North Manchester Grammar School for boys

is the school I attended between 1964 and 1971. This week I received an email out of the blue from an old classmate, with a subject line “Doc Holliday” which initially confused me until I remembered that he was our Form master at 14 and also our Classics teacher. We studied both Latin and Ancient Greek in those days. The old classmate, Ian Gregson, suggested meeting for an hour to reminisce.

Ian was staying with another old contemporary, Steve Ormrod, and an hour in the cafe turned effortlessly into two hours as we caught up with more than forty years worth of past lives.

I took along some old photos from 1970, a shot on the front lawn of North Manchester and two football teams. Perhaps posting them here will help people recognise themselves or others. If you can name anyone I have missed, feel free to comment below and make good any omissions or errors. Apologies for any initial failings to put names to faces.

North Manchester Grammar School for Boys 1970

North Manchester Grammar School for Boys 1970

If your eyes are failing like mine,then the photo is larger if you click on it.

Back Row from the left: Bannister, Kev Lloyd, ? , ?, ? John Patten, Steve Ormrod,Peter Jagger, Dave Patten, Roger Fielding, Paul Rose, Gary Phillips, Kay, ? ,Barlow ,John Hampson, Hesketh, Peaker, Jack Pickett

Front Row from the left: Colin Pemberton, Paul Rowley, Garry March, Ted Stockton, Terry Tomlison, Clough, Headmaster Slater, Peter Booth, Asst Headmaster Jennings, Derek Brown, Andy Monks, Khalid Jeelani, ? , ? , Paul Lamb

Amended following Steve Ormrod’s comment

Now two Football teams from 1970:

North Manchester Grammar Soccer First Team 1970

North Manchester Grammar Soccer First Team 1970

North Manchester second team 1970

North Manchester second team 1970

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Thoughts on the Brexit aftermath

The Times was only just catching up today with it’s print edition to Friday morning’s momentous news. Two things in particular struck a chord with me. Firstly in an article about an upmarket corner of Clapham in Lambeth, the south London borough that registered the highest Remain vote, a young woman was portrayed:

She and her husband have well-paid jobs in the City — she works for a US investment bank — but there are still plenty of things for her to worry about: the economy, their mortgage (a large one), the stability of Europe and, not least, the prospect of Boris Johnson becoming prime minister.

“I used to be a real BoJo fan,” she said. “But that’s when I thought he could never be PM. I’m massively not a fan now.”

Until yesterday she was convinced that Remain would win.

“Most of my well-educated, intelligent, politically engaged friends were all Inners,” she said. “I lived in a bubble of young, university-educated mates. I was arrogant.”

Next there was a piece by the commentator , Janice Turner, which I reproduce here in full at my own risk and hope that Murdoch’s copyright lawyers are not paying attention. Those feeling that they have been betrayed by those “racist, liitle englander old people” for whom apparently you will no longer be giving up your seat on the bus for, perhaps would do well to read and consider:

Ragtag rebels who had nothing left to lose

Janice Turner

Why are we surprised the working class gave two fingers to a future of uncontrolled migration and zero-hours shifts?

A referendum is a binary choice: yes or no, stay or leave. As was the breakdown of results: north or south, working or middle class, young or old, city or shire. But what if, like me, you are — to borrow the jargon of the “gender fluidity” brigade –— Brexit non-binary? Prole roots but bourgeois life; northerner living in London. Sitting at the fulcrum made a voting decision more tortuous but the result less of a surprise.

Travelling back and forth to South Yorkshire, I’ve marvelled for years at the contempt such communities are held in by London friends, supposed progressives, people with power. You could see a ragtag rebellion kicking up dust, gathering strength, a long way off if you’d bothered to look.

In London I hear people rave about the “gig economy”, the cheapness of Uber, the snap-your-fingers-and-it’s-here Amazon Prime and Deliveroo. So modern, and the people who serve you, well, they’re young dudes or hard-working migrants. It’s cool! Outside cities, the gig economy means fiftysomething ex-miners turned minicab drivers, the jobcentre presenting you with a list not of sits-vac but temp agencies that may give you six weeks packing salad or a week of warehouse night shifts.

Success has a thousand fathers and Farage, Gove and Johnson will be writ large on Brexit’s birth certificate. I’d add plenty more. Sneering Remain sophisticates banging on about how the EU means Bach and Bergman; second-homers Instagramming burgundy passports and weeping they’ll never see Paris again; any narcissist with a man-bag who characterised the British working class as wholly bigots, loudmouths, ugly chavs, racists and fools.

