Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Meetup's Message of Support to Manchester

Social networking / events site Meetup has had a hugely positive impact on the city of Manchester, bringing together literally thousands of people. It's great to see that, during a such a dreadful week, the Chief Exec of the site has reached out with this message via email. I'd like to thank Scott and his team for giving us the opportunity to create our own communities, also for this email message.

I am writing to extend my deepest sympathies to the Meetup community in Manchester after yesterday’s tragic attack.

One of the reasons Meetup exists is because of what I saw in NYC in the days after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. I saw my neighbors turn to each other and support each other. Terrorism aims to create fear and distrust. We started Meetup to create communities that do the opposite.

After yesterday’s terrible events, know that Manchester needs the strength and bonds of real community.

Thank you today (as everyday) for everything you do to bring people together.

Scott Heiferman,
Meetup Cofounder and CEO

Manchester's nightlife and Meetup scene has quietened off recently, understandably, but we will bounce back as a city and with support from a certain brilliant social networking site.

Monday, 22 May 2017

Bank Holiday Week- Get Involved

We have an extra day's weekend coming up! However, you might want to start the weekend extra early.

Manchester Cool Bars are heading to Socialite, Club LIV's Thursday party. I've had a bit of a scout around- there isn't much competing with it. Great venue, gorgeous people and the odd celebrity knocking around. Get involved! We're starting in Sakana

There are other plans but nothing is set in stone, so keep your eye on Meetup for future nights out.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

New Bars and Nights

A few things to point out this weekend: Thursday night Manchester Cool Bars dropped into Aloha Thursdays at Lola Lo.

I didn't see Tyson Fury, but I did see a strange Scouse girl with a backpack who taught me a weird secret handshake. She told me she had been on the lash all day and that 'she probably stank.' She didn't, but she was the only friendly person I met there. Way to many rude students. One girl was all over the place, on the verge of spewing, by the look of her. Her mates were pretty much ignoring her.

I spoke to one of the girls stood next to her. “I think your mate might need a soft drink,” I said. “She's really drunk.” I started to realise this wasn't coming out well.

She stared at me silently for a second, and then screamed “fuck off” as loud as she could.

I walked out before I did something really dumb. Perhaps I misjudged, but either way, I will not be back.

Friday night: another Cool Bars meetup. Started in The Botanist on a very quiet night- Good live music- and moved next door to the new Roxy Ballroom. The Deansgate bar has taken over the large old Baby Blue strip club unit, as it was, and stripped it back to the bare brick, plywood and metal framework, adding in graffiti art with UV paint, pool tables, ping pong tables and beer pong tables (yes, these are specific tables). The new bar was quiet, but Friday is a quiet night anyway. The facilities available were already in use, so it's worth booking in advance if you want to have a go. On a busy night I'd expect there to be a waiting list for games. Good two-floor layout with overlooking balconies for views of pool games.

Not a favourite place personally, but worth a look.

A post shared by Matt Tuckey (@matttuckey) on

If you're familiar with Suede on Longworth St, or even Ampersand if you're old enough to remember it, you'll be interested in History, the new club soon to open in the same unit just off Deansgate.

It looks great. I can't wait to see it open in autumn.

Lots of events coming next week.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

No more chocolate... Take 3

A couple of years ago I made two attempts to stop eating chocolate. These failed. Since then, I've made a habit of eating other foods- mostly nuts and raisins- in an attempt to give up the confectionery. This has only led to me eating more on top of the chocolate. I'm going to make a third attempt to quit, but this time I believe I'll have more luck. It all comes down to a chemical called dopamine.

Dopamine is 'a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain's reward and pleasure centers.' (Psychology Today) The basic principle of addiction, which I suppose is what you'd call my problem with chocolate, is that your brain is wired up to receive dopamine from that one source- the source of your addiction. Each time you use what you crave, your brain uses a neural pathway to get it. And each time the pathway is used, it's reinforced. Similarly, the more you tread through a field, the less the grass will grow there and a path will form. The more you walk in other directions, the less that first path will be eroded and the grass will grow over it again.

Put simply, I've been treading the same path since university days, when I first started gorging on chocolate. I'm now going to tread other paths for enjoyment- better food, more socialising, more reading- a wider range of enjoyment. Food, and in particular chocolate, I'm going to try to make myself forget. And that path will soon be... well, you get the metaphor. I'll get sugar from fruit, and sparingly at that. I'll drink plain Ovaltine instead of hot chocolate, and I'll continue at the gym. My current weight is 76.6kg (12st 1.) I've been bouncing between 70.9 and 80 for months now. With chocolate out of the equation, and mixed nuts stashed in every bag and in my car, I should see a reduction. I'm going to get my weight below 70kg (11st) by this time next month, with no loss of strength.

