Monday, 29 January 2018

Route 94 in Gorilla this Saturday!

House music group Route 94 drop into Manchester hangar-style club Gorilla this Saturday for a down-and-dirty night of big beats. Supporting him will be local lad Bontan, from Southport. If Route 94 sound familiar, you might recognise this:

Manchester Cool Bars are going to check out the night and have a dance. Tickets are here! Join us in nearby Dog Bowl from 10.

Thursday marks the start of February, so this long-ass month is finally coming to close and the Meetup scene will come back to life!

Sunday, 28 January 2018

I think I'm coming down with something so I'm making this one quick.

I correctly identified Classic FM's cryptic quiz on Wednesday morning, the clue being 'zero over ice.' Can you guess the pop song? The answer is here.

Also I quizzed someone myself- porn maestro Ron Jeremy- over Popbitch's divisive cultural debate question: who would win in a fight between a baboon and a badger? You cannot fault RJ's reasoning.

Friday night: 50% off food at Northern Quarter eatery TNQ. Great steak and cocktails. I would not have been able to afford it full price, it must be said. Impressive artwork and service. You have 3 more days of their offer!

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We then dropped into The Convenience Store, a Northern Quarter bar with a corner shop theme. Like many NQ places, its unique vibe- visuals and music (obscure hip hop) make this bar stand out.

Check this place out. Not much of a social media presence as of yet. I had a great 'Wrongo Bongo' cocktail which, by this time, I was too drunk to photograph.

Right, I'm going to bed.

Saturday, 27 January 2018

It's been a busy week, with most of my efforts being put into psychology-related targets.

I still don't have a clear answer from the DWP as to why my Working Tax Credits were stopped. We've been around the same circle numerous times, being told that my WTC claim was 'under review' and being told to phone back in a few weeks' time, only to be told the claim must be referred onto another department. So we've decided to complain. We've once again been told that the system they use won't let the call handler move forward with the claim, only this time we've found out it's because a drop-down box on their screen has been greyed out.

The referral should take another four weeks. Meanwhile, ATOS only gave me one element of PIP, and I work part time, so without WTC I'm basically running out of money.


In fairness the last person from DWP I spoke to was helpful and explained the complaints procedure, but many other people have just not given us the help we need.

I say we, because there isn't a chance I'd be able to manoeuvre my way through the benefits system alone- I have little to no understanding of formal and financial information. I do words, not numbers, and I'm creative, not systematic. I'm getting huge amounts of help from my parents, who are endlessly supportive. But this is a massive blow to my confidence because I'm a THIRTY-FIVE-YEAR-OLD GROWN MAN and I shouldn't have to rely on support from them. But then, the only reason I do need their support is that I have memory difficulties and I don't understand the government's system. If the government could provide me with some relevant support, like I've been asking them to since I was 25, then this wouldn't be such a big issue.

On a lighter note, I volunteered at the Healthwatch Oldham Forum in Oldham Sports Centre yesterday, raising awareness of Andy's Man Club.

Healthwatch 'gives people a powerful voice locally and nationally.
At a local level, Healthwatch Oldham will work to help local people get the best out of their health and social care services.'- (Healthwatch website)

On yesterday's event, we manned a stall asking questions about the group and encouraging people to pass on leaflets to anyone they think might benefit from the group. AMC member Andy Hall gave a great speech about the challenges he faced which led him to the group, a talk full of pathos, honesty, insightfulness and good humour. Another contributor, an elderly gent alongside his wife, talked candidly about his battle with cancer. I don't think there was a dry eye in the room after his speech ended.

A very powerful day featuring some brave and honest speakers.

More good news: the NHS graciously refunded the £150 dental fine I received after ticking the wrong box. If you're reading this, NHS fine department, I appreciate your understanding. I just hope the prescription fine team are as understanding- I need them to be while the WTC team continue to look into my case...

My Headway card has arrived. I mentioned last week that brain injury charity Headway are issuing ID cards for people with brain injuries, to formally explain to others what kind of challenges they may face. Ideally the systems I have will prevent any memory-induced mishaps in the first place, but systems fail. A card like this will only help, should the need arise.

