Despite the general gloom (a viciously rightwing government intent on grinding our faces into the dirt, environmental collapse, all the marking, deadlines etc. etc.), it's actually been a rather lovely few days for those of us here in Vole Towers.
Quite a lot of the weekend was spent in my favourite city, Manchester. If it wasn't for their football teams' blend of arrogance and entitlement, it would be the best place on earth. Fine food was eaten, beautiful beers were consumed in fine independent establishments like the Port Street Beer House, arty gifts were bought and we saw Ride, reformed and in amazing form at the Manchester Albert Hall, a venue suspended in decaying beauty. The same goes for the crowd actually. The band looked trim and barely aged, and the audience had unearthed all its shoe gazing and baggy clobber for the occasion: t-shirts from back in the day and a fine collection of Italian leisure wear last glimpsed on the terraces in 1991, worn by (mostly) chaps whose jowls, hairlines and paunches hadn't stayed quite so pristine. I sang along to all the songs, as did most of those present, and the band soaked up the adoration. By the time they name checked their favourite Manchester bands we were eating out of their hands.
Back at work, we hosted a talk by Narinder Dhami, author of 200-300 childrens' books (so far), ranging from novelisations of Bend It Like Beckham to her 'Bindi Babes' series and crossing genres from light comedy to (in her new novel 13 Hours) thrillers. With her mother and sister in the audience, she read extracts from the new novel, talked about basing characters and events on her childhood, avoiding 'issues' writing, the work involved in being a prolific author, how to get published and stay current, her relationship with fans and the writing process itself. Afterwards we went for dinner and I spent a long time chatting with her husband about our mutual favourite subjects: leftwing literature and photography. It sure beats moaning about marking.
I took a few photos:
I spent the rest of the sunny evening on grass