Wednesday, 29 March 2017

The Old Queen has Moved

Creative writing warmup exercise from Writers Connect last Sunday. We were to interpret this title in whatever way we liked. Other people's stories were about the monarchy or gay culture et al- mine went in a different direction.

He doesn't realise the digital chessboard is connected to the infrastructure. Every move Edwardo makes is instantly transferred to the actions of the individuals in the town. He unknowingly, unwittingly controls them.

The pawns, shop workers from Market Street, take off their aprons and branded caps and take position in Piccadilly Gardens, mindlessly mulling in a V-like defensive structure.

The chessboard, a digital game, flashes in front of him. Pawns have arranged themselves around the queen. Then she takes a step forward a square.

In Piccadilly Gardens, the pawns in their Greggs uniforms look back at the Queen Victoria Statue, pensive. There's a rumbling, and a breaking of tarmac. She moves into position engulfing a Police Community Support Officer who, playing a knight, had stepped forward and to the side a few moments ago.

In the computer room, Edwardo clicks the mouse, moving more pieces over the board.

Edwardo risks pushing another knight forward. He's left his own queen exposed, and although his opponent's queen has stepped forward, The pawns are gathered defensively around her.

On the street, a man stumbles out of a bank. The clerk chases after him.

Wait!” he shouts. “Here's your cheque, mate!”

I tried to incorporation Teeline shorthand into the writing of this. I'm not sure it made me much quicker at writing, as I still had to actually think of what I was going to say, and how I was going to tie it all together. Reading it out to the group was a bit of a struggle as I tried to decipher the notes.

I mentioned to the group I'd heard of a film called Wargames, that sounded similar in content to what I'd written.

A group member agreed there were similarities, and that it was worth a watch. On the list it goes!

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Meeting Dan Hardy; Other Events

A busy busy week as always. On Tuesday Northern Quarter's Kettlebell Kitchen turned one, and offered free brownies to those who dropped in. I had a great kettlebox with mashed sweet potato, steak and nuts. I then stayed in town for a meetup with Manchester Cool Bars to Tiger Tiger for their Tuesday night event, Taboo. Good cheap drinks and a fun night. Facebook pics here.

Wednesday night was planned as a trip to Hot Mess on Deansgate Locks, but the bar, Revolution, wanted student ID. This ruled us out so we shot across town to The Birdcage, where Voodoo was in full swing. A nice night, but there were too many guys and the décor needs a touch-up- part of the handrails were missing, for one thing. I first went eight years ago and the design was outdated then. Good atmos though, and friendly people.

Pics here.

On Thursday night Manchester welcomed former UFC fighter and current UFC commentator Dan Hardy. The welterweight MMA fighter and the lead on UFC analysis segment Inside the Octagon dropped into Waterstones in the Arndale to sign copies of his newly-released autobiography, Part Reptile. I had a chat with him- it was good to hear he knew my old MMA instructors Dave and Ian Butlin. Dan seemed like a top bloke.

Friday night: Manchester Cool Bars were out in force again, this time to The Birdcage for Flirt, the weekly Friday event. We started in Mambos next door, a nice and relatively new bar. If they just got a joiner to look at their toilet doors it'd be an all-round ideal starting place.

The night in Birdcage was touted as a meet-and-greet with three cast members from MTV's Ex on the Beach. (See the Facebook event.) I saw a queue at one point, but couldn't actually see who was at the end of it. There were barriers cordoning off one area, but no announcement on the mic that they were there and, if they were, they didn't hang around long.

I was equally disappointed with the clunky bootlegs and overplayed RnB that the DJ was churning out. But hey, it's Friday night in Manchester. Slim pickings.

Pics will be here.

Aside from the above, the night was a good one- good looking people, a friendly crowd and a fun night.

Saturday night: Cool Bars again headed out, this time to Genting Casino to watch local lad Anthony Crolla against Venezuelan Jorge Linarez. Predictably, Crolla lost, but he took a good beating before losing on points. He's a tough bastard. Both men are.

There were a few no-shows from the Meetup group, which is a shame, but a good night overall. Nice to break up clubbing nights with something different.

Revisiting Kettlebell Kitchen to finish off: they're looking for a thief. Do you recognise him?
More to come!

Monday, 20 March 2017

Party all week

I'm on leave this week! I've taken advantage of it and thrown up a few midweek meetups. If you can make it, get involved.

Sick! Festival is in full swing in Manchester. It's a series of events raising awareness of metal health, and describes itself as 'the antidote to the physical, mental and social challenges of life.' Some events are free, others not. There's a meetup group offering ticket deals, or at least they say they are. There's no meetups planned with the group, so who knows. It's certainly worth keeping an eye on. Twitter here

Manchester Cool Bars are back out tomorrow night. We're heading to Taboo, Tiger Tiger's student night. Hugely popular and cheap with a great atmosphere. £1 entry on guestlist. Book off Wednesday and come out with us!

