Thursday, December 29, 2005

Ships that pass...

We've been busy okay. Very, very busy.

Doing what? I hear you ask. For starters, busy going through the mountains of paper one tends to accumulate on a daily basis.

I have realised that most of my paper comes through the letter flap on the front door. I keep thinking that if I nailed that down it would take care of the paper problem. Ian would argue that if I just sorted through it each day THAT would take care of the paper problem but that is a little too practical.

Until last weekend I had not dealt with my paper for a year at least and, much to my horror, I discovered that it was endlessly HUGE. There was paper spilling out of the boxes under the bed, piles of it in the spare room, unopened envelopes of junk mail and bank statements in shopping bags at the back of the wardrobe and at least half a dozen stashes of receipts where I had obviously emptied my purse with the intention of sorting them out. Huh.

So I spent an entire Saturday afternoon knee deep in what amounted to, well, a goodly corner of the Amazonian rainforests. And to think that what I sorted through was just my paper. I'll let Ian share what he has waded through since last week.

Poor boy. He looks a little wide eyed in a manic kind of way at the moment. We seem to whirr around each other as we attempt to sort our respective stuff out. We have not had a proper conversation for a few weeks now. We do talk. But they seem to be short conversations made up of short sentences. They go something like this;

Ian: Have you cancelled the cable?
Me: Yes.
Ian: Good.
Me: What about the gas and electricity.
Ian: Done.
Me: Good.
Ian: Don't get me started on the council tax people.
Me: Okay.
Ian: Good. Lets eat.

We then mince around the kitchen passing off another meal of pasta with pesto or a jar of Lloyd Grossman as healthy and fall in front of an episode of Lost in an effort to ward off the reality that in just over 2 weeks, our life as we know it will end and we will be flung halfway around the world and be expected to start a new one.

I can't tell you how anxious that makes me.

Truth be told I'm looking a little manic at the moment too. I seem to have lost the will to live the every day mundanity. I stare into the fridge and try to remember what it felt like to be able to make a meal out of 2 or 3 ingredients. Which I suspect is the reason we are eating meals that take no more than 3 and a half minutes from jar to plate. I just don't seem to have the mental energy to think about how much of any vegetable I need to make a meal for 2. That probably explains why I have put on weight and am craving coffee at midnight and red wine at 10am. God help me.

We are off to see James, PJ and the kids tonight to spend, what amounts to, the last couple of days we will be spending with them for a long time. I am so looking forward to seeing them and spending quality time in their wonderful company. I just want to avoid thinking about the moment we have to say goodbye and simply enjoy each moment as it comes. I really do.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

In Between Daze...

This blog was an attempt to keep track of the days as they passed. Our last days in England to be precise. Which were not that many really so to date this is a pretty poor attempt. If someone were to read this in 1,000 years time they would think nothing more than how crap we were a keeping a diary.

So, what have we been doing for the last week?

I hosted a Champagne Tasting evening for our Women in Business network. It was a pretty good event by all accounts but then again when you mix Champagne and women you can guarantee that hilarity will ensue.

We included an informal quiz where we asked the women to guess how much they thought the Champagne they were tasting cost. The prices ranged from £7.99 through to £79.99 a bottle. Only one woman guessed the most expensive (Vintage Dom Perignon if case you were wondering) and one pair thought the £7.99 Cava was worth £79.99. Philistines.

The woman who ran the evening for us owns a speciality wine shop in West Didsbury called Reserve Wines and was brilliant. And she kindly let me take the left over DP home for Ian, who I failed to tell that I'd already had 3 glasses of the stuff.

We got up the next morning at 4.30 am to catch our 7.00 am flight for Belfast. Bad planning in some respects but it was nice being up in that pre-dawn crisp air as we dragged our bags to the train station at 5.00 am.

We were off to visit our friends Irene and Bill who actually live in just outside Sligo, a 3 hour drive from Belfast. They met us in Enniskillen and had a lovely meandering drive back to their village of Ballymote. We lunch in a village called Blacklion just over the boarder into Ireland and 3 hot whiskies in a pub in a village the name of which escapes me. I wanted to fold the pub up take home with me. It was just so lovely and warm and smoke-free!

The only reason we did not stay longer at said pub was Irene and I were quickly on the slide into inebriation and, as the boys were driving, were none to keen to hang around as spectatators. I honestly could have sat by that lovely wood burning stove and continued to stare at the bottles of Irish and Scottish whisky as they glittered in the half light. It sure beat staring into middle distance.

