Friday, 16 November 2018

10 Quotes on Excess

I only drink to make other people seem interesting.
George-Jean Nathan, American theatre critic

The Edge... there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over.
Hunter S. Thompson, American journalist

Clogged with yesterday's excess, the body drags the mind down with it.
Horace, Romanian poet

Whether you sniff it smoke it eat it or shove it up your ass the result is the same: addiction. William S Burroughs, American author

I am getting so far out one day I won't come back at all.
William S Burroughs

Too much of a good thing can be wonderful!
Mae West, American actress

Moderation is a fatal thing. Nothing succeeds like excess.
Oscar Wilde, Author

Excess on occasion is exhilarating. It prevents moderation from acquiring the deadening effect of a habit.
W. Somerset Maugham, British playwright

Society secretly delights in crime, excesses, and violated prohibitions of all sorts.
Bernard Tschumi, Swiss architect

The possibility of physical and mental collapse is now very real. No sympathy for the Devil, keep that in mind. Buy the ticket, take the ride.
Hunter S Thompson

Thursday, 15 November 2018

Arrogant Group Captain, Horrific Vampire Crash

de Havilland Vampire

Another installment of my Uncle Dick's memoirs.

Feb / March 1952

In 1952 we were told that once again the Squadron was on the move, this time to RAF Benson. during the month or so before the actual move, squadron working parties were to and fro to Benson erecting aluminium huts to accept the Squadron. We were also given an old black hangar to house our VIP Valettas.

A few days after we had completed the move the whole squadron was told to assemble so that the Station Commander of RAF Benson could speak to us. We thought that we were going to be welcomed to Benson.

The Group Captain arrived, stood on a box, looked at us and said, “You are a Transport Command Squadron on a Bomber Command Station. I will feed you, pay you and clothe you. Other than that, I want nothing at all to do with you. And keep away from the Queen's Flight next door.” He then left.

We just looked at each other. What a greeting.

The following day a Benson Equipment Officer arrived to ask us our operating requirements i.e. fuel, de-icing fluids, oils, greases. We told him, to which he said, “Rubbish.” For example the Valetta carried 62 gallons (282l) of main-plane de-icer fluid, often coming back from Germany with very little left. Weekly requirements were perhaps 400-500 gallons (1818-2273l).

It only took about 2 weeks before the station ran dry of de-icer fluid. Friday evenings we were checking aircraft returning from route, draining 20 gallons (91l) here, nothing there, 30 (136l) here, to ensure Monday's aircraft route was full. Transport was sent back to Abingdon for as much as they could spare, with our own trips to to the MU. We even waited for night-flying to finish to drain aircraft for route flying. We learnt to look after ourselves and forget the Station.

Operating Valettas meant many role changes, paratroop, freight, stretchers for casualty evacuation and passenger role. Our aircraft were parked on the grass and when role changes were carried out 17 seats meant 51 seat pins. Originally attached to to the seats the retaining cords had long since gone. Batches of pins were lost in the grass, to the detriment of the grass cutters. Sets of pins were left overseas when the role was changed. They became in short supply.

Doing my checks one day I noticed that a seat was fitted to the floor with only 2 pins instead of 3. We threatened all airframe tradesmen that if there were insufficient pins they were to use 1/4” high tensile bolts with lock nuts. It was a good job we did: our vigilance proved rewarding a few days later.

A Valetta left us with F/Sgt Jock Campbell, Captain, to fly to Boscombe Down to demonstrate to Senior Commonwealth Army officers the versatility of the Valetta. A Jeep was loaded forward of the spar on ramps and a dozen or so Army officers were seated aft of the spar. For those that do not know the Valetta, the main spar runs across the fuselage about 15” wide and about 15” high. It certainly interfered with easy loading.

The aircraft took off on its demonstration run and as it was climbing away a Vampire flown by a Squadron Leader shot across the 'drome about 50' high and hit the Valetta in the tail. The Valetta came down, partly controlled by the pilot, but belly-landed heavily outside the boundary of the 'drome. The Jeep, though chained, broke away, came forward through the bulk head and the Air Quartermaster, who was sitting in the W. Ops Seat had one of his legs severed, the navigator in the co-pilot's seat a broken hip. The pilot had concussion and double vision for months, but the rearward facing passengers escaped completely except for one with a sprained ankle.

