I have a new job now, which is based in Salford Quays.
Now the Quays used to be – and this is being kind – a bit of a dump.
It was part of Manchester Docks, which, at its height, was the third busiest port in the country as boats set off along the Ship Canal to Liverpool and beyond. Then things went pear-shaped in the 70s, the docks closed with the loss of 3,000 jobs, and the area became derelict and an eyesore.
But since the 80s, thanks to a bit of impressive forward-thinking by Salford Council, it has slowly been transformed into what is now an incredibly vibrant and trendy area.
It is the home of the BBC and ITV, the Lowry Theatre and the Imperial War Museum, not to mention a string of restaurants and bars, and hundreds of residential apartment blocks - some of which are available to rent but only if you’ve the bank balance of a Russian oligarch.
I’ve not been in one of the apartments but I daresay they’re the kind of places that have flat-screen televisions built into the bath and electronically controlled curtains. In other words this is an area which is very different to an industrial estate off Squires Gate overlooking Morrisons.
But because I am a working class lad who sneers in the face of pretension (a statement slightly weakened by the fact I had crayfish salad and couscous last night, followed by a very nice lemon panna cotta), I am a little uncomfortable with all this wealth and ebullience and fit and healthy looking young people.
This came to a head earlier in the week when on my lunch break I perched on a bench overlooking the Manchester Ship Canal (which, for the benefit of those attending a pub quiz this week, is 36-miles long, includes the only swing aqueduct in the world, and passes Trafford Park - the world’s first planned industrial estate and still the largest in Europe).
Anyhow, as I was halfway through the tuna and cucumber sandwiches Mrs Canavan had lovingly packed for me that morning (though she’d blotted her copybook by forgetting to include my Walkers Sunbites and dark chocolate Kit-Kat), a middle-aged woman jogged into view from my right and stopped right in front of me.
She ran on the spot for a moment, stretched a few times, then dropped to her knees and embarked on the kind of vigorous workout regime Mad Lizzie used to do on TV-am back in the 80s. Now this lady, though pleasant looking, was, I think I’m fair in saying, a bit like a car with an 04 number plate - not quite in her prime.
Yet she had no qualms at all about jigging about in broad daylight in an outfit which showed every last bit of her and a little more.
There were people walking past in both directions who had to literally step off the footpath and around her because she was doing press ups and squat-thrusts.
You wouldn’t get that in South Shore and this, in a nutshell, is what Salford Quays is like - full of folk who do things a little differently to how we do them.
My fear is that if I work there long enough I may turn into one of them and that one day I too will don a skin-tight outfit and go jogging in my dinner hour, then talk on a mobile phone in a loud voice about how much money I’ve got.
Then again, probably not. You can take the lad out of Blackpool but…
The great secret kept by women’s magazines - eat less, move more
I have stayed with my mum for a couple of nights this week, mainly because I had a few shirts that needed washing and ironing and I knew she wouldn’t be able to resist.
Sure enough, the tactic worked.
When I returned home from work, all seven had been done and were hanging in the wardrobe.
Mum’s are great like that, You can totally and utterly use them and yet they still think you’re wonderful.
But I digress, for what I want to mention is Woman’s Weekly.
Now I know we’re all in the media industry so we shouldn’t knock each other but because my mother had a copy of this magazine lying around, I idly scanned it.
On the front page it had the following headlines: How To Avoid Holiday Weight Gain … And Still Indulge; Health Report - The Cancer With The Fastest Growing Survival Rate; and Be A Record Breaker - Join In Our Charity Knit & Crochet Challenge.
Now apart from using more capital letters than you can shake a stick at, how on earth would that front cover entice anyone to buy a copy?
Well, clearly it did because my mother bought it, along, no doubt, with various other women of a certain menopausal age,
I asked my mum what it was she liked about the magazine. ‘Oh I don’t know really,’ she replied. ‘I don’t read it - I only buy it out of habit’.
Incidentally, one of the magazine’s tips about How To Avoid Holiday Weight Gain … And Still Indulge is - and I quote - “get a tan - however much flesh you’ve got, there’s no doubt it looks better brown”. Other gems about How To Avoid Holiday Weight Gain … And Still Indulge are ‘walk’, ‘take the stairs’ (which are surely the same things), and ‘eat it all but space it out’.
Inspired advice. Get your copy now while stocks last.