We had a lovely, relaxing weekend eating, reading the papers and discussing how we would change the world if we had the power to. The conversation boardered a little on the depressing side as we discussed Howard's Australia, Blair's United Kingdom and Bush's rest of the world.

We spent our last few hours in Belfast sitting in the Crown Liquor Saloon where we met Renee & Steve, a couple of travelling Australians from Greensborough. They had been on the road since March so we sat for ages shareing travel tales.

We chatted about Northern Ireland and the Troubles as they had taken a Black Cab tour of Belfast that afternoon. The tour was meant to be unbiased however, their cabbie seemed very much at home on the Shankill Road where he seemed to know everyone he saw. After their half hour trawl around the Loyalist areas they were whisked through the Catholic areas with nary a glimpse of an Irish flag.

At any other time we would have felt grateful that we had not grow up in Belfast. However, we had just heard the news of the disgraceful scenes Cronulla. We all admitted that at that point in time, we were ashamed to be Australian.

My brother sent me the above photos of his son, Harrison the other day and I realised again that the saying that there are three things you can not help but stare at; a naked flame, the sea and a sleeping babies face.

Middle Distance

There is a crisis in the Berrisford household.

We have run out of coffee and toilet paper. At the same time.

We never run out of coffee and toilet paper. Ever. And to run out of both at the same time is probably as good an indicator as any of the state of our collective minds.

I have just discovered that I can no longer multitask. If someone asks me a question I have to stop what I am doing, (staring into middle distance usually and I would argue that this takes some concentration) focus on the voice asking the question and recalibrate my mind to receive new information. A very laborious and tiring exercise.

The thing that is bothering me is there is no tangible reason for my mindlessness. Everything is going to plan. There have been no major hiccups. Nothing untoward to worry excessively about. So why are we so fraught?

I know moving is one of the most stressful things the human can undertake. I guess moving countries and facing the prospect of finding new homes, jobs and essentially lives is adding a little more stress to the cauldron.

I guess the timing of this is a little silly too. The lead up to Christmas is manic enough during peace time. People to squeeze into non existant days and trying to clear things off before the break for Christmas tends to leave most frazzled and in need of more than a sherry after the turkey. So to add to that the prospect of leaving everything we know for something new is making us both mental.

I told my mum I was losing my mind. In true mum fashion she promptly replied "No you are not!" If only she knew. Or took the time to know.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Disclaimers are a wonderful tool...

I got an email from James this morning with the following disclaimer;

The no nonsense view of the world as shown above is intended for the named recipient only. If you are not the intended recipient, please delete this message without copying or forwarding on. If you are the intended recipient, pull yourself together, for goodness sakes it's not like you're moving to the other side of the world in a few weeks or anything. Oh, you are? Ok. Err, get over it a bit then you'll have a blast and all your mates will want to come visit soon enough anyway.

He was responding to an email I sent them apologising for being so crap at virtually everything lately, mainly keeping in touch and making arrangements. It made me smile. So I decided I'd write my own disclaimer and henceforthwith paste it into every email I send.

Tell me what you think...

I'm having a meltdown of epic proportions and no longer have my wits about me. I can see them. They are running off into middle distance as we speak and I can hear their inane giggling as they mock me. I can no longer process sentences that use numbers so please restrict your use of them accordingly. My long suppressed emotions are erupting into the stratosphere revealing to me, once again, that the people I know and love here in the UK will soon be half a world away. This thought alone has led to my present state so considering the additional logistics of packing up our house, finding the cash to put it on a boat heading in the vague direction of Melbourne, working productively at my job until 3 days before we leave the country and maintaining a sane and sensible relationship with my husband and those close to me is, at times, just too fecking hard.

Reasons to be Cheerful

Today, when I really needed a reason to be happy I got this photo of my lovely newphew Dante and his sister, Lucia. I have yet to meet Lucia but each time I see a photo of her beautiful and very frank little face I feel like I do know her already.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Manchester to Melbourne

I just read this.

Made me grin like an idiot.

But the band does love Melbourne — on their last tour Noel (Gallagher) tried to buy Cherry bar in AC/DC Lane and they recently asked Jet to support them on their US tour. "I'm glad Jet are from Melbourne — it would have been shit if they were from Sydney, because I don't really like Sydney that much. There's a very nice harbour, but a certain lack of soul about it. I'd rather live here." Noel Gallagher, The Age 2 December, 2005

The first year I lived in Manchester we were driving down Burnage Lane which is 2 minutes from where we live in Withington. Ian had just finished telling me that the Gallagher brothers grew up not far from there. I had been putting lipstick on and as I flipped up the visor Ian calmly announced 'And here's Noel now'.

