Thursday, 26 February 2015

Panacea Undergoes Refurbishment

Celebrity haunt and trendy nightclub Panacea closed Saturday 7th February for refurbishment.

Here are the latest pictures of the club:

I went over the summer and loved it. Panacea II is a Work In Progress. I personally thought it looked brilliant as it was...

...but I'm keen to see what the new layout and appearance will be like. I'm sure the team behind Panacea II won't disappoint!

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Avici White has Closed. Long Live Avici White.

Deansgate club Avici White closed its doors for the last time on 7th February. The house music venue first opened in 2011 and before long big names like Joey Negro were playing on Saturday nights. The early days were superb.

The club changed it's music policy after a few months, from classic / funky house to a more tech and electro style, resulting in a younger clientèle. I preferred it's earlier days.

But earlier this month the club uploaded this tweet.

A subsequent reply revealed the 111A Deansgate address has been bought by another club.

There were rumours of a second venue that eventually never materialised, but I have fond memories of the club in the first funky few months of its life. I also wish the team- Richard and Natalie et al- all the best for the future.

Monday, 23 February 2015

Thanks for the book, Vintage!

This unexpectedly dropped through the letterbox Friday.

The Vagenda is a book based on the blog of the same name by London journalists Holly Baxter and Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett. Apparently a runaway success in the blogging world, The Vagenda was founded in 2012 getting 7 million hits in its first year. Jealous.

Publishers Vintage have now given the ladies a book deal. The Guardian described it as “a brilliant expose of women's mags and marketing- laugh-out-loud and painfully funny.” I've read the first chapter and it's certainly drawn me in. I'll make a few notes as I go along and will review it ASAP.

So, thanks Vintage- I'm assuming you've seen the blog and noticed that I review books. Happy to oblige. This is a first!

If you're a publisher and want me to review your book, hit me up at

Sunday, 22 February 2015

William S Burroughs: A Life

Back in the early half of last year I started on the 700-page behemoth, William S Burroughs: A Life, by Barry Miles. It's a recently-published biography, the first to emerge on the surrealist writer and heroin addict in a quarter of a century. This week I finished reading it.

William Burroughs (1914-1997) was a surrealist author, one of the founders of the “cut-up” technique of writing (literally slicing up printed works and mixing them with others) and a major heroin abuser. He was an outlaw not just because of his liberal drug stance: he was a gay man who lived in the USA and the UK during times when both countries were still prohibiting homosexuality.

The book charts his youth in St Louis, Missouri, where he went to school with the vampire hunter Vincent Price, his acceptance into Harvard, his migration to South America and the accidental killing of his wife (a marriage of convenience rather than love), the release of his most celebrated work, Naked Lunch, his time spent in Paris and London, and his twilight years state-side in Kansas.

The detail and level of research that Miles went to to produce this book is exceptional- granted, he was a friend of Burroughs for 30 years, so he would have some first-hand knowledge. But the interviews he conducted and the existing published material he unearthed must have taken a long time to collate. The notes accompanying the text, on their own, take up 37 pages of the book. It may be a lengthy account of the man's life but the content is always intriguing, usually bizarre and frequently laden with tense scenarios (The State Department trying to frame him for drug smuggling on one side of the Atlantic, and the Obscene Publications Squad trying to take Naked Lunch out of British book stores on the other).

I loved reading this book, even if I only read it in bursts. The first quarter I read over one weekend in early July. I was house-sitting a Rotary Centre in the Peak District whilst family and their college friends were out walking in the hills. The rest took until this week.

When you spend that much time reading about one person's life, you start to form a connection to the subject and you begin to sympathise with them (if you didn't after that many pages, something is wrong). So when you reach the section covering 2nd August 1997, you can't help be affected when the 83-year-old legendary writer slips out of the world on a Lawrence Kansas hospital bed.

A fantastic read. I'm looking forward to reading the Cut-up Trilogy.

I bought the book at an exhibition of Burroughs' photography in London.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Meeting Dimitri from Paris

House Music DJ Dimitri from Paris played in Manchester's Milton Club last night, whipping up a mix of funk and disco to an appreciative crowd. Dimitri was the first to headline for Soul Purpose, a new monthly event at the club.

A lot of the songs he chose were 70's originals of songs that you didn't realise were actually samples. For instance: you may remember Spiller's Groovejet (If This Ain't Love) from 2000. 

But why play this when you can play the original, largely-unknown-to-under-40's track from Carol Williams?

Fridays have been quiet nights across the whole of Manchester in recent months, but last night's event was filled with good people and was the busiest Friday I've seen in the club.

A Dimitri from Paris mix from the Radio 1 archives:

I couldn't leave without a handshake and a photo with the superb DJ.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Reading and Planking Month

In an attempt to see my abdominals (last spotted late 2010), I devised numerous gym-based projects that found their way into this blog. Still no luck. A recent attempt was Reading and Planking, which involved holding the plank position whilst reading the shortest book in the to-read pile. I started to see some improvement in my planking abilities, getting a planking PB of 3 minutes 5 seconds.

Next up: a month of planking and reading, as regularly and as continuous as possible.

