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Gay punks

Gay punks

On Tuesday I went to the Geoffrey Manton building at MMU to see Dr David Wilkinson do a re-scheduled guest lecture on the theme of punk and LGBT identities. The talk should have been held in February to coincide with LGBT history month, but it was scheduled for the night of the big storm and, faced with 80 mile per hour winds, MMU took fright and closed the building mid afternoon. I had booked the day off work on that occasion, and arrived at 6pm after a lengthy wait for a bus and slightly less lengthy bus ride, only to find the building locked. I then spent another hour and a half (most of it at the bus stop on Oxford Road, being very thankful of my new warm wind proof hat) getting home, eventually walking to the Apollo for a 192 that was rammed to the gills, largely (it seemed) with people trying to get home to Buxton.

Tuesday was a much smoother affair. Geoffrey Manton is my old department building, and I haven’t set foot inside it for 10 years, so it felt both nostalgic and exciting. They have installed a series of very beautiful olive trees in large pots in the atrium, and the building felt unusually smaller than I remember. I like how it’s been developed though, what with the trees and the new student hubs.

I enjoyed David’s talk, in which he very skilfully dissected and picked apart the received stereotypes around punk, as well as detailing the connections between punk and the seventies gay scene. He did a gay reading of the Pistols on the Grundy show, and the image of the Pistols and Buzzcocks, amongst other things, as well as featuring some very excellent footage of Liz Naylor and Cath Carroll critiquing Factory and Tony Wilson, which was contrasted with Wilson being interviewed in his bath by Gillian Gilbert, also in the bath… Eewww…

It’s interesting to compare this talk to the one David did at Manchester Zinefest on City Fun two years ago, as his style has become more fluid, confident and sophisticated since then, and I think he will do very well.

In the audience for David’s talk was Dave Haslam, who contributes very movingly to this taster video put together by Manchester Histories Festival regarding Peterloo.

Manchester Histories Festival is making a welcome return this year with a bill that includes Michael Wood.

The festival organisers, in conjunction with Stockport Council and Manchester Metropolitan University, are also collecting memories and recollections of Strawberry Studios, a site included on the Too Late For Cake Stockport musical tour a couple of years back, and a similar project is underway regarding memories of Belle Vue Zoological Gardens. 

I really enjoyed Manchester Histories Festival in 2012, so I’m looking forward to this years event, which runs from 21-30 March.

I spent yesterday evening watching the entire first series of Dinnerladies on DVD, which proved to be even funnier than I remember it being. When the first series went out on TV I was working as a catering assistant at Sunwin in Stockport so a lot of it rang true. Retail being what it is these days, Sunwin closed post credit crunch and has since been replaced by a Primani.

This morning  I walked round to the Co-Op for some milk and, upon entering the shop, was overwhelmed by the displays of cut price chocolate and discounted perfume sets. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it) I’ve reached the point where I can’t even look at chocolate without feeling vaguely queasy. The PA system was playing Blur’s ‘Coffee and TV’, which felt most apt for the post-Christmas, pre-New Year period. The sense of weary malaise that runs through it fits, much like the BBC’s genius decision a couple of years ago to show Hamlet on Boxing Day.

 

DSCN0188Overheard in Piccadilly en route to Liverpool Road:

“So, where do you stand on the badger debate?”

“Oh, I’m agnostic…”

I had a helluva time getting to Liverpool Road from Piccadilly because various police roadblocks thwarted my planned route again and again. I think I walked part of the route backwards before the march started because of this but in the end I encountered a load of the Unite contingent on Whitworth Street West and followed them.

The crowd at Liverpool Road was immense, both in numbers and in volume. At the urging of stewards with megaphones I made my way down a side street and round to MOSI (Museum Of Science and Industry) to get to the back of the march, which took ages…There wasn’t that much room to move in a lot of places because of how many people were already there, with their banners, ready to march, and this was confounded by people trying to go past them in both directions on the same side of them, looking for their mates/relatives/co workers.

Eventually I gave up trying to find the end of the march, or David and David’s mum and just slotted myself in in a convenient gap in between Bolton Green Party, some GMB activists, and a lovely and friendly group of TUC activists from Merthyr Tydfil.