We gradually settled in at Benson and the Squadron were happy. I had taken over my first old type married quarter, 37 Spitfire Square, a black stove in the kitchen heat supplied by the lounge fire ducted through the wall by a series of dampers. A fire was required to cook even in the heat of summer. Correct operation of these dampers was essential. My wife had a rice pudding in the oven for 2 days before it even moved.

One day, I think February / March of '52 I was on leave having breakfast when the Squadron Engineering Warrant Officer Jim Berry walked up the garden path.

Buck, your leave is cancelled. 11 O'clock you are off to Zurich, with your shift, to turn around aircraft who are back loading sandbags.”

With the gale force east winds and high tides the sea was breaking through the East Coast. Transport Command were sending aircraft all over Europe to collect sandbags.

Take enough for 2 weeks.”

Turning up at the Squadron at 10 o'clock a Valetta was seen taxiing away with my 'shift' waving through the window. My opposite number had taken Zurich and I was now due for Manston.

We arrived at RAF Manston, deplaned at the Staging Post Flight only to be met by a small Squadron Leader who said to me “Who the hell are you people?”

I duly explained to which he replied with “I am the CO of the Staging Post and we do not want you here. I can look after all aircraft staging through here. Take all your men to the NAAFI and catch the first aircraft back to your unit.”

I quietly informed him that very shortly, in a few hours in fact, quite a few Transport Command Valettas and Hastings would be calling in to offload sandbags. I was once again informed that he was the CO of the Staging Post and that I'd better do as I'd been told. A lorry arrived; the disappointed lads ,who had witnessed the conversation, left for the NAAFI. I was then told that as I had experience of the expected aircraft to go to the Sergeant's mess, get my head down, and return at 6pm to do the night shift. Incidentally this is what I did for 10 nights, being relieved at about 7am. I never really saw the light of day the whole time.

The weather, gale force winds and pouring rain, continued.

Later that day the Land Rover arrived to take me to the Flight Hut and although it was a foul night, pitch dark, I could just see the silhouettes of about 8 aircraft, Valettas and Hastings lined up. Walking the last few yards against the wind at 45 degrees, I opened the door of the Flight Hut and was confronted by about 50 irate aircrew. Obviously, quite a number of them I knew and the question was asked by 1 SNCO, “What the hell is going on?”

I quickly told him what had happened.

From nowhere an old Warrant Officer appeared belonging to the Station. The Staging Post had left about 4 people, 1 an armourer and radar mechanic, the remainder on weekend pass. Quickly we forgot about the Squadron Leader, sent a wagon to the NAAFI, collected the lads, and I informed the aircrew to hang on for 15 minutes.

On their arrival at the flight the lads were told that they were staying and that we would work on through the night until all aircraft were away.

“Who's first?” a Hastings Captain replied.

“Me, I only want 200 each in 2s and 5s.”

And so, over the next 4 or 5 hours we managed to get them all away with one wheel change.

We then split the lads into 2 parties, tossed up who would stay on, and sent the others off to bed. And so we worked for about 10 days. Though my folks lived at Deal, 15 miles away, I never even saw them.

Funny thing: we never saw the Squadron leader again. The old Warrant spent a lot of time with us and thanked us when we boarded our own Valetta back to Benson.

In some cases the sand bags that were being flown in by the Hastings were in large cubes with rounded edges, compressed by steel bands. Only 3 or 4 were carried at 1 time so you could imagine their weights. You could not get enough bods around the cube to lift it. The 4 to 5 feet cubes had to be unchained by the movements people and slowly rolled down the fuselage a flat at a time with 4 or 5 chaps in front of them to prevent them breaking away. The inevitable did happen 1 day. A load broke away when being rolled down the fuselage and smashed the bulkhead and toilet. The cubes were finally lifted out of the fuselage with a big forklift and deposited in the back of British Road Services trucks.

