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The Allotment

Daz Mossop begins a new fortnightly gardening column and tale of city life, from the north side

Published on November 7th 2008.


The Allotment

Down at the Prestwich Allotment the end of a long year is drawing close. I’ve been trenching the potato beds this week, ready for the spring, shovelling in the manure, turning over the topsoil. The soil seems good right now - workable and not too claggy from the cold - although I did notice that first silver seam of frost on a dark sod of earth this morning, and when I did it led my mind back to this same time twelve months ago.

Life was quite different a year ago, I considered, in three fundamental ways: I was still working as a DJ.

I was still seeing Emma.

I was still in Chorlton.

Of course, that was before Emma walked in on me using the internet. And before the incident in The Bar that we won’t be going into. Suffice to say that things kind of came on top one night - Barwise, Chorltonwise - after it dawned on me that I was the only person on the premises who wasn’t wearing square rimmed glasses. I kind of freaked out.

And as I say, I’m barred from The Bar now.

It was the next morning that I went to see Dr MacKinnon.

“I think I had some bad ketamine,” I said.

“Ah. What’s that like?”

“Well I left myself and couldn’t get back, and everyone except me had square rimmed glasses on.” I told him what happened next. “And now I’m barred from The Bar.”

“I see.”

Mackinnon set down the Fender Stratocaster he’d been noodling at and flicked back the dark tresses of his mane. He had a strong, stubbled jawline and his voice was a soft Irish brogue, although I understood he was from Stoke.

“Sounds to me like you need a damn good shag,” he said, after I’d unpacked a bit further. “When was the last time you got laid?”

I told him about Emma moving in with Kieran the Coke Dealer.

“He’s a roadie for I Am Kloot. I can’t compete.”

“Ah,” he said. He took a small sheet of printed paper and scribbled something on it.

“Look, I’d stay off the Special K for a couple of weeks if I were you…”

He proffered the slip. There was some hazy print at the bottom, a swirl of biro, and a ‘biohazard’ sign.

“You get a half price Leffe with this at Revise on Friday. Give us a call on that number if you fancy doing a set after our gig.”

It was then that I realised I had to get out of Chorlton.

About six weeks later I was in a private hire car sharking through the Cheetham Hill traffic with the last of my stuff. Tariq, the driver, was bending my ear. Tariq, it was difficult not to observe, was clad head to toe in Schott leisure wear. On the dashboard was a photo of his teenage son, who appeared also to be dressed in Schott leisure wear, and beside that a photo of his wife, herself demurely Schotted and veiled.

“So what made you move?” he was saying.

“Sick of Chorlton.”

“Don’t blame you, mate. I’ll tell you something about South Manchester. Everyone in South Manchester pays a premium.”

He snatched a glance over his shoulder.

“You know what a premium is?”

“Go on.”

“In South Manchester you pay a premium – more for your rent, more for your mortgage, more for your insurance and so on - and for that you go around thinking ‘well I pay more but at least I don’t live in North Manchester. If I lived in North Manchester I’d probably be a victim of crime.’”

“And is there not crime here?”

“Sure there’s crime. There’s crime in both. Ever get mugged in Chorlton?”

“Yeah.”

“Exactly - and deep down you probably thought there was something lucky about it, like at least there wasn’t a gun or something. In South Manchester you pay for the privilege of thinking it’s probably worse somewhere else.”

“Isn’t it?”

“Show me a gaff between Beech Road and Burnage that hasn’t been done over with a firearm one time or another. What do you do?”

I said I’d be looking for something.

“What skills have you got?”

I shrugged, feeling suddenly self-conscious.

“Not a lot. I can DJ. I can pull Belgian beers out of a cooler and take the caps off. And I’m good with Photoshop.”

“Reckon you could handle a fork lift?”

“Dunno.”

“That’ll be thirty five pounds please.”

Well, I found a place in North Manchester - by Heaton Park, by the Metro - and a job at the Longfield Suite. And more than that I found the time to wonder, as the seasons change, and as the frost clings tight to the sod, if I would be eating my own Jerseys if I had not, some twelve months ago, in a hostel on the other side of town, squatted down on the bar and tried to shit my living soul into Andy Votel’s Martini.

To be continued

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8 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

ancoats girlNovember 7th 2008.

Erm, is there such as a thing as good ket?

pnycNovember 7th 2008.

i can only imagine miss or mr anonymous is an unthinking cretin (who presumably wears square rimmed glasses). this is great writing and i am lookin forward to hearing more. the only thing i want to know daz, is whether andy votel's martini was in a frosted glass when you dropped your sod of earth into it?

EditorialNovember 7th 2008.

Yes - on Friday 21 November. It'll be published every two weeks.

AnonymousNovember 7th 2008.

So what?Does anyone else think this is a little ridiculous... who cares whether Daz Mossop has moved house?

GadgeNovember 7th 2008.

Click to enlarge image... one big onion!

Bily WhizzNovember 7th 2008.

I care Dave has moved.I was planning on robbing his house this weekend .Does anyone know if the new people have any decent stuff worth nicking.Dont want to have a wasted journey.

Adrian SlatcherNovember 7th 2008.

"He’s a roadie for I Am Kloot. I can’t compete." Genius!

emma graceNovember 7th 2008.

Can we have the next installment please???

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