Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Meeting Muggy Mike

Love Island's 'Muggy' Mike Thalassitis dropped into Manchester's Birdcage club on Friday for a meet-and-greet. Love Fridays, The Birdcage's weekly Friday party, is a great fun night with young clientele.

I got into the queue early and asked Mike the eternally divisive question that Popbitch likes its readers to inquire about: who do you think would win in a fight between a baboon and a badger? Mike is decidedly team baboon.

The queue for pictures was much shorter than when Love Island's Dom and Jess dropped in back in July. It was still a fun night. More RnB than on previous nights, guys wearing trainers, one guy who looked like Tom Sizemore, and a girl wandering around in her underwear. Can't complain.

I went with Manchester Cool Bars. We'll be back in Birdcage soon!

Monday, 26 February 2018

Come see Sonique in Bliss

2000's singer Sonique will be performing her hit Feels So Good in new club Bliss, on Saturday. 

Free tickets are available here for a short time! I've not been to the club yet but, from their Facebook, it looks great and a little different from the norm. Manchester Cool Bars is going, and you should join us! Let's start in Knott bar, near where Deansgate Locks links onto Deansgate.

Sunday, 25 February 2018

Long Table Dining at Bakerie

Northern Quarter bread and wine bar Bakerie is making waves on the food and drink scene, and making bread in their on-site oven, in their Lever Street venue. A friend of mine and I dropped in on Wednesday night for their long-table dining event. On the menu this week: Hungarian Goulash.

The long table dining is great way of meeting new people: you could get a ticket and roll in on your own, and you'd get talking to people from all over the world, as quiet disco music emanates from the background speakers. The friendly crowd included lookalikes of Moby, Miguel Ferrer and Carrie Fisher. 

The chef will bring out the freshly cooked food from the kitchen next door to the downstairs private dining room as the manager fills you in on the background of the dish. It tastes great, and is well-suited to the cold northern-English weather.

The next event is on March 21st.

Saturday, 24 February 2018

No More Chocolate... Again

I'm going to make a gazillionth attempt to give up my favourite vice.

No, I'm talking about chocolate. Don't bring the tone down on my blog, please. In substitute, I'll get my sugar from fruit but I won't eat a great deal of other snack foods. I'll keep this going until either:

  1. I beat my bench press record
  2. I beat my horizontal dumbbell fly record
  3. I beat my dips record
  4. I beat my 10-minute run record
  5. I bring my weight down to under 80kg (I'm currently at a horrendous 85.5kg).

Inevitably, after one of these targets are hit I'm going to crash back in, but if I treat myself to time with friends, reading and films, I shouldn't feel the need to substitute these pleasures with junk food. I'll stave it off as long as possible.

Monday, 19 February 2018

Come Meet Love Island's Muggy Mike in The Birdcage

Nothing gay to see here, people. 'Muggy' Mike Thalassitis from Love Island, and currently on Celebs Go Dating, is dropping into Manchester's The Birdcage this Friday for a meet-and-greet.

Love Fridays is how The Birdcage kicks off the weekend. Manchester Cool Bars is dropping in. Get involved! We've been before and had some great nights. Hot people, drinks deals, and reality TV stars. The most important things in life. Well...

The point is, it's great fun. Get involved.

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Quick roundup

This week I got tweet favourites off Love Island's Dom Lever and singer Tallia Storm.

I'm still crippled after yesterday's Parkrun. I plan to be a much better runner by April.

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Saturday, 17 February 2018

Andy's Man Club Supports Bradford Park Run


As mentioned 2 weeks ago, support group Andy's Man Club took over the Parkrun in Bradford's Lister Park this morning. Another Oldham member and I drove to Bradford for 8:30am this morning, branded in AMC gear, while the Huddersfield branch of the group did the marshalling.

I marshalled last time, but recently made a plan to practice running and be ready to run in a Parkrun whenever AMC's next takeover took place. It sprung up on me quickly on Facebook, so I jammed in a few runs at the gym and started to get my speed up. I've only ran in a Parkrun once before, in Barking in 2013, getting 25:30.