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Why I Might be Giving Up Twitter Chats

What is a Twitter Chat? It's one hour of your life dedicated to talking with other Twitter users about a certain subject, using a hashtag to bring you all together and on the same page (literally). #bloghour, for instance, is 9pm every Tuesday. Ran by The UK Blog Awards, #bloghour features a series of questions on one aspect of blogging, and is an opportunity for bloggers to air their views on the topic and discuss it with people with the same pastime. Other blog chats of note are #bdib (bloggers do it better, Mondays and Friday nights) #lbloggers (lifestyle bloggers chat on Wednesday and Sunday nights) and #gossipbloggers (fortnightly Sundays. This one doesn't seem to be about blogging at all).

Twitter chats aren't just about blogging. You can probably find a weekly chat about any subject. #Mhchat covers mental health. #Manchesterhour discusses Manchester and is a chance to promote local businesses. There's probably a chat for your town. Tweetreports has a schedule featuring a few different topics covered by various chats. (Some of these are redundant.) Whether these will be happening at a time you're available is something you'd have to check. Remember that the English language-speaking world operates through a few different time zones, so some will be completely unsuitable for your schedule. British ones are usually at times when people living in British time zones are most likely to be free to use the computer- in the evenings.

I've been participating in a few of these for about a year now. I've online-met loads of great people, positive, knowledgeable bloggers who have given me great advice. I've also found that my decade-long experience as a blogger enables me to advise others on the craft of blogging. I'll certainly continue to blog for a long time, but Twitter chats I can feel myself bowing out of. Why?

Time is a major factor. I have goals to attain with my blog, and with my life. I'm trying to improve myself as a writer, and this takes time. It takes practice, and it means reading loads. It also means doing things to write about, experiencing things to carve individuality as a writer. An extra few hours a week dedicated to this, instead of Twitter chats, will get me closer to my goals- being known as a writer and getting paid to write.

I've given up time in these chats to pass on the knowledge I've gained, and as much as people seem to appreciate it in their replies, I see no real-world benefit, for me, from passing on this knowledge- no extra page views, no award nominations, no recognition away from the chats due to that participation. I'm not bitter about this, but if I want to get such things, I need time to dedicate to moving towards said goals.

I've tried to connect to other bloggers involved in these chats. I've followed plenty of these people. Some have followed back. Some still follow me now, others unfollowed. If people unfollow me, I'll unfollow them. (Statusbrew, if you were wondering how.) I haven't gained a great deal of knowledge from these chats, nor have I influenced others. No invitations to events came my way (none that I could practically attend living 240 miles from the capital) and I haven't met any of the contributors in person.

My goals are finding information before the local press and sharing it creatively on my own blog, and getting noticed by potential employers. These ambitions are being hindered by the time I spend chatting online. It's like MySpace a decade ago- the chatrooms, the messages, the bulletins- did anyone actually meet anyone they online-met on MySpace? I know I didn't. We're all older and pretending we're professionals now, yet we're still sat there talking to strangers over the internet. And where is it getting us? It' not got me very far.

You're always welcome to tweet me but I won't sit and talk. I'm too busy.

Monday, 15 May 2017

Nights out this week!

Book your Friday off ASAP- Manchester Cool Bars are headed to Deansgate Locks to check out Aloha Thursdays, Lola Lo's new midweek night. Should be a good studenty cheap night just before they all head home at the end of term. We're starting quite late as the Locks takes AGES to pick up midweek. And if it still doesn't, then fuck it, we'll just go to Socialite as per. Find us in Sugar Buddha from 10:30pm onwards.

We won't go overboard, though, as there's another meetup Friday that you should ALSO get involved with. New bar The Roxy Ballroom has opened on Deansgate, near The Moon under the Water. Cool Bars are checking this out too, for a few cocktails and possibly a game of ping pong. After succeeding in Leeds, Liverpool and Huddersfield the pool hall brand has opened in Manchester. It might be great, it might not. We don't know. There's the rest of Deansgate if we fancy a look around. We're starting in The Botanist.

On the Saturday: Cool Bars again heads out, this time to Gorilla for a tech trance rave. The meetup is particularly aimed at girls, but if you're a bloke and like the sound of it, make your own judgement. There's already one guy who's RSVPd.

The weekend after is a Bank Holiday and there are already suggestions being bandied about. Stay tuned for more events.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

I was on TV Last Week

It's not worth doing unless someone, somewhere, would much rather you weren't doing it.
-Sir Terry Pratchett, author

I worked the Greater Manchester Mayoral Elections in Manchester Central on Friday 5th, where Andy Burnham was elected as Greater Manchester's first Mayor. I believe he's a good man for the job. Congratulations Andy!

I don't talk about work on the blog per se, but wanted to mention I ended up on BBC News.

Do I get my blue tick now, Twitter?

I finished Part Reptile, the autobiography of UFC fighter and commentator Dan Hardy.  Fascinating insight to the life of the British fighter who made waves in the American MMA tournament. Hardy's eloquent descriptions of his rise to the UFC through local tae kwon do tournaments through to training with Shaolin monks in China make for fascinating reading, and is better written than other sports autobiographies I've read. His dabblings with hallucinogens, his tattoos and the meanings behind them and his securing of his UFC commentator position form a unique story.

Also, I met him and got the book signed a while back.