We were stuck on Liverpool Road for ages, with everyone blowing whistles and vuvuzelas amidst lots of photographers. We were over half an hour late moving off, and when we did move off it was at a very stop-start snail’s pace. It took about half an hour to get from Liverpool Road to Deansgate. The woman who nipped off to the chippy on Liverpool Road en march had the right idea.

There was less chanting than two years ago, but there was lots of enthusiasm and good humour, and some good agit prop street theatre, including characters in V for Vendetta Guy Fawkes masks posed at intervals along the route, and an NHS campaigner in scrubs, wearing stilts and a cowboy hat and carrying a David Cameron puppet.

DSCN0198

It was a pretty long march in that we went from Liverpool Road to Deansgate and off round the town hall, to Portland Street, past the Midland hotel and GMEX, Princess Street, down Oxford Road to Whitworth Park. I think people were flagging a bit by Oxford Road as the gaps were wider and we spread out more.

The march was so huge that people were coming back from Whitworth Park before I got there, and the marchers were still going past as I came out of Café Muse and headed down Brunswick Street to the Apollo to get the 192 home. Oxford Road was full of coaches waiting to take people home, and tired, hungry and elated marchers eating hastily cobbled together late lunches.

The police presence by the Midland and GMEX was huge: Wall to wall physical barriers and police. Most of the police were poker faced; some were clearly amused by some of the placards. I noticed more lawyers (legal aid cuts: “Judge John Deed wouldn’t stand for it” was a particularly good placard) and teachers than I remember on the TUC march two years ago, and a banner for a socialist lawyers association intrigued me. Other highlights were the Women Asylum Seekers group, a choir near the town hall, brass band, kinetic drumming that gave the march back a carnival feel in the late September sunshine by Portland Street/Oxford Road, and the young lady on Oxford Road with a banner advertising an anti-cuts blog with the strapline “Iain Duncan Smith – My part in his downfall.”

Unfortunately my feet now don’t want to work anymore today.

Say it with blogging

Say it with blogging

The Working Class Movement Library, Salford

The Working Class Movement Library, Salford

I’ve been spending a lot of this week at the Working Class Movement Library on Salford Crescent. There are buses and trains, but I generally get the 192 to Piccadilly and walk it the rest of the way. This takes you through the bustling sensory overload of Piccadilly and Market Street, out the other side and over the bridge into Salford, past the rise of development and regeneration on Chapel Street and Salford Crescent. While the sight of yet another block of yuppie flats being built within screaming distance of Manchester city centre does depress me, the idea of them becoming the ‘Vimto flats’ does amuse me and take the edge off the depression somewhat.

Anyway, to the WCML. I can’t think of another library or museum where you would encounter the Manchester post punk fanzine City Fun, trade union history and Oliver Postgate. I am re-reading Oliver Postgate’s memoir at the moment, so was particularly pleased to encounter the Postgate exhibtion in the entrance hall in its display case. Like Postgate and Firmin’s films, it is small but perfectly formed. Bagpuss sits in the middle and, amongst other things, it is revealed that the folk singer Sandra Kerr provided the voice of Madeleine the rag doll and that Professor Yaffle was based on Bertrand Russell.

I originally started trawling through the collection of City Fun about two or three years ago when I’d first decided to develop the punk women series I wrote for The F-Word into a book, and I’ve been meaning to finish the trawl ever since. Like a lot of fanzines that went on for a long time, City Fun clearly started to believe their own hype after a bit, and to develop their own personal shorthand/language. But I think that they were very quick to spot when they were disappearing up their own arses, and to take steps to correct that. I think that showed a good dose of self awareness and maturity on their part.

City Fun, which (amongst others) featured writing, artwork and input from Martin X, Andy Zero, Liz Naylor, Cath Carroll, Bob Dickinson, Linder Sterling and a certain Stephan Patrick Morrissey, has, over time, proved itself to be a really good social document of the 1979-1982 period, particularly from a punk/post punk and mancunian history point of view. It’s also been digitised now, a sure sign of its historical and cultural importance.

Last night was film festival night at the WCML, so I stayed until 7pm in order to watch the Lindsey Anderson/Shelagh Delaney project The White Bus from 1967. It’s described as being “A prelude” to If, and revolves around a series of small adventurous journeys undertaken by an anonymous young woman around Manchester and Salford. At one point she is on a civic bus tour on the aforementioned white bus, which is dominated by the excessively forthright and jolly Mayor, played with gusto by Arthur Lowe. I liked the bits in Central Library: “You have some filthy books in here!” and the sly double meaning inferred by the juxtaposition of the new towerblocks in Salford, and the march of progress they represented, with the rather more picturesque houses of the famous and wealthy in the suburbs. It’s an odd film, but an interesting and enjoyable one.

