t quite understand us.
Here is something nice to look at as recompense.