Thursday, 2 December 2010

One Step Beyond

OK so I used the same headline on the Instanta blog when I booked the tickets for the Madness gig at Manchester Apollo on the eve of our retirement. But it's pretty appropriate and it gave me a bit of a kick when the group opened the show with those words. We finished work and hung up our biros and calculators at noon on Tuesday and headed for Manchester. The concert was standing only and I feared that the hip might not last the duration but Marion managed to find the only two foot wide strip of carpet in the auditorium and we watched in relative comfort. The group were brilliant. I never realised how many hits they had produced and each and every one of them was performed in rapid succession.The audience - an eclectic mix of old and young sporting a wide array of dark glasses, fez and pork pie hats- sang along with gusto and the words soon came back to us allowing us to join in with great enthusiasm. A perfect step into the post work world.

And on Wednesday we awoke to a Manchester winter wonderland and the luxury of not having to struggle into work. Marion's research paid off as always and she found a new Venetian style eaterie in Kendals department store. Cicchetti is owned by the people who own San Carlo (in the background above) and has taken over a corner of the ground floor of the store. Judging by the photos on the walls at San Carlo, it is a favourite stomping ground of many of Manchester's celebrities and I suspect that Cicchetti will be equally popular. The breakfast menu was varied, the all Italian staff were very friendly and efficient and the food was excellent and reasonably priced. It opens from 8 in the morning until late at night and specialises in the tappas style nibbles or cicchetti that are found in many Venetian canal side bars. Give it a try.

We got back to Southport in time for Orange Wednesday and this week's choice at Vue was The American. We both enjoyed this movie. Clooney is a paid assassin whose final assignment is in Abruzzo in Italy where, under the cover of being a butterfly loving magazine photographer, he befriends the village priest and falls in love with one of the local hookers. Some of the scenes pay homage to The Day Of The Jackal but it is a slow paced and thoughtful film rather than a conventional thriller. Clooney's "Mr Butterfly" is a man of few words but with them he creates a complex character that we can't love but, despite his amorality, we hesitate to hate. In the excellent supporting cast, Violante Placido as Clara and Paolo Bonacelli as the priest give memorable performances. If you enjoy a well constructed drama you will enjoy this.

One thing that we've already discovered about retirement is the joy of being able to go Christmas shopping midweek. It was busy at Liverpool One today but the crowds were tiny in comparison to a typical December Saturday or Sunday and we've been able to get virtually all our presents.

We were looking at 3D TVs and the salesman told us about the success of his wife's recent hip replacement. I go into hospital on Monday. I was disappointed to read today that our local Hospital trust has come out badly in the latest hospital statistics released this week and has a mortality score of 113 where 100 is the norm so I have a 13% higher chance of not coming out of the operation in Southport and Ormskirk than in an average UK hospital. After last Sunday's Observer published an interview with a widow whose recently retired husband died after a hip replacement I somehow think that the press has got it in for me. However the mortality rate for this procedure is extremely low.

I'll leave you today with the excellent new Coldplay Christmas video. Listen to the words. They're still waiting for the snow to fall? Where the **** are they?