Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Bongo's Bingo

The young lad who shouted 'bingo' hands his card over to the male assistant (who's dressed as a French maid), and he takes it up to the DJ booth in front of the giant church organ as naughties dance music blares out of Albert Hall's top quality speaker system. 

Johnny Bongo, architect of all this chaos, checks the numbers. He picks up the mic. “You've got it wrong, you're a number out! Knobhead!” He makes the official fist-to-head 'knobhead' gesture. The crowd join in calling him a knobhead. It's all in good humour though, and before long, the next numbers are called out.

Suffice to say, this is not your regular game of bingo. This is Bongo's Bingo, the new feature Tuesday evening event on Peter Street.

A small entry fee gets you a book of bingo numbers and access to the aging renovated church hall. Most people are students, although one older couple look like avid bingo enthusiasts who've accidentally stumbled on a less-than-subtle reworking of their favourite pastime. One can only imagine their horror when two girls had to dance-off (in as slutty a manner as possible) to win after both having the same numbers.

The prizes for winning the games start off dubious: a rubber seagull head, an Elsa doll from the film Frozen, a garden gnome (which was held aloft Bongo's head as the opening of Karl Orff's Carmina Burana slams out of the speakers) a double-ended dildo (which Bongo used to knight the winner), a swingball set and, the final top prize, £500 in cash.

To break up the games, Bongo gives you toilet stops. You'll have to be quick, though, as you'll miss the lights going out, more 00's dance and Bongo's two assistants (the other dressed as a grandmother) shower the crowd with popcorn, glowsticks and Coco Pops (the latter to the sound of OT Genasis' CoCo.)

Albert Hall's Facebook pictures are here.

It's the kind of game where you sort-of want to win, but you're sort-of glad you didn't. But it's the taking part that counts, and the taking part is hilarious. Next week, yeah? Tuesdays from 6pm...

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

A World Without Men

This was a prompt from a recent Writers Connect meetup.

The UN building in Manhattan would gather dust, were it not compulsively cleaned out of habit. The Mogadishu arms factory lies desolate, the last bullet rolling off the production line into obsolescence, no soldiers willing to pick up the arms for which it's intended.

The only busy buildings in the world are clinics, were women line up day and night to be met by doctors. Nobody specifies 'female doctors' any more.

The women want babies. A lot of them would love a son, but this was disallowed decades ago. The UN took the drastic measure when it dawned on them that every war- without fail- was started by men.

As the decades passed after the rule was put in place- After Hillary's inauguration, and the women that followed her- the world seemed, on the surface, a more peaceful place. But the sentiments- the bitter, meaningless hatred of others- steadfastly persisted.

Monday, 23 May 2016

Independence Day: Resurgence Predictions

The new Independence Day sequel trailer has dropped! I've waited 20 years for this bad boy to arrive. Watching the original in the cinema (probably the long-since-demolished Roxy in Hollinwood) was a high point in 1996.

Wait a minute: didn't the scientist guy die? And didn't the crop duster guy sacrifice himself into the middle of the primary weapon? How have these come back alive?

And how can a ship have gravitational pull when it enters the Earth's atmosphere? Have you seen the size of our planet compared to their ship? Bollocks.

And didn't Bill Pullman's character say that he read the alien's thoughts, and that it was their whole civilisation that came to Earth on the (subsequently destroyed) mothership?

Anyway. Here are a few predictions about Independence Day: Resurgence.

  1. The film will be a runaway success and be the box office hit of the summer.
  2. I will probably watch it at the cinema, despite not having gone there for AGES.
  3. Will Smith will eventually say, “shit, I should have been a part of that. I should have offered to work for a smaller fee, or taken a share of the profits.”

I wonder if it'll be released with the holographic cover of something being blown up, like they did with the VHS version of the original. I gave mine to a charity shop!

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Meeting Tim Westwood

I want all the virgins to scream!” Shouts Tim Westwood.

A handful of women do.

