Saturday 27th December
It's Saturday daytime at 1:35pm and I'm in Subway in Manchester city centre. It's the one on the sidestreet between Albert Square and the Arndale Centre.
I was in the food court in the Arndale earlier. The queues were very big and there were no seats left - about 50 people were sitting on the floor eating McDonalds, Subways, Pizzas etc. Everyone was enjoying themselves. It's all the shoppers that have come for bargains in the sales. After buying a bottle of Volvic from the newsagent in the food court I went downstairs to this Subway on the sidestreet.
I walked into this Subway and now I'm here. There's a guy and a lady serving who smiled as I walked in, there's also 3 girls in their late teens sitting at the tables.
Him: "Hi, what can I get you?" he says being polite and friendly.
Me: "How much is the steak sandwich?"
Him: "The steak and cheese is £3.49."
Me: "How much is the footlong one?"
Her: "Add £1.90."
Me: "I'll have the footlong steak sandwich."
Him: "Which bread would you like it on?"
Me: "Italian herbs and cheese."
Her: "Is it busy out there?"
Me: "Yes, it's everyone coming for the sales. I just came for day out. I was in the food court earlier and it was very busy. It's quiet in here."
She acknowledges with interest, and looks as if she wonders why it's quiet in here.
Him: "Would you like double cheese for an extra 40p?"
Me: "No thanks."
Her: "At 9 this morning there were 400 people queuing outside Marks and Spencer.
Him: "What salads would you like?"
Me: "Everything except peppers."
The guy passes her the sandwich.
Her: "Would you like anything else? Drinks?"
Me: "No thanks."
I pay for the sandwich, say bye to the guy and lady serving who are both in their mid-20's – the service in here is one of the best I've had in Subway – and go and sit down at the window seat. It's nice this Subway.
The city must be full of tourists today because this Subway is usually quite busy. The majority of people have gone to the food court which is well advertised and known as a place to eat out. The tourists out today won't have heard of this Subway on the sidestreet.
I enjoy the sandwich, then I leave Subway and now I'm on the street.
I go around the city and some stores all afternoon. There's not much in the sales today. Maybe the shops don't have much stock left over, or they could be spreading it out over the month through January (ie. not bringing out all the sales stock at the start of the sale). It's fun visiting the shops.
Now it's 5pm. I'm walking back to the car along Whitworth Street. I notice a lady in her 20's walking alongside me so I'm like – why not approach in the street like I do in the bars. It's dark outside though so she might not feel safe. Then again I might as well have a go.
Me: "Hi, how's it going? I noticed you have a different kind of style about you, so I decided to find out what you're like."
Her: "Hi. People say that because I'm not English."
Me: "Where are you from?"
Her: "Lithuania, in a city near the Baltic Sea. Do you know the Baltic Sea?"
Me: "I know where it is on the map. Do you go to the seaside?"
Her: "In summertime it's 22 degrees so we go by the sea. Where are you from?"
Me: "South Manchester."
Her: "Did you always live in Manchester?"
Me: "Mostly. I've lived in Sheffield for a year. Are you a student?"
Her: "I'm studying primary teaching at MMU."
Me: "You're going to be a teacher?"
Her: "I don't know what I'm going to do. My course in Lithuania is to be a translator."
Me: "Why are you doing primary teaching?"
Her: "I'm on ERASMUS. It's all the courses they have here. English universities are good. I've learned more here in 4 months than 2 years in Lithuania."
Me: "It's also good to be practicing speaking English every day."
Her: "That also."
She notices an English lady not wearing much this cold weather.
Her: "English girls drink lots and don't wear many clothes."
Me: "How long are you here for?"
Her: "4 months, I go home on the 31st December."
Me: "In 4 days?"
Her: "Yes in 4 days I go back to Lithuania. 3 days because I leave at 6 in the morning on the 31st."
Me: "Are you coming back to Manchester?"
Her: "I wanted to, so did my friend – she's from the same university in Lithuania – we came to Manchester together. But the university wouldn't give us scholarships. The recession the government isn't giving out any scholarships."
Me: "Do you need a scholarship?"
Her: "The accommodation and course is too expensive."
Foreign students need 18 to 20 thousand pounds a year to study in Manchester.
Me: "Do you play a musical instrument?"
Her: "What do you mean?"
Me: "Do you play violin, guitar, piano?"
Her: "Yes I play piano."