Anderson, while probably most famous for If, also directed the video to Carmel’s ‘More, more, more’ in 1984. It was also filmed around Manchester.

The film festival continues tonight with Luke Fowler’s The Poor Stockinger, the Luddite Cropper and the Deluded Followers of Joanna Southcott. Which mixes archive footage and newly shot material

“in an evocative video essay that reflects on the life and times of critic, historian and activist EP Thompson. It captures a moment of optimism, in which Thompson’s ideas for progressive education came together with political resistance and activism.”

There’s also a benefit in aid of the WCML, which has been hard hit by cuts to Salford Council, on 9th June at Islington Mill, at 3pm.

Photo of the Working Class Movement Library by pandrcutts. Used thanks to a flickr creative commons licence

Yesterday David and I made a pilgrimage to Rochdale in order to watch our friend Natalie Bradbury contribute a guest lecture to a series of talks at the Rochdale Pioneers Museum.

I had suggested we get the bus, but Transport For Greater Manchester’s journey planner was sulking when I tried to look the buses up, and Trainline revealed fares for under £10 so we got the train from Victoria instead.

Rochdale came as a bit of a shock to us upon our arrival. The powers that be are in the process of installing tramlines for the Metrolink, so a lot of the roads from the train station (and neighbouring metrolink station) through the town centre are barricaded up while the lines are layed, making an already slightly daunting prospect of finding our way over to the museum somewhat more difficult. It was also colder than it had  been in Manchester, and it’s not often we get to say that…

After a somewhat bleak and vaguely surreal trek through the town centre and out the other side to Toad Lane, where the museum is, we grabbed a much needed cup of tea before sitting down to hear Natalie’s talk.

Titled ‘Woman’s Outlook: 1919 – 1967: A surprisingly modern magazine?’, Natalie’s talk was unusual in structure in that she doesn’t get on with Powerpoint and, what with being a trained journalist, she instead made a magazine, provided paper copies of it to the audience, and used a digital version of the magazine instead of Powerpoint to structure her talk.

Woman’s Outlook was a magazine for co-operative women, published by the Co-Operative Press. Natalie describes it as having “mixed the political and the domestic”

As Natalie says in her summary, the magazine took “an often daring political stance on hot topics of the day” and appeared “ahead of its time on issues such as abortion, equal pay and divorce law” but “many of the subjects covered by Outlook would not appear out of place in a women’s magazine today.”

As Natalie explained in her talk, she grew up reading the music press, then newspapers, so she never read the girls and womens press while she was growing up. The only women’s magazine she reads now is Stylist “because it’s free” and it was interesting, and very revealing, so see a comparison of stories in Woman’s Outlook and Stylist: There are more similarities in subject matter than you might think.

Natalie took the audience on a journey from the magazine’s beginnings in the ‘Women’s Corner’ in the Co-operative News in the late nineteenth century to the founding of the Co-operative Women’s Guild, to the founding of Woman’s Outlook at the end of the First World War.

Natalie talked of some of those involved with the paper, including notable editors, columnists and contributers, and discussed the prejudice they faced. Editor Mary Stott had wanted to cover ‘hard news’ in her journalistic career, but instead found herself consigned to ‘women’s issues’, which were taken less seriously. Her 1973 memoir Forgetting’s No Excuse was a touchstone for Natalie in her research, as were interviews she conducted with some of the surviving members of the Co-operative Women’s Guild, Pat Williams and Margaret Tillotson.

Natalie is an enthusiastic speaker, and her interest in the subject and her research really came across as she spoke. It made me want to find out more about the Co-operative Women’s Guild and Woman’s Outlook.

After the talk, David and I headed back to the train station as it was getting a bit late and we needed to find some food.

As we wearily tried to remember our way back through the dark, empty barricaded streets we spotted a sign that stated encouragingly ‘Rochdale: Open as usual’ but even that didn’t console us much in the misery of the cold. David remarked that he hadn’t felt this cold since he visited his ex boyfriend in Berlin a few winters back, whereas I fervently wished I’d put more layers on. We both felt flasks of soup and sandwiches would be a good idea next time. Either that, or we will have to wait until the mythical summer arrives before venturing this way again.

