Ever wondered what the creator of this blog has been up to lately? Read this!

Dear Reader,

It has quite a while since I have posted any new and exciting content on East of the M60. We usually have one or two posts a week. In the last three weeks, we have only had one post. As yours truly and this blog prides itself on transparency, I shall explain myself.

Firstly, with the Boro Brass concert at Boarshurst Band Club being cancelled, followed by the Preview Evening for the North West Regional Brass Band Championship the next week, there were (obviously) no reviews.

Secondly, I am recovering from a skin infection on my lower left leg which flared up on the 15th February. As we don’t intend to frighten anybody, we wont be publishing any pictures. It is a skin infection that cannot be taken lightly nor left to last minute treatment (otherwise, yours truly would have been writing this post from Tameside General Hospital – or there would be no more East of the M60). At worst, complications may include sepsis, gangrene or eventual death.

This time last week, I couldn’t walk without limping – and it was bad enough walking to the doctors before then, having to support myself on the reception desk at my local surgery. Thanks to the wonders of our National Health Service, the antibiotics have improved my walking ability. The blisters are starting to fade and it is easier getting out of bed. I am happy to say that I was back in work. Even with some nagging pain, I still felt better getting out of bed than on previous Monday mornings after overdoing it on the Guinness at two brass band concerts the Sunday before.

So, what are my takeaways from the ‘joys’ of cellulitis? Firstly, fewer takeaways (improving my diet). Secondly, exercise: this is something I am fine with now, even more so as I have found that cellulitis pain is several times worse than leg cramps (which fade within a day of yours truly going “Arrrghhh” at 3am after a lengthy walk). Thirdly, that I should slow things down a little. Yes, a must being as yours truly is the same age as his late Nana was when Manchester United pipped Leeds United to the Football League Championship on goal average. Or the same age as when one of his favourite teachers first met him at the age of six.

Hopefully, by the end of this year, East of the M60 might have some pictures of its creator doing Mam Tor. Or something else a bit physical with public transport playing a bit part in his adventures.

What have we missed over the last few weeks?

Since the blog’s unscheduled break, we have found that…

The English £2.00 bus fare scheme has been extended. It has been extended till the end of June which might provide a fillup for the English tourism industry. Apart from that, it gives East of the M60 more Variations on a Two Quid Bus Trip for future blog posts.

The Dogs on Trams trial on the Metrolink was a great success. It has been made a permanent fixture which brings it into line with heavy rail services, where canine friends with their owner travel freely.

The Oldham Coliseum theatre will be closing. Thanks to Arts Council England’s defunding of the iconic Fairbottom Street venue, it will be showing its last production at the end of March this year. As the place where Sarah Lancashire (Happy Valley, Coronation Street, Where The Heart Is) and the late Anne Kirkbride (Coronation Street) honed their acting skills, its loss is of national significance as well as local significance.

Lord Pendry of Longdendale (Tom Pendry, former Labour MP for Stalybridge and Hyde), Dickie Davies, John Motson and Charles Foster have passed away. In my formative years, Charles Foster was a welcoming presence on the old telly box in Granadaland. Before tuning into Get Up and Go or hearing his voiceover work on The Krypton Factor or Busman’s Holiday, ‘Chuck’ had that sort of a voice that oozed stability as did fellow Wirralian, Dickie Davies. Saturday doesn’t seem the same without Des Lynam on the Beeb and Dickie Davies on the other side, but the world has moved on. I largely fell out of love with televised football when I started watching the ‘Bridge.

Making more of a personal impact on me was the late Tom Pendry. I have read one of my motivational poems to him for our beloved team, Stalybridge Celtic. Apart from being The Best Sports Minister That Labour Never Had (he was snubbed in favour of Tony Banks in Tony Blair’s first cabinet), he helped to transform Bower Fold into one of the greatest non-league grounds in the UK. Yours truly pays his respects to him almost every other Saturday by sitting in his stand (great for the Celtic Bier Hut).

As for John Motson, he made being a football anorak pretty cool for me. It was the brevity in his vocal delivery where he had an edge on Brian Moore.

Boarshurst Silver Band finished Second in the North West Regional Brass Band Championship at Blackpool Winter Gardens. Jamie Prophet and Co. booked their place in the National Brass Band Championships of Great Britain First Section Final at Cheltenham. Their Section’s Test Piece was A Day in the Life of a Knight by Philip Lawrence. Expect to see some fundraising initiatives before long!

…And finally

Normal service has resumed at FD HQ. The Stronger Together Community Choir and Open Mic will be back tomorrow at River Beal Café (28th February 2023) with myself and FD’s Music Man, Kevin Phoenix. Better still, Fun Time Friday will be back on the 3rd March with FD’s Dynamic Duo (tune in via Future Directions CIC’s Facebook page at 1.30pm). If you don’t see me doing any 360s, don’t be disappointed (I’ve a left leg to be mindful of here).

Our thanks go to:

  • Everybody at Future Directions for their patience and support over the last fortnight;
  • Kevin Phoenix: for keeping this fellow’s spirits up a telephone call away;
  • The National Health Service: had I been to the doctors in the US over my leg, it would have been much more costlier than two paid-for prescriptions from my local chemist. The NHS needs to be cherished.

Many thanks for your understanding. Here’s to several more East of the M60 posts in the immediate future.

Stuart Vallantine.

But wait, there’s more…!

Here’s a little bonus clip that was shared on the Future Directions CIC Facebook page. The pictures are from Marle House, led out by Paula (FD’s Managing Director). The Music Man Kevin is in the Hawaiian shirt.


S.V., 27th February 2023.

3 thoughts on “A Comeback Special of Sorts

  1. Dickie Davies made sports broadcasting fun and was once sent up on air by Eric Morecambe and enjoyed himself. Now contrast him with the bores in Salford who present Final Score( surely a misnomer now) who sit over a monitor and drone on about some VAR decision like it’s a life changing event. Bring back clown diving, wrestling from Newcastle and Evel Knievel and make sport fun again.


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