Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Some of My Favourite Things

Don’t you just hate those questions so beloved of the tossers who design on-line security systems that ask for you favourite something or other?. The ubiquitous question that no one else was supposed to be able to answer was What is your mother’s maiden name? Although it survived into the Internet age, I think this has  finally had it’s day.

Now we get ‘favourites’. What is your favourite movie (not film you notice, but movie), name, team, song, band etc. These are the sort of questions that six-year olds could probably answer but after the age of about 14 most people start to recognise that it is possible to have, for example, two best friends (one male and one female, springs to mind), and the exclusivity of ‘best’ loses some of its power - and with it goes the difficulty of remembering which one you filled in on the form.

I have a secret system for answering these questions as they are unavoidable if you want to use the Internet, but I can’t tell you what it is as that would render the whole damn exercise completely pointless.

Having thought about it for a while I realise that I do also have some real favourites. They are few in number and although I think they are absolute, sod’s law says that some of them are likely to change. Regardless I think it is fair to say none of the on-line security-toss questions have ever asked for any of them. 

I have a favourite beer and a favourite back-up beer in case the first one is off. I have a favourite vehicle and I have a favourite building. Manchester Town Hall.

 
I first visited it in 19blah-de-blah when I didn't really notice it, it was just 'there'. I went back with the Zap Club on Tour in 1985 ish and got to wander around the place at will. This included much-roaming-on-the-roof which is a truly fantastic space and should be required visiting for anyone who likes going where they shouldn’t.

Neil being where he shouldn't.
Having said that, if I was asked to choose between Manchester Town Hall and St Pancras Station (including the hotel which is the most visible bit) I would be hard pressed to answer. Probably just as well this is not going to happen.



By a strange coincidence another of my favourites is also in Manchester. I have visited Jamie and Sarah there a couple of times in the last few years. On both occasions we have trawled the 'best' bars which include a pub with the biggest selection of single malts since the last one to make the same claim. Another had been a public toilet.


and The Deaf Institute

 

My mum always had areas of blue and white style wallpaper and fabric scattered around the house. It was a classic style featuring 17th century rustic French scenes. One was usually a young girl on a swing flashing her ankles at a young man on a horse who was obviously thinking about swapping his mount. They looked a bit like this:


Another version had a shepherdesses and some other young man looking at each other.Well, let’s face it, there’s not much to do in the French countryside today, let alone in the 17th century before the joys of the Internet. Suffice to say that this attempt at some sort of Marie-Antoinette / Sun-King culture has always rankled, partly because it's so crass and partly because it's complete crap.

So it was with some surprise that I discovered that the Deaf Institute has the very same wallpaper. Well not quite the same, rather than blue this was in pink but otherwise identical. This is what I saw:


What was going on? This was a young person's dive. A chilled (and very pricey) bar downstairs, and a pumping live music venue with proscenium arched stage above. Very c-o-o-l flyers and posters advertised gigs that would probably not let me in on grounds of letting the side down. So what were they doing with my mother’s wallpaper?

Closer inspection revealed that I had merely imagined the sample illustrated above. Their version was a London-themed pastiche. 

Out, were the swings, shepherdesses, pony carts and young men in panting breeches. In, was an old man in a turban getting his breath back on a park bench


Cool dudes, coolly dude-ing next to what I think might be a small tower-clock on the Harrow Road and Ladbroke Grove’s Trellick Tower in the background.

.


A woman with a trolley, St Paul's and a Gherkin being ignored by a striding man on a mobile

 
Rapper style gun-crime (with cones)


Street-drinking-on-Thames 


And rather more bizarrely, a young black kid riding bike with training-wheels in a tree (at lease, I thinks it's a black kid and I think he's in a tree)


I never realised that I had a favourite wallpaper, but I am beginning to suspect that this might be it - not that I'd want to live with it, but I'm quite happy to visit it occasionally.

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