One final point this week: I mentioned a month ago that I was changing my habits with antidepressants. I moved back the time at which I take them by 5 hours. I reviewed this after a week.

So. A month later, how have I fared taking Sertraline at 12pm? It's not made a huge amount of difference- it's still a challenge to sleep some nights, I'm still struggling with weight gain and hair loss, the former of which is definitely related to Sertraline, and I'm still trying to build confidence. I'd say it hasn't done me any harm, and surely something that gives you a boost must help you to sleep better if it's taken earlier, and further away from the time that you'd normally be trying to sleep?

I'll be sticking with 12pm from now on.

I have loads more psychology related posts to go up over the next few weeks involving memory, depression, confidence building and some psychological experimentation.

Thursday, 25 January 2018

#tbt Beermats: Week 14

I'd say we're about half way through the collection. Unless I find a huge pile more...

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Sunday, 21 January 2018

UFC 220

This week: discussed workouts with Sam from Ex on the Beach: Beach Body SOS (more like, ripped him and he apologised), Got 60 likes on a reply to BBC Newsbeat, and talked flatulence and dance music classics with 90's group N-Trance.

UFC 220 was carnage, with the heavyweight and light heavyweight belts just about staying with the same fighters. A great card this morning. UFC is not only great fun to watch, but it's also a way of flushing out disappointing Meetup members who say they'll do something and then don't, i.e. turn up at a Casino in Manchester at 3am. Every time I put up a meetup for this, nobody shows despite saying they will. Hence, they get removed from the group. There's normally a crowd of fans in Genting but there didn't seem to be this week.

I'd love to find some people to watch UFC with, in Manchester. Not at someone's house miles away, and not in some dodgy pub that's blagged a late license somehow. How hard can it be?

It snowed on Friday night, and I spotted this fine art masterpiece at a local second hand car dealership near me:

I figured it was a good opportunity to do some shameless self-promotion. For the record, I FOUND the illustrations but wrote the text in the below picture myself.

The Meetup scene comes back to life this week, so keep your eyes peeled for events.

Saturday, 20 January 2018

Have a Brain Injury? Get a Brain Injury Identity Card

I sustained a head injury at birth which led to the memory difficulties I have and deal with daily. There have been instances when I have looked a fool, been disorganised and caused problems for myself, usually in work. But there has also been times when people have not believed me about this, as if I'm pretending to not be able to remember. When I've managed to remember one thing, this, for some people, seems to negate the countless other thing I can remember. Sometimes the fact that after hundreds of attempts at using a computer system, or at learning a martial arts manoeuvre, or at learning to drive, I've finally managed to pick up a skill and ingrain that knowledge- that ability, for some people, completely negates the condition that I have. I couldn't possibly have the problems I say I have if I can do these few things to a high level... right?

Well, wrong. The condition exists, and the proof is in a written psychological assessment. I can't bring that with me everywhere, though, and it goes into perhaps a little too much detail for most people. What I need people to know is that I have short term memory difficulties and I might mess up once in a while. No biggie (for them, at least). Until recently, the only physical proof I would have on me on an average day was the scar on the back of my head, a load of notes in my phone and a concessionary bus pass. This sounds like a lot, but given the amount of problems I've had with NHS prescription fines, dental fines, Working Tax Credit, Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payment, Universal Credit, The Department for Work and Pensions in general, learning to cook and controlling my weight, huge slumps into depression and therapy treatment for this, I've learned that this proof still isn't enough for some people and you don't get the support that you NEED, to do what you need to do.

I've always strived to find answers to the questions and solutions to the problems that I'm faced with. I recently heard about Headway's Brain Injury Identity Card scheme. It offers a credit-card-sized documentation explaining, to anyone who might need to know, what kind of issues I might be facing. I filled an application for this a few weeks ago, including a PDF of my 2009 psychological assessment. Today I received an email saying the card is on its way to me!

Whether this card will convince doctors to forward me to services when they occasionally (and inexplicably) wouldn't, or whether it will prevent me racking up hundreds of pounds worth of NHS fines for ticking the wrong box, remains to be seen. But there's no way it will harm me to have this Headway card. I'd be really interested in contacting other people through social media who have this card, and particularly those who have found it useful in whatever situation. Tweet me!