Before the starting whistle, an AMC / Parkrun organiser gave a quick speech about men's mental health, explaining that suicide is the number 1 killer of men under 50. Andy's Man Club was set up to reduce that number by helping men to talk to each other.

My prediction was that I'd probably get about 45 mins- I'm a lot heavier and haven't run as much recently. I was right: I got 44:51. My knees and calves are now absolutely battered, and I'm taking my time doing anything else today. That said, I'm planning to run again at the next AMC takeover in Wakefield, on 7th April, so I'll continue running at the gym.

Sunday, 11 February 2018

Celebs Go Dating: Groundbreaking Televisual Entertainment.

I got a few tweets off the gorgeous Tallia Storm this week, singer and star of Celebs Go Dating.

Also Team GB's Tae Kwon Do Bronze medallist Bianca Walkden liked my tweet. She's also pretty hot.

I've honestly not done a great deal. Snow and DWP being the main obstacles.

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Children's Mental Health Week / DWP woes

The last day of Children's Mental Health Week 2018 is tomorrow. Obviously I have no children of my own, but I have friends who do. You don't need to have a son or daughter who is at crisis point to find this website helpful. Mental Health is as important a part of children's and adult's lives as physical health.

It's great that adults and children are being encouraged to speak up about mental health problems. If I'd have been encouraged as a teen I wouldn't have half the problems I've got today. If this campaign saves people the strains I went through, it's a great thing.

Meanwhile, I still haven't got any sense out of the DWP as to why my Working Tax Credits were stopped, and whether or not they are still under review. I'm going to appeal the fact that they were stopped, and I've written a complaint letter about the procedure. To make a comparison, I had a similar problem with ATOS when I applied for PIP. At first I was flat out rejected, but ATOS sent a letter breaking down exactly why they wouldn't pay PIP. (Their opinions were awful- anything I'd ever managed to achieve was used against me.) I applied for mandatory reconsideration, and was awarded one element of PIP, about half of what I was getting under DLA.

In comparison, the DWP have offered no explanation as to why my Tax Credits were stopped. 'A change in my circumstances' is the closest I've got.

I don't know what to do. I've booked a GP appointment to attempt to get a referral to Social Services, on the rock-solid understanding that the help I need is with tax, benefits, employment and legal issues- NOT emotions. I've been in SS before and the person I was put with didn't have a clue what to do with me. I won't let that happen again.

The DWP have given me a deadline of 23rd Feb. They've given me a separate deadline of 26th April in relation to a £416 fine from apparent overpaid WTC. THEY pay ME the Tax Credits. How am I supposed to know if they're overpaying me? Why can't they get it right first time? I don't know, but the plan is to pay this and get it behind me, then hopefully get it cancelled and refunded.

Now. Adding to the confusion, I have savings in an ISA. These savings have come from being incredibly careful with money- in 2011 when I was first awarded DLA, I was afraid of spending it as I knew that at any point the Tories might arbitrarily decide to strip me of benefits. Unsurprisingly, this has (partly) happened. I now can't apply for Universal Credit, the replacement benefit, because my savings are too high. These savings, for the record, are in an ISA, not my current account. If you try a cashpoint robbery, a) I've only got about £300 in my current and b) I'll just snap my debit card and deal with the consequences. It won't be long, though, before these savings diminish, especially if I have to pay for dental treatment, prescriptions and eye tests- and, who knows, maybe more fines. I have no idea which boxes I've ticked on which forms.

I was advised to contact Turn2us, a benefit charity, who in turn suggested I go back to Welfare Rights, who have given me a certain amount of help in the past. I've filled in a Welfare Rights Service Contact Form online. There is apparently a 2-3 week wait list on this, so I'll have to wait for their call. The problem is, I don't know what exact questions I need to ask them and what, in detail, has happened with the DWP and my case in the last few months. I can't remember the details. I can show them the notes I have, though.

It's a shite state of affairs, as Renton would say, but I'm moving forward steadily.

