Bits & Bobs, Tits (actually, none of them) & Tats, Odds & Ends.

LIKE FATHER LIKE….

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"Ohh you’re thinning quite a bit on top," the barbershop man notices.. 

"Yehh," I reply wishing he’d shut the fuck up about it and carry on about holidays. He continues. But I’ll spare the details and my horrific, balding embarrassment.

A few hours pass and I’ve just finished my tea. 

"Ohhh I’m as full as a fat girl’s sandal," I say. My friend laughs. She laughs a lot. It is quite funny I think, but this is no ordinary laugh. 

It isn’t until much later I catch on. In fact, days later.

"Ohhh I’m as full as a fat girl’s sandal," my Dad jokes from across the dining table. I rock up and out of my seat. 

And it is that moment I realise. I, AM TURNING INTO MY DAD!

"OMG!" I think to myself to make me feel a little younger. No. No. This can’t be happening. I’ve got so much left to give. He watches Eggheads. He finds Clarkson funny. He goes to garden centres for fun!

I know nothing about cars or how to eradicate Japanese Knotweed from my flowerbeds. But it’s too late. Japanese Knotweed can be removed with strong glyphosate weedkiller, and the Fiat 500 has a top speed of 127mph. I’m too far gone.

And then I think back. We’ve shared CD’s. And then. Then there was that time… Oh. Oh no.

There was that time we wore similar outfits to the football. Like lad and Dad. Except I’m 24.

"Are you ready son?" he shouted up the stairs. 

I run down the stairs in my brown brogues, bluey/browny cord harrington and jeans. I look at my Dad. Brown brogues. Brown jacket. Jeans.

I thought he was just looking cool, but now it’s oh so clear.

My realisation has left me stunned at the dinner table. My balding feels like it’s growing by the second. My need to trim the ivy that’s hanging over the shed door is almost unbearable. And then my Dad says…

"Right, who’s ready for Antiques Roadshow?"

I walk up to my room. “Thank fuck for that,” I think. 

Gay for a day

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“Are you two a couple?”

Two women stroll over and sit opposite me and my friend. They were middle-aged and in a nightclub in Stalybridge about five years ago. Needless to say neither of them was Angelina Jolie.

We had just sat down to secure some seats having already secured some drinks from the bar and were now waiting for the rest of our group to join us.

“No we aren’t gay. Well I’m not. He is,” said my friend, looking towards me.

Shocked, I grab my straw and take a sip of my Smirnoff Ice.

“Oh and here’s his boyfriend now.”

The rest of our group wander over and take a seat at the table. My new-found boyfriend perched himself next to me.

“Are you two a couple?” the lager-in-hand lovelies once again question.

“Yehh,” my boyfriend enjoying every second smiles, “Do you think we make a good couple?”

And so, I became a gay man for the evening. The two forty-plus ladies hammered on cheap lager continued to press us on what it’s like to be a young, gay couple in modern day society and eventually conversation turned to what we did for a living.

“I’m a priest,” my gorgeous ginger-haired fox says. I turn and look at him. Where on earth was he going with this?

“Actually I was a priest. I was the youngest priest in Tintwhistle.”

“Can you be a gay priest?” the shorter woman, in a dress which was so last year asks.

“Well that’s the thing. We had to keep it a secret.”

The two women lean forward, part intrigued, part swaying drunkenly.

“But the thing was, the people of Tintwhistle found out. They weren’t happy. In fact I was chased out of the village with pitchforks.”

“That’s awful,” the women, looking genuinely disgusted and concerned protested, “Are you ok?”

“Yes I’m fine. It’s sad, but I’m in love.”

The short woman in the dress Gok Wan would have cringed over if he were already famous, leant over towards me. She swayed, pointed towards me and stuttered, “You must be so proud.”

I turn and look into my partner’s eyes. “I am,” I say, “I really am.”

It was a lovely moment. I was proud of my new gay boyfriend. Not because he was the youngest priest in Tintwhistle. Not because he was a gay man battling to follow the career path he wanted. To follow his faith. But because I had no idea where he had pulled this story from, and it was quite brilliant!

My lover continued to speak, from nowhere, mesmerising these pissed-up women. Of course they would have believed we were the first people to make gay-love on the moon but that was beside the point.