The party don't stop. Wednesday night we're heading to Hot Mess at Revolution on Deansgate Locks. Hot Mess has been around a while, but it's the first time Cool Bars have been (and the first for me personally too). Come get some £1.50 drinks!

Thursday afternoon we switch things up a bit. Not a party, but a book signing. Former UFC fighter and current UFC commentator Dan Hardy drops into Waterstones in the Arndale to sign copies of his autobiography, Part Reptile. The signing starts at 5:30pm. Be there early!

Any Ex on the Beach fans? MTV reality stars Jack Devlin, Becca Edwards and Nicole Bass are making an appearance at Flirt, Birdcage's Friday night party. With £2 drinks it's worth a shout whether you watch EOTB fan or not. And, yes, you've guessed it, Cool Bars are headed there too. We're starting in Mambo's around the corner. Be part of it!

Saturday night is one for the boxing fans. Local lad Anthony Crolla is on the warpath. He wants his lightweight title back. The rematch against Venezuelan Jorge Linares on Saturday night looks to be an explosive night. Cool Bars will be in Portland Street's Genting Casino to watch the action, streamed live from just a few streets away in Manchester Arena. Join us!

On Sunday afternoon I'll be polishing up my shorthand skills at Writers Connect, the creative writing feedback group. It's been a while since I've attended so will be good to get back. The warm-up exercise will be a good opportunity to check how effective my teeline is (clue- not very).

And that's your lot! There's more going on next week, and by next Monday there'll be more still to tell you.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

In order:

Manchester housing agency Homes4u syndicated my blog post about developments on Oxford Rd, giving me a nice wad of exposure. Thanks guys!

I talked Nando's with Katie Salmon from Love Island this week. See here.

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Saturday night: Manchester Cool Bars made our first trip to celeb joint Bijou. It was a strange night. At one point this week we had 15 RSVPs, and it looked to be a huge night. On the day- in fact, the evening of the event, about two thirds of the people in the list backed out. Bizarre.

We started in Deansgate bar The Botanist, where the queue was so long that the barman eventually gave me my pineapple juice for free. We got to Bijou for midnight, where I'm sure they had the radiators on full blast. There were about 4 women to every man, a ratio which possibly widened as the odd young lad here and there got thrown out. There were a few cocky attitudes from guys in there, but the girls seemed quite friendly. Most people in there were steaming, which says something when drinks are a tenner each.

The night had been touted as singer Ne-Yo's after party, but there was no sign of him.

The club has had a makeover since the last time I went in nearly two years ago, and at a first glance the dark panels and multitude of LED flashing lights seems arresting, but on close inspection we found that some of the panels on the wall were being held up by blu-tac. I wasn't drinking, but last time I was in there I was, and they had Aberlour behind the bar. It wasn't on the shelf last night. Facebook pics are here, even though we're not in it. I'm sure they took my picture as well.

Not the best of nights, but not the worst.

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Citizen Journalism Month Review

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Ages ago, I did a promotional project in an attempt to boost blog hits. I asked hundreds of other people to retweet a link to my blog. It didn't work for long. My hits spiked during the month, then died off. My mate Tom pointed out the obvious- if you want lots of sustained page views, you need good content. You need to offer up what interests people. Anything other than that, and all the promotion in the world will only result in temporary hits.

I thought about this. I wanted the blog to have a bit of journalistic nuance to it, a bit of professionalism. I thought about what I'd need. First: touchtyping skills. Second: shorthand skills. Third: a good nose for a story, and the ability to write it up quickly and eloquently.

I spent two months learning touch typing. (The first, the second) I spent a year redrafting a feature-length screenplay. I spent many months reading and reading and reading. And then I spent a month learning shorthand.

The final project in my plans was another monthly project: citizen journalism. It was time to go out and find some stories, and use the skills I'd taught myself. My plan was to beat the local news outlets to some stories, and get myself known. To let the papers know that I'm finding things that they aren't. I also wanted to report on things that genuinely helped people in some way.

Did I do that? Well, I guess I did: my video of a fight outside Panacea led to a phone call with the Manchester Evening News. I gave them permission to use it, but it never ended up on their site.

I found a few one-off events, street festivals, campaigns and- most successfully- a short piece on changes to the appearance of Oxford Rd. A friend of mine read this and may be syndicating it on her business' website. If I understand correctly, her housing agency wants to replicate the article for their own site and link back to mine. I'm down for that!

It would have been good for me, a month ago, to make more notes of my hits- I suggested I'd got 2K in the last month in the project's introductory post. This time I got 3K. Well. I was hoping for a little more, but it's an improvement. Overall hits: 569,034.

I should also have made a note of my Twitter followers. This month I've passed the 1100 mark (currently 1105).

It's been fun. I'm going to scale back the amount of time I spend actively looking for stories, although I still have about 8 events lined up that I'm going to report on. I'm also still going to try to beat the MEN to any news stories I can, and tweet them so they know I'm competing against them. Stay tuned.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Spelling Tattoo Fail

Imagine getting this on your body and then finding out the grammar's wrong. Imagine being a tattoo artist and not knowing how to write proper English. Either way: how embarrassing.

