Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Brand values

As you ascend from Lime Kiln traffic lights towards Hanley, you pass a hand car wash facility on the right, which merrily proclaims itself to be "the best hand job in town." In fact it's pretty much adjacent to the venerable horse-trough from which this blog takes its name.

Today, while queueing interminably to turn right, I noticed that Soap Suds also carries signage for a well-known local taxi firm. Also printed on the sign were the logo of Staffordshire's only Premier League football club, and the initials of the club's well-known firm, the N40.

I find this discouraging. In passing, I was mildly shocked by it. I can't think of any other business that would identify itself so obviously and officially with that sort of stuff.

Bizarre, at best, no?

Friday, 19 June 2009

If you try sometimes

These past few days I've had too much time to reconsider all the ruminating and reflection I've done these past few weeks.

Needs, wants, shoulds, could haves, what ifs and other general angsts that loiter all about me much of the time, especially when thinking of The Future (his, hers, ours and mine).

Solely from a personal perspective, it turns out that my conclusion is the same as my starting point, and the journey only ever took me round the houses. I think this is good, though I don't think the loiterers will take that as their cue to leave.

Suffice to say that when you stick your neck out, it's nice if there's at least someone else that can be persuaded to agree that it's a good idea - even if it is a far-from-sage miserabilist or a guy with an unfeasibly rubberised face.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Fickle webhead ration book

For thick-rimmed bespectacled hipsters everywhere, the sweetest app on the web, period.

App! Period! Check me!

And for the young pretenders, your own virtual allotment to visit. Now that's hip.

¡Maravilloso! (via Red Pelirrojo)

And in these times of B.N.P. and B.B. maybe you were thinking of moving somewhere more F.A.B.? Before you go, consider that Burslem now has fruit and veg and (most spiffingly) pies, and be sure to check Quin's cautionary pointers first, eh!

Monday, 15 June 2009

As daylight wanes

My cycle route from Stoke station to home is indirect but almost entirely off-road - a pleasant diversion at this time of year, certainly. On reaching Westport Lake I bear south east along the sheltered railway cuttings, a stretch that features three short tunnels. It's been getting on for ten by the time I make the journey, just as daylight wanes in earnest.

Infrequently, an unspectacular ritual - like my laboured homeward trundle - throws up an entirely surprising and beautiful sensation. The tunnels to which I refer have been reinforced with corrugated steel in recent years, and so are much reduced versions of the prolonged brick arches that once contained and channelled the billowing steam of blackened locomotives.

By day, they're a wholly predictable tale of lightly scorched tarmac, intervals of broken glass and hastily-sprayed appendages (though the greenways are fine on the whole). But in the half-light between day and night, you can't see the tunnel walls or the black surface beneath you; there's no time for your eyes to adjust (and I have tended to forego the lights since I don't use the road and the light lingers longer on the towpaths). You just pedal towards the horseshoe of light, visually dispossessed of all but the shining front edges of handlebars and spokes, until you emerge once more into the muted light and sleepy vegetation of the greenway cutting.

What makes this really compelling is that at least one of the tunnels absolutely teems with bats. Amid the gloomy chill they're all about you, coming straight at you - dancing, so it seems - but of course they'll never collide. And as you approach the shining tunnel-end, their intense flickering and dotting lends a vivid filmic quality to your own feeling of movement, especially when allied to the steady cranking of pedals.

It's a fleeting experience lasting mere seconds, defying easy description, but beautiful.

Things to do in bed when you're not really dead

I write this from a horizontal position following yet another effing back spasm at the weekend, yet again suffered whilst doing nothing in particular. I've barely even touched the allotment in a week, so more likely it's a delayed consequence of hoisting Sam around on my shoulders for mile after mile.

It's easy enough to Google the causes, effects and cures. Suffice to say that anyone able to maintain an upright position through the knife-twisting agony clearly must be the proud owner of a utterly freak physique. "Lying down is a real no-no," insists the nurse practitioner, before proferring diazepam and cocodamol. I wince back at her for effect: "um, ok..."

So, after a cover-to-cover Affluenza marathon, five RSA lectures on the iPod, and some vague surfing this is getting a bit much. Personally, I think that back spasm is evolution's own special way of saying, "stop being a twat," when we get 'too puffed up' (as Pepys would have it) and convinced of our own indispensability to this, that or the other.

Moi? Guilty, probably.

It would be nice to say that I wouldn't wish this stuff on anyone, but that's not quite true. It would be nice to see it happen live and exclusive to the self-proclaimed project managers that you get on Sarah Beeny shows. Ideally just as they stride over to curtail the brickies' hard-won tea break. Happy days.

Well. If anyone has any innovative suggestions for things to do when prostrate, I'd love to hear them.