Friday, 16 November 2018

10 Quotes on Excess

I only drink to make other people seem interesting.
George-Jean Nathan, American theatre critic

The Edge... there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over.
Hunter S. Thompson, American journalist

Clogged with yesterday's excess, the body drags the mind down with it.
Horace, Romanian poet

Whether you sniff it smoke it eat it or shove it up your ass the result is the same: addiction. William S Burroughs, American author

I am getting so far out one day I won't come back at all.
William S Burroughs

Too much of a good thing can be wonderful!
Mae West, American actress

Moderation is a fatal thing. Nothing succeeds like excess.
Oscar Wilde, Author

Excess on occasion is exhilarating. It prevents moderation from acquiring the deadening effect of a habit.
W. Somerset Maugham, British playwright

Society secretly delights in crime, excesses, and violated prohibitions of all sorts.
Bernard Tschumi, Swiss architect

The possibility of physical and mental collapse is now very real. No sympathy for the Devil, keep that in mind. Buy the ticket, take the ride.
Hunter S Thompson

Thursday, 15 November 2018

Arrogant Group Captain, Horrific Vampire Crash

de Havilland Vampire

Another installment of my Uncle Dick's memoirs.

Feb / March 1952

In 1952 we were told that once again the Squadron was on the move, this time to RAF Benson. during the month or so before the actual move, squadron working parties were to and fro to Benson erecting aluminium huts to accept the Squadron. We were also given an old black hangar to house our VIP Valettas.

A few days after we had completed the move the whole squadron was told to assemble so that the Station Commander of RAF Benson could speak to us. We thought that we were going to be welcomed to Benson.

The Group Captain arrived, stood on a box, looked at us and said, “You are a Transport Command Squadron on a Bomber Command Station. I will feed you, pay you and clothe you. Other than that, I want nothing at all to do with you. And keep away from the Queen's Flight next door.” He then left.

We just looked at each other. What a greeting.

The following day a Benson Equipment Officer arrived to ask us our operating requirements i.e. fuel, de-icing fluids, oils, greases. We told him, to which he said, “Rubbish.” For example the Valetta carried 62 gallons (282l) of main-plane de-icer fluid, often coming back from Germany with very little left. Weekly requirements were perhaps 400-500 gallons (1818-2273l).

It only took about 2 weeks before the station ran dry of de-icer fluid. Friday evenings we were checking aircraft returning from route, draining 20 gallons (91l) here, nothing there, 30 (136l) here, to ensure Monday's aircraft route was full. Transport was sent back to Abingdon for as much as they could spare, with our own trips to to the MU. We even waited for night-flying to finish to drain aircraft for route flying. We learnt to look after ourselves and forget the Station.

Operating Valettas meant many role changes, paratroop, freight, stretchers for casualty evacuation and passenger role. Our aircraft were parked on the grass and when role changes were carried out 17 seats meant 51 seat pins. Originally attached to to the seats the retaining cords had long since gone. Batches of pins were lost in the grass, to the detriment of the grass cutters. Sets of pins were left overseas when the role was changed. They became in short supply.

Doing my checks one day I noticed that a seat was fitted to the floor with only 2 pins instead of 3. We threatened all airframe tradesmen that if there were insufficient pins they were to use 1/4” high tensile bolts with lock nuts. It was a good job we did: our vigilance proved rewarding a few days later.

A Valetta left us with F/Sgt Jock Campbell, Captain, to fly to Boscombe Down to demonstrate to Senior Commonwealth Army officers the versatility of the Valetta. A Jeep was loaded forward of the spar on ramps and a dozen or so Army officers were seated aft of the spar. For those that do not know the Valetta, the main spar runs across the fuselage about 15” wide and about 15” high. It certainly interfered with easy loading.

The aircraft took off on its demonstration run and as it was climbing away a Vampire flown by a Squadron Leader shot across the 'drome about 50' high and hit the Valetta in the tail. The Valetta came down, partly controlled by the pilot, but belly-landed heavily outside the boundary of the 'drome. The Jeep, though chained, broke away, came forward through the bulk head and the Air Quartermaster, who was sitting in the W. Ops Seat had one of his legs severed, the navigator in the co-pilot's seat a broken hip. The pilot had concussion and double vision for months, but the rearward facing passengers escaped completely except for one with a sprained ankle.

We gradually settled in at Benson and the Squadron were happy. I had taken over my first old type married quarter, 37 Spitfire Square, a black stove in the kitchen heat supplied by the lounge fire ducted through the wall by a series of dampers. A fire was required to cook even in the heat of summer. Correct operation of these dampers was essential. My wife had a rice pudding in the oven for 2 days before it even moved.

One day, I think February / March of '52 I was on leave having breakfast when the Squadron Engineering Warrant Officer Jim Berry walked up the garden path.

Buck, your leave is cancelled. 11 O'clock you are off to Zurich, with your shift, to turn around aircraft who are back loading sandbags.”

With the gale force east winds and high tides the sea was breaking through the East Coast. Transport Command were sending aircraft all over Europe to collect sandbags.

