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Showing posts from 2005

The Coastalblog Christmas Message

The festive season is upon us, and it is incumbent upon everyone (apparently - I had a threatening email this morning from some group calling themselves the Konsistently Khristmas Kommitee informing me that if I failed to mark the season in any way then my life was forfeit. They also mentioned a couple of you by name and made B-movie throat-slitting gestures, so, y'know, I'm doing this for all of you) to force an end of year round-up upon the unwilling public. So, upon pain of ice-pick, here it is:

JANUARY Slept, mostly.

FEBRUARY: Attempted to snowboard, realised quickly that I am by design a home-loving bookworm for a REASON

MARCH: Hmm, anyone remember March?

APRIL: The Shower broke, other more sub judice things occurred. All good clean fun.

MAY: See March, though with added wondering as to whether "occurred" is really how you spell "occurred". I know it is, but it just doesn't feel right. I said hi to London, London waved a vague hand in response.


Done! Hurrah and so forth

Some of you may recall that at the start of this year I indicated that I intended reading fifty books this year. I would link to the fifty book challenge, or the relevant I Love Books thread, but frankly I'm too drunk tired to do so.

Anyway, the challenge was completed at about half past four this afternoon. Those of you who are perceptive enough to notice a preponderance of light fiction towards the end of it will correctly deduce something of a sprint finish on my part, but also you must be aware that I've had one day off in the last three weeks and it's all I'm bloody capable of. So you can take your well-thumbed copies of the gulag archipelago and shove them up your time-rich arses.

The great thing about looking back over the list is that each book on it reminds me of something, be it location, state of mind, weather, quality of's hard to say. It's been a pretty good read, I was particularly thrilled by Dashiel Hammett (and therefore it's kind…

Ho ho

You know what's great? Winning money by knowing stuff. Particularly when pub denizens growl "Smartarse" at you and you reply "that's mr sixty pounds richer smartarse to you." Made particularly great by doubting teammates being convinced I wouldn't know the answer. We still came fucking second, though, damn those old people who have had more time to learn incidental bollocks than us.

You know what's even greater? Two seperate people have found coastalblog by googling "Ormskirk seed pods." If only they'd googled EIGHT FUCKING METRES TALL BRONZE GLOWING SEED PODS that would have been even greater. Welcome, come one come all to the web's number one ormsirk resource (I get a load of googlers for the Arriba, too, god only knows what impression they get. But this one's just for them: THE ARRIBA IS WHERE YOU GO WHEN YOU HAVEN'T EVEN GOT ENOUGH SELF RESPECT TO PAY FOR WHORES YOU RIDICULOUS BASTARDS. THE ARRIBA IS WHERE YOU GO WHEN YO…

The great coastal round-up

Hello all. My repeated apologies for the paucity of posts, I've been working every day for the last two weeks and am generally too shattered at the end of the day. My computer time is largely limited to phd and teaching related matters at the moment. this state of affairs probably won't continue (I'm making sure I take some time off over the next couple of weeks, as well as most of january). What work, you cry? Well, I'm currently helping a couple of places out by sorting out their waiting on staff, tidying up the bar / putting various managerial stuff in order / organising booking procedures / training staff / that sort of thing. A short term solution, but an effective one. It's rather enjoyable, if I'm being honest. You all know how boringly evangelical I can get about standards of service, quality of stock and all round enjoyment of the dining experience, so it's good to get the opportunity to put some of these theories into practice with a free hand (wh…

Seedpods: An update

Gentle reader, I beg your forgiveness for the scarcity of updates as currently stands. This is due to working myself in the ground in order to buy presents to celebrate the festival of a deity I have no interest in. I'm not entirely sure how I fell for it but needs must etc etc. I have, however found a few scant seconds away from the coalface to enlighten you as to the ongoing saga surrounding the proposed EIGHT FUCKING METRES TALL BRONZE GLOWING SEED PODS that WLDC propose to plant at the top end of Aughton street ("The Gateway To Aughton").

Well, sad to report, but our council's far-seeing, nay, visionary proposal have met with naught but beefy disdain from the town's ruddy-cheeked traders. As one they have turned their broad, materialistic backs upon the mystical vision whch even now haunts my dreams. Yea, even the mighty Scott's butchers, which in its policy of selling as much game as is humanly possible I have hitherto regarded as a beacon of sanity in an…


So Nanowrimo is completed for another year. thank fuck, I can have some kind of existence back I'm reasonably happy with this year's effort, though it will of necessity take quite a lot of polishing . Still, done.

In other news, rumours that Joey Barton is to appear in Mike Myer's new film "So my brother's an axe murderer" are completely unfounded.

Lord, what a day

What with the weather being cold but dry, your intrepid correspondent spent yesterday hiking across many a field in the interests of healthy exercise. The effect of which was rather ruined by the pubs visited at along the route. However, in the interests of research much was gained by the consumption of a different beer at each pub, the results of which are here presented for your edification.

Pub 1 The Robin Hood, Mawdesley

Sensibly, we decided to get the majority of the walking out of the way before the first pub was visited. So a brisk hike hour and a half along the Leeds/Liverpool canal from Burscough took us to Rufford, where we struck out across desolate fields for a further hour or so. The original plan had been to skip the Robin Hood first up, returning to it later on. By the time we arrived, however we were cold, and one of the party had a decidedly mutinous knee. Cue the first pint (and a medicinal Lagavulin, to warm up), which was Phoenix Brewery's Thirsty Moon. Jolly nic…

Things I have learned in the last couple of months.

