The Sun Good News challenge

On the railways

Rail headAnnabelClaude_Monet_-_The_Gare_d'Argenteuil is a pretty slip of a thing. She asked if the train went to Derby, I said I hoped so, and that I liked chatting on trains. She does too. We established that people make mistakes with both our names: she gets called Abigail, and I (ahem) Annabel, occasionally. I admired her beautiful cardigan, a patchwork of different coloured wool, some of it mohair. Either self-deprecatingly or boastingly, she says she got it in a charity shop near where she lives. I congratulate her.

She does not like the news, because it is all so negative. Everything on it is horrible. She saw a woman on “Benefits Street” who pawned the medal her daughter won in an athletics competition: “Where’s my medal?” “We can get tea tonight.” So she stopped watching it. This prompts The Sun Good News Challenge. I found it on the train, and was immediately irritated: a band has got into Britain’s Got Talent as a backhander, it trumpets. Tony Benn was a “rabble-rouser” and supporter of idiotic causes like feminism and disarmament. However, it reports on a primary school teaching mindfulness techniques to pupils: breathing and presence exercises. Hooray! A story in the Sun which pleased me! Though they nearly spoiled it, by ending with a quote from the “Campaign for Real Education”, calling this a waste of time. Annabel has bought the Sun once, for a calendar with pictures of the Royal Family including Prince George.

She works in something like credit control, only chasing up suppliers: sometimes there are problems with the supply chain, and she sorts them out. She has been there for six File:Hans Baluschek - Die Eisenbahn No. 6 (1898).jpgmonths. Before, she worked in a hotel. She liked talking to people. People in the office are really lovely. So why consume news at all? We learn how the world is from our experience of other people.

I notice that I am making all the conversation, and am abashed. “You do that very quickly,” she says, admiringly, as I do the futoshiki puzzle, so I explain it to her. It is just practice, I say, but she does not like puzzles.

No chat on the train to Swanston, though a couple:
-It’s not a club, it’s this funny social thing.
-Oh come on, guys, you’ve got to grow up sometime.
“Why?” I said. “It’s crap when you’ve grown up, I assure you.” This elicited laughter, but they went back to looking at their magazine. Later a snippet of conversation: “Having drugs isn’t a bad thing.”

And I found this wonderful sign in the loo. I have heard of fake signs in the Tube, though never seen one: making it look almost like a sign East Midlands Trains might exhibit may make it stay longer. Never flush your hopes and dreams.

Also visiting B was A, who is in the band Gibbet Hill. I said it was “listenable”, and she might have thought me dismissive: she explained she first was paid to go on stage aged 14, so that is a fifty year stage career, and because of contacts in the University music department the band has once supported Guns and Roses, and played various festivals. Relations are so poor that when S phoned to say that the hospital recommended fewer visitors, as too many could be stressful, J thought F was lying, and getting at her.

Good news

Angel in GreenThis is a security announcement. You are under the threat of imminent death from terrorist attack. It is your duty to report anything suspicious to the armed police who patrol this station for your safety. If you stray more than two feet from your handbag it will be subjected to a controlled explosion. Mind the gap between the train and the platform. Because of bad weather we are providing a reduced service today: you are advised to check our website before travelling. [Not the most useful announcement in a station.] And may God have mercy on you all.

A series of IT disasters and other fiascos have wasted hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money. The UN calls the Conservative government racist, and the Tories call the UN hysterical. Terrorists are coming into the UK through the Common Travel Area with Ireland. Nick Clegg, asked how he wins people over in debates, said I always try to keep a good sense of humour, and if I have an argument with someone, to keep the argument about what the argument is about and not allow it too often to become sort of personal. I make one exception, for a man named Ed Balls”: the headline is Clegg v Balls: it’s personal. Not, oddly, Clegg prefers to keep debate to the Issues.

The Times is the paper of record, neutral between the main parties: stories are matched, Mr Miliband’s incompetence and Mr Cameron’s uselessness. Disaster stalks the country: Gatwick investigation after ‘Third World’ chaos.

