Category Archives: People

El Gringo

I’m on a bus to Washington right now. I’m meeting a mate there, then we’re off to a computer fair in Sunderland. I’ve not been to one of those in around a decade, probably longer. The internet pretty much killed off computer fairs, so it’ll be interesting to see whether this is more than a one-off. And what they have to offer now that phones and tablets have decimated the desktop market (I still have two desktops).

Anyway, a couple of minutes ago, I passed a man walking down the street. He was carrying a newspaper and, I’m assuming, a bag of cans (beer, rather than beans). Before High Fell club closed a few years ago, I often used to see him on buses. He used to catch a bus outside the club at closing time. He often had a carrier bag, filled with (another assumption) meat. Whatever day of the week I passed the place, he’s be at the bus stop at closing time.

I named him El Gringo, because he’s short, somewhat round, balding, with slightly long hair and a huge Zapata moustache.

Looking back, I’m not sure why I gave him that name. With a sombrero and an ammunition belt over his shoulder, he’s be a classic spaghetti western bad guy.

I was surprised to see that he’s still alive.

Gardening

Since the weather’s changed for the better, I couldn’t put off resuming work on the shed.

This wall is a lot more solid than the first one I tackled, so it wasn’t so easy to remove the inside layer of stone.

Doing a spot of gardening now.

While sitting here, a magpie arrived.

My second encounter with such a creature today. The first was this morning, when, on arriving at the tip, we saw a magpie attacking a young parrot.

An old lady and I scared off the magpie, but the parrot was unaccessible, behind a high fence. Also in the queue was a parrot breeder (there had to be), who said he’d drive back around to capture the bird.

So, the old lady and I stood guard until he returned.

Unfortunately, a girl with a stick arrived before he did. I’d acquired a towel from one of the site workers, but hadn’t used it because I didn’t want to harm the bird. The girl, however, pointed the stick in the parrot’s direction. Apparently, the bird was supposed to walk onto the stick.

It flew off. Just before the parrot professional arrived.

As I was writing this, a pair of pigeons landed on the fence. This will be their second year of nesting in our tree.

Dancing man

I originally posted this picture one Sunday afternoon in 2009.

We used to have a pretty regular family thing in the late 00s; lunch in Baroque (renamed Aspire, then Establishment) on a Sunday afternoon.

On that particular afternoon, if I recall correctly, there were some decisive football matches which would determine which of Newcastle or Sunderland would be relegated.

I’ve no particular interest in football, but I found myself annoyed by the party atmosphere in Sunderland. Sunderland didn’t actually win their match, but neither did Newcastle.

So, the man above was dancing in celebration of Newcastle’s relegation. I do accept football rivalry, of course. But sometimes it goes too far. It went too far that particular day. Which is why I probably remembered dancing man.

With Sunderland’s second relegation in two years, I wonder whether he’s still dancing.

Smoke

I once lived with a smoker. It was horrible. Thankfully, I don’t live with one now.

I couldn’t do that again.

That might seem shallow, but the smell isn’t nice. To a non-smoker, it’s pretty disgusting.

Best mates

This afternoon, I met my two best mates for a drink and something to eat.

We last did so nine or ten years ago.

We’re all grown-up now and we’re different people. But it was nice. We probably shouldn’t wait so long before we see each other again.

Andrew

Andrew is a hero. In South Shields. In McDonalds, where I went to pee. On entering I found security guard protected toilets; also, a young girl warned me to take care because strange things were happening in the Gents.

I barely hesitated, because my need was great. On entering, I found the boyfriend of the girl outsite, unbuttoning a man’s jeans.

I should say that he’d been asked to do so by the wearer of said jeans. Unfortunately, the jeans gentleman also wore jogging bottoms under his outer layer. Apparently, he’d anticipated below zero temperatures.

Worse still, his underlayer involved a tie-cord. Which was firmly fastened in a knot.

Andrew (the boyfriend of the girl outside) asked me for assistance because he bites his nails and struggles with knots. I also bite my nails and find knots an impossibility. I was mid stream at the time too, so helping would have been a challenge.

On leaving the Gents, I located my second in command. Andrew, who followed soon after, confirmed that the knot was undone.

All ended well. Although I suspect the multiple layered man might not have fastened himself back up sufficiently (he seemed to be wearing weed-scented aftershave).

Should I ever bump into Andrew again, I shall buy him beer.

The Machine

I’m watching the Machine on BBC4 right now. A film about a mill in India.

The place is dark, wet and hot. It’s a twelve hour day for the workers. The machinery is powered by electricity, but that’s generated from coal.

While the heaviest work seems to be carried out by adults, kids are clearly part of the workforce.

The operation resembles early industrial Britain.

And it’s something of an eye opener.

Kids

The high level bridge is my most favourite bridge. Its restoration over a decade ago was remarkable, turning an old blackened monster into a thing of beauty. 

In recent years, though, grafitti has made something of a mess of the structure. Apparently, the estimated cost of a clean-up is around £40,000. Removing the mess would probably be a waste of time, however. The underlying cause would remain and the grafitti would doubtless return. Kids. 

It may have seemed cute in the beginning, but the addition of hundreds of locks has attracted lovesick teenagers. Who, in addition to leaving a token of their undying love, leave the names of their loved ones, friends and words of youthly wisdom. 

Personally, I’d remove them all and throw them into the Tyne. Along with any returning teenagers. 

As an aside, there’s an interesting trick of light in the first picture. I was alone on the bridge. 

Little Glasgow

I know I’ve mentioned this previously, but it’s weirdly cool that there’s a little oasis of northern-ness in the south. 

Currently in Wetherspoons, Corby.

The carpeting is still of the tartan variety.