Well, it's been an interesting couple of months since I made the momentous decision to jack my job in. I got a few odd looks at the time but on balance I think it was the right thing to do. The only problem is the ruinous damage it's done to my bank balance

It's just been so wonderful to have the time to sit down and think about things that a few months ago I was too flat out to bother about, i.e. my future, what I want to do with it and so forth. it's been just as wonderful to get some writing done and to reconnect with the creative side of myself. Lo and behold once I started writing again my mood lifted immeasurably (I wouldn't bandy loaded words like depression about, but I was certainly getting in some foul tempers). The most wonderful thing of all has been falling in love with my girlfriend all over again. Not that I was ever out of love with her, but before I was tired, or she was tired, and on the rare days off we shared the pressure would always be to do so…

Here we go again

Off to the bosom of Mrs Coastaltown's family for the weekend as it's her birthday.

Normal service resumes next week (including Ormskirk's glowing seed pods - the town centre traders strike back). Cheerio.

Things to make and do

I'm learning quite a lot at the moment. This is mostly coming from this years NaNo attempt. On the plus side I'm learning how much easier it is to write when you have a plan to work to, on the minus I'm learning that I really should stick to first person perspective, as my thrd is very weak indeed.

However, it's proving to be enormous fun to write, and several ideas are spinning out from the central themes. I do love the sensation of a story mutating before my very eyes.

The other fun thing was sitting in today on the stuff that I'm going to be teaching next semester. It's been a few years since I've been in formal education, and the most striking thing about it was how fresh it all felt; specifically the sensation of learing things for the first time. The best example I can think of is that, as I was reading through the course bumf on haiku writing a haiku suddenly seemed like a refeshing idea. I've written god knows how many in the past, years ago when …

Get the message

Some of you may recall that quite a long time ago I blogged about a Lincolnshire schoolboy, Alan Penell, who was imprisoned for stabbing a schoolmate to death with a lock knife. What he did, I argued, was reprehensible but not all that surprising. For a small group of people school is unmitigating hell, a weird place with shifting, indefinable rule-sets where the unfortunate can find themselves ostracised and humiliated to the point of absolute desperation. The only surprise is that this sort of thing doesn't happen more often.

Guess what?. The ineivitability of this is as depressing as the actuality, and the root of the problem lies in the parent's response. "The bullying was blown completely out of proportion." Yeah, maybe to you it was, maybe to all his contemporaries who took such delight in it it was just a bit of fun, but to Tommy Kimpton it was a constant source of misery, a prison from which he saw no form of release.

I'm not being an apologist for his acti…

A few days worth of miscellany

What with Nano and what have you, I've let things slide here. Most remiss of me (the Nano itself is going pretty well, better than I expected anyway).

So anyway, I am back in the world of paid employment after my (much needed and much enjoyed) month and a bit off. I am being a barman again, in a pub (which is short term measure, exciting things should be happening in the New Year but I don't want to put the mockers on them by banging on about them now). Now pub bartending is v. v. different from restaurant bartending, the upside being that you don't have to be anywhere near as polite. The down side beng old men who've sat at the same stool for forty years, have "their glass", and assume that you telepathically know their order (such as yesterdays FIRST SHIFT where and old guy wandered up and grunted "usual" at me, to which my response was a fairly understandable "wtf you've never seen me before in your life, nor I you, how on earth do I know…

Ah, jolly good

And in a further improvement to my already pretty good day, I've just been informed that two of poems will be appearing in a forthcoming issue of FIRE magazine. this being the first concrete result from my decision to jack catering in and work on the writing for a while it's given me a significant boost. And so off to lunch.

Fuck me, it's a Triffid

In his usual inimitable manner in the comments below Jimmy makes an excellent point, I am failing in duty as a chronicler of all things Ormskirk if I don't mention the planned "next phase in the Aughton Street Regeneration" (how I love it when town councils attempt to sound like somthing they're doing is, you know, important. I imagine the meetings being interrupted by cries for "the implementation of the primary stage of tea generation" whenever they want to put the kettle on).

Now, I want you all to do something for me (apart from Jim and Robin, who already know the answer). Close your eyes and imagine your town centre. There's probably some tasteful block paving perhaps? A bit of public art? Maybe a clock tower? Now think long and hard about what it's missing, what would really complete the picture? Some civic flowerbeds perhaps? Maybe a replica of the world famous Mannekin Pis?

Wrong. Wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong. What your town centre really nee…

Will it ever stop raining?

Seriously, it's been shitting it down all day here. Dull dull dull.

In other news I am firmly ensconced at my computer wrimoing like crazy. It's all going swimmingly so far (the tactic being to work on several chapters simultaneously, it's astonishing the developments that that throws up) and I have to make sure the net's not on at the time (too many distractions), but it's all going pretty well. hence lack of updating, a situation which should be rectified, I'm sure. And will be, promise.

Matt's travel reviews NE special edition

Now, I've never been much of a one for Faliraki. Thoughts of Benidorm soothe not my quaking breast. The idea of the beaches of Goa fills me with a sensation of mild distaste.

This is not because I have anything against holidays abroad per se. I've had some jolly nice times abroad. Travel broadening the mind and what have you. But abroad is not generally my first choice for a holiday, for much the same reasons as I feel guilty buying new books when so many remain unread.

There are so many parts of this country I haven't seen yet, so many local specialities I haven't eaten yet, so many local beers I haven't drunk to the point of laterality yet. Britain's pretty fucking gorgeous y'know, and the last four days in Northumbria have done nothing to dissuade me from this view.