Are you surprised they disdained “experts” when bankers and politicians have ravaged their life chances, or that they ignored George Osborne when his “£4,300 worse off” claim just echoed his endless austerity budgets? Of course, when they finally got a chance, they’d stick two fingers in your face. Those whose forebears fuelled the industrial revolution, whose parents fought for and lost whole communities, are now told they’re no longer the workers we need. They’re not flexible, eager, young Stakhanovites who don’t mind being strip-searched before minimum-wage shifts. They want — the outrage! — training, job security, to raise families, pay mortgages.

Mike Ashley and Sir Philip Green, Next, Amazon . . . every employer that treated its workers like interchangeable slave-bots helped take us out of the EU. Hearing the left proclaim Brexit would mean a bonfire of employment rights, I’d wonder where trade unions have been in this zero-hours decade protecting workers who already have no rights at all.

Immigration was, let’s not pretend otherwise, the central issue here. The unsaid was now said, often and crudely, feeding viciousness and rancour. However, 52 per cent of Britain is not racist: we have long absorbed great shifts of people, are more inclusive of other cultures, have more interracial relationships than any nation in Europe: we’ve made foreign dishes our national cuisine. We have not changed.

Rather, a specific angst had incubated for years about unrestricted freedom of movement, a concept I believe for many — especially the most economically insecure — is psychologically unendurable. Stripped back, it is a mind-blowing proposition: all of Greece, say, could move here tomorrow. Yes, of course, they won’t. But they could! No, they won’t. But what if they do? This principle, regardless of numbers, activates a primal fear, a nagging worry that your back door is unlocked but you’re forbidden to shut it, while people tell you it will be fine.

Free movement suits big business, which benefits from cheap, limitless labour; it suits a young, educated cosmopolitan workforce; it suits our now-stymied children who long to study abroad; it suits me. But try selling it in poor provincial towns to people who may not even have a passport; those who feel no benefits from this shiny fast-flowing global world; who are lectured by all parties about the GDP benefits of migration while their own wages are undercut.

That towns with the fewest migrants fear immigration most is always seen as a measure of working-class stupidity. But in a diverse city, migrants are just a few extra pixels in the frame; in a small town they are a distinct event, a challenge to a fragile identity. And identity — as we have seen — is not a phantasm but a banner that people are prepared to risk economic destruction to protect. Besides, there are the unprecedented migration numbers — half a million added to our population in a year — which no one ever has the courage to address.

We didn’t wake up yesterday in “Nigel Farage’s Britain”, as hyperbolic Remainers lament. Few want a Ukip government: its charlatans and raging free marketeers offer nothing to the dispossessed. Brexit revealed austerity-weary, frightened voters who want housing, security and proper jobs. Jeremy Corbyn’s In campaign may have been half-hearted but after a decade of Labour misleading its voters about migration he could have had Jean-Claude Juncker tattooed on his chest. Far, far too late have Ed Balls and Tom Watson acknowledged that free movement needs reform. Without this the whole European project will fall.

As a Brexit non-binary I had bitter, upsetting rows for weeks with everyone I love. I voted Remain in the end. The Breaking Point poster was my breaking point. These Leavers were not my people and would never deliver social justice. But here we are! Everything to play for, if only the Labour Party can eject Jeremy Corbyn and seize the day. In the meantime, as our eyes shift from our European neighbours to each other, it is time for a less binary Britain — more understanding, less hate.

Janice Turner

I wonder how many of the well-educated, young , politically savvy disappointed remainers who are now tilting at windmills such as an Independent London or are petitioning Parliament for a re-run of the referendum ( Best of three please ) were also among those who swept Corbyn to power last year.

Perhaps if the Three quid, Tinpot Trotsky had ignored his advisors such as Seamus Milne and engaged properly with the campaign to Remain,  had managed to mobilise just one in twenty of disaffected old labour out there in the sticks then it would not have come to this.

You want someone to blame – Jez you can !


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Should I stay or Should I go?

The EU referendum vote is perhaps one of the most important votes we will ever take part in. We have been exposed to the arguments for and against all day in every form of media constantly now for weeks. Everyone has an opinion and most importantly every one has a stake in the result.

What fascinates me most is that virtually every person or organisation in a position of power and influence has an agenda and as such has sought to promote their agenda whilst trying to pretend that it has the greater good of the country and the people at heart. The corollary of this is that they are asking the millions of the great unwashed with the least power and influence to set aside their own personal agendas and vote for the greater good.

