The White Lion comes to Chester.

My Birthday comes around again.

It was my birthday again, and loads of my friend came down to spend the day with me.

As well as my usual friends (a noted absentee being Jon Mallet, who had previously booked a holiday) a contingent from my home town of Newton Heath. Not only did all my friends visit, but they even brought the landlord and landlady from the White Lion, my one time second home.

Loads of friends from work visited and a late visit from Chris Auty of Unitron. We went to most of our usual haunts, and both started and ended at 12, lunchtime and 12 midnight in the Mill Hotel.

Unlike last time, nobody got burned in a curry house, so no free curry was on the menu (in fact, no curry at all. I wanted to end the evening with a curry, and the 4 remaining stalwarts, suggested I go on my own !).

A couple of revelations. Lyndsay met someone on the train home, and Steve now knows his other moniker, FBI Steve.

Although I’m not exactly thriving at the moment, I’m well out of the woods. I said before when things were really hard, that I’d be nothing without my friends.

After seeing Glenn, Dan, Steve, Ralph and Aud, Lyndsay Lisa, Julie, Nick and loads of others at my birthday, I’d like to repeat that sentiment again.

A few things I’ve been thinking about lately.


Two of my suppliers at work are fantastic (Gary and Vaugn). The rest just dont seem to get it. I phone up to purchase an item or to get some work done (with money to pay for it) and they treat me like the old auntie who says nobody ever visits her.

Do I have to wave £20 notes underneath their noses. It infuriates me. When I am working in customer services or order entry in my own company I hear how well our customers are treated.

Minutes later I call our suppliers. Either the receptionist will try and get rid of me, as she thinks I’m selling something or I get promised whatever will get me off the phone the quickest.

I remember a conversation while at school. We were talking about the Police (fairly topical, for Moston Brook). It was the age old debate, about whether the police are any good (they must have been good at something, as they caught several of the people in my class, but that’s another story). Someone piped up with that Old Chestnut “you criticise them, but who do you call when your house gets robbed”.

A visionary of his time, Darryle Shaw replied. There is only 1 police force. The question is, if there were 4, would you call THAT 1, or 1 of the others ?

There aren’t 4 people who could manage our mobile phone estate. There are more like 400 or 4000….

BBC Drama and the world according to Gene Hunt.

I wash watching Banished. Instead of mucking about with reality TV and Eastenders, why dont the BBC make more propper drama like this one (Did I just say that. I’ve just had a birthday, am I getting old that quick…).

But seriously, it was a fascinating show, and reminded of the show that really launched Jon Simm, Life on Mars.

In one particular scene, Sam is talking to Gene, who is about to plant stolen goods on a crook. At this, Sam comments that” its like Guantanamo bay in here”.

Its nothing like Spain replies Gene.


I wont pretend to know about football, I’m writing about common decency. I watched with utter disinterest a few months ago, the world cup country selection or whatever its called (with all the attached sleaze).

The pretentious Sepp Blatter talked about taking football to new (lucrative) countries, referring to unity, and commenting that “only football can do this”.

I went out last Saturday, to watch the Manchester City Match (it was the first time in years and years that City had won a trophy). The venom and bitterness I heard from United Fans (who’s team had already won something else, and City’s victory would cost them nothing) shocked me.

The energy, depth and creativity of the critique, wouldn’t have been out of place (and would have been far better used) in a debate against racism.

I spent time in South Africa (even before the film Invictus was made) I saw first hand, how Rugby unified that country. In a bar, minutes before the match, different groups stood separately talking. Many different tribes, a group of gays, cape coloureds and 10 old Afrikaners. A cross section of the  nation.

As the match started I watched, with my own eyes as the group converged into 1.

Ill be out this Saturday with another friend to watch Manchester United play in the Champions League. I have no doubt, supporters of Manchester City and other clubs will be there, elated when United concede a goal and bitterly criticising their fans, history etc throught.

Only football can do this…

Opening my memories box.