Let it not be said that I won't let you learn from my mistakes, the town we stayed in (a beknighted place by the name of Amble "Britain's friendliest port" according to its sig…

Short break, back soon

Right, myself and the mrs will be perambulating up hill and down dale in the NE for the next few days, so lack of updating will be down to geography rather than laziness. See you all later.

In other news Eat it!. Coastalblog, standing up for the rights of poor, put upon waiting on staff everywhere.

You just don't get it, do you?

This has also been posted on the marvellousPumpkin Publog, but in the spirit of thriftiness I thought I'd stick it here too, I hate to waste a good rant.

Flic Everett's massively wrongheaded article in today's Guardian says a lot more about her than it does about standards of service in restaurants and bars. Possibly the waiter recommended rosemary potatoes with her chicken because it would have complemented the dish? Possibly replying that you loathe rosemary is a little rude, when it would be politer to smile and say "No thanks"?

Furthermore, where precisely is it written that waiters have to be servile? Good service is a skill, and the skill lies in ensuring that the customer is comfortable, enjoying themselves and has everything they require without being in their face all the time. The skill is not in sucking up to the customer and laughing like a hyena at their pisspoor jokes.

And finally, why can people not simply get it through their heads that if you don&#…


Today. I like the sound of it. Good solid number, and I've always preferred even numbers to odd. Divisible by 1, 2, 4, 7, 14 and 28. Which if you add them together and subtract 28 totals 28. Which is not how many pints I'm having this evening.

Step by step

I note with interest that in the last week the Murdoch papers have run a few stories focussing on Iran's alleged (though you wouldn't know it from reading) training and equipping of the Iraqi insurgency.

Okay, no mention of invasion yet. Just "concern" and the feeling that Iran needs to be a "good neighbour". Anybody else getting a sense of deja vu?

Big-nosed scouser in appalling slur SHOCKER

I was aghast this evening. Aghast. There I was, happily stirring a risotto in the approved smug middle class foodie manner when my complimentary copy of the super, soaraway Ormskirk Champion plonked gracelessly through my letter box. I dove upon it, eager to read of further developments in the Ormskirk Model Boat Society's quixotic battles against the unthinking, blinkered council (can they not see the benefits a giant model boating lake would bring the town? The fools. Hubris awaits), or possibly some satisfying news of how a young lout has helped pay for the costs of the CCTV by depositing his kebab on the expensive new civic block paving (there's a rumour that they fine you double if you hit the coloured bricks). But no, what do I see?

STAR TAKES CHEAP SHOT AT TOWN screamed the headline, so far, so intriguing. Imagine my disgust, then, to discover that the story was about a quote from celebrity Jimmy Durantealike, drugs awareness campaigner and occasional footballer, Mr. Rob…

Who says three into one won't go?

Three things: I am currently unemployed, I am in the middle of putting together a Phd proposal and it's NaNoWriMo next month.

A couple of clarfications, the Phd proposal is nominally based around the idea of writing systematically, NaNoWriMo is the challenge wherein one writes at least 50,000 words in November, the idea being that 50,000 is the lower limit of what could realistically be considered a novel. This Novemeber I have a fair bit of time on my hands, as currently stands.

Anyone spotted where I'm going with this?

Well, given the confluence of factors it seems silly not to, really, doesn't it? So there we go, in November propose to write a systematic novel (not that I think it'll bear any relevance to the actual Phd application, but it'll certainly be interesting to see how the experience differs from the previous two years unstructured efforts)

So here's the deal, rather than taking 50,000 words as the minimum requirement I propose to make it the limit. The…

Oh, so that's going to be the excuse.

Like many of my equally self-satisfied peers I scoffed heartily at the Government's excuses for invading Iraq, whilst knowing that it would occur. And like many of my self-satisfied peers I scoffed heartily at the notion of invading Iran. "No way!" we cried "it doen't matter what justification they come up with, no one will fall for that again!"

So why does the news that the British government is accusing Iran of supplying weapons to the various southern insurgencies leave me with a sinking stomach and a strong whiff of expediency?

Right then

Just to bring everyone up to speed I am now officially unemployed. One of the jobless. A man with no purpose to his existence, no visible means of support and nothing whatsoever to offer society. Despise me.

N.B. This is not strictly true. Having decided to take the plunge and do a Phd I currently working v.v. hard on my proposal. And on editing a novel. And writing some more Ormskirk short stories. And writing those poems for Erbacce that I promised absolutely ages ago. And I can't help but notice that it's NaNoWriMo next month. Of course, none of this actually makes any mad dollaz, but I don't need to worry about that until next year, anyway. So that's all right then.

Somerfield: a review

For weeks all the town has been quivering with anticipation. The talk has been of little else. The world at large may debate ejections from conferences, lottery winning rapists and the successful apllication of a consitution in Iraq. In Ormskirk the talk has been only of the opening of our shiny new Somerfield.

Now, regular readers will be aware of my deeply held antipathy towards Morrisons, and the discovery that one in every eight pounds spent on the high street fills their coffers makes me uneasy about feeding the Tesco monolith. And Waitrose is all the way in bloody Southport. So will the shiny new Somerfield be a Blairite Third Way for me. Will I be able to browse it's shiny white aisles soothed and at peace, picking up those various bits and bobs that I just can't get in the butchers and greengrocers?

Don't be fucking silly. I'm going there for the freakshow.

Somerfield stands on the site of the old Kwik Save. A cheap cheap cheap hellhole where the playing of the t…

Hello there

Been a while, hasn't it? Not to worry, merely one of those hiatuses which occur when there is otherwse a little too much on my plate. Hardly a gap of Stone Rosesesque proportions anyway.