The women, impressed by our openness continued to flatter us and tell us how great we are. That we should be proud of our sexuality. Proud of who we are. Proud of each-other.

And then:

“And you know what, I was going to say if people don’t like it, you tell them to shove it up their arse…

“But that’s probably not wise with you two!”

The Peach Cobbler

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"Ohh I love peach cobbler," my girlfriend excitedly announced.

I did not know her love was so strong for peach cobbler. I have never had it. I barely know what it is. But as we sat there watching Guy Fieri chowing down on Mama’s Mean Peach Cobbler, I thought, this looks pretty good even if I don’t like peaches.

As I rolled out back to my house, I decided I’m going to be an excellent boyfriend. The best boyfriend ever. I’ll make peach cobbler for her. She loves it. And to make me a super-human boyfriend, I’ll make her Mama’s Mean Peach Cobbler. 

I get home and do some Googling. This is going to be off the hook, I think as I place my shades on the back of my head. 

I struggle to find a recipe for Mama’s Mean Peach Cobbler but I manage to find the segment of the show on YouTube. I write down all the ingredients and make a mental note to be as cool as Guy whilst I’m making it. Except one problem, I don’t have any measurements. 

I must persevere. Not throw in the kitchen towel. She loves peach cobbler and she’ll love me forever. I decide it would be a good idea to find another recipe and go off their measurements using Mama’s ingredients. That way I won’t put too much or too little in and it’ll still taste off the chart.

The next day arrives. She’s excited for her peach cobbler so I mustn’t let her down. I have to nail it.

I begin by peeling some peaches. They aren’t ripe yet so I instead open a tin. I feel my cobbler has already taken a huge blow.

But I crack on. 15 minutes in the oven. I make the topping. All is good. Another 15 minutes in the oven. God, I do hope she likes it.

13 minutes pass. I decide it’s time to check how it’s doing. I hope I’ve not burnt it. I hope it doesn’t look a complete mess. She loves peach cobbler. I do not want to let her down. 

I pull the cobbler out of the oven. It looks ok. The topping is golden brown and it smells lovely. Actually it smells awesome. Guy Fieri would never say lovely.

But hang on, the topping is soft. Is this meant to be? I can’t serve it to her soft if it’s meant to be hard (come on, we’re bigger than that) (is what she said) (oh come on!). 

I’m worried, and I finally shout her into the kitchen. “Becca,” I say, “Is the cobbler topping meant to be soft or crispy?” 

She stops. Looks at me. And says, “I don’t know. I’ve never had peach cobbler before.”

Dame Richard Greenwood wins Gold for Great Britain

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If she were a boy, even just for one day, Beyonce would go for a drink with the guys. She would chase after girls. She thinks she would understand. She would even listen to her because she knows how it hurts to lose the one you wanted.

 

If I were a girl, even just for one day, that day would be 10th August 2012. And apart from looking at myself in the mirror. A lot. At least an hour a lot. I would decide to compete in the Women’s 5000m Final at the London Olympics.

 

For this evening, I loaded my running app and stepped out of my house a regular man, quite tired and feeling obliged to go for a run because his shorts had been ironed, but a man all the same.

 

I returned, still as a man, a man who now wished he was a woman. But no ordinary woman. Oh no. A woman that had competed in the 5000m Final at the London Olympics.

 

I returned. A winner. A champion. A national treasure. I had ran. And I had ran fast. I had smashed my PB like a drug addict smashes through the Jeremy Kyle set. I had achieved a 15 minute and one second 5k.

 

It hadn’t been an especially quick start I thought, as I quite casually jogged past the KIA showroom listening to Iggy Pop’s The Passenger, but I was happy to just take a nice stroll. 

 

Until, “One mile complete. Time four minutes, 30 seconds.”

 

It had been an especially quick start I thought, as I continued up the road, still listening to Iggy Pop’s the Passenger.

 

"Two miles complete. Time 10 minutes, five seconds." 

 

I continued to burn up road along my regular route. I know these roads. I run them regularly. And now. Now I am fucking king of them!

 

"Three miles complete. Time 14 minutes 45 seconds."

 

My fastest 5k. 15 minutes and one second. That’s surely an Olympic time?

 

"I am Mo Farah," I jubilantly mumbled as I strode past Star Kitchen Chinese Takeaway.

