Monday, 29 April 2019

Come Paintballing on Sunday!

A confession: I'm 36 and have never been paintballing. I was out with Young Professionals in Manchester a while ago and the conversation turned to different activities we could do, rather than the now tiresome 'getting pissed.' I had loads of ideas, so we settled on one of them. Hence, on Sunday afternoon we're going to Manchester Paintball Arena, Nile Mill in Chadderton, to shoot each other with paint. It's going to be SICK. I believe some pain is involved. Don't say you weren't warned. Oh, and wear loose clothing. You get your overalls, mask, gun and a ton of balls as part of the price. There are 15 of us so far- make it 16!

Sunday, 28 April 2019

Miss Swimsuit UK Manchester Heat 2019

Last night saw the third heat of Miss Swimsuit UK in Viva Manchester on Witworth St, with 14 beautiful semifinalists taking to the catwalk. Judges included Survival of the Fittest's Samantha Dewhurst, Ex on the Beach's Zara Lena and Kurtis Hartman. Also from Ex on the Beach judging the proceedings was Helen Briggs

Former Miss Manchester and boxing ring girl Sara Beverley Jones joined the panel, with makeup provided by Sean Maloney. The proceedings were presented by former Miss Swimsuit UK national winner Poppy Haskell

Sponsors included mobile phone accessory onlline shop R8 Media.

The top 3 winners, Poppy explained, go through to the UK final with a chance to represent the UK in Mexico. As well as a final winner for the heat, the competition also included prizes for Miss Congeniality (Emma, no.9) and Miss Social Media (Cassie, no.6). Overall winner: no.3, Danielle!

I went with meetup group Manchester Cool Bars and Clubs. You should have been there!

SOHO is the weekly Saturday night in VIVA, which took place after the competition

Saturday, 27 April 2019

Yes, well... and here we go again.

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I was talking to a doorman friend on Deansgate a while ago about nutrition, and about how to stop eating junk food. “Just think,” he said, “you put it in your mouth, and it tastes good for a couple of seconds, and that's it. Is it really worth those few seconds of pleasure for what it does to you?”

He's right- I'm scratching around for things that I like, and finding giant bars of Galaxy chocolate. How embarrassing. It really isn't worth it.

Instead, I've got Netflix (I'm late to the party but Breaking Bad is incredible) and loads of books to read. I've got my friends, and the city of Manchester. I've got the gym. These are all neural pathways- routes in my brain for finding pleasure. There's plenty out there to enjoy, and no reason to binge on one thing, especially not one that has robbed me of a six-pack for the last 9 years.

So. Here we go again. I'm busy with the move (as mentioned yesterday) but I'm not going to slip this time. I'll get in gym sessions where possible, but I won't get my enjoyment from food- I'll get it from wherever else, and meanwhile I'll get in as much veg as possible. I should open a cookbook for once, too.

I was 86.3kg on Tuesday. I want to be 79. And I want to fit into my suit trousers again. I've already cut out junk food, and I'm not even missing it this time. I broke the clean-eating habit when I went for cocktails in Tattu a while back, and only 1 mate (out of fucking 10 down to come) turned up. I'm not going to be let down by the meetup scene any more. I might drop into other people's events but I'm not putting any up myself for the foreseeable.

I might beat some PBs at the gym along the way, but I'm not putting them as my specific goals, meaning I can mix in rope flicks, burpee chinups, box jumps and bag work along with the likes of chest press and leg press, with which I have got PBs.

Wednesday, 24 April 2019

Making Prose from Recordings

You know those Creature Comforts claymations that Nick Park makes?

The principal of this is, you take audio recordings from the public, and turn them into animation without altering the sound. You flesh out the dialogue. Park is the master of this.

I was wondering how this might be transferred to prose: to take and audio recording and turn it into a fully described scene. So I surreptitiously recorded my parents discussing me moving house.

House Discussion 1

“Okay,” Dad mumbles. “We haven't got time to look at everything else.” He looks over the spread of paperwork, filling the dining room table. “Have I gone right through all the recommendations, or do I keep getting sidetracked?” He picks up a stapled bundle out of maybe 30 identical-looking forms.