I look over and sure enough, strolling along Burnage Lane, his cool demeanour tarnished slightly by the plastic SPAR (Aussies think 7Eleven) bag he was carrying, was bloody Noel Gallagher!!

I was SOOOOOOO excited but alas, too embarassed to call out and ask for an autograph. The memory rankles me to this day because a bloke in the car behind me called out and Noel wandered over, rested on the window and had a chat. Bugger.

Sunday November 27

So Sunday drifted by in a rush of people, noise and endless cups of tea! It was still freezing I might add but in that lovely bright, crispy way that features much in Novembers in England.

Chad,Chris & Bethan came over in the morning to catch up with James & PJ and as we all sat in our lounge room chatting and watching the kids play with each other I realised that they are a bit part of what has kept me in England. They are more than just friends, they are like my family.

In fact, Chad is so like my own brother I often resort to treating him like I would my own brother circa 1979 much to Chris' dismay I'm sure! And PJ and I often clash in the way that sisters are want to do with it all blowing over moments later. I really have been blessed to have them in my life.

My wonderful friend Anita arrived at Manchester Piccadilly on Sunday afternoon, by which time it was already dark. I tried to give her a flying tour of Manchester-by-Night to show her Albert Square, the giant Christmas tree and the bloody fairy lights. However, as I tried to turn into Corporation Street a burly policeman stood in the middle of the intersection and shook his head at my gesticulating. He didn't even crack a smile which I thought he would have for Anita was wearing the most darling hat you've ever seen!

We had a lovely evening at the Metropolitan, which is now smoke-free, then picked up a takeaway from Globe. Which just happens to be the best take out place in the world. Really it is!

I dragged her off to the Markets in St Ann's Square on Monday at lunchtime where I stood in the heavy snow, muttering about how wet I was getting, for a good few minutes before it occurred to me to open my umbrella. You can take the girl out of Melbourne...

It was lovely to spend time with her again as it is a rare thing give she is in London and I am in Manchester. We worked together in 2000 and in all honesty she kept me sane and in the process became a good friends. She has walked me through some awfully hard times and made me laugh so often and in the most inappropriate settings. She is a great girl and a beautiful friend. Yes another reason to be sad at leaving England.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

THAT picture...

The one Claud posted of us at Elbow.

Can I just point out [arf arf] that my nose is NOT that big in real life.
No, it's not.

It has never got a pickle out of a jar, been used to keep out draughts under doors or wedge open an aircraft hanger. Despite all evidence to the contrary.

It's all to do with angles, or shadows, or refraction, or alignment of planets. Or Something.

Claud has put it on the fridge for some reason, and people have been known to reach for it rather than the handle to open the door.

If anyone with a little Photoshop experience can give me a little button nose instead, please... knock yourself out.

End of Public Information Message.

Elbow Room 2 [...continued]

So that was the starting song of a great gig. The lead singer, Guy Garvey, said at one point that they enjoyed playing Manchester, as who wouldn't? To the greatest fans in the greatest venue [The Apollo] in the greatest city in the World.

And I thought, yeah! And I'm moving from the greatest city on earth to the second greatest, so what am I to complain about? And the second one has sunshine too. To quote Ian Brown [Stone Roses]:

“Manchester’s got everything except a beach”

They ended with "Forget Myself", another song about my town, the party town that I no longer do much partying in, but still my town:

They’re pacing Piccadilly in packs again
And moaning for the mercy of a never come rain
The suns had enough and the simmering sky
Has the heave and the hue of a woman on fire

Shop shutters rattle down and I’m cutting the crowd
All scented and descending from the satellite towns
The neon is graffiti singing make a new start
So I look for a plot where I can bury my broken heart

No I know I wont forget you but I’ll forget myself if the city will forgive me

The man on the door has a head like Mars
Like a baby born to the doors of the bars
And surrounded by steam with his folded arms
He’s got that urban genie thing going on
He’s so mercifully free of the pressures of grace
Saint Peter in satin he’s like Buddha with mace

No I know I wont forget you but I’ll forget myself if the city will forgive me

Do you move through the room with a glass in your hand
Thinking too hard about the way you stand
Are you watching them pair off and drinking them long
Are you falling in love every second song

No I know I wont forget you but I’ll forget myself and the city will forgive me

It was a strangely cathartic experience, and something that had been missing the previous week when we saw New Order at the same venue. Somehow New Order were global and slightly impersonal despite their impeccable Manchester/Salford/Macclesfield roots, but this felt like the Right gig at the Right place at the Right time. And perhaps time to go.

