Sunday, 31 March 2019

Bongo's Bingo XL

Crazy bingo game Bongo's Bingo has now become so popular that the game, featuring prizes ranging from a dinosaur costume to 2 grand, has now had to move from The Albert Hall to Manchester Central. A few of us dropped in on Friday to see what goes down in the new venue.

Well, a few changes have been implemented: a false call will not only result in hundreds of people calling you a dickhead, but the chorus of Kate Nash's 'Dickhead' will blast out of the speakers, accompanied by giant digitally-altered images of celebrities with dicks protruding from their craniums.

With a larger venue not only can they seat more people but they have room for pizza vendors, so you can munch down on a margarita during the techno rave, which serves as a break between games.

The downside is that Manchester Central isn't used to having that many people needing the toilets at the same time. The queues were horrendous, and obviously they formed during the breaks, not when there were prizes to be won.

But do you know what else formed during the break? A fuckin' techno rave!

After the game, continuing the cheese theme, the bingo caller brought out the night's special guests: Lee Ryan and Simon Webbe from Blue!

Apologies for the shit quality (of the video, I mean). I think my camera was focusing on the people in front of me.

Another great bingo night.

Saturday, 30 March 2019

Annabelle Lawrence Swimwear Launch

On Thursday night I dropped into Vanitas for the Annabelle Lawrence swimwear range launch.

Sarah Longbottom. Courtesy Arron Parfitt Pix
Organised by Social app Viper, the party saw a few TV stars drop in, including Taekwondo gold medallist Lutalo Muhammad, model Sarah Longbottom, Hayley Hughes and Olivia Jade Atwood from Love Island, Chanelle McCleary, from Ex on the Beach / Big Brother.

I did not manage to get pictures with any.

A few people chipped into the organisation of the night, which, once under way, was fantastic.

Shout out to Femme Fatale Entertainment who provided the dancers. Also a shout out to the random dude playing the piano near the toilets. Enjoyed doing a quick singalong with him!

A great night.


Monday, 25 March 2019

Northern Quarter transformed into New York street for Jared Leto’s Spider-Man spin-off Morbius

No sight of any stars this morning but the Dale / Port / Tariff Street area was mostly cordoned off and production crews were putting equipment in place. More info on the M.E.N.

As a lot of the buildings are prewar-built, they're a great attraction to Hollywood, being used in sets on Genius, Sherlock Holmes and Captain America to name a few.

Sunday, 24 March 2019

Genesis of a Tech Marketing Agency

There's no point keeping this a secret any more- I'm currently trying to change careers from public sector admin to public relations. I'll go into more detail about this another time, but for the moment, let's say I've had my eyes open. So when I got a message through Meetup from Write the Docs, a global tech writing organisation stretching through Australia and Europe, I thought I had nothing to lose.

I dropped into their Wednesday 20th event, 'Genesis of a Technical Marketing Agency.' They offer 'social meetups for technical writers, developers, testers, writers of all sorts, and anyone who is interested in learning more about documentation.'

It was held at Colony CoWork, a trendy office space in Jactin House in the Northern Quarter.

I'm not going to lie, it was heavier than I expected. I'm not a techie person at all, despite having ran a blog on social media for over a decade, so I should have guessed from the title what I was in for, but I still picked up some knowledge. The featured agency, Read Modify Write, was formed in 2017 by Matt and Helen Fleming, who were both key speakers on the night. They delved into content writing, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), linking to other places to garner pageviews, and how to start a business in this field.

The panel moved on to the research stage, discussing the act of finding other businesses doing a similar thing ('steal everything' was their advice, relating to processes, of course, not hardware). They also name-dropped helpful sites like Upwork (for freelancers) and Unveil, which appears to be a dating app, but I understand is a safe open source site used to help people find other people for work, either as a payer or payee. Buffer also got a mention, a site which 'makes it easy for businesses and marketing teams to schedule posts.' (It wouldn't surprise me if Twitter had banned it- they're being an arse about third party apps these days.)

An interesting night in a great venue with some knowledgeable speakers- it was a little different from what I currently write about, though, and to what I'm aiming to get into.

Monday, 18 March 2019

Come try some posh cocktails in Tattu

After a quiet week in listening to the pounding rain, this coming weekend will be a huge improvement. Come out with Manchester Cool Bars on Saturday night!