Who, me? Getting ready to leave work. This coming Saturday's my last shift (after which Coastalblog's Guide to the Restaurant-Going Public should be up here before too much longer), after which. Well, there are possibly plans afoot, but I am reluctant to blog about it until everything's a little more concrete. Rest assured, you're going to be sick to death of the sight of me before too much longer though.

Attention Googlers (OSS edition)

The Ormskirk short stories are not remotely pornographic. I fear that writing pornography without suffering from an enormous giggling fit would be entirely beyond me.

Why then, have two recent visiotrs got there via searches for "fucking in car park" and "taxi fucking" respectively? And who is searching for these (to my ear) exceedingly esoteric pleasures?

(Though it's nice to note that people are just plain weird whatever their creed. Clearly these pastimes are what pass for fun in the NW US and Saudi Arabia, respectively. Imagine the potential for international relations as soon as we all come together and declare our love for fucking in improbable locations. Together. As one. Weirdoes)

*crying noises* but I like dwiving!*crying noises, feet stamping, toys getting thrown out of pram*

So I was going to write a lengthy rant expressing my contempt for this years round of fuel protests (though I hesitate to dignify this collective bout of national stroppiness with the nobility of genuine protest) but today's Steve Bell does the job far better than I could ever do.

I will say one thing though. This protest is, really, fuck all to do with tax on fuel. Well, maybe in the case of farmers and hauliers. Fair enough. The rest of you, well, it's more all about the right to listen to Top Gear Classic Drivetime Rock on your way to a conference in the Beckham Suite of the Novotel just outside Nuneaton, isn't it, really? I realised this when one of the fuel protestors (no, that word just doesn't sit right) declared that, under his nom de cockfarmer Captain Gatso he also fights against speed cameras, you know, those devices that restrict the motorists right to kill everyone.

What was it my mum always used to say about compensating for something?

yawn yawn

Why on earth did I give such a long notice period? This is dragging on forever. The only thing keeping me going at work is a grim determination not to conform to the "checked out, not trying any more" stereotype because I'm a PROFESSIONAL goddammit. That being said the end of term feeling is contributing to my being slightly ruder to the customers than usual, including forcing one to apologise to a waitress for yelling "wahey" after she'd dropped some plates. After snapping at him that it was her first shift and she was nervous enough already so why not cut her some slack? Ill mannered sod. And asking one guy who'd spelt his surname (Smith) out to me to repeat himself four times before going "Oh, Smith, right".

I shan't really be sorry to see the back of the place. I've got a lot to be grateful to it for, but I've had enough of the general public for the time being. If catering has taught me one thing, it has taught me that, far fro…

Sticking my oar in

It occurs to me that I am not particularly well qualified to comment on Katrina. I am safely ensconced on the other side of the ocean. I am naturally left leaning in my politics, so the urge to indulge in a bit of knee-jerk Bush-bashing without being in full possession of the facts is almost overwhelming (and thus to be resisted). But there are a couple of facets which are worth pointing up, just in case they get lost in the overall noise.

First up: the egregious and cadaverous U.S. Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff stated "That 'perfect storm' of a combination of catastrophes exceeded the foresight of the planners, and maybe anybody's foresight" in short, there was nothing that could be done, it was a storm of unimaginable proportions. Leaving aside the argument that no storm is of unimaginable proportions, and that a city lying below sea level should perhaps be prepared for the worst case scenario, it's also worth pointing out that Katrina's w…

Saving Ormskirk's soul.

This coastalblog update brought to you thanks to the intrepid reporting of Lesley.

It's not often my walk home is interrupted by an urgent cry of "Matt, you've got to come, there's people stood around the clocktower and they're singing". Not often enough amyway. So I tagged along behind an in-full-flight Jim, to see some genuine Ormskirk weirdness.

We met Lesley on a bench, at a safe distance. There was a group of people there all right, but they'd stopped singing, and instead circled the clocktower as though it were some chi-chi Victorian maypole, banging staffs on the ground at each point of the compass inset into the paving.

With impeccable timing, the alarm went off at work, so I had to go and see to that, but I am informed that Ormskirk is being menaced by a great evil, and this wednesday night ritual is in order to save us from said looming menace, and will continue.

Of course, in a couple of weeks time the students get back, and wednesday night is the…

It is done

Cat, meet pigeons. Pigeons: cat. Notice handed in. Lots of angry people mystified as to why I would voluntarily give up a perfectly well paying job for no (to them) readily apparent reason. Lots of pressure being placed on your humble correspondent to rescind his decision. Lots of talk about money and how I won't have any.

Does the phrase "job satisfaction" not mean a fucking thing to anyone any more?

It's about time

Well, things at work, which have been bubbling along nicely, are about to come to a head.

A brief precis:

Employee A handed his notice in. So Employee B was asked to fill his shoes. Employee A changed his mind but big boss C was having none of it, having been wanting to get shut of employee A for quite some time, and preferring the talented and charismatic employee B anyway. Unfortunately big boss C made a couple of oversights vis a vis his business cash flow, and was forced to sell his business to evil amoral fucks D and E. Evil amoral fuck D is, surprisingly also quite a fan of the dashing, handsome employee B, but evil, amoral fuck E, who does the hiring, is not (due in part to an incident some time ago involving evil, amoral fuck E's assistant manager, egregious lickspittle F and the courageous, upstanding employee B. The owrds "upside your head" were involved). It seems likely that Evil, amoral fuck E will choose to retain the services of employee A.

