Friday 22 February
When the warehouse kestrel squawks, it seems the whole workforce is heading out of Manchester for the weekend. In the Old New York Bar I plead with Sasha, Cam and DH to remain in the city that never sleeps. It is of no use. Despite the dangers of the journey – the famously dour highwaymen en route – Sasha will head to Yorkshire with Jools, ignoring the prospect of another six shilling bottle of wine (‘it were only five shilling five year ago!’ I tell her like the lowest French trader). Soon after, and despite the dangers of disappearing forever (‘she just got a job down there Batson, and she were one o’ ‘em anyway’) DH and Cam take carriage for London. Using the stairs to reach the flat, in an attempt to extend the evening, with only a three shilling bottle for company, a noise from behind a closed door stops me. The sound can only be described as a flaccid gargling in low C, punctuated by the sharp yelps of a Beelzebub-riding flautist horribly in tune with the lower reaches. A cacophonous bubbling to follow – a thousand Miss Jordans allowing a thousand pots of delicious bachelor soup to overflow. I let out a small involuntary belch. I freeze. Yet the noise proves but a tiny air bubble of garlic to this overpowering bushel of herbic volume. I am undetected but not without fear. I turn to go then quickly remember to note the number of the apartment in my small moleskin notebook. Do my eyes deceive me? The door is nothing but primeval wood to the neatly-numbered peachtree all about it. I shudder and release another ominous but still relatively small belch.