Thursday, 31 October 2013

Anthems of House

I went back in time last weekend. Figuratively. Before housing the banality of business network meetings and car boot sales, Bowlers in Trafford Park was one of the most prolific clubs in the north of England. I was too young to go in its prime, but this man seems to have been a regular attendee and has plenty of retrospective info on the 90s club scene that Bowlers was so heavily a part of.

For one night, on the 26th October, Bowlers- now Bowlers Exhibition Centre- reopened as a club for History of House Music, a retrospective night of house classics. Look at the names on that line-up!


I paid £45 for a highly sought-after VIP ticket, gaining access to the VIP lounge, where DJ Bini shared the decks with Si Forestiero, Jason Herd and his partner-in-crime Jon Fitz (Herd ‘n’ Fitz had a hit with I Just Can’t Get Enough in 2004).

We were treated to a brilliant live PA by Freemasons front-woman Katherine Ellis.

Is that Inner City leaving the building?” she mocked. 

The Main hall of Bowlers is absolutely huge, with a 4,500 capacity and- on this night- a full-width stage with an immense LCD backdrop. The event was far from a sellout, though, and the venue had plenty of space at the back.

 As it happens, I did see Inner City, who performed their hits Big Fun, Pennies from Heaven and Good Life.

Here's DJ Adam Guy's  set

Vid 1

Vid 2

I suppose the problem with a retro night like this is that the people who go clubbing are too young to remember the era the Anthems night is celebrating, yet the people who ARE old enough are settled down and have other interests than going clubbing. That could be the reason the night had low numbers. The popularity of old-skool house music amongst 20-somethings could also explain the surprisingly young clientele. The majority of people there fit the demographic of the average clubber in any other venue- 18-25 year-olds, which says something about contemporary dance music.

There were a few signs that rave culture was still alive and well- laser shows, fire-breathers, stilt-walkers, axle-grinders, a few topless blokes scattered about, the smell of weed hanging in the air, a few delirious faces and a handful of crazy outfits (but it WAS Halloween). Oh, and this bloke:

I suspected his own zaniness floored him rather than any ingested remedy, and it didn't look like it had kicked off at all. I definitely didn't see any fights all night.

I had a great night and I got to see friends, enjoy performances, and dance my arse off. I think I missed a few PAs and DJ sets by holing myself up in VIP for too long, one drawback to paying for privileges. I suspect, though, that the Bowlers of the 90s era- the period that the night was celebrating- would have felt friendlier and more unifying. I mean, how many people were dancing in those videos? Only the VIP crowd! Perhaps the cliché that clubbers in the 90s didn't realise how good they had it isn't just a cliché. I was too young to know, but I gather the 90s club scene had a whole lot of love that can't be replicated by simply bringing back the acts and DJs.

But it was a damned good effort.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Three Strikes: Week 48

This weeks achievements: 

On Saturday I probably spent more time driving in one day than I have in any other day, and with the torrential downpour the north-west saw this weekend, I can treat that as an achievement of sorts... 

I've driven from Oldham to Cleethorpes for a wedding, then from there to Trafford Park for Anthems of House Music, a night of dance classics in an exhibition centre that was, at one time, one of the biggest clubs in the country in its day. Full post to follow.

Gents' mag Esquire chose my tweet for their Reader's Nightmares article! It was an online piece only, but I'm mighty chuffed!

At the gym, however, I could hardly get onto any of the machines I wanted to. I'm going to have to get my ass out of bed VERY early to use them before work, when only the forty-something-year-old women come in to chat on the treadmills. I went in this morning after I'd got home at about 4am! I'd had about 7 hours sleep and got in as quick as I could, but the lat pulldown and the benches were STILL being used! This is what happens when you spend £19.50 a month on a membership, though- you're joining a tiny, overcrowded gym with a handful of machines.

I actually improved on something at the gym, breaking a 6-week run of not making any new records. Cable crunch, using the V-shaped handle bar, saw a 1-notch improvement after a 14-month slump. It's a stomach exercise, so something I've never stopped working on. It does affect the wrist muscles more than the stomach, though, so I'll be more likely to look like Popeye than have a six-pack if I keep at it. As few as 5 strikes left on the project. Was hoping I could stretch it to 52 weeks- it'll be a miracle if that happens.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Profanity in Kids' Movies

The Jungle Book (Won't embed, for some pathetic reason)

Shit, yeah, you better had.

Transformers: The Movie

Shit, I dunno! What ARE you gonna do?!

The Twitches

What the FUCK are “twitches”?


Angry driver at 0:28...

