Tuesday, 28 January 2020

Donated Beermats #6

From the Prairie Schooner. Some are part of a series- check the reverses.

Monday, 27 January 2020

Andy's Man Club Oldham Moves to Oasis Academy

Men's support group Andy's Man Club has gone from strength to strength, with now 25 groups meeting across the country and another opening in Scarborough 3rd Feb. Last week we had over 800 men walk through the doors of our clubs. My local group in Oldham had long outgrown the Chadderton Wellbeing Centre where we met, but as of tonight we will be meeting at The Oasis Academy.

7pm. Come have a brew and a chat.

Also on the blog, I'll be covering a blogger dinner, a yoga class launch and a vodka brand launch.

Sunday, 26 January 2020

RIP Manchester Cool Bars and Clubs / Cold Storage review

It's the end of an era: Meetup group Manchester Cool Bars and Clubs has folded. Neither me nor Silvia were running events through there any more, and when we did something always got in the way of a good night out: either people didn't respond to the event, or they did, but then didn't turn up, or they turned up dressed inappropriately or without ID meaning we couldn't get into the clubs. It became more hassle than it was worth.

Over the past 5 or so years I've had some good times with the group and met some great people. We went to many a celeb haunt, saw some impressive DJs and singers perform, and bumped into a few other famous types too. See the album. Most importantly, we just had good nights out with good people.

There are still plenty of Meetup groups active in Manchester, despite their turnover. Many like Manchester Minimalists have disappeared too, but Young Professionals in Manchester, Socialising in the City, Happy, and After Work Drinks are still active. I've enjoyed their events, and may do again.

In other news, I finished Cold Storage, the first novel from Hollywood screenwriter David Koepp. After containing a deadly virus, Pentagon worker Diaz locks it away in a storage facility for decades, only for it to break out. Now, teaming up with a couple of mismatched security guards, he must contain it again. The virus, Cordyceps Novus, takes over any creature it can, dead or alive, zombifying it, making it climb high structures or find other creatures- most recently humans- and exploding it to spread itself.

A story heavily influenced by movies like the 70s zombie trend, Night of the Living Dead etc, plus also Dustin Hoffman film Outbreak, Cold Storage has a very movie-like plot: gung-ho Americans with guns, a short time period, an unconvincing attraction between 2 completely mismatched characters, and lots of visual twists and turns. It's fun, but hardly original and even clumsy in places. 

I met Mr Koepp in September last year. 

Saturday, 25 January 2020

Try This New Mental Health App and This New Mental Health Podcast

Mental Health support groups are opening up across the country with increasing frequency, which is fantastic for those that need the help. Still, though, a weekly meeting in a specific place just might not be right for people: perhaps some can't attend due to work or travel, or family commitments. Or maybe some people just aren't ready to walk through the door.

These issues led three Calderdale men, Logan Smith, Robin Cunningham and Doug Dennison, to create Unmasked, a first-of-its-kind Mental Health app that can be downloaded to Android or Apple devices. As The Hebden Bridge Times explains, 'The app is designed to enable users to create bonds with people they would not ordinarily meet, to bridge a gap between appointments with mental health specialists.'

In other MH news, 2 of my mates, Dan Rowe and Omar Latif, have created The 84, a monthly radio show discussing all things Mental Health. It's broadcast on Manchester's Reform Radio, and shows are stored as podcasts on the station's site for those who missed it. Each show is a great listen, with a new topic or story covered each 'cast, which goes out on the 3rd Monday of the month.

The podcast title refers to the number of men who take their own lives, every week, in the UK alone. 

Friday, 24 January 2020

How my Viking Ancestors Survived the Blood-Soaked Harrying of the North

Tuckey Coat of Arms

A family story my dad passed down to me was that of the Viking tribe Toki, our ancestors, and from whom the Tuckey name originates. ('Tuckey' comes from the Norse name Thorketill, meaning 'Thor's metal cauldron.') So how did this Viking name, and bloodline, sustain to the current day? A theory states that the tribe landed in Toxteth in Liverpool, founding that town. The Vikings founded many towns across the country, and their dominance lasted over a century. But the Toki tribe were one of the few Vikings to convert to Christianity. I asked my dad his take. There's a few gaps in our family knowledge, so if anyone wants to enlighten us, please get in touch.

We doubt that they decided to 'give it a shot.' There was a continuous battle between King Alfred the Great and Vikings in various parts of England. Once or twice King Alfred managed to beat them and they surrendered. He gave them a deal: If you submit to the king and convert to Christianity, we'll let you live and farm here. Otherwise you'll be killed. So they converted. We don't know if history records that they stayed converted.

Before you (this writer) were born, we (writer's parents) went to an exhibition in York – not Yorvick Viking Centre, but something similar. There was a mention that there was a teaspoon in one of the major churches in London, maybe St Paul's or Westminster, that was given to the church when Toki converted to Christianity. I've not managed to find anything else. I'll write to both, and ask which king they subscribed to (Alfred the Great, of Britain, or Guthrum, leader of Danelaw, the Viking-held area of Britain).

During or after William the Conqueror's time, They murdered a particular character.” (This was probably Copsig, AKA Gospatric, Earl of Northumbria. This assassination is regarded as the turning point and inciting incident for the end of the Viking era.) “WtC got absolutely fed up with Vikings starting petty wars all over the place so he ordered The Harrying of the North, 'harrying' as in the harrier bird which attacks other birds. He sent an army northwards just to wipe out the Viking race. It was ethnic cleansing. But he let those around Rugby off; the Toki tribe survived. Is that because they'd become good Christian people? It's possible. In the Harrying WtC wiped out the populations of 5 towns, including Huddersfield and Wakefield. He didn't just kill the inhabiting Vikings, but salted the land so they couldn't grow crops, and slaughtered the livestock. There wasn't a chance of the Vikings' survival.”

The Christian monk and Anglo-Norman chronicler Orderic Vitalis (1075-1142) was horrified at what WtC's men had done. His diary entries survived for historians to read.

'The King stopped at nothing to hunt his enemies. He cut down many people and destroyed homes and land. Nowhere else had he shown such cruelty. This made a real change. To his shame, William made no effort to control his fury, punishing the innocent with the guilty. He ordered that crops and herds, tools and food be burned to ashes. More than 100,000 people perished of starvation. I have often praised William in this book, but I can say nothing good about this brutal slaughter. God will punish him.'

Dad went on to explain, “It was a very effective wipeout, but the Tokis survived. There are still loads loads of Tuckeys in the Rugby area, around 20km (12m) east of Birmingham.” (Take a look at Tuckey's Farm, Warwickshire.)

We don't have any immediate family there, but their ancestors would undoubtedly have stepped off the same longboats as ours. I'd be interested in hearing from you if you know anything about the above- or are perhaps a distant relative! Tweet me.

Thursday, 23 January 2020

#tbt Beermats: Week 28