Elbow Room

I was hoping to get the first Elbow reference in here, but my usual procrastination has meant I tried and failed, with my muchmoreorganised wife having beaten me to the punch.
But hey, I'm the first poster of December, so that's something, eh? Errr...

For anyone who's asked, and some who haven't, Elbow's Leaders of The Free World is my album of the year. A band, from Manchester [well, Bury, but hastily relocated to Manchester... you get my drift], mates of Doves and so on. And it's fantastic. The lyrics are extraordinary, clever, sophisticated, and meaningful, individual even. I'd been aware of their previous releases, and had liked them, but this one...? This is something special. Really special.

So, anyway... we saw Elbow last week at Manchester Apollo, and it was a hugely emotional evening for me. I think it was the fact that it was the Wednesday I got THE ENVELOPE, so suddenly my emigration was finalised, and I'd be leaving the city I grew up in and have always lived in or within 10 miles of...

Somehow it felt like my gig, as they began with "Station Approach", which references Piccadilly Station, and seems to speak of me, my relationships, of my town and my place in it:

I haven’t been myself of late
I haven’t slept for several days but
Coming home I feel like I
Designed these buildings I walk by

You know you drive me up the wall
I need to see your face that’s all
You little sod I love your eyes
Be everything to me tonight

The streets are full of Goths and Greeks
I haven’t seen my mum for weeks but
Coming home I feel like I
Designed these buildings I walk by

You know you drive me up the wall
I need to see your face that’s all
You little sod I love your eyes
Be everything to me tonight

I never know what I want but I know when
I’m low that I need to be in the town
Where they know what I’m like and don’t mind.

To me, it speaks of my melancholy, my tendency to regard the glass as half-empty, my poor sleep pattern, and my numerous strange little ways [ hope no-one's feeling too uncomfortable here]. But it also speaks of my awareness of it [so that's OK then. Phew! Relax!].

The fact that my mother was in Australia for 6 weeks at the time [and that the pressure to see her more, continually weighs heavily upon me in the way only a son's guilt can], and that I'd dedicated it to Claudine on the way back to Skipton a few weeks back [awwww!].

Yes, especially the "You know you drive me up the wall..."
Who says the English can't express their emotions?

p.s. I love you, Claudine!

Saturday November 26

Well, I did say I'd try to post every day. However I tried and failed!

The weekend just gone by was hectic, manic, frenzied, chaotic, wild ... you get the picture. Our great friends James & PJ and their beautiful children, Trinity and Bob spent the weekend at our home this weekend. They arrived on Friday night - it was so lovely to see them - and decamped what seemed like all their belongings into our hallway. There is no such thing as packing light when you have 2 kids under 2!

They got the children to bed and we had a curry from their old local curry place in Heaton Moor. Despite the 10 minute drive in the freezing cold it was still worth it.

On Saturday Ian and I looked after Trinity (or Dinnie as she calls herself) while her parents and little brother went Christmas shopping in Manchester. I think we got the better end of that deal to be honest. Manchester city centre at anytime of the year is bonkers but as soon as they throw Christmas decorations up and switch the fairy lights on, the place erupts.

We spent a lazy, loungy day with our delightful Goddaughter who, since we last saw her, has learned a word or two. The language takes a bit of getting used to but eventually I learned that Claudy was me, Binnie meant her Mr Bunny, juj means juice and no actually means yes. Confused? Yes, I was confused too.

Unfortunately my day was slightly blighted by some black ice. I was only thinking the other day about what black ice actually looked like. Let me enlighten you - you can't actually see black ice which is why I personally think it should be called invisible ice.

So with this in mind imagine seeing me step onto the pavement, which looked just as it always does and immediately both my legs slid from beneath me and I landed, with an almighty thud, flat on my back. Well, not quite flat on my back, more like onto my tailbone (or coccyx for the medically enlightened) which even now is incredibly painful.

Still, we managed to have a lovely time, she was well behaved and an absolute joy to spend time with. If we have even one child like her I'd feel blessed beyond words. However, in many ways I feel like we already have for she is very special to us. Something I hope she will always know.