We've just come to the close of Action for Brain Injury Week. Headway's site includes advice on what not to say to people with a brain injury. As someone with brain damage I can relate to most of these. Take a look at the video.

New fiction group Deansgate Writers Club Took place Tuesday night. Waterstones' new fiction club, fronted by published author Tom King, covered how to promote your finished manuscript to a publisher. He discusses what kind of advance payment you may get for a first novel, and what happens if it doesn't sell (it's pulped and used in motorway overpasses, FYI).

Deansgate Writers Group runs on the second Tuesday of each month at 6.30pm. Members get 10% off at the tills on the night of the meetings. Next month they'll be trying out some 'elevator pitches'- quick, enticing summaries of your novel, short enough to be summed up in a lift ride.

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Mental Health Awareness Week, Andy's Man Club

This is my first proper #psychologysaturday blog post. I'm hoping that a weekly post relating to the science of the mind will raise awareness of important related issues and will offer resources and suggestions, based on whatever I find and consider valuable. I have many ideas in the pipeline!

8-14 May is Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK. 1 in 3 people will deal with mental health issues in their lifetime. Mental health still comes with a stigma- one that many people, including myself and the people behind this campaign, are working hard to remove. The site above is packed with info on how to gauge your own mental health, what the campaign aims to do, what events are happening in your area and what you can do to take part.

Men's mental health in particular is an area I'm keen to promote on this blog, which is one of a few reasons why I'm pleased to tell you about Andy's Man Club. Andy's is 'a talking group, a place for men to come together in a safe environment to talk about issues/problems they be have faced or currently been facing.' The organisation, I gather, started in Yorkshire and now has 7 groups meeting across the Northwest at 7pm every Monday. I dropped into the Oldham group this Monday. Out of respect for the group I won't go into detail about what happens, but it is an opportunity for men to talk openly and support each other. You don't need to have dealt with mental health issues in the past, but regardless you will find a supportive network of people. There's no religious angle, no judgement, no holding hands and chanting, no obligation to talk- and it's well worth a look if you're looking for help with depression or are looking to build confidence.

More #psychologysaturday blog posts to come, including book reviews, information on confidence building, advice for handling memory difficulties, and how to use mobile phones to stay organised.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Oldham Comic Con

Wednesday night yeah, and what was going on?
Last Saturday it was Oldham Comic Con!
Thought I'd go along, just for a sight-see
Two floors of stalls at Oldham Library
Had a wonder round, just for a look, yeah,
Found a cartoonist from Count Duckula!
Spoke to Dave Windett, and he told
me he worked on the comics after the TV show
He doodled some sketches, I said, 'That's cool,
Were you also at the one in Blackpool?
He said that he was, but that the show was a shambles,
with chains tied over fire exit handles
It took half the day before he was able
To get himself set up behind a table
But when it comes to Blackpool, all is not lost
Windett himself came forth with some goss
Blackpool Comic Con may be making a revival
With a different team ensuring its survival.
What else was Oldham Library providing?
A full-sized Dalek came out of hiding!

I didn't have to worry, 'cause although he didn't know me,
I was safe in the presence of Obi-Wan Kenobi

And if it wasn't enough, what I just said,
he was also backed up by a man called Judge Dredd.

And if horror comics get you in a fluster,
keep your eyes peeled for the local ghostbuster.

Great that the con was so local and near,
and I also came home with a free souvenir
Saw this little beauty, and of course I bought her,
Largely because it was signed by the author

An impressive array of artists collected
and I have to admit it was better than I expected.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Cirque le Soir in The Milton Club

A topless obese clown. A dominatrix with outrageously long plaited hair. A 1940s weightlifter. Miss Piggy's raunchy sister. An old woman with a massive arse, and her equally-aged husband. A tattooed fire breather. An incredibly tall man who may or may not be going for the scarecrow look. A pimp dwarf. A luminescent-baseball-bat wielding... 80s New York Gangster? I dunno, but he looked cool. A ghostly figure with huge nails, reminiscent of the weird thing off the banned Metz advert. A nightmare to some, a fabulous dream to others. But real, and all present last bank holiday Sunday to be exact. Circus troupe Cirque le Soir visited Deansgate venue The Milton Club on 30th April, and provided a night of bizarre performances set to a house music and RnB soundtrack.

While this display happens, I meet a blonde girl, kiss her, and fall over backwards into a ballpit which is- for the night- housed in one of the usually-bookable booths at the side of the club. Well, that was a first.

When I saw that the club was putting on the Cirque night, I wondered how they'd manage it. It's a small venue- capacity 250- but by making use of the bar top and the stage area the team put on an eclectic show. Some were hoping for a bigger, more exuberant display, but considering the restrictions Cirque put on an impressive performance. It may be a smart and quite expensive club, but people are friendly and out for a party, not really to pose. The only real problem I found was the smoke machine's output meant many pictures didn't come out.

The Milton Club's Facebook album is here. I organised a meetup with Manchester Cool Bars- I was determined to provide something for the group to do at Bank Holiday as last time, at the start of the month, we didn't put anything up. I'm hoping Cirque will return!