We talk a while and by chance she's walking the same way as me – towards where my car is parked. Then we get to the Manchester Metropolitan University area on Oxford Road."
Me: "My car is parked over there. What are you doing now?"
Her: "Going home to my flat."
Me: "We should go for a coffee."
Her: "Ok. I don't have a card for my flat, my flatmate should be there to open the door."
We walk over to the entrance for the flats, she asks the security guard to let her in as she hasn't got her card, the security guard notices me.
Security guard: "Are you a guest?"
Her: "Yes." she says.
Security guard: "You'll have to sign in."
I go to the office and she fills in the form, she writes her name which is Kate.
We go upstairs to the door of her flat and she rings the doorbell. No answer. She tries it a few times, still no answer. She dials her flatmates' phone number but it's answerphone.
Me: "You can leave your shopping bags in the back of my car and we'll go for a drink. I'm meeting a friend later so have to set off at 7:30pm."
We go downstairs, sign out on the way past the security guard, then go out onto the street. She puts her shopping bags in the boot of my car and we go towards the nearest pub.
Me: "We can go to the Footage and Firkin."
I consider it and decide the Footage isn't the right place and say.
Me: "We can go to a café down there instead, it's nicer." I say referring to Caffe Nero just down the road.
Kate: "I like coffee."
We walk along Oxford Road to Caffe Nero, except we're having such fun conversation we walk past it and end up outside Revolution.
Me: "Let's go in here, it's nicer in Revolution."
The last time I went to Revolution was on the 5th December when I was out on my own – it had a nice layout and atmosphere.
We go up to the bar.
Me: "Half a Carlsberg, what do you want?"
Kate: "A coffee."
Barman: "Cappucino, tea, espresso……."
Kate: "A cappuccino."
The barman puts the half pint on the bar and goes to the back of the bar area.
Kate: "Are you allowed to drink and drive?"
Me: "Up to a pint is ok. I'm having half a pint."
Kate: "Pints, yards, foot All different measurements in England."
Me: "The EU brought in something about selling in metric but a pint is easier to say than 568 millilitres of beer."
Kate: "568 millilitres." she laughs.
The barman comes over
Barman: "I'm really sorry we've just run out of coffee. Would you like something else instead?"
Kate: "What do you have?"
Barman: "Tea, hot chocolate."
Kate: "Hot chocolate."
The barman goes to make the hot chocolate then comes back with it.
Barman: "That's three pounds fifty please."
Kate: "I'll pay."
Me: "It's ok."
I don't mind paying. After all I approached her and invited her out.
Me :"You can buy me a meal the next time we go out." I joke.
Kate: "I can buy you a meal." she half laughs and half agrees.
Kate: "Do you know my name?"
Me: "It's Kate. I saw you write it on the signing in form."
Kate: "That's for the form. It's Katya. It's a Russian name."
Me: "I thought you were from Lithuania."
Katya: "I'm from Lithuania but I'm Russian."
We have fun conversation and lots of laughs.
It gets to 7pm.;
I look at my watch and she says:
Katya: "Shall we go?"
Me: "I'm just checking the time because I'm meeting a friend at 8pm. He's come from Prague"
Katya: "Prague. What does he do?"
Me: "He works for Cisco. He keeps inviting me to visit."
There's not enough time to get more drinks so we leave Revolution. We walk to my car and are having good conversation.
Now we're at the car, she takes her shopping bags out of the boot.
Me: "We should meet up again."
Katya: "Ok, do you use Skype?"
Me: "No. What's your phone number? Do you have any paper?"
Katya: "I've got a mobile phone."
I have a pen. She has paper. She looks up her mobile number on her phone and writes it down along with her email.
Me: "Are you around the next few days?"
Katya: "I've not planned anything, just shopping."
Me: "See you later."
We hug and we go our separate ways. She goes to her flat. I go to the car. I could have gone for the kiss but it was in the street. I was half considering what's the point because she's going to Lithuania in 4 days and I would be getting involved with someone going away.
Then again maybe I should have kissed her after all. It's not every day you chat up a lady in the street and get on so well.
It's all good fun.
I drive south out of the city.
Summary and venue reviews: Saturday 27th December
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Subway near Manchester Arndale
Quiet. Clientele: shoppers. Decor: 5/10.
Notes: Very polite and friendly service.
Quiet. People there: shoppers on the way home.
Revolution Oxford Road
Quiet. Clientele: smart casual, locals and students.
Revolution Oxford Road