 

I quickly realised I wasn’t Mo Farah. The heats though. I could get through the heats of the Olympics. 

 

I quickly realised I couldn’t.

 

A woman! I could be a woman. If I were a woman I would win Olympic Gold at London 2012. Yes. Jesus, hand me some boobs and an excessive desire to nag at once.

 

I could see it now. If I were a girl for that day I would be up there with Jess Ennis, Jade Jones and Nicola Adams. A national treasure. I’d no doubt been congratulated by the nation. Get a damehood. I would be on first name terms with Lord Coe. I’d have met Gary Lineker!

 

Oh what could have been. Right now I’d probably be performing an after-dinner speech at an athletics club just outside Reading. Inspiring a generation.

 

"So how did you do it? How did you prepare for such a fantastic race?" one young girl would say, totally in awe of my presence.

 

"Ohh well just a glass of water and a few Fruit Pastilles," I’d chuckle back, "But not the yellow ones!"

 

I continue my run, thinking what might have been if I were a girl even just for that day. My pace never drops as I think deeper and deeper about my life as an Olympian. 

 

I complete over five miles on my regular three and a half mile route. Hang on…

Hair piece.

I’ve just got home following a long day. No man should work a long day on a Sunday. It’s a day of rest, Yorkshire puddings and lager in the sun. Instead it has been a day of blood, sweat and folding women’s t-shirts into neat little squares.

I stagger up the stairs, legs sweating from the hot summer sun, arms aching from the excess folding, and I change into pyjamas. 

I dive straight into bed and relax. Compile my thoughts of what has been a very long day.

What a magnificent win for Andy Murray, I think. I wonder if Wayne Rooney really is ‘not for sale’? I’m going to Dublin next month. That’ll be fun. God, it’s been warm today. Why do women walk around the Arndale with curlers in their hair? I must rememb… hang on!

Why do women walk around the Arndale with curlers in their hair? Since when has it been ok to do this? IS IT ok to do this? 

It can’t be a fashion statement, I think. I have never seen this on Gok’s Fashion Fix. Or as I casually flick through Elle Magazine because I’m metro-sexual. And I’m pretty sure Trinny and Susannah would turn in their graves (they aren’t dead. I mean the six foot deep pit their careers now lie). 

I’m joking of course. Trinny and Susannah are actually doing very well. They have just had their hit show, Trinny och Susannah stylar om Sverige recommissioned for a third series on Sjuan, Sweden’s premier lifestyle channel. 

 

Curlers though? “Women in curlers! In the street!” I hear you cry. And I know. Is this ok?

 

I saw a pair of curler-ladies heading out of River Island with bagfuls of shopping. They look like they were serious about their shopping. Perhaps serious enough to disregard their appearance in order to leave River Island with everything they need. No stone unturned. Making sure nobody pinches their bargains.

 

But still. Is this ok?

 

I’m confused as to why? I’m trying to picture the scene and I’m only coming up with one, slightly US-teen-movie scenario. 

I can see the two curler-ladies, mid-to-late-20’s, just woken up, showered and now taking time and effort to do their hair. Curlers in. And dancing to Girls Just Want To Have Fun by Cyndi Lauper. They are chatting and laughing and ready to hit the shops.

I imagine they are new to the city, probably just on a weekend break, and need to Google where the shops are.

"Ohh Kelly. There’s a sale on at River Island," Tara shouts excitedly in her underwear, almost wanting to playfully hit her BFF with a pillow stuffed with feathers. 

"OMG’s!" Kelly replies, "Quick we need to get down there. We can’t have no biatches stealing our mini-skirts & bracelets!"

And so, in haste, they put some clothes on and ran out of their budget-hotel room heading straight for the Arndale. Thus, deeming a River Island sale more important than dressing appropriate and looking after their appearance or; they are simply so excited that River Island are having a sale. So excited by the bargains they might pick up. Oh my, dresses for £12. Crop-tops at a fiver. High-heeled shoes a steal at £20. So excited by such promises, that Kelly and Tara simply forgot they had curlers in their hair.

My stomach rumbles a noise that suggests I should stop worrying about women in curlers. My thoughts turn to food. I haven’t eaten since this morning. I fancy a takeaway. I’m ok to go out like this right? 

Much Ado Over Nothing

"Do you have any black cotton gloves?"