Friday, 9 February 2018

I'm out of nuts, set me free

Nothing Anastacia-related to see here.

Back on the 16thJanuary I wrote that I had bought loads of health snacks and then not eaten them. I planned not to eat any more junk food until they were all devoured.

One thing I didn't plan for, though, is the use-by date passing. Over the last few days I've brought these bags of nuts into work, checked the best-before-end, realised this had passed, and then binned them. I think having the square meals and not snacking between them, no matter how healthy those 'treats' might have been, has been more beneficial than trying to force-feed myself 'healthy' snacks. I've not really craved chocolate or Chinese food, I've had plenty of chicken stir fry and fajitas loaded with cabbage and peppers, and I've made a few attempts at making sweet jacket potatoes (not as filling as you'd imagine). So how have I fared?

I was at 86.3kg- I'm now at 82.4kg. 3.9kg down. I was at 60 dips- I now have a PB of 70. I've joined in a few more classes at the gym, and I find I put more effort in when we're all doing the same thing and there's an instructor pushing us on. I'm practising running in preparation of another Andy's Man Club Parkrun takeover- the next one being a week on Saturday.

Let's not cave in again, yeah?

Thursday, 8 February 2018

#tbt Beermats: Week 16


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Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Holy shit, Russell Crowe tweeted me.

Shit. Just seen the forecast: rain and snow towards the end of the week. Dry January, not that I participated, is over, but I won't be putting up many events as it's still fucking freezing.

My Ron Jeremy info made it into E-mail gossip newsletter Popbitch.

And then... this happened.

Ho. Lee. Shit. Russell Crowe, of Romper Stomper / LA Confidential / The Insider tweeted back. 2.4 million followers and this LEGEND responds to me. What a dude.

Also, so did the beautiful Tallia Storm, who's currently on Celebs Go Dating. Fantastic highbrow documentary.

So January is finally over, and the plan is to get a few more events lined up. Problem: I need to wait til payday, and it's still snowing anyway. Next week there's one thing so far.

Sunday, 4 February 2018

Molested by a Cross Dresser at a Route 94 Gig

This is not a joke.

I'd put up a Meetup with Manchester Cool Bars and Clubs some weeks ago to see house music producer Route 94 in Gorilla, organised by Sanction Events. House music nights don't get as much response on the Cool Bars page as RnB nights, and this time I got only one other RSVP, who (predictably) didn't show. I wanted to see the DJ play anyway, so I lone-wolfed it.

I got to the door at 11pm and, being a guy on my own, security predictably searched me. Obviously I had nothing untoward, and they were just doing their job, so all was well by this point. By midnight the club was full, and the music was great. I was one of the oldest people there, with the clientele being mostly 18-24, except for one very old woman who I quickly realised wasn't a woman at all.

I basically did a two-step for 3 and a half hours, enjoying the music but essentially waiting for Route 94 to start. After a few hours I felt something trying to tickle my crotch. I looked down and followed the arm up, and yes, it's that cross dresser. I told him to fuck off. I've worked in the Gay Village before and I've dealt with this from gay people a number of times; the only way to dissuade them is to be abrupt. Don't be shy or awkward about it; don't try and be nice. Just straight up tell them to get fucked.

I did consider getting the door staff. If I'd have done that to one of the girls in there- which I DEFINITELY wouldn't, for the record, The doormen would have taken me outside and beaten the shit out of me. But If I'd have gone to the door staff and told them what happened, they would have laughed in my face. So I just ignored him.

I have no doubt that women receive abuse like this a lot more than men do, but that's no reason not to speak up.

Aside from that, it was a good night. People were generally chilled out and well-mannered, and I got talking to a group of guys- one of whom had also been asked for sex by the same transvestite. Said man came back over to the group saying, “Do any of you boys wanna shag me?”

No thank you,” I stated, speaking for the group (not that I knew, obviously).

 Cool DJs and great music. Here's me with Route 94:

At the end of the night, though, the cross dresser did walk out hand in hand with some young lad, so perhaps persistence pays off.