Monday, 16 February 2015

82 Night Bus has been Withdrawn, Goddamnit

Once in hallowed times there was a night bus that allowed partygoers in Manchester to get home from a night out if they were heading back to Oldham, whether they were drunk or too poor / tight to shell out £30 for a taxi. Those days are, for the moment, over. I asked public transport company First Manchester why this bus service seemed to have been discontinued, given how helpful it was.

Here's their response in full:

Our Ref: CID/C0225391-NOR
16 February 2015
Mr M Tuckey
Dear Mr Tuckey
I'm sorry to hear you're not happy that we've had to withdraw our number 82 service. 
I can quite understand your frustration and disappointment, 
especially as you found this service to be so useful.
However, this service was subsidised by Transport for Greater Manchester 
and they have withdrawn the funding for the service..
Once again, I'm sorry you've been affected by our withdrawal of this service, 
but I do hope you'll appreciate why we had to do this. 
I hope that we can look forward to seeing you on one of our other bus routes again soon.
Yours sincerely
Devastation. Guess I'll have to keep on being designated driver.

Of course, if people from Oldham realised that there was a better place to go instead of just looking at what was at the end of their noses and getting drunk on Yorkshire Street every weekend for a decade of their life, there might be more demand and the service might have lasted. Who am I kidding though.

People living in Bolton or Leigh have better luck.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

House Music as Running Motivation

'I ran. I ran until my muscles burned and my veins pumped battery acid. Then I ran some more. '
-Narrator, Fight Club, by Chuck Palahniuk.

That's exactly what I've done this week: an endurance project involving running on the treadmill. I also ran some more after said sensations took hold, but instead of searching down a series of bombs that my alter-ego planted- a'la Fight Club- I just stayed on the treadmill. To motivate me, I used good house music courtesy of PC Radio, a Google Playstore app from Russia offering a range of different music styles through hundreds of stations.

On the 4th February I went to the gym and tuned into House DI, the house music stream from web radio providers Digitally Imported. I managed 60 minutes, basically because the running machines are programmed to stop after that time. Presumably this is to encourage members to let others onto the treadmills. My phone's battery was still above 65%; I was tired but I felt like I had something left in me. I decided to give it another shot later.

On the 9th I returned to the gym and tuned into Deep Mix Moscow, house music direct from the Russian Capital. I started running. After 40 minutes the broadcast stream cut off. After a Russian message, a recorded voice said “there is no stream of broadcast from this station.” The accent sounded like Officer Crabtree from Allo Allo. 

I switched to Deep Nu-Disco, again from the Digitally Imported team. By the time the programmed 60 minutes were up, I was down to 63% battery. I took a quick break- 10 minutes or so, as I was feeling strong- then got back to running. The battery was at 51% and, like my body, was starting to run out of power. I ran for another 60 agonising minutes, bringing the battery down to 17%.

I moved to sit-ups. After 5 or so minutes, the battery ran out.

Unsurprisingly, I then sat down for a few hours. My six-pack hasn't miraculously reappeared after 4 years of hiding, but a chicken fajita put energy back into me (except maybe to the legs. They weren't doing a thing. I didn't feel too bad the next day though.) I couldn't have ran anywhere near the distance I did without good house music. And if that isn't your thing, PC Radio will have your niche.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Lemon and Thyme Roast Chicken

I made this meal, listed in the Hairy Dieters' Cookbook, for a bring-and-share in work on Friday. It was my day off, so I had the morning to prepare. It was a fairly simple recipe, really, involving separating the skin from the bird at one end and pushing sprigs of thyme between them to add flavouring. The roasting took 2 hours, a little longer than I'd realised, but by the time it was done and I'd made it into the office the eating was under way. People still had room for hot chicken.

Everybody loved it! I'd ran out of time to make the gravy, having got up at 7am to buy the ingredients and having spent all morning putting it together. But gravy works best when you have a sit-down meal. In a buffet scenario it can get quite messy, so it was probably a blessing in disguise.

This was the second time I'd cooked for work. Both times I got marriage proposals. Go me!

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Reading and Planking: Review

Back in 2010 I attended a kickboxing class at Oldham Sports Centre. One of the exercises we did between practising the strikes was plank.

At the time, I'd not long moved out from my parent's gaff and I had a slim but wiry physique. In the class on this one occasion, we used a “last-man-standing” system to see who could hold plank the longest. I won. Since then I've continued to train regularly but the quality of my diet has fluctuated. I'm eating well now, but my planking isn't anywhere near as good as it was. I realised that, and wanted to do something about it. I started reading and planking.  

The plan was to read the shortest book in my to-read pile whilst holding plank position. I expected to do it in one day. Uh-uh. My abs aren't what they were, and my resistance to holding plank has diminished. I was struggling to read a page at a time. I timed my plank at 1 minute 39.

I hammered on through the fascinating and reassuring Men's Sexual Health: Fitness for Satisfying Sex. Sexual health, the book describes, is more than just being free of infections or diseases. It's being of sound mind and body overall, leading to a healthy sex life.

Well, that's the theory.

By the time I'd finished, I'd managed a planking record of 3:05- almost double my starting record!

I recommend the book to any man of any age. It book took 15 days to read- it's a small book but reading is much harder in plank than it is when doing other forms of exercise, like using a treadmill or an exercise bike, or practising the splits.

I'll be trying this project again soon, with some alterations.