What of this? The National Grid pays “constraint payments” when it does not buy electricity from particular suppliers. Power demand is subject to peaks and troughs, and so generating capacity has to be on call: where it is not used, suppliers are compensated. This is the kind of technical information which would make me nod wisely and pass to the next thought: I don’t want great detail. But The Times reports this as a “huge bill to leave turbines idle”. It is a “record” amount because there is an increasing number of those beautiful, majestic wind turbines. Tory Peter Lilley calls it “taking money from the pockets of poor people to subsidise rich landowners”. Beware Tories speaking up for the poor against the rich: his real target is green energy. The Times starts with the Anger at the Waste, and only at the bottom of the column is the allusion to balancing costs, which I have supplemented here from my own knowledge.

The Opinion pages have a Christmassy article- the irrelevance of the Church of England- and how the Tories pardon Alan Turing in order to appear Modern even though they have jettisoned their green policies and incite hatred against Benefit Scroungers and Immigrants. They criticise negativity while indulging in it- as do I.

To Cardiff

800px-Rain_Steam_and_Speed_the_Great_Western_RailwayI met a lawyer I liked!

The train from Paddington is fairly crowded, but we have a table between us. He is about thirty, in a rugby shirt with a neat beard. “That looks antique,” I said, approvingly, of his briefcase: it is thick stressed leather. It would not start a conversation unless he were happy to join in, but he is: he shows all the papers in it. He has a busy Christmas break ahead.

He clerks for a judge, and has files to assess before he returns to London: are there grounds to justify hearing an appeal? He finds that the cuts in legal aid may have increased the number of appeals: there are far more litigants in person. This saves no government money, because the cases take twice as long. On immigration cases, there may be more claims, as before someone might not appeal if legal aid was not granted, but now, knowing a few people who have taken a case themselves, they have a go. One woman had been housed in one town, near people from her country but not those who spoke her language or shared her Christian denomination. She wanted to move to join her community, but as her only ground for a challenge was “homelessness” her claim was hopeless. He sympathised, and wished that something could be done administratively.

Employment cases will be reduced, though, with the huge increase in fees for lodging a claim or fixing a hearing.

He loves London, and cannot imagine living anywhere else. It would just be too small. He had a year in New York, and imagines that he could get fed up with that; but in London you are in your own particular village within it, which has a human scale. He would like to use it better, more concerts, more theatre, and art exhibitions, but does not get round to that.

ParnaggiHe recommends Mahler’s sixth symphony. It is profound. It contains the three hammer blows of fate: the end of his marriage to Alma and his daughter’s death- and one other. G would go anywhere in Britain for a performance of it. He played the trumpet in youth orchestras. As a brass player, he has great affection for John Williams: other composers use brass as the fanfare section, but Williams gives the brass melodies. When about to go to university considered schools of music; but it is difficult to make a living and he judged he did not have the wholly exceptional talent needed to live well. As a trumpeter, given the choice of one night playing Shostakovich or six nights playing for The Lion King, he would have to pick the musical.

His phone rings. “Do you mind if I take this?” Oh, of course. I open my kindle intending not to listen in rather than covering up my listening in. I fail: his friend tells him he is getting married, and asks him to be best man.

He did a year of journalism school before being called to the bar, and appreciates a particular Guardian interviewer, who can put a character on the page. It passes all understanding. Later, I see he is a PhD candidate.

Looking at the Vavatch Orbital site, I felt envy. This is a man’s student site, and he has packed his third decade with interest and achievement. I choose to change that to appreciation. I delight in his enthusiasm and his good will.

Being polite

RAF portrait small file

kilt portrait croppedUp to London, then up to Edinburgh, all in one week. I had no conversations on the train, at all, which disappointed me. I cut cheese for lunch on Tuesday 12th, and the man next to me gave me a wet-wipe to clean my penknife. “Be prepared is my motto”, he said. Well- I lifted the knife. He had thought of getting one, but they are £19. Several people helped me with my heavy case, going south.

I wrote that on my last leg, then a man sat opposite, and we chatted. He is a chemical engineer from Ohio. His daughter is 13, and wants to be a writer: at the moment she is devouring books, hundreds of pages a day. He adopted a child belonging to a neighbour, and the child thereby avoided a life of crime. Despite this, I found his talk boring, perhaps for lack of affect.

I had wondered why I had not been subjected to a medical for my ESA yet- but I saw the GP on Monday, and she told me that it was time to put some structure in my life. Then, perhaps my face fell, perhaps it was my bereavement, she gave me another three months. Stopping being on the sick does not put structure in my life, it makes me sign on every two weeks, and possibly get sanctioned. Possibly SEMA expect GPs to put us off the sick, rather than doing it themselves.