I look up and see a woman frantically rushing over towards me. She looked hot, bothered and as though she’d been sent out for some black cotton gloves and must not return until she had found some.

I am unsure if we have black cotton gloves and direct her over to where they may be.

"They don’t need to be anything special," she adds, “just some that could be used for a play. They’re just so you can’t see a hand when somebody is stabbed."

I am intrigued and take another glance at this woman. She is wearing an International Festival lanyard.

Things begin to run around my head. No these gloves can’t be for… No. No way.

"Has the festival started yet, or is it next week?" I ask, trying to casually find out what she’s working on.

"I think it’s next week. Though we start in the middle of next."

They are. These gloves are for him. Macbeth starts middle of next week. This woman is frantically running around trying to find black cotton gloves for BAFTA Award winning, Sir Kenneth Branagh!

‘I could be his savour!’ I think as I lead the woman towards where gloves may be.

I, Richard Greenwood could be the savour to one of the greatest Shakespearean actors of all time. I could get a ‘with thanks’ in the programme. He could be so thrilled that I have managed to find him a pair of gloves he might want to meet me. I bet he will!

I bet he will ask to meet me and he will see that I too am a handsome and talented actor (I’m not) and he will ask me to be in one of his movies and then I’ll be rich and famous and have a big house and a home in the Caribbean and I bet he’ll invite me to his for dinner and we’ll chat and laugh and drink and be bestest friends in the whole world and all because I saved him. I saved him from having to stab Duncan without the protection of a black cotton glove.

He’ll tell me about his relationship with Emma Thompson I bet over a BBQ. He’ll tell me whether she was good at ironing. If she shouted at him for leaving the toilet seat up. All stuff like that. Then me and the only man to be nominated for Academy Awards in five different categories would be like, “Jees, women eh?”

I can see it now. Me getting black cotton gloves for and becoming friends with Sir Kenneth Branagh will be the making of me.

And I’m undoubtedly sure it would have been. If we sold gloves.

"And what makes you suitable for this position Mr Greenwood?" "Well I can run really fast?!"

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I’m here. Hot. Sweaty. Windswept. And fucking knackered.

I dial my phone, “Hello, it’s Richard. I’m here.”

"Oh, so you made it on time."

"Just about," I chuckle, sweat dripping down my face, like a man who’d just sprinted two miles in a grey, polyester double-breasted suit and trench-coat to make it on time for a job interview.

"I’ll be down in a minute," was the reply.

I sit down and reflect, which takes me back to 40 minutes previous.

"Ahh, 40 minutes. I’ll be fine for time," I thought as I departed the 110 bus on the outskirts of Leeds.

And so I set off, iPod on (Elton John, Philadelphia Freedom), casually strolling down the road for my two minute walk to my final destination.

Two minutes later…

"Hmm, this can’t be right."

No, you’re right Richard. It wasn’t right. Google Maps confirmed I was around two miles from being right.

"Yep, this is not right," I loudly confirmed to myself. After all speaking aloud to yourself is quite alright when you’re in the middle of nowhere. 

Not to worry though, Google Maps had it covered. I’d only have to walk up this road and turn down that one and then right on that one and I’d be there. 38 minutes. Easy.

Walking up this road later…

"Hmm, this can’t be right."

The pavement running out definitely suggests things aren’t right. In fact, as a pedestrian, it’s a major factor of things not being right. It’s a deal-breaker, unless you enjoy walking down the A639.

I dialled my phone.

"Hello, it’s Richard. I think I might be late as I’ve managed to get lost. I’m really sorry but I’ve ran out of pavement."

It was fine. Not to worry. No problem at all. I should just call back when I arrive. 

I had 20 minutes not to be late. I revisited my not-so-trusty Google Maps. I had to go the long way round. 

20 minutes to turn an ‘I think I might be late’ into supreme punctuality. Against all odds (not on my iPod. I don’t like Phil Collins).

My legs began to work themselves into a light jog, quickly turning into a pacey jog. My jog turned into a run. My run turned into a sprint. My trench-coat was off, my tie was skewed and I was running like the wind. 

I ran and I ran and I ran. Until…

"Hello, it’s Richard. I’m here."

I was late, by two minutes. It went unnoticed.

"Oh, so you made it on time." 