If you're reading this, Route 94, we were having a conversation about chips a while back.

I won't be putting any more ticketed events on Meetup as to get a good deal on prices you have to buy early, and getting people in the group to commit is too much hard work. I do want more house music nights and less RnB though so I will have to find a balance!

Saturday, 3 February 2018

Andy's Man Club Take Over Bradford Parkrun

Men's support group Andy's Man Club again takes over another Parkrun, the international public-park-based 5km dash. After the success of last month's Halifax event, AMC will return to the Parkrun scene, marshalling or running in branded AMC gear, this time in Bradford in 2 weeks today. Both of these towns provide branches of the group for men to talk about their issues, and the movement is having a great effect on people's lives and the perception of mental health in the UK.

At the Halifax event I marshalled, wearing the branded outfits and cheering on the runners. This time, I'm going to run. Yikes! I haven't ran in a long time, and when I did it was a long time since I'd ran before that. The weight I'd gained had caused a setback, shall we say, and I'm even heavier now. So here's the plan for getting fit.

I keep records of my personal bests when I visit the gym. My oldest PB- the movement that I've left unimproved upon for the longest- is, you've guessed it, running. I've not beaten my 10-minute run record since 14th May 2013, running at 14.1km/ph, a fair dash.

My second-oldest PB is chest press, at 103.75kg, set on 29th November 2014. So here's the plan: work on these two movements in every gym session, between now and the 17th. I'm very unlikely to beat the running PB, and bench probably won't happen either, but I'm aim to beat both of these, starting from 7km/ph and 5kgs respectively. I'll be at the gym 6 times a week, although 2 of those visits will be classes, not actual gym sessions. I may also throw in a few short outdoor runs on my days of too. Current body weight: 82.4kg. I'll try and get under 80kg by the 17th.

Bradford isn't exactly local to Oldham or Manchester but the camaraderie and interest between Parkrun and Andy's Man Club was fantastic last time. Members from various groups made it down It's worth getting there for 8:30am!

Friday, 2 February 2018

Reading and Robb Review

Screwball comedy, murder, cross dressers, racism, sex, infidelity, suicide... no, not another weekend on Oldham's Yorkshire St, but recurring aspects featured in the work of William Shakespeare. In January I spent a month reading a few guide books to his stories (as I sure as shit cannot be arsed trying to read the original texts), all the while attempting (again) to perform the splits.

I've tried this reading-and-splits project a number of times before, only this time I had help: Robb, an ointment for relief from pain and, weirdly, nasal congestion (something I've dealt with over the last week, if you wanted to know). Sitting down with my legs apart in front of me, with my kitchen door frame in front of my torso, I'd pull myself in closer every couple of minutes while reading a book.

I gave it a good shot, but couldn't quite beat my July '16 record of 1m 65 between my heels. 1m 62 was the closest I got. Well, I'm 35, so it's not going to be as easy as it was. I used about 2/3 of a 25 ml pot of Robb; most of this went onto my inner thighs- some under my nostrils.

It seems like I hit a plateau with flexibility, but I'm keen to give it another 2 shots with other ointments, and other books.

And on the subject of books, what did I read?

York Notes: Twelfth Night

York's straight-talking, formal GCSE-level guides clearly outline the plots, characters and themes of plays and novels. Shakespeare's Twelfth Night tells you the basics of all you need to know, but their quizzes at the end of each scene require you to have read the actual text.

Letts Explore: Othello for GCSE

Letts publishes the most accessible, clearly-presented guides with synopses, characters, themes and scene breakdowns. I prefer these.

York Notes Advanced: Othello

The advanced versions of York's books are longer and more detailed, examining the plays to A-level standard. Plot strands, themes, meanings and character analyses are that little more in-depth, but tell you everything you need to know. As a tragedy, it's a great tale of soldiers, wars, backstabbing, murder, infidelity and racism. Worth a read.

I have more reading and flexibility / exercise ideas in the pipeline, not to mention a huge pile of unread books.

Thursday, 1 February 2018

#tbt Beermats: Week 15

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