It wasn’t much better once we got back to Manchester, as the storm was drawing in, but it still felt a couple of degrees warmer at least. On our way back to Piccadilly to catch our buses home we walked past the old Co-Operative building, providing a neat ending to the evenings adventure.

She Bop is out now

She Bop is out now

At the end of January I received an invitation to attend the book launch of the newly revised and updated third edition of Lucy O’Brien’s She Bop: The definitive history of women in rock, pop, and soul. As a big fan of both the first and second editions of the book, I have been very excited about the prospect of a third edition. I was sixteen when the first edition came out, and its sophisticated degree of historical, cultural and musical detail coupled with its intelligent readability made me an instant fan. Not only did the book include women who I already listened to and enjoyed (Siouxsie Sioux, Janis Joplin, the Voodoo Queens) it also shed a light on areas of music I hadn’t really had much time for at that point (soul, hip hop, disco) and delved into the somewhat murky world of the music industry behind the scenes.  It was an eye opener, an education, and above all, a very enjoyable and inspiring read.

I was in the midst of sitting my GCSE’s at the time the book was published in 1995, but had taken some time off from sitting them to go to London to attend Le Grandienne, an all dayer held at Kings Cross Arts Centre which was put on by the lovely folk at Piao!, who had been involved with the two day Piao! Festival in February 1994 (along with members of Linus). I travelled down to London by train from Stockport for the first and, it has to be said, only time in my life. This was before privatisation and the fare, paid for by my long suffering mum, was £30. I was met at Euston by Chris Phillips of Piao! very early in the morning on the day of the event, and sat quietly on the sidelines as the stage and festival were set up around me.

Highlights included Minxus, [For the benefit of the tiny minority of people who read my fiction blog Screaming In Public, Minxus’ singer/bassist, She Rocola, was the visual inspiration for Violet. Fliss, meanwhile, was visually inspired by the seventeen year old Lauren Laverne in Kenickie. Who, inbetween leaving Slampt Underground Organisation and signing to EMI, toured the country in a stage outfit comprised of a rubber mini skirt, converse all stars, and the top half of a childs jujitsu suit that she’d found in a charity shop in Sunderland.] Yummy Fur, Heck, Lungleg and Quickspace Supersport, amongst others.

When I returned to Hazel Grove, the copy of She Bop that my mum had requested for me at Hazel Grove library was waiting for me. It was the summer holidays, and I sat down to read it with some level of curiosity and, as a riot grrrl, a certain amount of trepidation as the back cover had mentioned riot grrrl and I wasn’t sure how I felt about riot grrrl being written about outside of the riot grrrl scene.  As it was, my uncertainty and vague suspicions were very quickly displaced and, becoming increasingly engrossed in the book, I devoured it in three days.

A couple of months later, still fascinated by and very attached to the book, I read it again and decided that I wanted to write about it. Normally this would have meant a review for my fanzine, Aggamengmong Moggie, but I took the unusual step of writing to Lucy c/o her then publisher, Penguin and sending some questions for her to answer by return post. I didn’t necessarily expect an answer, but I decided to try anyway. I was pleasantly surprised when, a little while later, I received a set of long detailed answers back.

And so began a correspondence.

The second edition of She Bop was published in 2002, by which point I was at the end of my first year of my English degree at Manchester Metropolitan University and was working a market research job in Hazel Grove to keep me in funds. I reviewed She Bop II for my new fanzine, Euro Tourist, and interviewed Lucy via email for The F-Word. Friends went to Ladyfest London that year, but (with some regret) I went to Amsterdam instead, meaning I missed an authors reading of the newly updated She Bop II at Ladyfest.

Since 2002 I have had a certain modest journalistic success, writing small pieces for Record Collector, contributing to a book on Riot Grrrl, writing a series on women and punk for The F-Word website, and, more recently, taking on the role of music review editor at The F-Word, which I share with Holly Combe. Along the way I have received some very good journalism and writing advice from Lucy O’Brien, who I also interviewed by phone for the aforementioned punk women series.