One impatient driver who was in a hurry and would not wait 5 minutes for the fork lift insisted that the cube should be rolled out of the door straight onto his lorry. Though warned of its weight, he knew different. The sand bag cube went straight through the floorboards of the lorry resting partly on the ground and bent a prop shaft. A crane had to be organised to get it out. What a mess.

On arrival back at Benson we found that a number of the Squadron had gone to the East Coast to help with heater trolleys drying out the houses of the unfortunate victims of the flooding by the sea.

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Chamber Music: About the Wu Tang Book Launch

There are no microphones tonight, so authors Dave Haslam and Will Ashon agree to speak up.

“If there are any DJs whose ears are completely fucked, then I'm sorry,” Dave says. “Themes may be of an adult nature. If you're sensitive... why are you here?”

It's Monday, 12th November. Both men are at Waterstones Deansgate to discuss Will's new book, Chamber Music: About the Wu Tang (in 36 Pieces), a biography of 90 hip hop crew The Wu Tang Clan. Will describes his journey into hip hop via jazz, seeing Miles Davies in Wembley (whose hands were 'too fucked' to play), and being surrounded by much older people. He noticed hip hop's emergence as the young equivalent, and how 36 Chambers, The Wu Tang Clan's first hip hop album- released in 1993- had the same energy as jazz.

Later in life Will founded the Big Dada label, and signed Roots Manuva (the label later signed Wiley). After 15 years at the label, he wrote a novel, then entered non-fiction. He describes meeting and interviewing Wu Tang rapper RZA 3 times, then losing the tapes.

“The encounters were brilliant,” he claims. “He listens to what you say, then riffs off it.”

The word of rap and the world of non-fiction authoring has its similarities, Will says. “You take quotes from different places, and put them together. It's a hip-hop methodology.” The Wu Tang's albums are all laced with samples from old kung fu movies, which the group loved, and this genre of movies became one of their rap themes.

To put together a book like this, there are countless people who knew each person, but with 9 original members, it wasn't practical to find full networks for each rapper. He did notice one serious positive to hip hop groups: that's when artists produce their best work. “Q-Tip was best in A Tribe Called Quest. Andre 3000 was best in Outkast. The competition is fierce, so their verses must be at their best.”

(I'm assuming he hasn't listened to D12's albums who's main cohort is Eminem. That's probably for the best.)

25 years in,” says Will, “Wu Tang are still producing brilliant tracks. The Rolling Stones after 25 years were releasing shit.”

The Q and A comes after this. Will describes the difficulties of race: a middle class white guy from Leicester, writing about East-Coast hip hop from a 9-strong collective straight out of a drug-ridden Brooklyn ghetto. He tells of the guy who released Ol' Dirty Bastard's FBI file, the race to get the book delivered in time for the 25th anniversary of 36 Chambers, and about rap battles teaching youngsters to keep their cool in confrontational situations.

It's a fascinating evening. He signs the book with the bastardised lyric from the track CREAM:

Matt rules everything around me!

Monday, 12 November 2018

House and Funk Northern Quarter Bar Crawl?

Fancy something a little different on Saturday night? And by 'different,' I mean not the same contemporary RnB that you can find in pretty much 99% of bars and clubs in the city?

I recently ran a poll on Facebook with a few different ideas for nights out. Northern Quarter bars came out on top, so I've put together this little party.  Manchester Cool Bars are dropping into the Stevenson Square area, starting in Spanish-style sherry bar Flok. We're then shooting over the road to Soup Kitchen, then back over to record store-cum-tiny-nightclub Eastern Bloc. Expect quirky designs, house music, a mix of ages, different atmospheres and fragrances, plus no walking in the rain any distance between bars as they're all neighbouring each other.

There are 7 of us so far. Make it 8!

Sunday, 11 November 2018

Sakana Closes, Northern Quarter Drinks, Eyebrow-Raising Follower

Re last week's roundup, we can now add Sakana to the absolute massacre of bars in the city centre of late. I'll miss it hugely- the Peter St pan-Asian restaurant was one of the few places to play house music, have a good atmosphere, offer a steady flow of good looking people and some celebs (I met Katie Salmon from Love Island S2 in there). But the prices were just too high.