You're not a virgin. Didn't I fuck you in Ayia Napa last summer?”

The Radio 1 and Capital Extra hip hop DJ doesn't hold back when he's not on the air. It's Friday 20th and tonight he's in Suede in Manchester, playing contemporary and classic hip hop to a sellout crowd.

Before he got on the decks I managed to get a handshake, explaining I'd been listening to his show since 96. He thanked me for my support over the years. He's pretty cool despite his bizarre accent.

Great venue and music. A good mix of classic and contemporary hip hop. Westwood strayed into Bashment later on, which isn't my kind of thing, but it was popular. Not easy for white guys to pull, if you get me.

I went with Manchester Cool Bars- Westwood has sets in Suede semi-regularly so there may be another event to get involved with.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Maybe they're together

This is a phrase the Writers Connect team used for a prompt some months ago, and I typically forgot to type it up. Until now.

Roger applied the mustache evenly, sticking down the edges. He'd practiced the accent and mannerisms in the mirror, preparing himself for meeting her.

He'd noticed her in the bar over the course of the last few weeks, but he'd bottled it every time he'd tried to talk to her. That's when the guy with the 'tache showed up, and he'd had her attention ever since. Maybe they were together. Maybe facial hair was what she went for.

The idea that she'd recognise him, and that she'd latch on that he'd wanted to approach her, made him sick with worry. If she recognised him, he could never look at her again, with a 'tache on or not.

The doorman swung the door open for him. At least he hadn't latched on. Or so it seemed.

Roger ordered a beer. He couldn't see her. The guy she was apparently with was sat at the end of the bar, t-shirt tighter than a paint job. Gym hadn't worked for Roger so far.

There she was, coming out of the glass room. She flirted with the guy again, shoving him playfully, then went behind the bar. Time to strike, Roger thought.

JD and coke please.”

She started to pour in silence.

How are- um.” His eyes shot to the other end of the bar as the front door swung open. A man in a pink t-shirt walked in. The guy in the tight t-shirt- the one he thought he was competing against- pranced to the entrance to meet Pink T-shirt Guy.

The girl put the drink in front of him. “No, he's not my boyfriend, before you ask.”

I see that now,” said Roger. “That obvious, then? What I was thinking?”

Yeah,” she said. And I knew you were a JD guy.”

So, that's as far as I got. She'd latched on that he was a Jack Daniels drinker, and that he thought she was with the guy, but he didn't realise that said guy was gay and- more importantly- she didn't recognise Roger behind the 'tache. Or does she? Does he reveal himself or play along? Does he have to wear the 'tache every time he goes in there, or if he actually gets her to meet with him? We'll never know. The possibilities...

Monday, 16 May 2016

Come and see Tim Westwood this Friday

A few months ago I put up a meetup on Manchester Social Group to see hip hop DJ Tim Westwood in Suede nightclub. He's the most unintentionally hilarious DJ working in the UK today. Most people in this group are older than me, and not a single person RSVPd. But I wanted to go see him anyway, so I thought, fuck it, and bought a ticket. It was an interesting night.

He's coming back to Suede, with his absurd accent and fantastic rap music selection, this Friday. You mustn't miss So Seductive. This time I've put the event onto Manchester Cool Bars and Clubs. It's a group popular more with 20-somethings, and a few like me who are a little older. Very quickly the RSVPs started flowing in. So far 18 people have arranged to meet in Sakana. There were free tickets to Suede but they ran out within hours. There was a link for £10 tickets, one of which I've got. It now seems ladies get in free before 12, so there may be a few annoyed women in the group! Oh well! 

This will be the biggest meetup I've ever ran. Make it more so by coming out yourself!

In other news, David Haye fights on Saturday, but I'm missing it as a) I'm at a party in the afternoon and b) I have Writers Connect on the Sunday. I need yet MORE feedback on my script. We're past the halfway point! I will run through the plot so you're up to speed. Also I have a great warm-up exercise. Get involved!