I wonder if these films made it on to TV uncut. Well, kids hear it all in the playground anyway, right? Oh, and by the way- given that these lines exist in U-rated movies, can we now stop cutting swear words out of 18-rated films that are shown AFTER the watershed on TV?

Are there any other U-rated movies with swearing in?

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Meeting David Weir

Last night I met six-time gold-winning Paralympic champion David Weir, who was signing copies of his autobiography Weirwolf.

With the event happening on a weeknight at 6pm, the Deansgate branch of Waterstones was quiet. I asked a bookseller what was happening.

He's just having a cup of tea in the café at the moment,” she said. “We're just waiting for it to get a little busier.” She pointed to a short queue forming near a table. It's a shame, really, as watching Weir compete and win, and accept four gold medals at last year's Paralympics, was electrifying. You'd think the queue would go around the block.

I really enjoyed his races last year, and told him so when I met him. What a ledge!

Monday, 21 October 2013

Going Monosyllabic

Can you write a 100-word story using words with only one syllable? This was our challenge some months ago at Writers Connect.

This isn’t necessarily a timed exercise- just keep it incredibly concise. I went way over the word mark, but I kept the story monosyllabic. Many people didn’t manage that.

It also helps if you have a starting point- maybe a theme or first word to begin the story with. We didn’t though, so I had to use literally what was in front of me. Hence how ridiculous it gets.

I ate the chip off the plate. It was good. I left the peas, though.

What’s in the pot of sauce?” asked John.

Don’t know,” I said. “Some kind of crème.”

The word “crème” was a code word for the Dark Prince. He soared up from the ground, roared, and smashed the plate. His mouth, a cave of sharp knives, foamed and steamed. “Who stole my chip?” he asked, loud and firm.

The group’s eyes moved to me. I burped.

The beast of a man gripped me by the throat. “That was MY chip,” he roared, eyes red and raw. “What will you do to please me now?” he said.

I saw my days in hell with no end. In fear, I puked up on the plate, warm and moist.

The Dark Prince scraped up the mush and ate it whole and warm.

Thanks,” he said. “And… don’t use that word please.”

What word?”

Crème,” he said, and the ghouls poured from his lair.

Aw, no!”

They clawed him deep back in the Earth.

So. Quite clunky and ridiculous (Why would the devil have a problem being taken to hell? Isn’t that where he’d be at home?), but I managed it. You’d be surprised how many people accidentally slipped in a few multi-syllabic words. Also, I took the word count to 174. Guessing how many words I’ve written is impossible for me- I need the word processor to guide me on that. Start with a theme and stick to a time rather than word count, and a monosyllabic challenge could be a really inventive exercise.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Three Strikes: Week 47

Had a fucking nightmare this week with buying a ticket to a club night thatI then realised I couldn't go to due to a wedding. I'd have stayed over and already had booked the hotel room. Tried to sell the ticket. Had no serious buyers. Then realised I was losing money whichever way I turned, and that the wedding venue wasn't actually all that far from the club. I'd be at the wedding all day, so I'm sure they wouldn't mind if I left at night. The club won't even get busy 'til after midnight. I've just got a bit of a mission driving from one place to the other. I'll manage though.

So re the previous blog post: the ticket isn't for sale any more and I am going to one of the biggest clubbing nights of the year!

On the issue of nightmares: earlier this week, gent's lifestyle magazine Esquire were asking us to tweet them our scariest dreams. I mentioned one that had stuck in my mind for over a decade- that I was about to be beheaded in the college car park for selling drugs. I have never sold drugs. I got a favourite and a thanks from them. Woop woop!

And on the theme of social media, comedy website The Poke asked over Twitter for our #bruciefilms, film posters involving Bruce Forsyth. As I'm using the pre-installed Paint application and not a £200 Quark-type graphics package, this is all I could manage:

I apologise for that.

No PBs at the gym.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Anthems of House VIP Ticket for Sale

A week today sees one of the biggest classic house music nights in history take place at the iconic Bowlers Exhibition Centre in Trafford Park. Anthems of House looks to be a spectacular, memorable and stunning event, featuring DJs like Dave Pearce, Allister Whitehead and Stu Allen. Expect also unmissable, rare PAs from 90s dance music legends Inner City, Shades of Rhythm and Liquid.

And I can't go. I'm fucking devastated. HOWEVER: I didn't realise that until I'd already bought a VIP ticket. I'm now lumbered with an incredibly rare pass that allows fast-track entry, access to the VIP room and bar, the main area VIP stage, a set-times event lanyard and the VIP toilets.