However... it might be back.

Last night I went out with Manchester Cool Bars to try out a few cocktail joints in the Northern Quarter. A huge group of us congregated in Beatnikz Rebublic, a very 80's-looking bar reminiscent of a hostel cafeteria. I'd go again. We then moved onto Mexican joint El Capo, which we pretty much filled once our group got in. I quite liked it. Great artwork on the walls. Cain and Grain followed this, which was HEAVING, a total cockfest and absolutely roasting. Some of us then moved on to Eastern Bloc, a record store during the day but down-and-dirty techno rave club at night. Great stomp. Shame about the weird guy trying to pinch my arm. He very nearly got sparked. Again, lots of guys, but the music was a big draw and a refreshing change. We finished off at The Freemount.

Good night, but absolutely agonising not having a working main camera. May make a purchase tomorrow, even though a friend has promised to fix it.

In other news, I have model Chelsea Ferguson following me on Twitter, who has over half a million followers!

Saturday, 10 November 2018

Chinawhite Launch


Last night London nightclub Chinawhite opened its Manchester branch on Deansgate in Milton Hall, the former home of The Milton Club.

As the name suggests, the club has undergone an east-Asian refurb, offering appealing stone murals and Chinese patterns, and the bar areas have been moved so that the dance floor is a little bigger. The prices (high), the clientele (good looking, rich, the 'in' crowd) and the music (contemporary hip hop and RnB) are all the same though. Hey, serve up what people will pay for. It's basically the same as Panacea, LIV, Bijou etc. My friend told me there was no water in the taps in the ladies room.

Pretty sure I saw Playboy model Sarah Longbottom and boxing ring girl manager Sara Beverley of SBJ Management. You might see her holding the flag when the boxing's on.

Nice night. I was hoping for a little more originality though.

Friday, 9 November 2018

Oldhamhour Social

Boom! I've just got home from Molino Lounge in Oldham, where contributors from Twitter chat #oldhamhour gathered to network and chat.

Big shout out to RubbbishRuthRambles, who herself is far from rubbish, but certainly dedicates herself to cleaning up a lot of it across the country. She undergoes four trips per year, across the whole country, on pubic transport. The aim: to clean up as much waste as possible. She aims to pick up a piece of litter every day, to do her bit in cleaning up the UK. Follow her journeys on her blog

The Oldhamhour Social is a great opportunity to meet people from local businesses and charities, to network, make friends, and of course, eat and drink. If you want. If you're in town and you can, drop in to the Parliament Square restaurant from 5pm onwards on the second Friday of the month.

I spoke to a lot of people but I'm still in the process of finding Twitter accounts for people I spoke to. There may be similar Twitter chat events in your town.

Thursday, 8 November 2018

Spanners, Guinea Pigs and Mechanical Errors

The next instalment of my grand-uncle Dick's RAF memoirs.

Early 1950s

Leaping forward in time to Dishforth the Squadron were given an additional aircraft on strength and a second cage. But before the second cage arrived we experienced an aircraft going unserviceable with a mag drop and the cage had to be quickly removed and transferred to another replacement aircraft. Whenever this aircraft was due to leave about 6 in the morning there was always a couple of extra ground crew with ¼” spanners to ensure a quick transfer of the cage. I can see this cage, 10 by 6 by 4 feet with 4 bods under it running between the aircraft pans. Shoulder high. It reminded me of the poster signs on the main line railways to London before the war. 'Halls Distemper' held by 2 men in white overalls, so many miles to London. The frequency of the Stornaway drop then increased to twice a week in 1954.

We did hear also of the panic at Stornaway when 1 of the boxes came off the transport and burst open, and the aircrew were rushing around looking for guinea pigs in the long grass.

Back to Abingdon, now completely re-equipped with Valettas, we were suddenly confronted with an aircraft, at Templehof on the UWV run to Warsaw, with seized ailerons. It was later proved that the grease pocket in the articulating spigots of the ailerons did not line itself up with the grease nipple when they were greased on a Base Servicing. When we got to Tempelhof we found the whole of the mainplane, port and starboard control rod systems, laying all over the floor: bearings, distance pieces, ball races. What a mess!