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Shred Month: Review

A month ago I decided I'd lay off the heavy weights and chin-ups and instead focus on endurance and cardio work. So began a month of skipping, boxing and rope flicks (symmetrical and asymmetrical, which looked a like what these German guys are doing.

I also used a lot of cardio machines in an attempt to beat previously standing personal bests. Whilst on the rowing machine I had a look at some of the in-built games that you can play. These are designed to encourage you to increase and decrease your speed of rowing so that your heart gets used to working at different rates. It's great for general fitness (and, for example, training for a fight).

The fish game was brilliant. At the left of the screen is your cursor, a medium-sized fish at the bottom of the screen. The fish is facing the right edge. Moving right to left on the screen are a number of fish of varying sizes, some bigger than your fish, some smaller. The harder you row, the higher up the screen your fish rises. Any oncoming smaller fish your fish will eat; any oncoming bigger fish will eat you. Hence you row hard to rise your cursor to catch the small fish above you then ease off to catch the ones below. The same goes for staying out of the way of oncoming bigger fish. It's pretty fun and works your reflexes as well as your body.

The darts game was a lot harder. There's a dartboard at the right of the screen. You're given a supply of 100 LCD 'darts'. The darts fly out from left to right at varying heights, meaning you need to react quickly and vary your speed. The harder you row, the higher the arc your dart will have. If your dart flies out from the top of the screen, you need to ease off to let it sail down toward the centre of the board. The next dart could fly from the bottom, meaning you'd need to row hard to raise its arc. At the end of your darts, you'll have a combined score.

Target practice was similar to the above but the board was designed more like an archery target, with the aim to get the arrow into the centre.

Interval training involved a series of 500m blasts of rowing, interspersed with 30 second rests. This seemed to go on indefinitely. Interesting to begin with, but hard to keep up with no end in sight.

A lot of the cardio machines were difficult to get on as they are very popular. The same goes for the punch bag, the skipping ropes and the heavy rope. These three are all stored in the same corner of the gym which is normally occupied with people doing these activities or others (sit-ups, gymnastics rings, etc.) At quiet times, I managed to get on a few of these. These aren't exercises you can particularly measure, but as I trained I could feel my endurance sustaining better than in previous years.

In the month of the project I managed to make one solid improvement with my 10 minute row: 41 metres onto personal best. It's not far off what I was rowing when I was 24, and still doing Muay Thai. My cardio was exceptional back then, so I'm not doing too bad for a 33-year-old carrying a little extra these days. I'm also getting through cardiotone classes without gassing. Now to get back onto weights and chin-ups. Still no visible abs.

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Doing the Splits with Peter F Hamilton

Over the last few years I've found 'novel' ways of reading and exercising, if you'll pardon the pun. It occurs to me that I've made four attempts at reading and planking, and only three at reading whilst practicing the splits.


So: I've done these projects as shortest book; month; longest book; record breaker. Not necessarily in that order. What's missing is a final attempt to beat the personal best at splits, which should take a while as I haven't practiced this in 2 years. I'm currently dualling the manual to my new Skoda Citigo (had it a month, still haven't finished reading the manual but it's a great non-addictive cure for insomnia) with Peter F Hamilton's The Evolutionary Void. I've slacked off with reading recently so now's a good a time as ever to mix some of this into my life. The Evolutionary Void is the third in the Void trilogy, something I've been hammering through since new year. The first 2 books I whipped through, as the weather at the start of the year was horrific and all I wanted to do was stay in where it was warm, and read. As winter (finally) ebbed off, I settled into The Evolutionary Void, the largest book in my to-read pile. It was my intention to hammer through it as quickly as possible, but as the weather improved, NHS appointments occurred (memory related stuff) and nights out became more frequent, reading was put on the back-burner. I also bought the aforementioned car, which took a chunk out of my time (and suffice to say my finances).

My record is 163cm. I've just sat down for a minute and got 150cm. I just want one more centimetre on my record. Now is the right time to spend a little time every day pushing my flexibility.

