Saturday 28 June

What do people do in Manchester? Skim-reading this mechanical journal may grant you the impression that we drink a bit too much and you would not be wrong but I hope the occasional entry may also convey the delight that drinking just the right amount with just the right amount of quality people can be; something I am not alone in searching for yet a situation I am happy to encounter with a serendipitous regularity. A Hatbox project meeting last night is a happy case in point. Or it would be if such an example d’esprit didn’t also illustrate the near-impossibility of encountering the mythical night sketched loosely above by leaving such a situation at its peak; that is before – in the hope of prolonging the evening – you find yourself having over-indulged yet again, a fact that looms as large as the impending day mid-way through your series of hoary impressionisms of Italian-American actors.

‘With every high there’s a low’, a lyric refrain in many a skinny Mancunian folk singer’s tattooed armoury. Never a truer word was spoken in a city with a climate uncannily adept at reflecting your mental condition. But the hardy city dweller cannot simply rue the loss of last night’s magic beneath trembling silk blankets like some Parisian garret-dweller. No, if he or she is to be depressed they must examine their malaise; sniff, taste, feel and explore it, for that is the spirit of industrial curiosity they have inherited from their forebears. As such this morning I stride out and into my town, deliberately selecting the streets and shops I find most gloomy and distasteful in search of perverted salvation. It seems my friends have inherited similar good sense, for there is Bateman, just ahead of me, breathing the same pasty-flavoured air that inhabits every nook and cranny of Market Street’s most notorious shop shanty town.

What’s he carrying? My heart skips a beat (something it can ill-afford to do in this condition). Poking out of a brown paper bag is the unmistakable snout of a bottle brim-full of that infernal, and inflammable, purple liquid. Where’s he heading? Straight for McCurly’s Hair Design & Sculpting to the Stars. Revenge? Surely no bad quiff is worth that, yet Bateman strides purposefully on. I summon up all of my remaining energy, cursing that last pint of Starjuice. I scatter deep-thinking and zombified shoppers alike in my quest to catch up with my nemesis, then I shout in my basest American:

‘Look out McCurly, he has a bomb!’

Panicked, Bateman holds the bottle high above his head, sending it sliding across the arcade only as I rugby-tackle him to the ground. As he threatens to protest I stuff my half-eaten pasty into his anarchy-ridden gob. Ironically, given past exploits, it is Jemima who stops the spinning bottle via a size-seven hobnail, picking up the damning evidence with a triumphant smile.

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