We know your up there watching us... we're down here thinking of you.

So they can get one apostrophe right, but not the other. Okay. 

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

I Might not be Allowed Back into Panacea

She rolls out of the club drunk in an expensive dress and she's already arguing with some guy, who turns his back on her and gets into an executive car parked up outside the club. She's still babbling away when she slaps her hand down hard on the bonnet. Predictably, the guy gets out and gives her a firm shove to the floor... and then this happens.

Rewind. It's 10pm and we're late to Artisan- everyone's waiting, but never mind that. The group have found each other when we arrive, and it's still too early for the club so there's plenty of time for cocktails, of which this bar serves up some of the best.

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A post shared by Matt Tuckey (@matttuckey) on

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It's a good group and everyone's getting on, and the cocktails are going down a treat. We move on to Panacea a little after 12, and everyone gets in fine. My mate points out Funes Mori from Everton and rapper Stormzy, and I say hi to Charlotte Dawson from Ex on the Beach, makeup artist and daughter of late comedian Les, who nods back to me.

Great atmosphere in the club. Enjoying the night and the meetup's going well. Upon closing, things take a downward turn. It all kicks off, I film what I can, one guy spots this and points a doorman to me who bollocks me. It's time to get out of there before the people involved turn on me.

I might wait a few weeks before trying Panacea again, for obvious reasons. I've shown the video to the Manchester Evening News and they've talked to me about it, so it may end up on the site.

Monday, 13 March 2017

Racing to blog everything

I'm hella behind on blogging at the moment. I have loads to tell you.

Manchester's Kettlebell Kitchen has updated their rewards scheme- the stamp cards have now been replaced with an app available on iPhones and Android... but not Windows. Fuck. I don't blame them, to be honest. Who has Windows phones other than idiots like me?

Manchester Creatives Network met on Tuesday night, in Northern Quarter bar Kosmonaut. Good meetup attended by freelance website designers, clothes shop owners, IT specialists and some guy who claimed his uncle was a guitarist for the Stone Roses.

One attendee pointed me in the direction of Noble Samurai, a site designed to find key words that people are searching for but aren't being covered online. Sounds great, but looks like there is a cost to most of the site's functions.

Kosmonaut offers free Wi-Fi and great Swedish whisky. Keep your eyes peeled for Mackmyra. Good meetup.

Peter Street: It looks like the shell of Bar 38 is finally being renovated, with a new door that opens straight onto the street and a complete design overhaul. I had a wonder around on Saturday and took these:

I then headed onto Market Street. You can normally see street entertainers there showing off what could debatably be called 'talent.' There should be no question with this dude though.

And then, there's Darth Vader playing a merry little ditty on the electric keyboard.

Well, wouldn't you get sick of the Imperial March after a while?

I've just finished reading Ecstasy by Irvine Welsh, a manic and somewhat disjointed tale of drug use, affairs, a novelist who loses the plot in more ways than one and a stomach-churning revenge-love story revolving around a girl with a thalidomide-type condition. I enjoyed it but felt there was a bit of an issue with the simple characters over-expressing themselves- 'writer voice' coming through. Well worth a read, though. I'm whipping through a load of short books at the moment, novels I can throw in my bag and read on my way in and out of the city, where I'm finding all this info. It's working pretty well for me.

Loads more info to come, one day at a time.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Developments and Creative Exhibitions on Oxford Road

As the City Centre undergoes constant change from roadworks and the construction of new buildings, the Oxford Road area has also had a well-needed makeover with the demolition of some Manchester Metropolitan University buildings and the introduction of some new glass towers. I dropped in on Saturday to photograph the developments.

The interesting thing about building sites are that they are never static- beforehand they were completed, ageing buildings that look more or less the same every day. Once demolished and replaced, the new buildings usually look a lot better, but again they have the same appearance daily. Building sites look different every time you visit them, and on each visit they're never going to look like that again.

Here's the site of the former BBC building on Oxford Road, new given the contradictory name of Circle Square.

Most of the nearby sections of Oxford Road are now cordoned off to traffic. It's bizarre seeing what was one of the busiest bus routes in Europe so desolate.


This is Happy Cloud, a public artwork further up Oxford Road, curated by Stuart Semple. It's a piece raising awareness of mental health issues, using a machine that releases smiley faces made from the bubbles of vegetable oil, which float across the skyline. If you saw a load of smiley faces floating over your head on Saturday, you weren't emoji-tripping- it was this. His work has been displayed at Manchester Art Gallery and will be at The Manchester Museum, Witworth Art Gallery and a nearby hospital. It's part of SICK!Festival, which 'celebrates life, death and survival, exploring subjects which are hugely important to all of us, however difficult they may be.'

This piece is called Before I Die. It's again a piece of public artwork, and the brain child of Candy Chang. It's an opportunity for the public to write on what they want to do before they leave this earth, and it's been exhibited so far in over 70 countries. I left my confession.

Before I die is also part of SICK!Festival.

More findings to come in a separate post.