We're heading to Spinningfields bar Tattu, Saturday, for some cocktails and a chat. I've tried some of their offerings and they're the best cocktails I've ever tasted. The venue itself is one of the most refined, luxurious bars you'll ever visit. Decorated with a maritime feel, you'll see rope, beams, black leather and exquisite photography of tattoo art, and hear quiet, laid-back house in the background.

The weather looks dry next weekend, a far cry from the downpour we had over the last few days. So if we decide to bar-hop we shouldn't be caught out.

Like clubbing but don't necessarily like getting pissed? New Meetup group Healthy Raving encourages not-so-late nights, not-so-drunken experiences but an emphasis on house and techno. It's what I've been looking for for some time! I'm always looking for more house music fans as the last house night I went to I was stood up and ended up going on my own. Still a decent night though.

Also arriving on Meetup is The Marketing Meetup Manchester, 'a positive and non-salesy group for the brilliant marketers of Manchester to come together, listen and learn.' I'm looking into Public Relations at the moment, but Marketing is a close relative so I'm planning on keeping an eye on them.

For the last few weeks I've been dipping into Judge Dredd the Mega Collection: America, a compilation of 2000AD's Dredd comic strips. The series of bite-size mysteries allows the reader to delve into the world of Megacity One as they please- none of the stories connect much, but they all display a dystopian, totalitarian future in which crime doesn't pay, but the violence used in retaliation always breeds more violence. But of course it does: otherwise the stories would get very dull. Some have great plots, others (like Firepower, a silly shootout) no plot. It's a mixed bag. 2000AD is one of a collection of SF brands in which people ride flying bikes but still have to fill in actual paperwork.

Entertaining, but I could never be a solid 2000AD fan.

Sunday, 17 March 2019

Screenplay redraft

Pretty soon I will be moving out of this dogshit council estate full of jobless bums and crackheads. I've secured a better location, but before I do, I need to do a lot of throwing out. Among the stacks of lever-arch files that I've recently thinned out is one containing six copies of a screenplay, originally wrote in 2005. Once Upon a Time in Great Britain was conceived in 2004 and mostly written in 2005, but I sidelined it when I started blogging at the end of 2006. It's a tale of an intelligent but frustrated graduate who is unwittingly inducted into a terror faction, and who starts to see strange correlations between his life as a student and his life as a terrorist. Eventually I took it to a writers group and started to redraft the whole thing, making it sharper and more natural-sounding.

After a full read-through with what was Writers Connect, a now-disbanded writing feedback group, I wanted a short break before doing a 'final' draft. That short break became some years, and this weekend I went back over the drafts.

In the annotations I made a reminder to check out Black Mirror, Charlie Brooker's SF drama series: a group member had noticed some similarities between the show and my screenplay. At the time I couldn't find it on All4, or Youtube, or anywhere else. So having got a Netflix subscription for Christmas, I've now managed to watch Bandersnatch, the postmodern 80's choose-your-own-adventure story about the computer programmer who finds himself being controlled by a 21st-centry entertainment service called Netflix (or more accurately, you, the viewer making the decisions). This was one of Black Mirror's later releases, but yesterday I managed to watch the pilot episode, National Anthem, about the kidnap of a royal princess and a demand by the hostage-taker for the Prime Minister to... well, do something incredibly degrading. I won't spoil it. But it became almost true, to the point that Brooker admitted, for a moment, that he thought the whole news story was a joke on him.

So, with National Anthem watched, I went back to the screenplay and ran through the drafts. The version I used yesterday seemed to have been updated from the notes on the printed drafts I had on me- corrections I'd written had already been made in the file version- but I went through them all, reading the screenplay six times, making a few minor adjustments. Then what did I do? I found the more recent drafts, with other ideas scrawled in the corner of the pages. I remember going to an organiser's house, having a barbecue, and sitting down and reading out the whole screenplay, with group members taking several parts.

So pretty soon I'm going to have to pencil off a day to go through all those, more updated, copies too.

In other news, my video of Liverpool Comic Con apparently went out on Liverpool TV, a regional channel. Ever seen a stormtrooper dressed as a Scotsman? You have now.

At Sacha's / Golden Orbit's Comic Fair this month they dished out a free horror comic, Tales from the Crypt presents The Vault of Horror. Originally published in 1991, the comic has a 1950's retro feel with some very weird, dated tales. No dates or references to human technology are given, so some of these stories could have taken place any time in the latter half of the 20th century, but some were set way before the 90s. Entertaining, but a largely silly short story collection.