I had made it. On time, but sweaty. Very sweaty.

And so I stepped into my job interview. Punctual. Knackered.

Halfway through, during a test I may add, I cramped up. A sharp, horrible, pain in your right calf doesn’t half put you off a sub-editing test.

I flunked the test.

So if you’re ever running late for a job interview and the employer tells you it’s fine. Not to worry. No problem at all. Don’t run. Be late.

Stumped by Network Rail’s inability to provide good service

"From the Platform End, Thomas Dunne," Thomas Dunne imagines as he saunters up to the wicket to deliver his first ball of the over.

It’s a hard wicket, very flat and there doesn’t look a lot in it for the bowlers. There’s a bit of rough just outside the crease, as though hundreds and hundreds of people have passed over it daily, which could encourage the spinners but apart from that it could be mistaken for a really busy railway platform in the heart of Manchester. Oh wait…

"Now arriving at Platform four, the 11.00 service from Hadfield," was what was actually announced as Thomas Dunne sauntered in from the Platform End.

And Thomas Dunne isn’t Shane Warne, he’s a ticket officer (to protect Network Rail, and their staff who do provide a decent service, I have used his real name to single him out and try to ensure this doesn’t happen again. Also by using his real name, I can give him a few pointers on his very weak bowling action. If you’re reading this Thomas, see below).

 

Like Shane Warne (pre-Liz Hurley) he is slightly overweight and balding. Unlike Shane Warne, he probably doesn’t have thousands and thousands of pounds to rectify this with Advanced Hair Studio.

 

As I step down from the 11.00am service from Hadfield to Manchester, calling at Glossop, Dinting, Broadbottom, Hattersley, Godley, Newton-for-Hyde, Flowery Field, Guide Bridge, Ashburys and Manchester Piccadilly, I see Thomas deliver his first ball of his imaginary over. 

 

It’s not a textbook action and his delivery is definitely sliding down leg. Had Aleem Dar unexpectedly commuted into Manchester on the 11.00am, he would have no doubt signalled a wide. Unless Thomas Dunne is involved in an imaginary test match.

 

Following his first delivery, Thomas realises that, despite his physical appearance, he is not Shane Warne and casually walks over to his portable ticket desk, where he should have been all along.

 

"Sorry about that," he says as the queue begins to build, "My colleague has gone to the toilet. He’s been a while. He better hurry up," he adds.

 

"Return to Flowery Field, with a railcard please," I say because I have no interest in responding to his colleague’s toilet habits. 

 

"That’s £2.30," he replies.

 

"No it’s not."

 

"Oh. No. Sorry. £2.10. What am I like?"

 

Well. What are you like? I don’t know but from what I gather, you’re a rubbish cricketer who thinks Piccadilly is Lords and that it’s appropriate to talk about how long your colleague visits the toilet for whilst representing the company you work for. You’re also not very good at maths (and/or working mini computers to print rail tickets).

 

Needless to say Network Rail, I was not bowled over by your employee’s services.

 

FOR THOMAS:

 

Here’s a few tips to improve your action… (taken from http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/cricket/skills/4172964.stm)

There are five basic components to bowling. They are: 

* The run-up

* Bound

* Coil

* Release

* Follow through

Step One: The run-up:

* As you set off from the top of your run-up, start by using small steps before changing to larger strides.

* Keep your arms close to your body and your head steady - keep your eyes fixed on the target - the batsman.

Step Two: The bound:

* As you approach the crease, turn your body to get side on and lean back slightly.

Step Three: Coil:

* The coil is the spring from which the ball is released. Keep the ball close to your chin with your head looking behind a high front arm.

* As your back foot lands on the pitch, keep your body upright. Your back leg should remain stable and support the body while the front foot should be raised slightly.

* Your front foot should be pointing to the batsman as it lands with the leg braced ready to take the full impact of the delivery.

Step Four: Release:

* As the shoulders begin to rotate, push your bowling arm forward and down from the coil position, with your non-bowling arm pointing to the batsman.

* The arms should rotate through with the ball released at the top of the delivery arc.

Step Five: Follow through:

* As you follow through, fold your bowling arm into your body and swing your hips around to finish.

* Your momentum will take you towards the batsman but make sure you don’t run down the middle of the pitch (or in your case, platform).