I got the 9.20 bus, and my sister picked me up at Waverley at 4.10. As I thought, we were polite to each other. That evening, we could have talked but I was finishing off my draft minutes for AM. Then we could have talked, but she was watching soaps. So, rather than getting drunk, and weeping together, and sharing our feelings, we were polite, and went to bed around ten.

The next night I watched her daughter, who continues her Architecture course, design a building by CAD, loving the way she manipulated it. She creates disabled access, and the principle is that the disabled person’s experience of the building should be the same as that of the able person. No going round the back for disabled access. I looked through Dad’s photographs, and my nephew looked too.

And- I just passed them to him. We did not discuss them. I did not point anything out to him. So while I resented how polite and flat of affect we were, as I predicted, here was I at least taking my part in creating that. I don’t know whether we could have expressed real feeling. It could be worse, fighting and blaming each other would be worse than mere politeness. We refer to when I will next be in Edinburgh, but I do not know if I will ever see them again.

The funeral was beautiful. We started in St Vincent’s church, where Dad worshipped for years, and where the presbyter Rodney, 87, was his good friend. Rodney celebrated the Eucharist, and preached, then preached again at the crematorium.

It had been suggested that I not share the funeral car with Dad’s wife, but I did, and six of us drove in a silent dream up the hill through new town and old town. Beautiful city. Past the Liberton hospital, which is a happy memory for me.

The crematorium is being renovated, so we had the smaller chapel, which seats fifty: we had people standing at the back. Rodney spoke of Eternal life, the life with God, more than once saying “Which Alec is now experiencing” and I thought, I do not believe in that; but his voice is beautiful. The family wore black, which I had not thought to do, and Dad’s wife asked me to the line at the end, greeting everyone, which surprised me. Form’s sake, or sympathy, I do not know. Bomber Command Association and dancers and walkers and Piskies and friends: none I really recognised.

Next day, my sister went back to work and her daughter lay in bed as I scanned those photos. I had nothing to say to her, hardly even meaningless expressions of good will.

Poor employers

The ticket-collector stopped and chatted to the two men at the opposite table, and of course I earwigged. They are on a work to rule, at the moment. The management is dreadful. Their staffing levels are stupid and wrong. You can’t provide a decent service, he is ashamed. They have got the stops wrong, too. This is an express, and South of Swanston it provides a suburban rail service, which would not be so bad if they had suburban rail prices.

There is all this disruption for the []
-Some of us remember the Bedford electrification, says the older man. It was going to be so much faster, and we put up with it for five years, and it was slower than before.

When they get onto card readers, I join in the conversation. The man is willing enough, and explains how Oyster is outdated. Payment by proximity, rather than touch, of your “Barclaycard”. Barclays was the first bank to provide credit cards, and in the 70s that is what we called it.

The ticket collector moves on, and we discuss Government computer systems. They used to be in the union, and now they run a small charity for rail workers. The fact that they are wearing the same tie is a coincidence.

-We saw a closed shop agreement, from the 90s, just once. We looked at it as if it was the Domesday book.
-It worked. The management and the union got together, and agreed where a worker would go. If you were cleaning the toilets, you knew you would be moved on eventually. Now, they get immigrants to clean the toilets.

He insists that his office cleaner gets paid the Living wage for the time in his office. They exchanged emails when it went up last month. The contractor said he would rather pay that but his other customers would not stand for it.

ScotrailI have done employment tribunals, and he has seen them from both sides. Employers can come out biting scratching and gouging, I say, and tell of the forger.

He has a discipline problem now. The man is not doing the work. All the other workers know it, and they want rid of him too. He just draws a salary. He claimed to have gone to a station in Norfolk, which is a day’s work, with the travel- only that station is unmanned!

He laughs.

-But that would be gross misconduct, claiming to do work you have not done.
-[] who did the investigation could not make it stick.

Odd: certain gross misconduct, with insufficient evidence, which still definitely happened. He tells me of how the poor employer can get caught if he puts a foot wrong with the procedure, which is not quite true: the employer can “lose”, but still not pay damages.

-One man thought he would take us for thousands, and all he got was a reference!