Thursday, 18 January 2018

#tbt Beermats:Week 13

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Tuesday, 16 January 2018


As you can see, I have bought a lot of health foods that I have not actually eaten. Why? Because I, shamefully, like to binge on chocolate a lot more than I like to eat bland flame raisins, peanuts, almonds and dried banana. (Hence the Quality Street.)

I find, though, that if I tell you- though this blog- that I am going to do something, I pretty much do it. If I say I'm going to plank for 5 minutes, I'll do it. If I say I'm going to beat a bench press record, I beat it. Hence, I'm going to tell you at this point that I will not eat any more junk food until I've eaten all of these health foods.

This is likely to take some time.

Or maybe not. Maybe I'll make do with what snack food is available and hammer through them. No more buying chocolate, no more takeaways, no flapjack. In the meantime, I'll keep working at the gym, particularly on dips. (60 is my record.) I'll do a lot of repping out instead of trying to lift really heavy weights, a lot of burpee chin-ups and battle rope, kettlebell swings and get on the punch bag (if they fix it). I'll try to beat my dips PB and I'll try to get under 80kg. I'm currently at 83.6kg.

I'll get back to you on this when I've eaten all the nuts!

Sunday, 14 January 2018

The January deals on restaurants are incredible at the moment

A friend of mine and I decided to try out pan-Asian Manchester restaurant Sakana, as this month- offering 50% off- is pretty much the only time I'd be able to afford it. But, to my credit, only one other friend could afford it this month anyway, so me and C went to check it out.

Minor hiccup on arrival- I'd given my email address to receive the voucher from Sakana, but it hadn't come through. The restaurant had managed to get my (obscure, Scandinavian) surname right, but had misspelled 'Matthew.' A minor issue, but one I have to mention! 50% off was still applicable, so all was good!

The food was delicious and service was impeccable. The 50% off deal remains in place til the end of January. Book in advance ASAP!

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We dropped in 2 doors down to Dirty Martini after this, a stunning new addition to Peter St's nightlife scene but one with a few growing pains- after a long wait at the bar I was only charged for one cocktail and even that one was half price. Can't complain! I savoured it though, and highly recommend this one:

In other, unrelated, news, boxer Chris Eubank liked my pedantic tweet correcting his grammar. 

Saturday, 13 January 2018

Andy's Man Club take over the Halifax Parkrun

Credit: Nigel Taylor

Andy's Man Club, men's support group offering a safe place to discuss mental health issues, is going from strength to strength. To raise awareness of the group, which in turn will hopefully lead to more support for those who are struggling, AMC decided to volunteer at a local Parkrun, an international event and a 5km dash though a public park happening across the world.

Last Saturday AMC members from a few different groups met at Shroggs Park in Halifax at 8:30am for their Parkrun. Yes, I got up earlier on a Saturday than I would to go to work. It was all good though, and we cracked on with setting up the course by dropping cones and putting up a gazebo at the start / finish line. (We all soon huddled under this as, shock, it started raining in Yorkshire.)

Some of us ran in AMC t-shirts, some of us- including me- marshalled in branded gear, cheering on the runners and waving them in the right direction around the course.

A great event that was well-received and well-attended. If AMC takes over another Parkrun I'll probably run in it, again branded up. Check out Andy Steer's great Facebook album covering the event. Also see Nigel Taylor's great shots.

Thursday, 11 January 2018

#tbt Beermats: Week 12

If you're following these beermat posts it's fair to presume you've got a bit of interest in this niche. Well, everyone's got their quirks, haven't they? Hence, I thought It might be good to spread the love and give a shout out to some other beermat uploaders sharing some great artwork on Instagram. Check out Dutch Beer Coaster Collector, Thirsty's Beer Mats, AB Beer Coasters, Love Beer Mats, All About Beer Ireland, Beer Coaster Viking, The Beermat Post, and the award for best beermat-related URL goes to Beer Coasters Collector

Awesome awesome content providers. Go follow them!

Here are this week's beermats...

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