Monday, 9 May 2016

Clinton to Win, Unsurprisingly

A while back I read Nostradamus: Prophecies for the Future by Mario Reading, first published in 2006. In it Reading discusses Nostradamus' prediction of 'a masculine woman' coming to power and 'annoying nearly all of Europe.' Reading suggests this is Hillary Clinton being 'either in her first or second term as US president by 2015.'

A bit hasty, but Reading isn't far off. Clinton is already the forerunner in the democratic race, currently beating Bernie Sanders. She also has more votes than either of the Republican candidates.

I dropped into Ladbrokes for the first time today. I've never laid a bet before so I thought I'd go with my instincts. Unfortunately, most other people had that same instinct, and Clinton is such a sure-fire winner that I'd have to bet hundreds just to make a profit from the win.

Bernie is too old, and Trump is a bigot who told us he'd fuck his own daughter.

Looking forward to an interesting 4 years with a woman in charge of one of our strongest allied nations.

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Playhouse at Panacea

Broke a personal record this week. I mentioned earlier I'd spent Bank Holiday Sunday in Taboo, Tiger Tiger's Bank Holiday event. The next day Taboo retweeted this girl's tweet:

I replied:

96 likes! Dayum. According to Twitter analyser ANA it's my most popular tweet by a long way. So thanks Kate and Tiger Tiger. Question: Did she ever find him? If not let's do some matchmaking here! (With her and the guy she pulled, I mean. Not really gonna intrude.) I doubt some 18-year-old lad from Stockport who hangs around the Printworks is going to be an avid blog reader, but why shouldn't he be?! Or why shouldn't someone who knows him?

Moving on to the weekend just gone: Friday night was party-themed Playhouse night at the opulent and beautiful Panacea. I set up a fast-filling meetup to check the place out. I'd not been since before it's refurbishment a year or so ago, so a visit was long overdue! We got guest list so got in free before it got busy. It seemed a little smaller than I remember, but the design is so different that I can't really picture it's former guise.

Good RnB music provided by Carlton Delingo, who also does The Milton Club. Knew I recognised him. Top skills. Although it's known as a bit of a celebrity haunt I only spotted one other person: Elite TV / Playboy model Ann Denise Wilson. Didn't quite get a chance to say hi. Next time!

If you're gonna go to Panacea, bring money. A bottle of water and 4 shots came to £50 according to my friend. Don't let that mislead you though- the people I met there were friendly and down to earth, and the atmosphere fun. There's normally a Facebook album but I didn't see a photographer on the night and there's no pictures from the night in their social media.

Here's me in front of their Enchanted Tree feature:

and here with the lovely (but married) Fiona.

I plan to go back soon, so keep your eyes on the Cool Bars meetup page to get involved.

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Join Me at Playhouse in Panacea

We may just have had a bank holiday and the weather may still be bitterly cold, but that's no excuse for your social life to be on hold. Not everyone wants to stay in just because last weekend was a busy one. What's happening this week?

Friday night should be a large one. I've been meaning to check out Panacea for a long time now. I went back in '14 on a Saturday, before the refurbishment a year or so ago. So now the snow has passed (at last) and that it's MAY (for FUCK's sake) it's about time I got organised and put up a meetup. Here it is. Panacea's Friday night is Playhouse, a fun-themed extravaganza featuring inflatables and wacky glasses. And models. As you can see the RSVP has been shut off as we're already a big number. By all means try getting in and meeting us there, but you'll have to be early. The group as it stands will have to split up to get in. We're starting in classy underground joint Australasia.

Saturday: local boxing champ Anthony Crolla takes on Ismael Barroso. He's making his first defense of his WBA lightweight belt. I'd watch it, but it's the second Saturday of the month, so you know what that means...

I need your feedback on the next chunk of my screenplay. Come join me at Nexus on Sunday for the next Writers Connect meeting. Get a bit of writing done in our warmup exercises (there's a few printed on this blog) and give and receive advice on stories and poems. We start at 1pm.