At which point I&#…

Ormskirk: crime capital of the North

The Chapel Street arsonist is, to my mild surprise, front page news in the Guardian. Sadly they can't be bothered with such a level of detail, confining her crimes to "ormskirk". Coastalblog can, however, scoop Fleet Street by exclusively revealing that two of her arsons were committed here on dear old Chapel Street, and one on Bridge Street. And that there's a baby arsonist copycat who left a nasty scorch mark on the bonnet of an old Datsun Sunny that's parked down the end of the road.

First the Ormskirk Model Boat society fail to get planning permission for a Model Boating lake in the middle of the park (seemingly unaware that no-one gives a monkeys. This was front page Advertiser. I shit you not) and now this. Surely these are the End Times.

And we're back

Right, sorry about that. I only fully realised the full physical impact of my lengthy stint yesterday. Mrs Coastaltown and I had a full day planned, heart-starting game of squash in the morning, followed by trip to Clitheroe to stock up the wine rack. Then a spot of nice dinner and maybe a pint or two. The perfect way to relax. I made it as far as the end od part three before exhaustion rolled right over me. I was in bed by ten. This does not happen very often. Clearly I was saving it all up for a day off, cos I didn't feel that bad whilst I was actually in the midst of the stint. But yesterday, wow.

The obverse of being in bed by ten, however, was that I bounced out of it bright eyed and bushy tailed this morning. Vim, vigour, joys of etc. And so back to a boiling hot word processor to crack on with actual proper work, not just that stuff that brings the money in. I faithfully promise that by the end of today there will be at least three new Ormskirk short stories up. I also promi…

Attention Googlers

So traffic through Coastalblog has increased quite a bit recently, and checking the referrals I can't help but note a lot of Google searches for Liz. I've also noticed a whole bunch of email adresses I don't recognise, and a couple of veeeery interesting IP addresses.

To any of Liz's family and friends searching her name and finding coastalblog: Hi, I'm desperately sorry for your loss, you have all of my sympathy.

To any journos lazily googling for research: go fuck yourselves, you revolting vultures.

Screaming headlines

One other thing, when I was buying the paper this morning, it occurred to me that the apprehension of the would be suicide bomber suspects is the perfect tabloid news event. The assorted headlines "Got the bastards" "You're nicked" and the like were perfectly suited to the tabs particular brand of gormless bellicosity, as though the hacks themselves had tossed the stun grenades into the flats, defeating the Islamist threat with British pluck and muscle.

Of course, given that they are suspects of a serious crime, it wouldn't be at all amusing if it was discovered that they had nothing to do with it. Not funny at all. Oh no.

Note, Coastalblog fervently hopes that the police have caught the guilty parties, and has no reason to doubt that they have, but jesus those headlines were ridiculous


well, for the time being, anyway. Manager on his hols so peace and quiet reigns in the workplace. The downside being that I'm working pretty much every day for the next fortnight. This is coupled by Mrs Coastaltown's home visit for her friend's wedding (there really are a lot of those about at the moment) and sojourn there for an extended period, reasoning that I won't be at home a great deal anyway, which is correct.

The last few days have been enlivened by a few events, though it's best left to Celeste to tell you about the Telegram Incident. It's only when I actually see my friends that I remember how rarely I see them. This isn't as bad as it sounds, it always comes as a pleasant surprise.

Beyond that, little of interest to report really. I'm taking the opportunity to have a good long break from booze. So if the tone of this blog becomes too pollyannish mail me to let me know and I'll start hittingthe wine at a rate of knots. It never does to be t…


Idiot customers are one thing. Great customers are something else altogether. We had a table of quite drunk, very loud and extremely scouse birthday celebrants last night. Pleasant enough, bit of a nuisance, nothing out of the ordinary.

What made the evening was the two kids they'd brought along with them, Scott (8) and Ashley (11).

Now, I have no objection to kids in restaurants at all. Though I do take issue with adults who bring kids along, then sit and get drunk. It doesn't surprise me that kids get bored and run around the place. If you're not going to take care of your children then DON'T GO TO A FUCKING RESTAURANT.

But just occasionally you come across kids who are perfectly capable of amusing themselves without causing havoc, and so it was with these two. I fell hopelessly in love with Ashley when she came round to talk to us "because the grown ups are all drunk, so they're boring", and Scott, who resembled a 1:3 scale Peter Kay was a jolly fellow as…

My idiot customers pt 937

Now you all know how much I enjoy imbecilic exchanges with customers. I cherish their goombah questions, inability to read signs, spectacular mispronunciations (Brie pronounced to rhyme with sigh, Sauvignon Blank, that sort of thing) and general cluelessness with a bright, fierce love that is otherwise reserved for my girlfriend, family, friends and the occasional Pinot Noir(though it has to be pretty damn good). However, I haven't had a genuine weirdo in for a while, so table 53 last night lifted my spirits to levels they haven't reached in a while.

They were fantastic.

For openers they marched right through the restaurant without acknowledging anyone, hammering past an extremely surprised manager, a couple of startled waitresses and an unwary barman before sitting themselves down on a balcony table in the extension (probably the nicest table in the restaurant). They then decided that this wasn't quite far enough for them, opened the french doors and went and stood in the c…

Thank heavens for Philippa

There'sa scene in John Steinbeck's Cannery Row which leapt immediately to mind this morning. Mack and the boys inadvertently trash Doc's house when attempting to throw him a party, and nothing goes right for anyone in town for a long while. A ship is destroyed, a beloved dog falls ill, a man loses his legs:

"There is no explaining a series of misfortunes like that. Every man blames himself. People in their black minds remember sins committed recently and wonder whether they caused the evil sequence."