I spent £45 on this, before I properly checked my calendar. I just need someone to take it off me. You've got until next Friday night to buy it off me. For everything that you'll experience, £45 is an absolute bargain. I can't believe nobody's taken it off me already.

If you want it, get in touch FAST. My Facebook is here. My Twitter is here.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Writing by Numbers

Group exercise. Leader Oz gave us a range of numbers, each written on a folded-up slip of paper which we picked individually from a pile. My range was 51-60.

The exercise: in 15 minutes, write a story involving all of these numbers. Here’s mine. You tell me: is this cheating?

51 52-year-olds boarded the buses- the 53 and 54 to Manchester. This was an event that occurred yearly, and had done since ’55, when the rockabilly era had just kicked off. These particular middle-aged folk were really too young to recall the era, but in their teens and twenties they had found the music and grown fond, bucking the trend of indulging in modern music so celebrated by their peers.

The bus charged at 56 mph down the newly opened M57, with the rockabilly classic “58 Ways to Jive” bursting out of the bus’ tinny speakers.

I’ve not heard this since, what, ‘59?” guessed Gerald.

“’60 maybe,” said Lynton. “When I met my wife. Happy times!” He chuckled, and popped his false teeth forward. The bus lurched around the roundabout, causing his stomach to flip.

Apparently, this isn’t sticking to the rules! Everyone found this hard. I think people’s ages might not be realistic. If they’re 52 and one member had met his wife in 1960, and they’re too young to remember the rockabilly era… Sorry, just attempted maths. Brain exploded.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Meeting Ricky Hatton

Former IBF light welterweight champion and local boxing star Ricky Hatton visited Manchester Arndale Waterstones on Saturday to promote his autobiography, War and Peace: My Story. I got there an hour early when there were only 30 people in the queue. Before long, the shop looked like this:

Most signings I’ve been to haven’t had queues this long. Even in retirement, Hatton has a huge following in his home city, as detailed in the book (which I started reading in the queue).

He was a little bemused when I gave him my blog card: “Ey, wot? Oh right thank you very much.”

Part of Ricky’s national appeal is that fame and success have never impacted on his northern, blokey persona, something that was apparent both at the signing and in his autobiography.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

It's Time for Another Blogging Challenge.

It involves this blog, Twitter, and a third website, and continues from of a previous blogging project. This time it's not a monthly “personal best” project like its predecessor, but a “finishing line” style attempt to do something until the doing is done.

Maybe it'll take a month. Maybe it'll take more. The plan is to take the blog to 200 K page views although I might stop before that or I might stop after.

For the record,

Page views today: 272
Yesterday: 259
Last month: 4948
All time: 166,837

Tuesday, 15 October 2013


I shot down to the Big Smoke on the weekend of the 5th October. Here’s what I did, that you should do too.

Greenwich is home to the newly-refurbished, century-old tea clipper The Cutty Sark . Learn how this vessel helped make the British cuppa as popular as it is today, and what life was like aboard. A magnificent piece of nautical architecture, even from beneath.

Up at the O2 allows you to walk over the top of the Iconic O2 Arena. The guide, Adam, talked us through the process, giving us the wind-proof body suits and boots, and led us over the dome via a path made of springy material suspended over the shell of the building. The suits were a testament to the era- strong, warm, breathable material, with a pocket on the chest specifically for smartphones.

Up at the O2 also caters for wheelchair users.

Although working the karabinas can take a couple of goes to master- you need to re-clip it to the cord you’re attached to as you pass certain wire-work on the way up- the ascent and descent are fairly easy. The apex of the dome is only 52 metres high but the view…

After a picture break, you’re led down the other side onto solid ground. The walk costs £25pp but is worth it.

Next up: The National Maritime Museum. Fascinating but very war-heavy. From technical details of how the boats operated to cultural information about the effects of marine travel, the displays range from interesting, to amusing, to darkly sobering (brace yourself for the very moving section on the slave trade).

We tried getting in at Jamie Oliver’s restaurant in Greenwich: booked up. So was nearby Zizi’s. We spotted Byron and gave it a whirl. It’s a fantastic American-style burger joint, with a 1950’s milk-bar feel. (A branch has just opened on Deansgate in Manchester. Check it out.) If you’re quick you can try out the delicious Le Smokey, a burger with generous helpings of Montery Jack cheese. Yum. It’s on the menu until 31st October.

There’s plenty to keep you entertained in London. I’ve got plans to do more sightseeing over the next few trips down south, including Camden, Madame Tussauds, The Shard, Notting Hill, The Old Bailey (as an observer, obviously), Highgate Cemetery and the Imax Greenwich. Any further suggestions?