That said, it was a pleasant surprise to receive the invitation to attend the book launch for She Bop III, and I was very touched to have been asked. The invitation arrived as I was taking a week’s leave, and knocked me for six somewhat. The next day (a Saturday) I logged into my work email from home and checked the shared calendar at work to see if anyone else was on leave that day, and seeing that someone was, I phoned my friend and weekend boss Nicola on the Sunday to ask about how many staff could be on leave at the same time. Nicola, in a strange twist of fate, is an old school friend of F-Word founder Catherine Redfern and, given that she has a secret life as a Philosopher outside of work, has been most understanding about my secret life as a journalist.

Leave was granted, a hotel proved to be surprisingly available, and coach tickets were booked. I did take a look on Trainline at London train tickets, but all this led to was a desire to pen a list or blog post on the theme of Things I Could Buy For the Cost Of A London Train Ticket. An Anytime Return from Stockport to London costs £308.00, whereas the same ticket in First Class costs £441.00. Things I could do for the cost of an Anytime Return include paying my rent for a month, buying my library pal Rachel’s monthly season on the train from Buxton to Manchester Oxford Road, and buying half an annual System 1 (which guarantees unlimited travel across all buses and bus companies in Greater Manchester). The coach it was.

As a veteran of National Express, I opted for the 9:30am coach from Chorlton Street Coach station to Victoria Coach station in the end. I’ve tried the 8am service before now, and last time I used it it was absolutely rammed, thus defeating the whole point of getting up at 5:30am to catch it. Interestingly the half 9 was half empty, so I felt vindicated in my lie in. Also, it was an express coach so it only stopped to swap drivers and then for 15 minutes at Milton Keynes. I got into Victoria at 2pm.

It was the bus journey into Manchester that proved to be the point of interminable go slow. The new 192’s (the green wifi hybrid buses) advertise that there are “Up to 18 buses an hour”, but it would be more accurate if they added the caveat “but not in rush hour, that would be madness”. I got to Chorlton Street with 10 minutes to spare.

I had a bit of a sartorial crisis the night before the event as I was packing. I’d sought the advice of Nicola as to what I should wear as I’d never been to a book launch before, or anything that might be comparable. Nicola has the advantage of having attended academic conferences and, besides, I had given her feedback on her choice of wedding dress so fair’s fair. But whereas I’d sorted out my skirt and top, I hadn’t been able to find a suitable jacket to wear over my short sleeved top, and it was threatening to snow again. There was also the earlier related saga of the quest for the perfect vegan cruelty free lipgloss that wasn’t pink, but I think that’s best not gone into here.

As someone who has grown up with She Bop, it felt important to attend and show my support for both author and book but I was also nervous as hell when it came to attending my first book launch and also meeting Lucy for the first time. My friend and occasional collaborator David Wilkinson emailed over some words of reassurance as I packed:

“Now don’t you worry about heading London-wards! Or working the room, or anything like that – concentrate on having a nice time, as I’m sure you will. Look forward to hearing about it”

I ran hither and thither (which is quite difficult to do in a studio flat, admittedly, but much less time consuming than in a house…) frantically trying clothes and jewellery on as the mix CD I was playing seemed to echo the ridiculous melodrama of the situation: The Supremes incredibly over the top ‘My World is empty without you’ being followed by Patrick Wolf’s plaintive wail of ‘I can’t do this alone!’ in ‘Together’. In the end I had to just pull myself together, pack and hope for the best.

My hotel was in Victoria, very close to the coach station, so it didn’t take long to check in and unpack. I looked up the venue for the launch, The Society Club, in my much battered A-Z and, having decided that it looked a bit tucked away, opted to do a dummy run before the event started at half six.

In the end, it was quite easy to find. I got the tube to Oxford Circus, then went in search of Poland Street and Ingestre Place. The Society Club looked very small, but I found it and headed back down Poland Street to Oxford Street. I had decided that I still needed something to finish my outfit off, as well as food pre-going out as there was going to be booze and I didn’t want to get drunk and embarrassing. So I wandered up and down Oxford Street and Tottenham Court Road aimlessly pursuing these aims until about half 4/5 ish when I realised I needed to be back at my hotel.

Having not found any charity shops to peruse in my wanderings (wrong bits of London I suspect), and been disappointed by the pastelisation of Accessorize, I did a three scarves for £10 deal with one of the guys in one of the shops on Oxford Street. It is very touristy along Oxford Street, but the scarves were nice. He also tried to interest me in a new beret or three, but I resisted. 

