Friday, 31 March 2017


The suburb of Heaton Moor used to boast a couple of rival, politically associated clubs but, over the course of the last few years, the hatchet has been buried – perhaps reflecting a general shift towards neo-liberal consensus – and amalgamation has left just one club serving as a non-aligned social venue for the neighbourhood. It was there, last week, that members of the HMJAS gathered to hear Loose Change play a very competent set of jazz-funk tunes. Unfortunately, despite the very reasonable admission price of £3 (supper dish of Lancashire hot-pot included) it turned out to be another of those sparsely attended Wednesday evening gigs which seem to abound in Stockport. Whether this is due to inadequate marketing or fundamental lack of demand, I can’t be sure. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the evening, not least because fellow jazzer and Wonderman reader Dave told me that his mate, who is on the board of the National Portrait Gallery, has promised to install mirrors on the wall in the restaurant there. Those of you who recall my criticism a couple of weeks ago will recognise this as a triumph of blog-lobbying.
My euphoria continued, buoyed by the advent of springtime, and one sunny morning I ventured out to inspect the potted bamboo. For the past two years I have been defending it against aphids – and they are back again! My neighbour – who is Brazilian – came out to tend his plants and we struck up conversation about the Brazilian film Aquarius which I had just seen. He enthused about the starring actor – whose name is too Portuguese to recall – and vowed to go see it next day. On the subject of aphid control, however, he showed less interest, remarking only “there are some very convincing plastic bamboos you can get.” He has a point. Life is, indeed, short.
I didn’t let the return of the aphids spoil my week: too many other events had been clamouring for that distinction. When I collected the campervan from the upholsterers in deepest Lancashire I was delighted with the job they had done. Only later did I discover that, in removing the seats, they had disrupted some electrical connections and failed to restore them. I took the van to my local mechanic who sorted it out quickly but at considerable cost. Afterwards I found some unidentifiable plastic parts lying loose in the glove box. I suppose I will have to go back to the mechanic to enquire about them. It brings to mind the old Flanders & Swann classic song The Gasman Cometh, which employs humour to de-fuse frustration.
It has not been so easy, however, to dispel the gloom that has descended since Our Glorious Leader dispatched the ‘Dear John’ (or ‘Article 50’) letter to the European Union. I know that people argue over whether Brexit will help or hinder international trade, but that point is irrelevant in the long term since agreements can always be negotiated. Which leaves Brexit-lovers with their beloved argument for ‘sovereignty’, a concept which I value less than they: it makes me think only of drawbridges.
Still, springtime fosters regeneration, not only in nature but also in the hearts and minds of men. My partner, having noticed some crumpling in my demeanour, reserved time to conduct for me a session of re-aligning my life-focus. During such an exercise one is required to face up to big questions, such as: Why are we here? Where are we going? How will we get there? Shall we be taking sandwiches?  The session worked its magic. Sitting there, on the sunny terrace of a buzzing urban cafe, having drawn a diagram of my life on A3 paper with multi-coloured pens while sipping good coffee, anything seemed achievable: Brexiters might falter in the face of blog-lobbying; even aphids might be defeated once and for ever.

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