I had a woman who took a reference. She was pregnant, and could not face the hearing. She was angry that the defence said she was a sulky teenager who never did any work, and the reference said she was a saint in human form.
-That is very unfair to the next employer, he says.

But from spending time with her, I thought the reference was more likely correct than the defence.


Monet trainOn the train, I got a seat with a table, but no-one sits there for me to chat to. I have to eaves-drop.

A man tells very slowly of his company, which was particularly good at publishing, but not so effective at retailing, finding another company which had a strong retail arm, but was weak in publishing. “So, we did a deal”, he says, his voice rising, happy and excited and hoping to create sympathy in his listeners- or rather, his companions. They “gave” the other company their retail arm and took over the other’s publishing. And it has worked out very well. This must be a simplification. He also tells his young, Hong Kong Chinese listeners that it can snow here in March, and they make appropriately surprised and admiring noises.

A man the other side of the carriage is holding forth to a younger woman about Relationships. “There is a thread between you. But if you pull too hard on it…” he pauses, expectantly. She co-operates- “It will snap?” Precisely. At Luton, he starts talking of Fate, and that lets me join in. What does he mean by Fate? She is happy enough to move her handbag, for me to join them.

When he opened his first restaurant, there had been three previous owners who had all put in a lot of money to the business, but not been able to make a profit. He made the restaurant work. That was Fate.

Fate, it seems, arises from character. He did not care about profit, particularly, he gave half his profits away. He would work all night without eating. He got a good chef-

we look at each other. Yes, a chef is very important in a restaurant-

saint-lazare, arrival of the normandy-trainwho had been dismissed several times, because he would not make dishes in the ways his employers demanded. He let the man cook as he wanted. (There may be exceptions to Rilke’s view.) He got an excellent waiter. The man could sell a lump of dough on a plate. His business is like a family. When he had to go to hospital for six months, it ran itself. All he did was sign the cheques. He guesses my age at 49-51, which we do not find flattering- she thinks I look younger than I am- but work into a complement as it must be to do with how collected and wise I am. He puts her at 24-28: correct, she says, she is 24. I would put him in his thirties, but do not ask. He asks our names.

-And yours?
-Mr X, he teases, and Roberta plays along, cajoling. He is Tahreem, and we practise getting the “h” right.

-You are a writer, yes?

I am confused, for a moment, thinking of Scott Adams- you are a thief as soon as you steal something, but he was not a cartoonist until he had something published. Er- yes. Perhaps it is my way of showing interest, and joining the conversation.
-What do you write about?
-Anything that takes my interest. I will write about this conversation.

At his request, I give him my blog address. We have stopped at Bedford, and Roberta dashed to the door, not wanting to be stuck inside when the doors close, but he waits long enough for me to write it out.

Red telephone box

Rose's picture 2After coffee, I skived off, and walked up the path. I found myself in Ladybower, wigless, in wellies and jeans with a detectable odour of manure. The road, single track on a steep hill, curved round between large detached houses. To my left when I left the path I see a red telephone box. Does it work?

It is quite unlike the phone box outside my flat, of the replacement design. There, children have taken care to smash all the glass and remove the handset. There is a groove in the metal as if someone has taken a hacksaw to it, but that was too much trouble. This has all its glass intact, and a working phone within.

phone boxThere is a notice dated 2009 saying that as people object so strongly to the removal of this Great British Heritage object, BT leave them, but cease to maintain them. Locals may sponsor the phone box. It is filled with cobwebs, and its coin slot has been blocked: one may use a credit card.

I walked up a hill, on a straight path through woods. At one point I could see Bamford to my right, at another there were blackberries- and it is the phone box I choose to tell you about. Filled with cobwebs? Well, two or three cobwebs were covered with thick dust. Either someone could have cleaned it, rather than organised a “Save our Phonebox” campaign, or no-one cared about this one.

I’ve been at the Proust again. I don’t quite get it, but it is something about the feeling rather than the surface mattering.

Outside Sheffield station is a huge water feature, water flowing over metal. I sat in the sun drinking coffee, with fifty minutes to wait for my train to Bamford, and a smelly drunk approached me. He started by saying he needed the train fare to Doncaster, but then tried a different track. Ten years ago he was a company director. He had a few problems. Look at that car-park? He could build it far better than that, by himself. He has great building skills. So he would start a company, I would own 51% of it, and if I put up £100,000 to buy land and materials he would double that in four months, building a house on it.

