I woke up feeling better this morning and got myself showered and out the door, headed for Manchester. After arriving at Euston Station and getting my rail pass validated, I managed to get there just in time for the 9:20 train. The first 20 minutes of the journey was lovely and peaceful. Then we reached Milton Keynes and a couple got on and sat across the aisle from me. They began talking work. I figured out from their voices that neither were British. In fact, I’m fairly certain both were Americans who had lived here a few years because both had a very slight hint of accent, the kind one develops from becoming a transplant. They also worked in undergarment sales (t-shirt, camis, pants, the like). And, I got to listen to them AT LENGTH. LOUDLY. NON STOP. FOR AN HOUR AND A HALF. TILL THEY GOT OFF AT STOCKPORT.
Once I arrived in Manchester, I wasn’t hugely sure what my plans were, so I went down to their MetroLink (a tram that runs through town on rails, much like in Amsterdam) and got off in the centre of town. There was a huge shopping centre nearby, Manchester Arndale. I recalled from many a websearch that there was a Taco Bell inside. I was very very tempted. I adore Taco Bell. However, if I ate there, I’d break my cardinal rule of travelling: Never eat anywhere you can eat at home. Still, it’s cheap and I’m trying to budget, so I was really thinking.
I DID see a walking Taco Bell sauce packet. He was awesome and I wanted to take his picture, but it would only have been amusing to me. And I also saw a young man begging for money, sitting on the cold ground in a pair of shorts with two severly twisted and deformed legs. Sad, really.
Inside the shopping centre was like any other, and it occurs to me when I go in these places that I don’t think I’m a true woman. I don’t get into shopping. I’m not a ‘shopper’. I like electronics, books, food/candy/beverages, and weird novelty items. Those are the kinds of shops I dig. I can’t understand people spending loads of money in Selfridges, or M&S, or even Primark.
I DID have a nice lunch in the palace o’shopping. I ate from a place called Spudulike. It sells one thing: Baked Potatoes. Covered in ‘stuff’. The stuff ranges from chili, to chicken tikka, to veggies, etc. They had a nice inexpensive special: A spicy chicken and sweetcorn potato, garlic bread and a drink for £5. How can you pass that up??
I sat down and tucked in and immediately was surprised by the fact that the chicken topping was cold. How odd having a cold topping on a hot potato!? Nevertheless, as my sensitive teeth didn’t enjoy it, my stomach and taste buds certainly did.
Having grown weary of the mall, I wandered round outside to see what was in my vicinity to ‘look at.’ Well, that sort of was a quick wander as all that was there was a football museum and a cathedral. Ok. Walked around the perimeter of the cathedral and saw it had a very nice painted gate. Admired said gate and walked on.
I felt slight rain and decided I’d seen enough of Manchester, so I headed back to the rail station. My train ride back was much quieter and more pleasant. I did take note that at the rail station they were making an announcement that trains going through Stoke-On-Trent were temporarily suspended due to a fatality in the area. So, chances are likely there was a one under. Shame, really.
Arriving back in London, I had some time to kill. So, I spent it walking up Regent Street, in the rain. I don’t care much for cheap touristy shit, but I DO like the Union Flag umbrella I see many tourists have. I may have to take one back with me, as it would be very unique in my town.
I took a stop in Waterstone’s Piccadilly to do two things: 1. Book a ticket to see David Mitchell in conversation on 24th October and 2. Buy a Charlie Brooker book. Managed to do both. I’m very much looking forward to hearing David speak, and hopefully have an opportunity to meet him and perhaps have a photo taken. Unfortunately, however, I will have to skip my already booked Greg Davies show because there are too many uncertainties surrounding it and I’m not hugely comfortable with the idea of potentially having to sleep in a rail station (particularly Salisbury station, as I’ve been already) because I’ve missed the train back to London (and missed half of Greg’s act due to having to scoot out early to even try to MAKE the train)
So, Mitchell is in and Davies is out, sadly. Out to the tune of £21 I’ll never see again.
Wandered Carnaby Street and it really hit me how dull my town is compared to London. We just have nothing cool at all.
Time for dinner, so I rolled into a noodle bar called Cha Cha Moon (Ganton St, if anyone’s interested) I wasn’t hugely hungry so I opted for two side dishes, Fried Shrimp Dumplings and Seafood Spring Rolls. When I sat down, I noticed chopsticks. Chopsticks and I don’t mix. I’m the adult who needs cheater chopsticks at Asian restaurants, or just a plain and simple fork. Bastard chopsticks. I’m sure if anyone was watching, it would be much the same effect as watching a walrus attempt using chopsticks. Clumsy, horrendous, yet keenly hysterical at the same time.
Both items were tasty, and I ate too fast and burned the hell out of my tongue. There were two bottles on the table, soy sauce and a red sauce named Koon Yick Wah Kee. Right.
I decided to try said sauce. Imagine the taste of olives, yet in the colour and consistency of ketchup. Yes, that’s a spot on description. The label said ‘chilli sauce, curry sauce, sour fruit sauce.’ Let me tell you, I’ve had all three. THIS. This tasted like NONE of the above.
And, if you have the grand opportunity to try this sauce, do NOT accidentally touch your nose if you’ve touched the sauce. A bit like handling your genitals after cutting jalapenos. Not a good idea. Stings, really.
Fed and amused, I headed down the road a bit to Magic Night at Madame Jojo’s cabaret theatre. I managed to secure a seat and headed downstairs. There was a large group of Swedish men sitting down front being loud, meowing, chanting Sweden, and attempting to heckle. Arseholes.
What an evening of entertainment! A magic duo named Young and Strange (who did a few mind reading segments), a Rubenesque burlesque performer named Jade Adams (who’s act consisted of her gyrating and lip-syncing to various snippets of familiar pop music), comedian/impressionist Anil Desai (who was rather good at his impressions, if I’m honest) and then we went to an interval. When the compere, Neil Handy, returned and kicked off the second half of the show, it was a silent magician named Simon South (who had lovely backing music) and the headlining act, mind reader Chris Cox. The show ended with Jade Adams again, singing, operatically, that Andrea Bocelli chestnut about saying goodbye (the name escapes me) Everyone did a fantastic job. I could ramble on about the tricks they did, but I’m sure if you YouTube many of these names you could see for yourselves. Suffice to say, they all did lovely.
My day all done, I headed back to flat in the rain. Of course, none of that rain matters. Because it’s London, and that’s all anyone needs.
Tomorrow is my birthday. I’m taking myself to Oxford for the day, and then seeing Paul Merton’s stand-up/improv stage show, Out of My Head. Seems a reasonable way to celebrate a birthday. (Since there’s no I.H. working on a Saturday that I may catch a glimpse of him.)