Thursday 19 March
How times change. It must seem like only yesterday that Licky Shazhorn walked into your life through these very pages; how she charmed and seduced you with that irrepressible attitude until – eventually – you asked whether she’d move into your one(big)-roomed flat with the chez longue and the stone floor and the pigeons manning the rafters playing ‘Why Are We Waiting?’ on the tin buckets lined up below. Well I’ve got news for you, pal, she’s changed her mind – she’s moving in with me. At least for a few months. And please, no comments about me going soft in my old age (not that this mechanical journal has had a comment since records began). To all intents and purposes this ongoing yet consistently overdue account will remain that of a bachelor going about his and other peoples’ business in Manchester. It’s just that there won’t be any dilly-dallying or shenanigans from now on, if you know what I mean (not there’s been any dilly-dallying or shenanigans in this mechanical journal since records began) (nor a fantastic record of people knowing what I mean).
I digress. But not for much longer, because this week sees the delivery of a brand new Puppet Show Box for the apartment, in advance of Licky’s relocation – a gift from anxious parents understandably fearful for her sanity chez Batson. It’s some years since I watched any significant amount of domestic puppeteering, though I do catch up on the occasional cookery show via Pie-Player. As when attending a lengthy school reunion, what most disturbs me most about goggleboxing for seven hours straight is not so much the dire nature of the scheduling, nor the fact that no-one seems to wear a damned tie anymore, but the fact that the show-offs and the jokers you remember from your student days have aged so preternaturally in the decades since you last laid eyes. How long has Pete O’ Phyle, once an unlined face in favourites such as Little Horse/Old Man and the Children’s Jelly-vision Workshop: Late, had those unsightly bars in front of his eyes? Or John Carrion – presenting the perennially hardy Get Off My Land (And Stay Off) – that badger’s hair and brown bear’s belly? It’s as much as I can do to avert my eyes from once-sprightly 1840s newsreader Bryan Parody’s agonising, there-before-the-grace-go-I, double bags and toothless smile, and listen to another report of grim mischief from the People’s Front of Hoylake & West Kirby – the hijacking of the Mersey ferry by suicide bomber. While it first appears there is no porpoise to the attack, one is later retrieved from the underside of the smoking hulk; the only other casualty being the further demise of my childhood innocence. Where is the world that once stood still for me?