A few weeks later an enquiry was set up. This resulted in all the Airframe Tradesmen who had worked on the aircraft over the last few Base Inspections being asked, “Can you remember greasing the ailerons last year when carrying out Man B's card on aircraft so and so?” One rather cocky JT Cresswell was said to have remarked, “Who do you think I am, Leslie Welch?” His father was of Senior office rank in the RAF – an Air Commodore- so perhaps he felt a little too sure of his self. I guess he was quickly straightened out.

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Depression Poem

Tryin'a write a verse, but where's the energy
lyin' here in bed and it's just this pen and me
couldn't hit my goals even if there's ten of me
Insomniac 'cause I'm my own worst enemy
Jot down ideas then I can write this verse
I try to conjure plans but all my thoughts disperse
It hurts- I have issues, and everybody knows this
but I have my ways of coping, a strategy, a process
I focus on my strengths, I focus on my positives
beating my depression is my number one prerogative
Tryin'a find new ways so that I can see this through
'cause there's only so much that this Sertraline can do
Like Scissor Sisters said I'm feeling comfortably numb
Dig deep and find the fire 'cause there's so much to be done
avoiding chocolate, booze, and stay away from bacon
'Cause SSRIs and only making me put weight on
Don't hate on a guy, who's only trying to get by
My meagre wage won't pay these bills, I'm not gonna deny
It's time for a career change, let's do something drastic
'Cause money doesn't stretch that far, it's not made of elastic
I'm asking the system, I'm ready to put graft in,
I already do a job where each day my pain I'm masking
The glory I will bask in, if I can overcome
'Cause every rejection is a bullet in the gun
Figurative Kevlar is what I must put on,
but for now, this poetry is done.

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Colossal Fuckup in an Oldham GP Surgery

Here's another urban legend from another colleague.

A doctor's surgery somewhere in Oldham: oversubscribed and underfunded. The doctor is of Asian origin, possibly Bangladeshi. A patient enters, possibly from a similar region of West Asia, although not the same country. They speak the same language, but the patient isn't fluent in English. It's some time in the afternoon after a slew of patients; the doctor's edging on tired. The resident recently moved into the neighbourhood.

The GP performs a general checkup. He applies a motorised band to the upper arm of the patient to test the blood flow. Normally, the machine it's attached to beeps in time with the patient's pulse. This time, there's no sound at all.

This man has no pulse, thinks the doctor. He's about to die. Right here in my surgery.

He panics, and immediately phones for an ambulance. The patient waits, bemused.

The paramedics arrive, slapping on powdered rubber gloves and dropping satchels full of instruments on the clinic floor. They do a basic check which the GP failed to administer: they roll back the sleeve of the patient's shirt. His arm is a slightly different shade of dark brown to his facial skin tone. It has a rubbery, plastic feel.

It's a bionic arm. The doctor just didn't think to check the arm. He didn't look, or try the other arm, i.e. the real, remaining one. Nor did he ask about it. And the patient, well, he didn't think to point out to the doctor that the arm he was checking wasn't even real. He probably didn't even know the function of the device strapped to his prosthetic limb.

I guess it goes to show that, no matter how intelligent we might be, whatever that means, we're always going to be capable of making the dumbest of mistakes.

Monday, 5 November 2018

Mental Health Meet, Networking Meet, Bar Crawl Meet

As mentioned Saturday, Manchester Depression, Bipolar and Anxiety group has secured a private room for their meetings. After months of meeting in a pub, which hasn't been ideal for members who might have addiction issues, we've now found a private space for us to open up more. I'm hoping the events will go ahead, but it's worth checking the site first. Tuesday, in WeWork Spinningfields, 6-8pm. I can't tell you a great deal of what it will involve, as the meetings have been pub-based up to this point. The privacy WeWork will give us will allow for other opportunities. Come find out if you feel it would help.

