Saturday 26 July

In the same way that Byron Badger, so I’ve heard, will not get warm and fuzzy on his own supply, the shady philanthropist would no more countenance inhabiting the Northern Quarter, an area named in honour of his popular pot-based package, than I would backstreet Scouserpool. Yes, my bookish, hopelessly weedy reader, I have been compelled to begin my trailing of this enigmatic figure; to extract a bounty from him or face the mixed metaphors and organ rearrangement so beloved of my Russian friends. And here I am at the foot of Manchester’s newest sky-tickler, the all-glass Milton Tower, the thirteenth floor of which hosts Badger and his entourage. Having tamed the gorillas on the door using an old red-eye mind trick I am ushered into a velveteen elevation machine that makes my own look like Davy Jones’ locker. And it is with the sure knowledge that I should have seen it coming that I note shiny, mother of pearl buttons marked ‘12’ and 14’ but nothing to assist my pressing need to reach the elusive ‘13’. While considering whether or not to buy an oxygen flannel and face the stairs, a fortuitous carrier from Mimi arrives, summoning me to the nearby Briton’s Protectorate. Here a celebration of Mandy Candeur’s birthday is underway. While a good friend of Mimi’s, Mandy is also a member of Badger’s inner circle; one who has been trying to persuade him into more salubrious pursuits. Yet it is difficult for me to concentrate on her (beer) garden of delights when out-of-season and from a leftfield that still feeds half of the city springs unknown Sally Pepper, both bountiful and bounty-less. The rest is drink and talk and wondering how Mr Badger, despite his wealth, could have spent his evening more pleasurably. The twinkle of a moonlit telescope suggests he’s seeking inspiration.

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