Monday, 11 March 2019

Boom Mondays at Lola Lo TONIGHT

I realise Monday night is an obscure time to be going out, but if you can, you should.

Manchester Cool Bars are heading to Boom at Lola Lo tonight. We've done Mondays in Lola Lo before and had great nights. A fun atmosphere with cheap drinks, Lola Lo picks up quite late. Hence, we're starting in El Diablo from 10:30pm.

I'll be in town from 7 onwards for Andy's Man Club, meeting in Federation House. If you're male and over 18, and want to get something off your chest, come down to the meeting, which is between the Printworks and Shudehill tram stop. AMC is now a national movement, aiming to save men's lives through talking. It's gaining traction, with recent coverage in The Guardian giving it a national audience.

Saturday night sees a big meetup with Young Professionals in Manchester dropping into First St's Gasworks bar. It's a ridiculously popular group with 122 people having signed up to the meetup so far.

There's every possibility that some of us might be going to Genting Casino after this to watch UFC London, where Liverpool lad Darren Till is taking on Jorge Masvidal. As it's on in London it looks like it might be broadcast here at a reasonable time. Main card starts at 8pm.

Sunday, 10 March 2019

Liverpool Comic Con

I don't know whether you've ever tried driving into Liverpool on a Saturday morning, but yesterday I did, and that was one of the most stressful experiences I've ever endured. This was made worse by the last-minute realisation that there was an error on some of my paperwork- The email confirming a photograph opportunity was missing the actual ticket needed for proof at the event. I screenshotted my bank statement showing the payment.

Eventually I managed to find a car park about a mile away, and had the wisdom to not just take pictures of the area and try to 'drop a pin' on Google maps, but to write down in a notebook exactly where I'd left my car. There was no way my Xperia X battery was going to make it to the end of the day.

Eventually, though, I found the venue and made it inside.

I asked the stewards about the photo opp I'd paid for. The photoshoot I paid for was Burt Young, Paulie from the Rocky franchise and Joe from Once Upon a Time in America. Mr Young wasn't sitting for photos until 11:45, so I had 45 mins to sort out the situation. Nobody seemed to know what I should do but the consensus was that it'd probably be fine. And yes, the steward checking the tickets was understanding, even though my name wasn't even on the list.

I told Mr Young that Once Upon was the best film ever made. He seemed to nod in agreement.

I wasn't prepared to shell out for the Dean Cain / Teri Hatcher photoshoot, but was hoping to meet the two New Adventures of Superman stars at their tables. I queued up for ages hoping to pay for a quick selfie with each, but the steward told me it was autographs only. Pics had to be professional. So instead I waited 'til later and snapped a few zoomed-in shots during their Q&A.

I wish I'd shelled out for Adam Baldwin.He was great as Mother in Full Metal Jacket. Most of the other stars were Twilight or Power Rangers actors: generally people I don't know from Adam (biblical, at least). I mingled for a little but then decided to head off.


The Bridgekeeper and The Knight who Says Ni from Monty Python and the Holy Grail (cosplay, obviously)


A-Team van


Bill Duke (Mac from Predator) was booked, but had to cancel. This lineup sheet left on a table still has him listed.

The sports almanac from Back to the Future Part II


Pimp stormtrooper?

I honestly don't know who this is supposed to be. Mexican Daffy?

Robin Reliant from Only Fools and Horses. Perhaps authentic. Some of the cast were there too.

Of course, finding my way back to the car was another tense journey through Liverpool's urban regeneration area, during which time my battery died and I had to ask about 20 strangers if they knew where this Moda development was.

(Nobody did, not even the Scousers. In fact, half the people I spoke to weren't even from Liverpool, and weren't Comic Con attendees.)

So, yeah, an enjoyable day but excruciating getting to and from the venue.

Wednesday, 6 March 2019


The first day of Lent is today. Once again, I'm going to attempt to eat clean and not eat chocolate or takeaways, nor will I drink alcohol. This ends Good Friday, 19th April.

I've got loads of ideas for meetups that will have to go on hold for the moment, as most of these are cocktail bars and part of the draw is the cocktail menu. So a lot of the events that I'll put up are more club-type places such as Birdcage, or somewhere where the drinks are fairly routine.

Current body weight: 88.4kg, according to the gym's new scales. Target weight: 79.9kg. I'll keep track of weight, plus try to beat the same old records. I'll add in a few home workouts too, with Netflix in the background.

