Frivolous Monsters

The Reading Room 02

As a local writer of no celebrity, and even less fortune, I dine at the finest joints and hang out at the trendiest of scenes. By these I refer to the lowliest possible table in Costa Coffee, right by the toilet door, where no-one ever wants to sit, and of the reading room of the town’s central library, but it was by frequenting these locations that it put me in the sphere of influence of certain local characters.

Library

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The Reading Room 01

The Central Library, right by the bus station, is a large Edwardian building built after the Victorian paper manufacturer Thomas Wrigley bequeathed his sizable art collection to the people of Bury thus requiring somewhere to house it.1 It became an ever-modernising cultural centre containing, alongside the art, a museum, an expansive library, reading rooms, computer rooms, and the town’s historical archives. A treasure which undoubtedly still goes unappreciated by many.

Library

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Coffee Shop Writer

This is the last of my six Christmas blog posts and it was dark times in early January when I underestimated my shopping in Asda and, for the first time, actually had to pay for a carrier bag; the law having been changed in England, three months earlier, requiring large shops to charge for plastic bags.1 That’s a whole six pence I wasn’t going to see again. The propaganda stated that it was a bag for life and meant that now I’d have to carry it around with me everywhere I went, for the rest of my days, like a pirate curse, because I sure as hell didn’t want to end up having to pay for a second one.

Sprout Boy

From the BBC’s 2015 animated festive advert Sprout Boy.

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126 Local Sheep

In the run up to Christmas there was a spate of crimes worthy of the local gangsters of old – The Quality Street Gang1 – and perhaps the most audacious act was when someone just down the road from me, under the cover of darkness, stole a whole field full of livestock which the local newspaper totted up as 126 sheep and two rams.

sheep

A Close Shave (1995) / Aardman Animations

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Slave to the Machine

I had some unexpected visitations in the run up to Christmas; knocking like spectral clanking chains. But as they all appeared on the doorstep, and there were only two of them, then it appeared that my role in proceedings was something akin to a cut-price Scrooge for the austerity generation. Times are hard, for everyone, it seems.

vegetables

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Coffee Shop Decorations

It was in Costa Coffee that they once told me how as soon as Halloween is over, even before Guy Fawkes night occurs, Christmas begins. And so it was that I found them cracking out the festive takeaway cups again whilst, to accompany my drink through the large goldfish bowl windows, some wino with fancy trainers was quietly sleeping on a bench outside. The very spirit of Christmas, I thought… for the beginning of November.

Tramp Outside Costa Coffee

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The American Holidays

     I’ve been spoilt by my favourite bookshop Fopp, which sells two books for a fiver, and so when the Spectre Trilogy – the three James Bond novels which apparently tell the rise and fall of that criminal organisation1 – appeared in my local remainder bookshop for ten pounds I thought them a little “pricey”.

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Clodagh, Desmond, Eva, and the Case of the Missing Ear

It was like an episode of Thunderbirds in Bury when the most perilous disaster the town had ever seen was averted – a hundred lives saved – after the fire brigade sprang into action to face their greatest challenge during the brunt of an unnamed storm outside the local Wetherspoon’s pub which had taken up residence in the old cinema building.

Letter E 500

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Like A Spearhead from Space?

I only decided late on Saturday night to go into Manchester the following day when I purchased the last on-line ticket for an event which I had known about for months. Talk about last minute decisions, but what can I say? It’s the skin of the teeth, seat of the pants, way I seem to roll.

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In Conversation with the Coffee Shop Stalker

I was in Costa Coffee when the large middle-aged woman who I’d already christened my coffee shop stalker came in and sat down next to me on the long sofa up against the back wall.

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