Other future meetups may involve these new interesting-sounding places, as detailed by Manchester Confidential. Can't wait for the old shell of Bar 38 to become something again!

Monday, 2 May 2016

Be at Be At One in Manchester

Behind Manchester's Barton Arcade a decade or so ago there was a club called Circle, popular at first with media types- BBC runners and Granada folk- and the odd celebrity (I saw Badly Drawn Boy in one of the VIP booths). It became a bit of a gangster's paradise over time, and the violence on the door resulted in the loss its license and it shut down at the end of 2013.

The unit has been vacant for some time, but London cocktail Group Be At One has pounced on the opportunity and opened their thirtieth branch, this time here in Manchester. I dropped in last night with Manchester Cool Bars. The new d├ęcor and atmos was lovely with great service and a combo of vintage and modern features. Even though it was quiet early doors there were already a handful of stunners inside.

The Manchester Evening News has more here

After this we checked out Taboo at Tiger Tiger. The standard student Tuesday event was replicated last night, only with queues about three times as long. We joined the line at 22:45 and waited while copious people cut in front of us and groups of chav girls tried to get arguments out of whoever was nearby. There was a lot of talent in the queue, in all fairness.

Over the road, the queue for the Voodoo event (usually a Wednesday thing) at The Birdcage was also outrageous. Don't let anyone tell you bank holidays are for staying local. You can if you want, but Manchester has more than enough busy places on longer weekends.

Anyway. We got in at 00:30, which is a pretty large chunk of the night spent queuing, and this was followed by further large queues at every bar inside, including three floors. There was a lot of grime music that I couldn't really get into.

I much prefer Taboo when it's on a Tuesday, and it's not so busy that it's hard to even move around. Anyway, the pics are due here. Be At One is well worth a revisit. More Cool Bars meetups on the horizon.

Sunday, 1 May 2016

What a week.

It started with a meetup in Baa Bar with Cool Bars, heading over to Lola Lo for their ChitChat night. Pics here. Back when I was a student and Lola's was Loaf, the whole club was rammed. Now Chitchat occupies only one arch of the club on one floor. Today's students: lightweights. Great sax work by Tom DaLips and DJing by Josh Weekes though, and a fun night.

Friday night I joined Cool Bars again for a trip to celeb haunt LIV for their Bamboo night. Their monthly oriental-themed event always goes down a treat. Pics here.

We started in a surprisingly busy Sakana, impressive for a freezing Friday before a bank holiday. It's my plan to do an all-nighter in here in a few weeks, so keep your eye on the Cool Bars page.

We made a spontaneous change towards the end of the night and headed over to the Northern Quarter, where we had a few drinks in Guilty by Association, which I liked. Again, a popular place. New nearby venue 2022 was closed by this point- I've not checked it out yet but I hear good things- so we went over to Noho, which in all honesty I don't like. Too many weirdos. Just felt a bit messy to me, certainly in the toilets where the hand dryer was broken.

Bad news reached us Saturday. Tim Bacon, founder of Living Ventures, has died after battling cancer. His company brought some of the best bars and restaurants to Manchester- The Living Room, Manchester House, Australasia and The Alchemist to name a few. His huge influence over the nightlife scene in Manchester turned the city from a few streets of mediocre bars and clubs at the end of the 90s into an exciting night-time metropolis which is still coming into fruition now.

I never knew him myself but working at The Living Room in '04 was a unique experience and one I'll never forget. RIP.

Finally, I've been made an event organiser for Manchester Cool Bars, which means I can announce the meetups myself. In short, as a host I could upload events, which would go to the organiser for approving, so that others could RSVP. Now I can approve events myself; there may be other privileges but I'll learn them as I go along! It certainly means that if I see something at the last minute I can set something up to see if anyone fancies a spontaneous night out.

Tonight, however, will not be so spontaneous- I'm out with Manchester Cool Bars again to check out a new trendy place down by Barton Arcade. There are still spaces! Details to follow.