Another man came over a couple of times, to use his lighter, then hung about a few yards away.

I did not mind hearing the story. At the end I did not explain that I did not have even £1000, but I did say I did not have that sort of money. Not did I have any spare change for a cup of tea.

Back at Swanston, I lugged my case from the station to the supermarket, where there was a choir singing on the grass, or screeching, rather, with a rock-band recorded accompaniment. It is the weight of the case I was lugging, made me- angry, I suppose, for the energy or determination that would give me to carry it. That affected the way I heard the choir. On the bus I chatted to a woman who had endured six buses with her dog Razzle. The dog was now fed up and uncooperative. She would have driven him to the vet for his arthritis injection, but she had broken her foot. Now sitting, all the carrying at an end, I could listen and sympathise.

Click to enlarge

On the train

File:Vincent van Gogh - Bridges across the Seine at Asnieres.jpg File:'Clovis Dardentor' by Léon Benett 30.jpgI felt some apprehension sitting across the aisle from Kate, who is one, but she was smiling and babbling happily. Her mother chattered away to her, and we talked of tantrums. I had one recently, it was delightful and liberating. No-one can object to them, we have all been there. However she gets embarrassed: she does not want to be the person she hated travelling with two years ago.

As she promised, when Kate started to cry, the mother took her to the vestibule, and soothed her to sleep. Then she came back, and slept too. Despite the baby-stains on her jeans, she was elegant: it could be her self-assuredness. None of the stress of motherhood is apparent. Later, another mother with an 18-month old son got on, and sat beside her. The boy played happily with his Tombliboos.

I looked at the document on the lap of the woman beside me. It told how “traditional” shoppers could be given permission to buy packaged salads and stir-fries: It is quicker, and cheaper, there is more variety. I asked her what traditional shoppers were. They are the people who like fresh food displayed traditionally, as in the 50s and 60s. What, Septuagenarians? No, people learn their food habits from their parents. And we need permission: if you think that such packets are too expensive, you need persuaded to use them. If you have a lot of salad, you will always have a lettuce in the fridge, but not if you use them occasionally.

File:'The Begum's Fortune' by Léon Benett 30.jpgMmm. Supermarkets educate their customers to use what they provide. She does market research: the chains have all the sales data, but she talks to the customers. It’s a job, she supposes. She is working in Tesco Express shops, and she travels from London to York today to research.

Then an old woman gets on, with CND earrings, a CND pendant, a CND patch on her rucksack and a touch of BO. I get her chatting, from her Guardian- we agree acid attacks on women in India are horrifying, and she talks of her voluntary work there when she first retired. She is stressed by the world- violence as in the Yugoslav war, and global warming, and talked of horror, not hope.

J told me of teaching. When she heard on the news one of her former pupils had been stabbed in the neck in a phone box, she was not surprised: he was one of two pupils she would call evil. She taught him in an FE college: the lads had to have classes in basic English and maths, though they larked around. One, not in her class, came in and sat quietly with his computer: she asked him once or twice why he was there, but he asked nicely and was not disruptive. She found later he was downloading porn. The boy later murdered was very disruptive, and once she took him out of the classroom and was going to make him sit in the “study suite”- an empty room with desks- when the deputy head came past. He sent her back into her classroom, then sent the boy back after her. She could not exclude him. Her authority so completely undermined, she resigned.

File:Claude Monet - The Gare d'Argenteuil.jpg


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOn the train, the young woman is overflowing with happiness: last night, she met a school friend she had not seen for eighteen years, and now she has a date. We giggled together at the announcement that tickets sold on Easyjet planes are not valid on this service, and then as we passed the First Capital Connect stopping-service, we giggled again. “Easyjet passengers!”

Mmm. Young. 18 years since school. Hmmmm…

H is noticing aging, having just passed a Life Event: her 50th birthday. She celebrated, and she considers life, and doors closing. She notices that she does not recover from a pulled muscle as quickly as she would. My nephew broke his leg very badly, so that it was shorter than the other: he endured further treatment to lengthen the shorter leg, over about a year. I watched him walking, taking precise care to keep his pelvis level, and we walk through Regent’s Park in the sunshine mimicking this shorter-leg walking. I only notice her limp because of the noise her backpack makes.