Friday night is the monthly Oldhamhour Social, an opportunity for local businesses and charities to network and socialise. Plus the food and drinks in Molino Lounge are great, so even if people aren't in a sector that you're interested in, at least you can talk, get some scran and sink a few bevvies. Meet us there from 5pm onwards.

Anyone fancy a Northern Quarter bar crawl? Manchester Cool Bars is running a night out on Saturday night to some of the trendiest, newest bars in Manchester, starting in The Daisy, below Evelyn's on Tib St. there are 18 of us so far. Make it 19!

Also, looking ahead to December, The Saddleworth Round Table will be hosting the annual Santa Dash, a 5K run through Oldham's countryside dressed as Father Christmas. I'm running in it. Round Table are looking for volunteers to guide people around the course. There's a reward!

Sunday, 4 November 2018

Bar Closures, Copious Volumes of Food, Alternative Nightlife Ideas

The shortness of life, so often lamented, may be the best thing about it.
-Arthur Schopenhauer, German philosopher

For whatever reason- be it everyone being broke (the mostly likely explanation), people becoming fitness nuts, or you realising that alcohol is a depressant and a serious hindrance to your life, or it just being cold as fuck in Manchester- there's been a massacre of bars in the city centre. They're closing at a horrendous rate. Rosylee, Hula, Tusk, Walrus, Fitzgerald, Blue Pig, Lazy Lizard, Manchester House, The Rabbit, Artisan, plus restaurants like Byron, CAU and Prezzo have all folded. Artisan and Fitzgerald I'll miss hugely. They were favourites.

There'll probably be a lot more to follow. People want more than just a room serving alcohol, no matter how you dress it up. There are, and have been for a long time, more bars than people going out to populate them. That's why I expect ventures like Base Manchester, a bar with baseball batting cages, to take off. Or Chill Factore, the Trafford Park-based indoor ski slope. Or Junkyard Golf, or Circuit Dating, or basically any other pastime that isn't just standing around in a bar scoping out reality TV bimbos or overpaid footballers.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Side issue, but Dom Lever from Love Island liked my tweet.

Also, following the theme of excess, I've finished off a little sample bottle of Auchentoshan and eaten my bodyweight in Chinese food at Tops Buffet.

I have another post specifically about alcohol, or lack thereof, in the pipeline.

Saturday, 3 November 2018

Support Group Manchester DAB Develops

WeWork Manchester

Manchester Depression, Anxiety and Bipolargroup has been running for some months now, offering weekly support for those with the aforementioned conditions. It's usually held in Albert's Chop House at Albert Square, but we've long discussed the idea that a private room would be more ideal for holding discussions.

Recently we've secured a room with WeWork, an office rental firm with branches all over the world, including in No.1 Spinningfields. This will allow us an opportunity to talk openly about any problem we might be having. I believe it's also the organiser's intention to invite speakers to give talks on certain topics.

Bring a photo ID and check in as a guest of Anders Timms once you arrive. Go to room 2B. As Anders is paying for the room, he's asking for a reasonable £2 subsidy.

Friday, 2 November 2018

Bloggers: Fancy Being Featured on Bryoni Burns' Blog?

Bryoni Burns, from Hampshire, England, describes herself as 'a freelance blogger and amateur photographer, more specifically a travel and fashion enthusiast.' She's reaching out to the blogging community to find other bloggers who'd like to be featured in her new series.

I've offered my involvement and have a form to fill in (not done yet).

Be part of the blogging community and get featured on this great site, Bryoni.

Thursday, 1 November 2018

NaBloPoMo2018 / Excess Month: Practical

A monster eating a man's face. Painting in a gallery in London. Prescient.

National Blog Posting Month begins today. The plan: write and upload 30 posts in 30 days. I have a list of ideas but it isn't the longest, so I'll be hounding people for inspo and support. Not only that, but I'm in desperate need of a new camera as the one in my phone stopped working in Amsterdam.

Expect alcohol. Expect drugs. Expect zed-list celebrities, nightlife events, psychological experiments, antique beermats, old RAF stories, old Customs tales, videos of fights outside bars, photos of semi-constructed Manchester buildings, possibly some poetry and lots of failed attempts at beating gym records.

1 down, 29 to go...