Every fibre of my being wants to lambast the rail system for starting our weekend away in top style with a train that was about an hour late. I'm told however that late-running trains are part of the privatisation measures implemented following the breakup of the Government rail monopoly in Britain, and they've been particularly effective in negating strike action by train drivers. As far as I can gather, by running all the trains late, no bugger wants to catch them, and therefore strike threat/action has no effect anyway.

So, eventually, our happy little band (Richie on lead guitar, Hilary on percussion and me on electric piano accordion) set off to Leeds. We saw some excellent fashion hints & tips presented on the train, and witnessed a train crew in their natural environment. It was almost like they enjoyed apologising madly and stressing themselves out trying to make sure all the passengers made the connecting trains. I think some of the people who live in this country get a kick out of making two train services interconnect. Not in a literal sense, obviously.

Anyway, on with the “story”. More of a formless narrative really, but it's my website and I'll write whatever the hell I want.

On the trip up it surfaced that Richie, when booking the hotel rooms, hadn't been able to book both under his name (not like he can sleep in 2 rooms at once, is it ? Hey, even if you were omnipresent, surely you'd stay awake and take advantage of it). Therefore, he booked the 2nd room in the name of the first thing that popped into that mysterious brain of his.

Arrival in Leeds was uneventful, and absolutely bollock freezing – Leeds assumes the mantle of the coldest place I've yet been. Arriving at the hotel, I discovered that my name was in fact Wibble Wobble (Mr Wobble, to hotel staff). Sure enough, it was no joke – even the TV screen in my room said “Hello, Mr Wobble”.

The next day I got up and went for a bit of an explore around the centre of Leeds. I'd been recommended to check out a place called Granary Wharf – apparently a nice atmospheric and lively place to be of a Saturday morning. Well, I guess one out of 3 ain't bad. Scarcely a human being did I spy down there, although definitely nice & atmospheric. If you happen to be a serial killer.

Wandering back into Leeds proper I set off in search of a coffee, and found what appeared to be the town centre & main shopping strip. Leeds' history is that of a market town, and based on the plentitude of shops we saw it'd be easy to assume that aside from modernisation, it remains such today. Apparently there's all sorts of finance and industry going on, and one of the things most people I spoke to knew it for was its universities. I had to wonder how a large student population could ever support such a large retail industry, given how students have never got any money. It seems to work however, with a pretty good variety of places that weren't the usual high street chains.

A fairly major landmark is the Corn Exchange, which I was a little disappointed to learn was really just another shopping centre now. It did make me wonder though what life would've been like in Leeds in days gone by – back when there was corn to exchange (for other corn, presumably), and there was more to life than shopping and playing with the Internet.

That night (skipping forward a bit, cos it's late and I wanna go to bed) we went up to the Leeds Metropolitan University to go to the gig that we'd actually made the trip for – New Model Army. It was the 2nd time I'd seen them (other one being about the same time last year), and once again I really enjoyed the music. It was a bit bizarre going to a gig in a uni – what can I say but that it *felt* like a uni from the moment we walked in. And as always I noticed the kinds of tshirts being worn – whereas most gigs I've been to this year seem to have been populated by about a third current tour shirts (suggesting that a lot of people must've turned up topless), about half other “related” band shirts, a sixth old shirts from the current band and the rest in whatever, this gig had the distinct feel of mostly being New Model Army shirts. In fact I became acutely aware of a sort of non-verbal competition between the other fans to see who was the most hardcore fan by who was wearing the oldest/rarest New Model Army shirt.

Wild gig. Really enjoyed it.

Sunday was spent largely walking about sedately and trying not to make my fairly achey head feel any worse. As is proper, our main game plan consisted of going to a pub for Sunday Lunch. My head slowly cleared as we whiled the afternoon away in the pub listening to the jukebox, discussing showjumping and our preferred ways to eat horsemeat, and playing the excellent board/table games, Carcasonne and Alhambra.

When it got dark (actually, a couple of hours after that – it seems to get dark around hera bout 2pm at the moment !) we motored down the hill to pick our bags up, stopping only to have a look at the pretty neat but somewhat random German Christmas Market that was set up. Naturally, seeing a guy in a giant garlic bulb-shaped shop, I had to go sample some of his garlic bread. Not quite up to Isle of Wight standards, but still none too shabby.

Then we got on the train and came home. The end.

2005-12-23 : Not quite cold enough for Santa to set up camp there, but close enough.