S has also been thinking of aging, and of aches and pains, which frighten her.
-My father used to hang out in this café with other old Jews.
-Do you feel the need to hang out with [slight pause, concerned- should I say “Jewish people”?] other Jews?

“Some of my best friends are Jews”, she says, which makes me guffaw. She recognises the irony. She has the Synagogue choir, and various friends, and that is enough, really.

I do not “know what she feels”. I only have my own experience: being slightly alien, and wanting to honour that as well as to fit in and be normal and rub along with everyone, rather than retreating to a small group of particular like-minded folk. Just like everyone, I suppose.

F has been very ill, and her GP did not spot it in time. She explains precisely what it is, and how it may be cured. She went to him, and he checked one level which was abnormally low, and said he would want to see how it was in a week. The next week she could hardly walk, and the level was a quarter what it ought to be. She could see him protecting his back: her control makes the anger more frightening.

She drove herself to casualty, and was there six hours among the drunks and the suicide attempts, and then she saw a doctor, and as soon as she saw him she realised he was a Healer, and everything would be alright. Mmm. Some doctors are healers, some are scientists with no empathy at all.

I got irritated with her ascribing it to aging. If an ill is “because I am getting older”, then it can only get worse. If an ill is something going wrong, then it may be fixed.

Ted had cheese puns. What cheese gets a bear down from a tree? Come on, bear!!!

We went to the rose garden and smelled the roses. Some smelled of not much, but one or two were heavenly, and for a glorious moment knocked everything else out of my mind.

Taking the gloves off Thameslink train stops at Blackfriars station. There is blue plastic stuff covering up something- work in progress, probably- but through it- gosh! That’s the Thames. A station on a bridge over the river! How cool is that?

Thameslink has not been operating long. Now, I can go down two levels at St Pancras to the new Thameslink platform straight from the Swanston train, and-

yes, I know, not everyone finds railway stuff fascinating. But Will, a Cockney, did not know of it. Victoria was the station for Brighton as far as he knew.

You leant your head against that instrument as if it were alive, I said to the young man in the bright red coat.
-It is, just about, he says.
-Yes, I know, I play the piano.

His friend plays keyboards, and often rags him about not having to cart his own instrument everywhere.

There were two toddlers on the train who wanted to go and look at the baby. No matter how young the child, they always love playing the adult to a younger child. “Yes”, says the mother, “and at their age there aren’t that many children they can do that with”.
-They’re changing the nappy,” says one girl, happily. More than I really wanted to know.

File:Pierre-Auguste Renoir - Children on the Seashore, Guernsey - Google Art Project.jpgThe child had wailed to have its nappy changed, and a few minutes later is wailing for some other reason. The most distressing sound there is, I understand, we are all programmed that way- and I listen to it with my happiness undimmed. Imagine, to have trauma repeated many times daily, that awful succession of needs you cannot satisfy except by wailing- imagine the abandoned misery of the wailing- Thank God we don’t remember it!
Perhaps we do-

And there were the two women: getting on, one said “I’m glad I can face the direction of travel, as I won’t be sick now” and I said “I’m glad you’re facing the direction of travel too”. They grinned, and got out their respective phones to check the Textstorm and emails. Only briefly, they did start chatting to each other eventually. A man pointed out that if the train crashes into something, those facing the rear have the spring of the seat to take the shock- though you would also have me thrust forward onto your face over the table.

This morning, on the seafront at Brighton in bright sun and strong wind- too strong for a dinghy, but I would have loved to be on the lone yacht tacking into the wind out there- I saw a man with headphones, and thought-

Why should you walk through the field in gloves,
O fat white woman whom nobody loves?
The grass is as soft as the breast of doves
and shivering sweet to the touch
Why should you walk through the fields in gloves,
Missing so much, and so much?

So I am taking the gloves off. My thought yesterday was,

I want to value my fragility

and this feels like-

No, not a pupation, but a step forward. A useful lesson. My sensitivity is a gift and a burden, one I have so resented, and I want to stop kicking against the goads. So- value it, perhaps even use it!- perhaps later. Baby steps. “Fragility”- a bad thing, a dangerous thing for me, Shadow, something to deny-

something to acknowledge.

I had a new appreciation for that Lowry I saw at the Lowry Centre, after seeing the sea today, the swell crashing on the beach, the colour of it; and I thought with friends in this place I am Happy. That is the first time I have used that tag in 620 posts!