It could be Mark Carney of the Bank of England or the chancellor, George Osborne, urging us to remain in their capacity as experts on the economy but really is not their real purpose to ensure that they are not embarrassed by an economic downturn post exit?

It could be Boris Johnson, desperate to appear as the archetypal British Bulldog, a 21st century Winston Churchill, who really has an ultimate ambition of becoming Prime Minister. A few days ago Alistair Campbell, Tony Blair’s spin doctor, claimed on Twitter that the Brexit lie machine is run by multi-millionaire tax dodgers fuelling anger and hate, followed by yesterday 125 business leaders, surely not multi-millionaire tax dodgers, writing to the Times urging us to not vote leave.

I wonder if Martin Sorrell of WPP, for one, worries about getting a GP’s appointment in Boston, Lincolnshire ahead of a queue of Lithuanian cabbage pickers or that his Grandchildren are feeling isolated in their primary school because they are the only ones who don’t speak Urdu or Bengali. Perhaps Martin’s £70 million a year pay package allows him to mitigate some of those issues.

How do we make our mind up? Have we even considered the issues or are we just sticking to our primal prejudices and orientations without needing to look too closely. As someone from the North West, aged sixty plus, largely Conservative voter, playing golf and with working class origins I should be a definite out voter but then again I read The Times, enjoy a middle class life/style and have a degree so this makes me likely Remain fodder.

Mysterious woods

For a long time I believed I would vote to leave. I was not afraid of that leap in the dark, I want this country to stay as it was, but that’s the point – it isn’t what it was. Leaving the EU will not not significantly change the demographic make up of this country, immigration will continue in one form or another, those immigrants that are here already will not be going anywhere.

I don’t believe that the EC has been the prime factor in keeping the peace, that’s what NATO is for, but the EU is the braces to the belt of NATO.

With trade, we are not prevented from exporting to the rest of the world and , as the leave camp are fond of telling us, tariffs and barriers to trade are low in many areas where we do not have a formal trade agreement.

With many of the other issues with the EU , do they pass the “So What” test for me personally? In many cases the answer is no. Much is wrong with the EU and it desperately needs both reform and reining in but is that a reason to leave?

So what to do? I have decided on two things: firstly I will vote for my agenda and best interests and those of my immediate family and secondly, as in the most recent General election, I will keep in mind that the economy is the most important aspect of the whole debate. I believe that the economy will suffer following a leave vote, it is not inconceivable that we will move into recession, that prices will rise and interest rates will also follow. Do I want more expensive mortgages for my children? Do I want a recession in the economy? Do I want the financial services Industry start to drift away to Frankfurt or Paris? We have a stable economy at present and should devote energies into maximising tax revenues to pay for the increase in services.

I will be voting to remain and I hope that whatever the result, this country puts the result behind it and works to resolve the issues that at least half of the country feel important.

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Christmas Quiz 2015

Apologies to all for lack of content since the May election, perhaps I can remedy this with a New Year’s resolution to post more.

As is now traditional , here are links to this year’s Christmas quiz enjoyed, as ever , by a group of Stockport friends in the Arden Arms where the food and hospitality never fail.


The quiz this year was an individual one and , despite my claims that everyone could answer every question, people seemed determined to prove me wrong.

I believe that this is also a quiz that is “Google proof” as simply having a correct answer is not a guarantee of the best score. Anyway give it a go and remember, Jimmy Carter, R2D2 and Dough are all wrong answers.

Links to everything below (they are printable PDF’s) :

xmas quiz 2015

xmas quiz 2015 answers

xmas quiz 2015 answer sheet

Previous quizzes can be found for earlier years on this site, simply use the search box using the term “quiz”

If you like the quiz and use it to entertain family and friends then a comment or email would be nice. I did hear from one of our Arden Arms gang that they were treated to a re run of last year’s quiz at another event. Hmmmm, you know who you are!

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The Election aftermath

What a night and a long day. I put some TV hours in from 4.45am to well after 1pm. But it is obviously as nothing compared to the people actually involved in the real thing. They may not enjoy my political support but they most definitely have my admiration for their commitment and stamina.

I predicted the local result in many ways but didn’t take into account the rise and stability of the UKIP support. Many people thought that UKIP just appeals to retired  golf club captains who think that anyone not from Surrey is from Bongo-Bongo land, they overlooked the signals in Heywood and Middleton and other by-elections where significant sections of the “Working Class” identified with what Farage was saying. They are concerned about immigration and only to a lesser extent European Union membership.