Well, I hear that. Work has been hell. The tension between myself and the incumbent manager (who knows I'm just waiting now) is reaching interesting levels. We've had one of the hardest shifts I can recall (the full anedotes from which will have to wait for a future post about the idiocy of scouse gangsters - uh-huh) and it's just...There is also an ongoing familial situation (which, as I said before, I'm really not going into here, but it's preyin…


I've been debating internally whether to write this post for a number of days. Partially I do not wish to intrude upon a worry and grief which is only tangentially mine, but then again nor is it something I can ignore. Those of you who are on ILE will know what I mean.

For those who aren't: Elizabeth Daplyn, a contributor to ILX (message boards) and all round excellent human being is still missing after the London bombings of last week. I know Liz only to say hello to online (in addition to ILX we both write for Pumpkin Publog), which is why I've been debating this. It just doen't feel like my place to write a post to mark her. But like the giant squid at the kitchen table it's been nigh on impossible to ignore. So we have this horrible mishmash of half-baked reasoning, seasoned with a little loss as well.

Simplicity seeming to be the best option then I'll just say this. My love and best wishes for Liz, for Rob her boyfriend, for London ILX, ILX as a whole, and b…


I suppose that I should be tackling the issues of the day, in fact I'm certain that many of you would deem it remiss of me if I were to allow the entire G8 diploma-fandango pass without mention.

So there it is.

In other news the world of coastalblog continues to wobble uncertainly on its axis but continue on a vaguely upward trajectory. There are a whole bunch of professional issues extant which it is unwise to discuss on here, there are also an enormous bunch of family issues extant which I am unwilling to talk about on here. So, remove those factors from the equation of my existence and a large proportion of its current structure is excised (hah, I originally typed "id excised"). So what have we left?

Well, I've been cooking and writing up a storm recently (I've started baking again, which I suspect may well be a comfort thing. I don't think I've made scones in about twenty years), the reading continues apace. All good. It was also excellent to get out to …

A quick note about how search engines work

(Having just had a quick glance at the referrals log, and fuelled by my apparently compulsive posting today)

To the person who arrived at Coastalblog via a google search for "Leighton Buzzard + Katey"

(believe it or not, and I didn't myself before a quick look discovered a joke at the expense of that particular town in close proximity to a hello to my dear friend Katey - enough of a conjunction to propel me into the top 5 results for google searches for Leighton Buzzard + Katey, and I suspect I'm rocketing up the rankings the longer this post goes on)

There is probably more than one person in Leighton Buzzard called Katey. You may want to be a little more specific in your search. Like a surname, for example. Brought to you by Coastalblog, your guide to the world of facts.

(actually, the more I think about it, was this person cyber-stalking poor old Katey from Leighton Buzzard? Was this bit of hopeful googling the first, inexperienced and faltering step upon a road which…


And, to follow on from the apt reading detailed below, a timely shot in the arm of ormskirk oddity as I went to buy breakfast. The gambling arcade (free tea and coffee!)was open at ten past nine in the morning. It was full. Every single one of the players was a woman in her seventies, and the entire lot of them were listening to Muse. Very loudly indeed.

Enough of June already

If you realise you're getting old when work starts taking it out of you then sign me up at the local Bowls club. I finished a seven day stint on Tuesday, and have spent the last two days without the energy to do a damn thing apart from read.

Whilst reading I discovered an enteretaining sensation. Re-reading a book you read many years ago and feeling as though it's copied you to a certain extent, though clearly you have absorbed something of it and used it much later. And no, I'm not telling you what book it is. It was a pleasant shock to suddenly have an influence rise unbidden from the mists of a thoroughly fried memory,particularly when it chimes in with something you happen to be working on at the time.

A happy accident, but precious little return for two days off. Dear God, I'm going back to bed.


I thought I was doing pretty well with the 50 book challenge, just coming up to the end of June and I'm twenty five down, so far, so on target. Then I see that Archel is up to forty four already. I am in awe.

This being said I'm pretty happy with how it's going, and there are of course the concomitant creative benefits (alright, alright, blatant piracy if you must, us clever writers refer to it as "inspiration"), as well as the sense of pleasure derived from reading something that looks really really hard in public. Why yes ladies, I am a highbrow sort now you come to ask, care for a Kir Royale?

Another batch of stuff getting sent off to people over the next few days, including (and this is the perfect opportunity to pimp amigo and fellow writer Andrew Taylor's venture) erbacce. Gotta keep busy, there's three or few new Ormskirk Short Stories in the works as well, which should be going up over the next week or so, and editing on the novel continues apace. …

My new hobby

Alright, technically it's not "new", and purely in terms of necessity it can hardly be described as a hobby, but I'm getting back into cooking in a big way. This isn't to say I was ever out of cooking, but my interest in trying myself out has been reignited (after yesterday's successful experiment with an onion and garlic tarte Tatin - which was the first time I've worked with pastry in donkeys years).

So new stuff to try...I just had a quick scan of my bookshelves and realised there are cookery books there that I've never even opened (my manic biblioshopping at work right there). So I think I may work my way through them, I may even mention the more successful attempts up here from time to time, you lucky lucky people.

Incidentally this is the one hundredth post made to coastalblog. I'm so glad it wasn't just some line going "This is the hundredth post! Woooo!" *sniff* my little baby's all grown up....

Kneads must..

Oh to bake on a beautiful day. Such contentment.