School’s out for (the longest) summer. Of their lives…

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"RIINGGGGG" 

The sound of the school bell. Usually such a joyous occasion. One that signals the end of the day, the end of the week, or the holy grail of bells- the end of term.

That bell rung last week. The Whit holidays. But for some there is no joy. Because I have witnessed first hand how young boys are losing the will to live, are actually pining to go back to school, and are walking through the streets of Manchester red-faced. Shamed. Embarrassed.

"Son?! Come on son. Get in the car," hundreds of mothers across the nation last week shouted, as they dragged their children out to the local shopping centre. Footballs were reluctantly abandoned and Xbox’s were switched off.

There’s a look of pure embarrassment plastered across every pubescent teenager as they are dragged up and down high-streets, and if for only one second they could bear to look up, they would realise they aren’t alone. 

Horror strikes their faces as they enter a shop. Dragged up the escalator. Their hormones searching for the nearest noose. Their eyes searching for the first safe zone.

Led by their mothers to the last place they want to be. The stare into the distance, avoiding eye-contact with anyone, longing for their football, longing for their skateboard, hell, longing for their maths book!

The parking ticket says they have two hours here. Their brain is confirming it’s actually two days. As if life isn’t bad enough for twelve-year-old boys. They have spots, no sense of style and are going through changes quicker than the Chelsea backroom staff. In the words of a teenager, it is so not fair!

As the torment continues, they are brought into the world of a man. Their first taste of manhood. 

"Now you sit here. I’ll be out in a minute."

"Get used to it," an over-friendly bloke will say, as boys and men line up outside department store fitting rooms. And that’s if they’re lucky. That’s if they’re allowed to be let out of their mothers site. If they’re not. Well. For those poor troops it’s like being trapped inside a ‘Your Mum’ joke. 

Then it’s nearly over. They approach the till, half relieved, half scarred. And as I look at them, it makes me laugh. And there will come a time when they’ve served their sentence and they can look down at young, spotty, teenage boys going through changes quicker than the Chelsea backroom staff and they can laugh. 

 

But today is no laughing matter, because today, their mothers have been swimsuit shopping. 

 

And next month, their mothers will be in those swimsuits. Their flight tickets say they have two weeks there. Their brain confirming it’s actually a lifetime.

"Listen, I’ve got someone here who wants to speak to you."

A nine-year-old boy I was. And like most boys of nine-years-old I loved football. And like most boys and girls and men and women and, well, pretty much the entire nation, I loved David Beckham.

I was luckier than most boys and most girls and most men and most women, and, well pretty much the entire nation because I had a connection to David Beckham. My Uncle David was David Beckham’s private bodyguard.

I was the happiest little nine-year-old boy. I received autographs, was told stories and even got a birthday card and present from the great man. A birthday gift! 

And then that fateful day. My Uncle David had always promised it and then…

RING RING…. RING RING.

That was the telephone. My Mum answered in her telephone voice.

"Oh Richard it’s for you. It’s David."

"Hi David," I said.

"Are you ok Rick?" My Uncle David replied, "Listen, I’ve got someone here who wants to speak to you."

"Oh my God," I remember thinking. My heart pounding. It is even now just recollecting it. I knew exactly who wanted to speak to me.

"It’s David Beckham," he added.

"Fuck! Wow. What?!" is what I would have said if that moment happened now. I didn’t. I was nine. I actually said, "Mummy, mummy I can’t. I can’t."

My Mother takes the phone from my embarrassed, shy, utterly pathetic nine-year-old hands. She listens…

And listens…

And then…

"Oh pack it in David. You sound like a right bloody puff!"

My Mum. My Mum has just called David Beckham a puff. A puff! At nine-years-old I didn’t quite know what a puff was but I sensed it wasn’t well received. 

"Wanoofgdfghdfhgigfdvnshaaz;jhxifh" came down the other end of the phone. Like the shouting down a phone you see on episodes of sitcoms.

My Mum had inadvertently called David Beckham. England Superstar. Every little boys idol. Every middle-aged-woman’s heartthrob (including my Mum’s) a puff.

When she said, “Oh pack it in David. You sound like a right bloody puff!” she thought it was my Uncle David winding her up. It wasn’t.

He never called again.

*I also must add, my Mum wouldn’t dream of calling anyone a puff any more. It was the late 90’s.

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