Labour did not connect with them enough, focusing on  zero hours contracts (actually liked by some, better than nothing think others ) the “crisis” in our NHS and “Secret Tory plans” to sell it to a Google-Amazon-Costa Coffee consortium. This almost arrogant disconnect was earlier signalled by the famous Emily Thornberry, Islington Labour MP,  tweet about the St Georges Flag and white van in the Rochester and Strood By-Election


I believe that the substantial and surprising UKIP vote came from neglected  Labour voters not disaffected Tory voters, the tattooed roofers on the council estates not the directors in the posh suburbs, the Aldi and Asda shoppers not blue rinsed ladies in Waitrose. They were all there to be brought into the Labour fold but were ignored as irrelevant or taken for granted.

Overall I was astonished by the final result, I expected the Hazel Grove result based on what I knew locally but would never have imagined an overall Tory majority across the whole country.

What also surprised me too was the vitriol on social media directed towards everyone who didn’t support the left . This dummy spitting was in contrast to the overall lack of triumphalism shown by many including David Cameron in his  constituency acceptance speech. When did Labour decide it has a monopoly on compassion?  Other people care and actually do things about it too even though they may hold different political views to you.


There is so much more that could be said but there is enough out there to fill a thousand hours of reading. It’s  bye-bye to Ed Balls, Alexanders Danny and Douglas, Vince Cable, Simon Hughes, Nigel Farage, Esther McVey, Labour in Scotland, the Lib Dems in the West country and most pleasing of all, George Galloway.

So that’s it folks. Hope you enjoyed the 2015 election as much as I did. I feel a sense of deflation and the party’s over but nothing, as I said above, as much as the real participants probably do.




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Mellorview’s Hazel Grove election prediction

In the 2010 General Election, the Hazel Grove constituency results were as follows: Andrew Stunnell, LibDem, won the seat with a 6,300 majority on a 41,000 vote turnout (this represents some 66% of a 63000 electorate) Stunnell polled 20,000 whilst the nearest challenger , the alliteratively named Annesley Abercorn, Conservative, managed 14,000 . Labour polled just over 5,000 with UKIP picking up 1,500. These numbers had not changed much over the last 3 elections although the Conservative vote increased by 3000 in 2010 despite fielding a candidate who no one locally had heard of before or since.

I believe that some of the following factors will influence the result in Hazel Grove:

  1. The increase and decrease in popularity of the actual parties over the last 5 years
  2. The local political climate and the makeup of the local council
  3. The effect of personality of the candidate
  4. The engagement of the young and the floating voters
  5. The propensity of voters to vote the same way

Using the 2010 result as a base, I think that LibDem votes in Hazel Grove reflected the success of Nick Clegg in the 2010 leaders debate and were an easy choice for people voting for a party enjoying a golden period. The same could be said about the increase in the Conservative vote. However, since 2010  the LibDems have declined 20% points in the opinion polls when compared to May 6th 2010, from 28/29% to about 9%, this has to be reflected locally. I am estimating that it will cost the Libdems in Hazel Grove some 3,000 votes.

The second factor is a limiting one for the estimate above. Without a strong position in Stockport council and a strong local party machine, the loss of Lib Dem vote would be even greater. There is also a slight advantage for the Conservatives here as they are gaining ground in local politics.

Perhaps the most telling factor will be the effect of personality. Stunnell enjoyed an almost revered position locally and could command support from outside his core party faithful based on his perceived local work and commitment. His retirement and the view that Lisa Smart has been “parachuted in” will cost the Liberal Democrats a further 2,000 votes. There is also resentment that Stunnell took part in the coalition negotiations and at the rather grimy “defection” of ex-Labour candidate, Laura Booth to the LibDem camp.


The candidature of Michael Taylor, Labour, this time will also be a major personality factor. Michael is well known in the area, respected and has proved to be a vigorous and effective campaigner. He is adept at using both traditional and social media and also has tried to connect with both the younger and floating voters. I can see this resulting in two things. Firstly a higher overall turnout and more younger voters and secondly an increase of the Labour vote by at least 3,000 votes in this area.

William Wragg, Conservative, has also campaigned relentlessly and used social media to good effect, assisted by a young and energetic team. This too will increase the turnout and will also capture younger supporters. ( It was never cool when I was in my youth to be Tory though, I must dust off my copy of Das Kapital. ) I think that this may be worth an additional 1,000 votes.