Things have been continuing apace of late, certainly as regards career (I can't go into any detail here sadly, as at least one of my waitresses is an occasional reader, hey Flip!), there has, of course been the attendant nightmares of stress and politiics. Intriguing in darkened corners and all of that sort of business. Frankly, I'm not a great deal of use at that sort of thing. It makes me fret and when I fret I get snappy and when I get snappy I drink biblical amounts and when I drink biblical amounts it annoys the bejaysus out of the missus. No good at all.

So today, being as it is my only day off this week, has been dedicated to relaxing as thoroughly as possible without artificial aid (you feel calm, but never really are, I find). The morning was dedicated to manly, outdoor pursuits (translation, I bought a pair of hedge loppers and assaulted the back yard, two would-be trees now lie in bits in bin liners). Exertion aside, an…

How about...

A film about poverty stricken Liverpool families entering gruelling all night dance contests for cash prizes?

Called, obviously They do shoot horses though don't they though?

Five things....

(Or: I'm too distracted to write an actual honest to goodness proper post, so here's another foolish list)

1) Australia get battered by England. Ricky Ponting: "We'll just laugh this off." Next game. Australia get battered by Somerset. Ricky Ponting: "I'm bloody furious"

2) Mark Corrin! Skeletor! Single of the week!

3) Investigating portuguese wines. Why wasn't I told? Mmmm...intense

4) Falling out with the boss. Weight off shoulders. I really couldn't care less any more.

5) The Ormskirk short stories. I have purpose once more (and also a bona fide excuse as to why this post is so short and ill considered. I'm working!)

Like I was saying, don't go by train

Gaah! The journey up was so easy I should have expected trouble on the way back. In theory it's only a short step from Ormskirk. Twenty something minutes to Preston, and a handful of minutes on top of that. We stepped off the train ready for the evening, and happy that we still had plenty of time to enjoy it.

On the way back, however, forget about it. Network Rail, in their infinite wisdom decided to dig up the tracks and not tell anyone (I'd checked with and they assured me that the trains were running. Mind you, they also thought Paddington was the closest tube station to Lords so what do they know? The moral of the story here, clearly, is Don't Trust The Internet. Unless it's your 100% accurate super soaraway Coastalblog, obviously). So they were running buses instead.

God, I hate buses. They take ages, they have to play the lottery that is the motorway (you lose! a five mile tailback!) and you can't get up and move carriages when a baby starts cr…

Things I dislike about the English, part 1.

(I'm Cornish, btw)
This is from a catering perspective.

1) The mealy-mouthed inability to admit that you're a cheapskate. I've lost count of the amount of people who've rung up asking me if I have a "special" menu. I now reply "do you mean a cheap menu?" as standard. See also customers who mutter something about having left the tip on the table and presto, there's no tip there. Newsflash. IT'S NOT FUCKING OBLIGATORY.

2) The fanatical worrying about REALLY UNIMPORTANT BULLSHIT. We're situated next door to a block of flats which has a private car park. The residents have a habit of leaving the gates open (the gates which have the signs on to denote private parking). Naturally the odd customer gets a bit confused and parks there. So this afternoon a red-faced woman came in the retaurant to complain to me that one of my customers had parked in her space. Heaven forbid. She then carried on complaining at me for five minutes (during which time my…

Well, that was fun

What a jolly pleasant few days that was. I always forget how energising just a short change of scenery is. Plus there's the added smug factor of knowing that you've made in effort with family (I'm only half-joking, it is by no means a chore to see my relations, quite the opposite, but my odd days off make it difficult for me to do so, so when I am able to I feel quite the dutiful chap). Lords was enjoyable, even if the cricket was the worst sort of mismatch, and I even found time to get into a ruck with a short fat bearded bloke who felt it necessary to shout racial abuse (as well as a bizarre sequence of non sequiturs) at the action. So that was entertaining.

It was also good to be able to put some faces to names vis a vis ILX (and what a strange coincidence that the very next night Jim, Porl and Cel should have their very own close encounter of the FAP kind) and hopefully I shall do so again, as in my sun-dazed state I'm not sure the poor chaps got a great deal of sen…


Right, I'm off for a couple of days to spend some hard earned money on a lovely birthday dinner for my dear old nan, a couple of nights in a posh it up hotel, a day at Lords and possibly a pint or nine with various pleasant chaps and chapesses. Normal service resumed sometime around the weekend (or whenever my hangover clears)

Hard old life, isn't it?


Once upon a time there was a boy who worked in a pub in a small market town. And in this pub in the small market town drank a motley collection of elderly alcoholic perverts, philosophical gas-fitters, drunken cleaning ladies, avuncular portly homosexuals and a whole bunch of other folks. Their stories, banter, anecdotes and miscellaneous crap filled the air with a heady rich of accents and viewpoints utterly alien to the boy.

After a few years the boy got the idea to mythologise these people, and to cheerfully rip their lives off so he could pass his masters degree, then he read a poem called "on the neglect of figure composition" by Roy Fisher, which posited a "fresh matter of England" and told the story of an english civil war so absurd as to seem plausible, and so the ormskirk sequence was born.

I don't quite seem to be able to shift the sequence from my psyche, the mythologies and characters have burrowed to a level where they are dug in tight, and they aren…

Short (and highly specialised) rant (which isn't that short, now I come to actually write it)

Right, this isn't going to mean a damn thing to anybody, but it's something I need to get off my chest (and hey, it's a blog, right? At least I'm not whining about my relationship or detailing my latest self-harm scars), and it is this.