Take enough for 2 weeks.”

Turning up at the Squadron at 10 o'clock a Valetta was seen taxiing away with my 'shift' waving through the window. My opposite number had taken Zurich and I was now due for Manston.

We arrived at RAF Manston, deplaned at the Staging Post Flight only to be met by a small Squadron Leader who said to me “Who the hell are you people?”

I duly explained to which he replied with “I am the CO of the Staging Post and we do not want you here. I can look after all aircraft staging through here. Take all your men to the NAAFI and catch the first aircraft back to your unit.”

I quietly informed him that very shortly, in a few hours in fact, quite a few Transport Command Valettas and Hastings would be calling in to offload sandbags. I was once again informed that he was the CO of the Staging Post and that I'd better do as I'd been told. A lorry arrived; the disappointed lads ,who had witnessed the conversation, left for the NAAFI. I was then told that as I had experience of the expected aircraft to go to the Sergeant's mess, get my head down, and return at 6pm to do the night shift. Incidentally this is what I did for 10 nights, being relieved at about 7am. I never really saw the light of day the whole time.

The weather, gale force winds and pouring rain, continued.

Later that day the Land Rover arrived to take me to the Flight Hut and although it was a foul night, pitch dark, I could just see the silhouettes of about 8 aircraft, Valettas and Hastings lined up. Walking the last few yards against the wind at 45 degrees, I opened the door of the Flight Hut and was confronted by about 50 irate aircrew. Obviously, quite a number of them I knew and the question was asked by 1 SNCO, “What the hell is going on?”

I quickly told him what had happened.

From nowhere an old Warrant Officer appeared belonging to the Station. The Staging Post had left about 4 people, 1 an armourer and radar mechanic, the remainder on weekend pass. Quickly we forgot about the Squadron Leader, sent a wagon to the NAAFI, collected the lads, and I informed the aircrew to hang on for 15 minutes.

On their arrival at the flight the lads were told that they were staying and that we would work on through the night until all aircraft were away.

“Who's first?” a Hastings Captain replied.

“Me, I only want 200 each in 2s and 5s.”

And so, over the next 4 or 5 hours we managed to get them all away with one wheel change.

We then split the lads into 2 parties, tossed up who would stay on, and sent the others off to bed. And so we worked for about 10 days. Though my folks lived at Deal, 15 miles away, I never even saw them.

Funny thing: we never saw the Squadron leader again. The old Warrant spent a lot of time with us and thanked us when we boarded our own Valetta back to Benson.

In some cases the sand bags that were being flown in by the Hastings were in large cubes with rounded edges, compressed by steel bands. Only 3 or 4 were carried at 1 time so you could imagine their weights. You could not get enough bods around the cube to lift it. The 4 to 5 feet cubes had to be unchained by the movements people and slowly rolled down the fuselage a flat at a time with 4 or 5 chaps in front of them to prevent them breaking away. The inevitable did happen 1 day. A load broke away when being rolled down the fuselage and smashed the bulkhead and toilet. The cubes were finally lifted out of the fuselage with a big forklift and deposited in the back of British Road Services trucks.

One impatient driver who was in a hurry and would not wait 5 minutes for the fork lift insisted that the cube should be rolled out of the door straight onto his lorry. Though warned of its weight, he knew different. The sand bag cube went straight through the floorboards of the lorry resting partly on the ground and bent a prop shaft. A crane had to be organised to get it out. What a mess.

On arrival back at Benson we found that a number of the Squadron had gone to the East Coast to help with heater trolleys drying out the houses of the unfortunate victims of the flooding by the sea.

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Chamber Music: About the Wu Tang Book Launch

There are no microphones tonight, so authors Dave Haslam and Will Ashon agree to speak up.

“If there are any DJs whose ears are completely fucked, then I'm sorry,” Dave says. “Themes may be of an adult nature. If you're sensitive... why are you here?”

It's Monday, 12th November. Both men are at Waterstones Deansgate to discuss Will's new book, Chamber Music: About the Wu Tang (in 36 Pieces), a biography of 90 hip hop crew The Wu Tang Clan. Will describes his journey into hip hop via jazz, seeing Miles Davies in Wembley (whose hands were 'too fucked' to play), and being surrounded by much older people. He noticed hip hop's emergence as the young equivalent, and how 36 Chambers, The Wu Tang Clan's first hip hop album- released in 1993- had the same energy as jazz.

Later in life Will founded the Big Dada label, and signed Roots Manuva (the label later signed Wiley). After 15 years at the label, he wrote a novel, then entered non-fiction. He describes meeting and interviewing Wu Tang rapper RZA 3 times, then losing the tapes.

“The encounters were brilliant,” he claims. “He listens to what you say, then riffs off it.”

The word of rap and the world of non-fiction authoring has its similarities, Will says. “You take quotes from different places, and put them together. It's a hip-hop methodology.” The Wu Tang's albums are all laced with samples from old kung fu movies, which the group loved, and this genre of movies became one of their rap themes.

