Thursday, March 29, 2007

Orthello's Sandwich Bar

An eastern lady with a kind face serves me a mug of coffee and a smile for £1 from behind a raised glass counter that protects an assortment of sandwich fillings from the grubby fingers of the young and the sneezes of the old. Against the back wall where you may expect to see a chalkboard of prices and menus there is only a blue fly-zapping light that hums quietly, waiting for more pray.

I immediately like the place. I look around and it is busy and so I take a seat in the smoking area at the back – not that there are any smoking signs, but there are ashtrays and it is slightly separated from the main seating area.

Metal framed chairs with plywood seats are clustered around small round tables. At one of these tables sits a girl with Down’s syndrome. She is with a friend and smiles at me and every other customer.

The walls are painted mustard yellow from the waist up, and red below, all surrounded by bold blue woodwork. From where I’m sitting I can see into the kitchen where a man leans over a paper on the counter between fixing up plates of chips and beans, or bacon and eggs, or something similar.

I would recommend Othello’s Sandwich Bar – I enjoyed m mug of coffee and my time there.


Monday, March 26, 2007


With a population of about 12,000, Northenden lies on the south side of the River Mersey and is just outside M60 Manchester Ring Road. If this gives it an air of being ‘left out’, then the M56 and the ever busy Princess Parkway that further surround it (in a tight triangle of misfortune) make it feel somewhat ‘hemmed in’. Northenden is the kid who is rejected from the Cool Group but can’t find anyone else to play with because he has inadvertently found him self paralysed by fear in the middle of a year 11 football match.

The town faithfully clusters around the south end of Palentine Road, part of the 43 bus route, and on this little stretch of congested tarmac linger an array of interesting and not so interesting shops and bars and general services (you know, banks and funeral directors and that sort of thing).

One of these is Othello’s Sandwich Bar, where I found myself stopping for a coffee a few days ago (I often ‘find’ myself in places, I react badly to too high a degree of intentionality).

I would tell you about it now, but I don’t like long posts, so I will tell you about it tomorrow, instead.


Tuesday, March 20, 2007

One Year On.

I have just noticed that I have been blogging 43 for over a year! Happy one year anniversary!

It has been a journey of ups and downs, of enthusiasm and of boredom, of lush fertile weeks of regular posts, and dry arid weeks of emptiness and nothingness.

The 43 has passed through deep shadow filled valleys, where death and decay are in the air and all is motionless but the slow steady creeping of the hit counter… but we have survived and the journey continues!

(I know what you’re thinking - It’s just a blog, Geoff, get some perspective – and I reply… well, actually I don’t reply, I just ignore you.)

I would like to thank those of you who have been so faithful - those who have bookmarked my blog, or added it to your feeds, and those who would have done so if you knew how - and experienced with me the highs and lows.

The truth is, for a little bit now I have been waiting to be inspired. The worst thing a blogger can do (that is, apart from going crazy and killing people or leaving wash-back in the milk bottle) is get bored of their own blog, and I confess, I have been a little bored.

But I am feeling inspired again! The 43 bus route is one of such depth and diversity and there will always be more to be said. What is more, the 43 bus route, broadly speaking, is my Manchester – the Manchester in which I live and work and drink coffee and meet friends and go to church and visit the bank.

So as I begin this new year of blogging, I will at times be getting off the bus and telling you about those places – the estates of Wythenshawe and Sharston, the Urban Villages of Northenden and Didsbury, through to Withington and Fallowfield, to the Curry Mile of Rusholm and on to the teaming bustle of the University. It is a cross section of the diversity of south Manchester.

On The Bright Side

Do you ever look around you at the city - at the cars and roads; at the houses and power cables and telephone lines; at the manhole covers and pelican crossings - and feel wonder for what humanity has managed to put together?

Of course, it’s not perfect; far from it - it might not even be 'good' - but sometimes I am just a little impressed by it.

Nearly all the time cars don't crash into each other, they drive somewhere near the speed limit and on the correct side of the road.

And beneath what can be seen there is a complex infrastructure of pipes and drains and cables and information being ping-ponged around faster than you can think. It is all far beyond what any single person or organisation could come up with.

Many people feel it important to criticise society. Some do so because they want to improve it, and others just because they like to have a moan, (perhaps it makes us feel powerful).

Sometimes in Britain we can be a bit like spoiled children, forever perplexed as to why thing aren’t better.

And certainly there are things to criticise, and certainly it does need bettering, but there is also a place for a little bit of appreciation, every now and then, don't you think?

I am rather fond of the free local paper, Wythenshawe World, which gets delivered in humble monochrome to our estate twice a month. It searches high and low for the little achievements, the progress, the victories of the local people – and reports them next to a slightly fuzzy photo, nestled in amongst the adverts which fund this pioneer in positive thinking.

So next time I wait 25 minutes for a bus and see two arrive at once, before I get annoyed I will try and remember that it is a Pretty Good Thing that there are busses at all, buses that keep the rain off and carry me seven miles into the city without crashing.