About 13 years I got sick of always being disorganised, and having clutter everywhere I went. I read Organisation from inside out, by Julie Morgenstern (its so good, the book is sitting on a shelf just a few feet from where I’m working, as I refer to it frequently).

Of the many excellent ideas in there, one of them, was not to hoard memories. She argues, that you should have something around the size of a shoe box, fill it with memories. When its full, if you want to put something new in it, something old has to go (her exact principle when referring to books. Buy a bookcase of the size you want, then its one in, one out).

I have to confess, that mine is about twice that size, but still manageable. I have souvenirs and pictures all over my house, celebrating the things I’ve done, the friends I’ve made, and the places I’ve been. The box contains special personal things which I can easily connect with.

An old friend Andy Gepp, once said, Always take your birthday as holiday (if its Monday to Friday obviously). If you don’t, it just becomes an ordinary day, like any other.

I opened my box again this year on my birthday (I also open it on New Years day). Its invigorating and mellowing at the same time.

If you don’t have one, think about making one up and making time to open it regularly.

I finally go out on a “date”.

I’ve been single now for over 3 years. I’m not jaded or anything, I just really like the simplicity of being on my own.

I’ve taken 1 or 2 people out in that time, but never a anything serious and nothing that could be called a “proper” date. An old friend who I’ve always liked came to my birthday, and we arranged to meet.

We ended up going to the Chester Tandoori (I hoped it would go well, but if not, at least I would get some good company for a curry !). I shouldn’t have worried, we ended up having a really nice time.

Such a nice time in fact, that I forgot to ask the waiter to take a picture, until we had eaten all our food !.

Nice things and Prostituting my technical skills for furniture.

My excellent friend Glenn came around the other week, with some technical things for me to do (I am building a collection of fine furnature items, trading them for the repair and optimization of computers).

Since it was Easter, he brought along an Easter Egg to keep me going, and I wanted to thank him, and mention how nice it tasted.


Peter Norton (one the original exponents of pc technical support, before it was even a profession) described a computer/server room as an engineers operating theatre. He argues it should be tidy, have spares enough spare, have everything labled and have nothing in it, that isn’t completely essential.

I am half way through clearing up the 3 server rooms I use at work. I am so pleased with 1 of them, that I have broken one of Nortons cardinal rules (rules that have served me well, over the last 20 years). I decided to buy a nice clock from deal extreme.

Its not essential by any means (every operating system seems to have ahas a nuclear connnected clock these day) but makes my working environment feel more homely, and I’m sure Norton would approve.


Students. I told you so.

I think age is just a number, your measured by your achievements and not your years. That said, I have had to put up with “Yoof” in many of its forms, and the one I hate the most, are professional students.

Their tiresome oratory about how the world works and the problems of society (when most of them have never worked a day nor cleaned a bathroom) iritates me like cold weather attacks my bones.

I’ve often said that in my universe, Student is another word for stupid bastard. I hope the picture I took above, taken of some students having a ” train party” without anyone elses agreement proves this.

Before anyone posts a reply about students being the future and all the rest of it, look at the right of this picture. This poor woman had to pick up her young son and move away, as she was worried the fool clambering above them would fall and injur him.

There were 2 other groups with Children in the carriage, but they both had men with them. Funny how he didn’t start climbing around there ?. Shame he wasnt on the train with my friends from Newton Heath 🙂

One thought on “The White Lion comes to Chester.

  1. Hello John. Just seen some pictures of your birthday. Noted Tony the Tiger on there with a tray of chips. I know what you mean about United supporters too. I’m a City supporter as you know but I never hope or wish United bad luck in a game. I have a broader outlook on the subject – maybe because of where I live – but both teams put Manchester on the world stage. That can’t be a bad thing. As for the rivalry, everyone was saying that they thought I would be cheering on Barca in the Champions League final. Not at all. It would have been great if Manchester teams won 3 trophies. I actually didn’t watch the game as it was on at 2am and that was a bit too late for me as I also work on Saturday’s too. I wish I had watched it as Barca were sublime, apparently. See, I support City but I love watching football. I’m a blue but I’m not bitter. United fans, surprisingly, are.

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