To put together a book like this, there are countless people who knew each person, but with 9 original members, it wasn't practical to find full networks for each rapper. He did notice one serious positive to hip hop groups: that's when artists produce their best work. “Q-Tip was best in A Tribe Called Quest. Andre 3000 was best in Outkast. The competition is fierce, so their verses must be at their best.”

(I'm assuming he hasn't listened to D12's albums who's main cohort is Eminem. That's probably for the best.)

25 years in,” says Will, “Wu Tang are still producing brilliant tracks. The Rolling Stones after 25 years were releasing shit.”

The Q and A comes after this. Will describes the difficulties of race: a middle class white guy from Leicester, writing about East-Coast hip hop from a 9-strong collective straight out of a drug-ridden Brooklyn ghetto. He tells of the guy who released Ol' Dirty Bastard's FBI file, the race to get the book delivered in time for the 25th anniversary of 36 Chambers, and about rap battles teaching youngsters to keep their cool in confrontational situations.

It's a fascinating evening. He signs the book with the bastardised lyric from the track CREAM:

Matt rules everything around me!

Monday, 12 November 2018

House and Funk Northern Quarter Bar Crawl?

Fancy something a little different on Saturday night? And by 'different,' I mean not the same contemporary RnB that you can find in pretty much 99% of bars and clubs in the city?

I recently ran a poll on Facebook with a few different ideas for nights out. Northern Quarter bars came out on top, so I've put together this little party.  Manchester Cool Bars are dropping into the Stevenson Square area, starting in Spanish-style sherry bar Flok. We're then shooting over the road to Soup Kitchen, then back over to record store-cum-tiny-nightclub Eastern Bloc. Expect quirky designs, house music, a mix of ages, different atmospheres and fragrances, plus no walking in the rain any distance between bars as they're all neighbouring each other.

There are 7 of us so far. Make it 8!

Sunday, 11 November 2018

Sakana Closes, Northern Quarter Drinks, Eyebrow-Raising Follower

Re last week's roundup, we can now add Sakana to the absolute massacre of bars in the city centre of late. I'll miss it hugely- the Peter St pan-Asian restaurant was one of the few places to play house music, have a good atmosphere, offer a steady flow of good looking people and some celebs (I met Katie Salmon from Love Island S2 in there). But the prices were just too high.

However... it might be back.

Last night I went out with Manchester Cool Bars to try out a few cocktail joints in the Northern Quarter. A huge group of us congregated in Beatnikz Rebublic, a very 80's-looking bar reminiscent of a hostel cafeteria. I'd go again. We then moved onto Mexican joint El Capo, which we pretty much filled once our group got in. I quite liked it. Great artwork on the walls. Cain and Grain followed this, which was HEAVING, a total cockfest and absolutely roasting. Some of us then moved on to Eastern Bloc, a record store during the day but down-and-dirty techno rave club at night. Great stomp. Shame about the weird guy trying to pinch my arm. He very nearly got sparked. Again, lots of guys, but the music was a big draw and a refreshing change. We finished off at The Freemount.

Good night, but absolutely agonising not having a working main camera. May make a purchase tomorrow, even though a friend has promised to fix it.

In other news, I have model Chelsea Ferguson following me on Twitter, who has over half a million followers!

Saturday, 10 November 2018

Chinawhite Launch


Last night London nightclub Chinawhite opened its Manchester branch on Deansgate in Milton Hall, the former home of The Milton Club.

As the name suggests, the club has undergone an east-Asian refurb, offering appealing stone murals and Chinese patterns, and the bar areas have been moved so that the dance floor is a little bigger. The prices (high), the clientele (good looking, rich, the 'in' crowd) and the music (contemporary hip hop and RnB) are all the same though. Hey, serve up what people will pay for. It's basically the same as Panacea, LIV, Bijou etc. My friend told me there was no water in the taps in the ladies room.

Pretty sure I saw Playboy model Sarah Longbottom and boxing ring girl manager Sara Beverley of SBJ Management. You might see her holding the flag when the boxing's on.

Nice night. I was hoping for a little more originality though.

Friday, 9 November 2018

Oldhamhour Social

Boom! I've just got home from Molino Lounge in Oldham, where contributors from Twitter chat #oldhamhour gathered to network and chat.

Big shout out to RubbbishRuthRambles, who herself is far from rubbish, but certainly dedicates herself to cleaning up a lot of it across the country. She undergoes four trips per year, across the whole country, on pubic transport. The aim: to clean up as much waste as possible. She aims to pick up a piece of litter every day, to do her bit in cleaning up the UK. Follow her journeys on her blog

The Oldhamhour Social is a great opportunity to meet people from local businesses and charities, to network, make friends, and of course, eat and drink. If you want. If you're in town and you can, drop in to the Parliament Square restaurant from 5pm onwards on the second Friday of the month.

I spoke to a lot of people but I'm still in the process of finding Twitter accounts for people I spoke to. There may be similar Twitter chat events in your town.