Now, I'm not about to get into that whole inverse-snob anti-champagne bollocks. I love champagne, I'm not even averse to the odd glass of the above-mentioned BANE OF MY FUCKING EXISTENCE. My quarrel is with the fans of the slightly overrated aforementioned BANE OF MY FUCKING EXISTENCE. It's pleasant enough, but it's not all that. I've tried about fifteen rose champagnes which were far superior, and god knows how many champagnes total. But LP Rose drinkers are the most dogged brand loyalists I've ever met

(explanatory sidenote, champagne is made rose due to the skins of red grapes, primarily pinot noir but occasionally syrah, being allowed to pigmen…

So, written anything any good recently?

I wasn't just spouting off when I stated not so long ago that coastalblog is going to become more "writery". I have been working, or at least attempting jolly hard to, but I have this problem to which I have only recently cottoned on.

I am, by a combination of choice, genetics and necessity a night owl. I read through an old folder the other night and the handwriting uniformly bore the marks of being written by a shaky, possibly drunk man at stupid o'clock. I know from experience that this is when ideas are most likely to strike, that's always how it's been with me.

It's no coincidence, then, that when I moved in with the lovely Mrs Coastaltown who, having a normal job and being a normal person and consequently fond of getting to bed at a reasonable hour the writing dried up. I had become accustomed to writing directly onto the computer, my mind had trained itself to work when faced with a glowing screen at a certain time of the morning (namely between two …

Five things...

...making me happy at the moment (an occasional Coastalblog feature designedto prove that I'm not a bitter husk of a man the whole time)

1) The bandwagonesque George Galloway's idiotic indignation in the face of some even more facile question from Paxo (who is rapidly becoming a caricature of himself). Just watching the egregious opportunist have his evening ruined was my election highlight.

2) Wireless net! I can type this! Whilst sat at the kitchen table!

3) My ticket for Lords at the end of the month came through this morning. So when the first ball of the test summer is bowled, I'll be right there.

4) Tabbouleh. Chop a bunch of flat leaf parlsey, a bunch of coriander, spring onions and cherry tomatoes. Mix with some bulgur wheat and dress with olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, allspice, and cinnamon.

5) Nah, all out of stuff. Back to being a bitter husk.

??? ctd

Ah, Bank holiday weekend. without a doubt the worst shifts of the year. It's not that they're particuklarly hard, though they are busier than usual, it's simply the depressing knowledge that nearly everybody EXCEPT YOU is off work enjoying the sunshine.

Which is why I almost died laughing when the heavens opened yesterday and a deluge of biblical proportions caused Ormskirk to resemble little more than a lake (over which our rabidly territorial Model Boat Enthusiasts would undoubtedly wage another duck pogrom as they famously did over the pond in the park). Ho ho.

But anyway, why the question marks? Well, it just wouldn't be bank holiday weekend without a bemusing exchange with a clueless member of the general public, attempting to book a table.

HIM: Hi, I'd like a table for two at nine fifteen.
ME: Sorry sir, but the kitchen's shutting at half eight tonight.
HIM: Why?
ME: Because we've been open all day. Last bookings are eight fifteen.
HIM: Alright then, I'l…


So a new KP started a little while back, and I was sure I knew his face from somewhere. It annoyed me for several days until I forgot about it.

Then this afternoon the KP (a guy in his late thirties, I get the impression this dishwashing gig is the last chance saloon for him) asked me where I was from. I told him and he smiled.

"Oh yeah, I lived in Cornwall for a while, worked at this pastie shop in Tintagel"

"Tintagel?" I enquired, intrigued, given that I myself used to work in a pastie shop in Tintagel. Can you guess where this is headed?

Yep, thirteen years ago he and I worked together as bakers in teeny tiny Tintagel, Cornwall, and now we work at the same restaurant in little old Ormksirk, Lancashire. So that's where I knew him from. Cripes.

A non-perishable mania

You may recall earlier this year I decided to keep a list of the books I read this year (with the vague intention of reaching fifty by the end of it). Well, I've polished off eighteen of the buggers so far, and this increased rate of bibliovorousness has led to some interesting discoveries.

I won't gush about Murakami, largely because I find myself empathising to a degree which is, if not significant, then at least an irritant. As such I'd be unable to objectively comment (and there's always the attendant fear that rave reviews can bite you in the arse when you re-read, and what struck you at first as dazzling intellectual conceits seem suddenly hackneyed), so no gushing.But suffice to say that I'm rationing them.

It having been many years since I read much in the way of genre fiction it was engaging to get stuck into Dashiell Hammett's novels, I got through Red Harvest in a couple of days. The flat and cynical prose is addictive, though not, I suspect as artless…

Net's fucked, need a router, have a poem.


At low tide, lying flat between two spurs of rock
it avoids it’s own extravagances, what am I I am a sandbar
a conglomerate what is this poem
other than an outpouring what is outpouring but lack of control.
Yes but it’s nonsense what is listening but waiting for a pause
what is structure but attempting to discern a meaning what
is appreciation but the hope of reciprocal flattery what is anger but a tool for getting attention what is a sandbar but the agglomeration of eroded particles
what is your point.

What is the lying quiet sat on sandbar with notebook.
What is the omission of indefinite articles what is.
What is the hegemony of adjectives what is what.

Obviously two flat planes sky sea must I keep repeating myself
there has only ever been one poem written and it is about two big blocks of colour
and the contrast between them, all the rest is editing.
What is editing but simple compression what is compression but distillation what is what is what is.

Out on the sandbar it’s all prayers, p…