In the end I wore my new black and silver scarf slung around my shoulders in homage to my library pal Rachel, who has perfected the art of dishabille, and once acquired a long waited for scarf from the library lost property box after four weeks of waiting. She happily slung it around her shoulders, where it looked perfect, and went about her work. The next day, the scarf was gone. “Where’s your new scarf?” I asked, “Went out last night, got drunk, left it in a tepee in the club” and so the perfect scarf re-entered and continued its lost property cycle.

I had brought my copy of She Bop III with me, with the intention of getting it signed if possible. But in the end I didn’t because the book wouldn’t fit in my handbag and I didn’t want to risk leaving it on the tube or similar. I really regret this now. When I told Nicola this part of the story, she said: “You could have used the other two scarves to make a sort of knapsack thing for it.” And I am kicking myself now for not thinking of this.

I arrived at the Society Club just before 7pm, and it was really busy. I didn’t really know anyone so I  ducked inside very quickly and found a corner to hide in with a glass of wine while watching and observing until I’d found my bearings a bit. I found myself wishing that David was there, but at the same time it was better that he wasn’t in that it meant I had to make the effort to be sociable and not rely on someone else to be sociable for me. I still missed him though. We are very good at giving each other well needed confidence boosts.

I had spotted Lucy fairly quickly as, although we haven’t met, I have seen pictures of her and seen her on TV.  I didn’t want to butt in on any conversations so I continued lurking in my corner for a bit instead. Then I spotted Helen McCookerybook in intense conversation with Caroline Coon, both of whom I interviewed in London in 2009 for my punk women series for the F-Word. Once there was a lull in that conversation, I said hello. Caroline got talking to other people, but I was able to have a nice long conversation with Helen, who I have always found very easy to talk to. Because I had never met Lucy before I got Helen to introduce me to her, as this seemed the least awkward and friendliest option.

Later, Lucy made a very nice speech about the book and its continuing reinvention and re-emergance. I liked the way she spoke of the book as a creature in its own right, an untethered heroine out there in the world. Or, as Lucy has written on her blog, Her Mistresses Voice , an archive of women’s musical history. As Helen McCookerybook has written in her blog post on the launch, Skin from Skunk Anansie took to the floor to thank Lucy for her services rendered to the history of female musicians and this went down very well with those present.

The journey back to Manchester the next day was a good one, the only problem being that I was in a lot of pain with my neck and shoulder (this is a long standing issue). I tend to try and avoid doing two coach journeys two days running for this reason, as I always seize up on the coach and have to put up with a lot of stiffness, aching and – worst of all – stabbing pains. But I was lucky enough to have a two seater to myself both on the way down and on the way back, so at least I didn’t have to put up with my bad arm being squished up and tensed against a complete stranger, which has happened more times than I can count. I used my scarf to make a pillow, closed my eyes, and got through it.

It was the Glasgow coach, which I’ve never got before, and it goes to Manchester, Carlisle, Hamilton and Glasgow, with toilet breaks at Norton Canes and Manchester. I’ve been through Norton Canes so many times now I can find the toilets blindfolded. We got a fantastic Glaswegian driver doing the safety announcements, including a discreet caution against men using the coach toilet. I’ve heard a less discreet version of this before on a coach to London in 2009, and it basically comes down to ‘Don’t piss standing up unless you’re looking forward to falling over with your trousers round your ankles and nutting the cistern whenever we go round a bend’. You don’t get bon mots of this standard on Virgin trains I don’t think.

My current favourite National Express announcement is from last summer when I was coming back from visiting my F-Word colleague Holly Combe in Bristol. As we were drawing into Stoke coach station, the intercom crackled into life: “Welcome to Costa del Stoke-On-Trent. If you are leaving the coach here please remember to take any rubbish and small children with you, but please feel free to leave behind any laptops and smart phones so we can flog them on ebay”. I also once heard the following exchange between two drivers on the way to London in 2009, as we were pulling out of Stockport bus station. Driver 1 (exceedingly chipper cockney gentleman): Have you got the details of that taxi? Driver 2 (exceedingly grumpy sounding cockney gentlemen): What taxi? Driver 1: The one I hit last week. On the return journey on that occasion, the engine conked out on the coach by Bowden Roundabout, or, as my dad put it, “deepest, darkest Cheshire.” The journey took about 8 or 9 hours.

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