Thursday, 17 April 2014

The Mike Harding Conundrum

Mike Harding seems to be following me. Or I’m following him. The least likely answer is that there exists some strange quirk about the great universal cog that makes Mike Harding decide to visit Manchester’s Waterstones whenever I’m there. It’s been weeks since I last visited the Deansgate store and I remember the day because I was relaxing in the top floor restaurant (my favourite place in Manchester) when Mike Harding’s head appeared at the top of the escalator. It was followed by Mike Harding’s body and Mike Harding’s legs. He looked just as he looks on the radio.

Yesterday I found myself in Waterstones after a rather sad trip to visit the University bookshop. It didn’t have any of the books I wanted to browse nor any real surprises. It was in Waterstones that I landed my bargain. Waterstones never ever have Drew Friedman books on the shelves. I check fairly regularly and the only time I’ve come across a Friedman, was a few months ago when they were selling one of his collections in their sale for a criminally low price. They had another sale on today and, sure enough, there was more Friedman books. This time both of his Old Jewish Comedians were sitting beside each other there on the shelf and each had been marked down to £3. I felt slightly ashamed taking advantage of the sale but delighted I’d actually managed to find a couple of books I’d been meaning to buy for a long time.

After that success, it was time for a coffee. And that’s when Mike Harding made his regular appearance. I guess you’d have to be of a certain time and place to appreciate who Mike Harding is and I’m not entirely sure that any of the other diners were quite a star struck as me. I’m tempted to say ‘Fred Dibnah with a banjo’ or ‘the Billy Connolly of the north’ but neither is quite accurate. Not being a folk fan, I didn’t follow his metamorphosis into one of the UK’s top champions of folk music. However, growing up loving comedy, his voice was always lodged deeper in my subconscious than I’d probably like to admit.

It’s a strange business seeing people you recognise from TV because the part of your brain that recognises them, doesn’t know where you recognise them from. Pure instinct makes you look and prepare to acknowledge them. Then some higher order thinking kicks in and you have to quickly adjust your eyes to look at something else.

The worst time that ever happened was walking down from the University in Liverpool. I was just coming out of Reid’s second-hand bookshop a few years ago and a tall guy was walking towards me. I sort of nodded and smiled and only then realised that Alex Cox has no idea who the hell I am. Cox is another of those important figures whose opinions always matter to me. His Moviedrome series was one of the most influential things in my early life. In many respects, film criticism on TV has never been as good as those seminal shows. In what just world does Cox end up teaching at an American University and Claudia Wrinkleface hosts the BBC's premiere film show?

But back to Mike Harding (another victim of the BBC's crass stupidity): this is now the third or fourth time I’ve been in Waterstones and he’s been there. I always feel temped to say hello and ask if he ever got the letter I wrote to him back when I was writing my Stan Madeley letters. Any reply would have been sure to make the finished book. It wasn’t one of my best letters but it wasn’t the worst either.

Okay. Today I want to devote to getting my 'game' closer to being finished. The level selection screen is working (I'm aiming for 20 levels to begin) and late last night I figured out a gameplay mechanic which hadn't been working right. The only jobs remaining are getting a reward system in place, unlocking content as levels progress, high score tables (trickier than I thought) and then filling each level with as much work content as I can create. In honour of Mike Harding, I'll even add his likeness to the game in one form or another. Everything I've drawn recently is finding it's way into this game.


  1. you SHOULD have spoken to him, he is very friendly and doesn't bite (well, only if you are a capitalist exploiter of the landscape, or litter-dropper, or drive noisy lorries thro sleepy villages in the dales...)


  2. Thanks Tina. If I see him again, I'll certainly feel obliged to say something now you've promised me that he doesn't bite. We could discuss our mutual hatred of noisy litter dropping capitalist exploiters. In fact, if I could add lazy parkers, aggressive smokers, weekend mountain bikers, and muscular bald 4x4 owners, I think it could be quite the memorable meeting of Northern Misanthropes Anonymous.