Monday, 4 March 2019

I'm on leave this week.

What do I do? Do I go to Andy's Man Club in Oldham and meet like-minded blokes and address any mental health issues? Do I go see Veba from Groove Armada play in Albert's Schloss? Or both, as they're on tonight?

This weekend, do I trek to Liverpool for the Comic Con? I could go meet Dean Cain and Teri Hatcher, Lois and Clark from The New Adventures of Superman. Bill Duke (Mack from Predator) has pulled out, but there'll still be Burt Young (Paulie from Rocky, Joe from Once Upon a Time in America) on the Saturday.

Do I go see Craig Charles (Lister from Red Dwarf) DJ in Band on the Wall? That's Saturday night.

Or do I go with Manchester Cool Bars to swanky club Chinawhite?

Everything's a bit up in the air, tbh, but my point is, it's worth keeping your eye on meetup as things crop up here and there at the last minute.

Saturday, 2 March 2019


Kenny Mammarella-D’Cruz, 'The Man Whisperer'

Hasan Beyaz from Sanity Marketing contacted me through my email- with this piece on group therapy in the States. It's a gem. 

University is meant to be the most enjoyable time of our lives. Those three years of partying, socialising and exploring ourselves to excess are unlike any other and, for the majority of adults; they’d go back to it in a heartbeat. For Bertie, however, his reality was very different.

Bertie hated university. He saw everyone socialising around him but felt like he couldn’t connect with anyone. Despite going to three different universities, Bertie still couldn’t safely settle and ended up in a very dark, isolated place inside of himself.

With no friends, a non-existent love life, and severe anxiety and depression, Bertie found himself becoming a recluse and spending an unhealthy amount of time online. He spent hours browsing YouTube and lurking in the dark corners of Reddit threads, seeking some form of escape and solace from the stressful foreign world going on around him. The internet addiction Bertie had was crippling – it was taking over Bertie’s life in ways he didn’t realise, pushing him further and further away from relationships, work, and studies. He was slowly and slowly slipping into an almost in-human state, becoming only excited and enthused when he was online.

Frustrated by his lack of purpose and direction, Bertie began reading self-help books and became inspired to attend a men’s group. After trying a few different groups, Bertie ended up at Kenny Mammarella-D’Cruz’s MenSpeak men’s group. He took his time to commit to a closed group and dipped in and out of open sessions, but Bertie eventually stuck with it and quickly became an enthusiastic regular.

Bertie says that he liked Kenny’s laid-back approach, the fact that he puts the emphasis on the individual and doesn’t hold their hand and go into unnecessary detail with every painful life story as a traditional therapist might. He got suicidal at times, booked private sessions with Kenny and found himself with new perspectives and tools making peace with his issues and emotionally opening up to the great personality that needed the space to emerge from inside of him. Through the MenSpeak groups, Bertie began making close friends and found a purpose to his life. After a huge drought, his dating life began to prosper and his issue with depression, anxiety and internet addiction began to decrease. 
Not only did Kenny’s men’s groups and private sessions turn around Bertie’s issues, but they also gave him a purpose and a career. He’s trained to facilitate his own men’s and boys’ groups that he’s taking to schools and universities in order to help students that are dealing with similar issues to what Bertie faced. For Bertie, not only did Kenny’s influence change his life, but it gave him the power to pass on the tools to others. At 25, Bertie is going to be trustee of the MenSpeak charity, training others to pass it on in their own communities, perhaps to put right for others what wasn’t right for him.

About Kenny Mammarella-D’Cruz

Known as ‘The Man Whisperer’, Kenny Mammarella-D’Cruz is a personal development consultant whose sole aim is to get to the bottom of men’s issues. After taking up ‘man of the household’ duty at the age of seven due to familial struggles with the Ugandan secret service, Kenny struggled further with mental health issues like OCD and Tourette’s for most of his adult life before overcoming them.

Kenny then travelled the world and tried his hand at shark-feeding, fire-walking, and managed a spell working with the divine Mother Theresa in Calcutta, only realising later in life that he was subconsciously trying to fill a hole he had within. Now back in the U.K, Kenny uses his tools and experiences to work with men, improving their mental health issues, and navigating issues like toxic masculinity, wealth embarrassment, and the infamous mid-life crisis.

Hosting weekly MenSpeak men’s groups, private sessions, workshops, and training seminars, Kenny hopes his unique methods will result in a whole new man – one who is free, confident, and able to succeed.