The final factor is the propensity of the electorate to vote the same way. There are substantial numbers of voters who vote Labour, Tory or Liberal come what may. All the campaigning, leafleting , debating and politicking just passes over and they seek only the parts in it all that suit their world view. It’s known as “Confirmation Bias”. These numbers are shrinking each year as the old allegiances slip further into the past. Each of these groups have their own set of prejudices: Old school Labour will never vote Tory and vice versa. Liberals could possibly go either way but are more likely to transfer their vote to Labour.

The latest prediction by for Hazel Grove is as follows:

Conservatives 32% – Labour 17% – LibDems 37% – UKIP 10% – Green 4%

If we see an increased turnout of 42,500 votes ( 67.4% of electorate ) , we would get the following numbers of votes:

Conservatives 13,600 – Labour 7,225 – Lib Dems 15,725 – UKIP 4,250 – Green 1,700

Based on my theories above, the Lib Dems would lose 5000, split as 1500 to Conservatives and 3500 to Labour. The UKIP vote would soften by 1000 votes to the Conservatives and the Green vote by 700 to Labour. This produces a Hazel Grove election result as follows:

Conservative 16,100
Labour 11,425
Lib Dems 10,000
UKIP 3,250
Green 1,000

Until the morrow, my psephologist career rests in the balance!

William hill are offering the following odds on the election LibDem 1 to 4 on, Conservative 11/4 , UKIP 40/1 and Labour 50/1. In betting parlance there is some value in there.


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A pause for breath in the General Election campaign

One full day to go in the run up to most interesting general election I can recall. The promises and bribes from every political party will continue throughout the day, liberally spread with exaggerations, distortions and sins of omission from all sides. In the background though, the party apparatchiks and spin docators will be busy preparing their Defcon scenarios of who will ally with whom and putting together their negotiation strategies for Friday morning and the next couple of weeks. Those who are still interested are going to learn a lot about The Cabinet Manual, the guide to how the UK government operates. (Here is a handy link to it if you have no life or find sleeping difficult )

It may be a surprise to all those candidates, agents, party workers and journalists in the”bubble” but there are still many people who are just getting on with their daily lives and not really paying attention. Labour has worked the hardest to create some contact with the disinterested with some remarkable vote catching ploys:

1. Try to the catch the yoof vote by engaging with a serial philandering, attention-seeking, wannabe anarchic smackhead who your own shadow chancellor had described as a “pound shop Ben Elton”. This was seen as a bad move until Russell came out with a rather mixed message of support for Labour ( But not for the beleaguered 45 labour MP’s in Scotland ) but all a bit late as it was now past the time for  those zillions of his Twitter followers (who had followed his earlier advice not to vote) to get registered to use their stubby crayons,

Russell meets Ed :

2. Get all biblical and bring real gravity to your election promises by actualising the overused phrase “set in stone”. Commission an eight foot slab of limestone engraved with six commandments. Invite press and stand in front of it, ignore everyone who instantly christens it the “Edstone”


But then forget to make your own vice chair of the election campaign aware of the real meaning of such an action as Lucy Powell car crashed again Asked on BBC 5 live if carving them in stone made them more believable, Ms Powell, Labour candidate for Manchester Central said: “I don’t think anyone is suggesting that the fact that he’s carved them into stone means, you know, means that he will absolutely, you know, not going to break them or anything like that.”

Not that the other parties have failed to make us laugh. In the interests of balance, a pair of Tory candidates for Southend tried to catch peoples eye on their leaflets by making election days more interesting:


Never a party to be outdone in the controversy stakes, UKIP have suspended their Hampshire candidate Robert Blay after he was caught on Video making less than charitable remarks about the opposing Conservative candidate, Ranil Jayawardena:

” If this lad turns up to be our prime minister I will personally put a bullet in him. That’s how strong I feel about it,” he told the Daily Mirror’s undercover reporter.

“I won’t have this fucker as our prime minister. I absolutely loathe him.”

“But I’ve always said in my constituency you could put a monkey out there with a blue rosette on and it would win.”

He accused his rival’s father of having come to Britain from Sri Lanka and “ponced off us … like all the East Europeans are”.

One final thought, if it comes to expedient coalitions with parties who want to break up the UK, then Cameron should consider an immediate one with the SNP and Plaid Cymru. Push through a single policy of instant full devolution for Scotland and Wales and then enjoy an English majority for the Tories of at least 50 seats over both Labour and the Lib Dems. Be careful what you wish for.

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