Mum turns to me. “Do you want a hot chocolate?”

“Drains...” Dad reads on.

“Please,” I reply.

“The electrics,” Dad changes course. “I think we know what we got with the electrics,” he mumbles.

No, I think, YOU know. I haven't got a clue what you're talking about, but asking will only elongate the evening's proceedings and I doubt I'll retain any of it in half an hour's time.

Mum stands. “Doesn't he say it seems to be a modern... system or something?”

“Well he doesn't know that it's been rewired; I'm surprised he doesn't actually mention the question of rewires.” Dad stares into the paperwork, a vast chasm of formal terms and heavy legal language, and in that second, somewhere between the ageing Times New Roman and his vocal cords, there's something of an epiphany, a realisation. “Oh, well, I say 'rewired,' It's gonna have been added to over the years, but a hundred and twenty years ago they would only have had one... socket in, wouldn't they?”

Mum hasn't moved from the table, now standing over Dad as he muses. “Uh-huh.”

“A hundred and twenty years ago they might not have had any sockets in.”


Dad is in danger of extrapolating, of musing on the many possibilities that might have occurred, and once he begins, we know- Mum and I- that it's hard to get him back on course with the facts.

House Discussion 2

“Gutters. And they're all looking up the... yeah. Okay.” He reads on. “We'll insure both party walls... yeah, okay. That's, uh, we're gettin' a builder in to look at the, uh, a roofer to look at everything. Cavity ties.” Dad makes a popping noise as he thinks. He can't think without that short exhalation of breath. “Yeah, well, I mean, what do you think about having the cavity ties, uh, reviewed? Y'know, you can whip one out and have a look at it.”

There's a pause as Mum stares into the varnished oak of the dining room table. “How much money do you want to spend before you decide to buy it?” She chuckles lightly as she asks this, tremors of exasperation and impatience in her voice. “I don't know.”

“Well, how much would it cost to actually have the job done?” Dad is oblivious to Mum's dwindling patience. He knows, of course, that if anyone in this room could guess a price, it's him. “I don't think it's a big job but some firms are talking about big sums of money, but...”

I've heard Dad say this before. It shouldn't be a big job. Without fail, it always turns out to be a bigger job than he anticipates.

“Bearing in mind,” Mum says, like the dining room is actually a board room, her years in education management evident in her delivery, “that the surveyor puts down everything that could potentially be a problem...”

“Uh-huh.” He stares into the thick wad of formal paperwork, a cross-examination of property-related questions to which I sure as shit don't have answers. They're all surveys that are required, searches of various types to be done by people who's jobs I would never understand, structural issues to be assessed... problems that will take way longer than I'll be given to solve.

Hence, now approaching 37, I'm asking my retired parents to help. Or am I? I raised the idea of moving out. They found the property we're now trying to get me into. And they are driving the move-out process. The reality is, of course, I couldn't do this without them. Not even the beginnings.

“Because he has to cover himself.” Mum leans back in her chair, formal, convinced in herself.

Somewhere in the kitchen an electrical appliance is beeping, something that wasn't there when I was living with them.

I have to move out of my flat. My neighbour, an apparent heroin dealer if recent graffiti is anything to go buy, burgled me six months ago. The police couldn't find the evidence, so he's still living in a flat a few doors down. I saw him on the street a few hours before it happened- he was asking me about what he'd seen through my kitchen window, probably from the footpath behind my house, that he uses to walk his dog.

He doesn't have that dog any more. Pets aren't allowed in these flats. I guess Housing nailed him for that, at least.

A few months ago my dad showed me an estate agent advert for a place a mile or so away, just before the Saddleworth border. We took a look around, and, for once, there didn't appear to be anything wrong with it. Solidly built, owner only moving out to move in with his missus, in a nice area... it seemed perfect.

I was waiting for the problem. There always is one.

“Bearing in mind it's an a hundred-and-twenty-year-old house,” Dad says.

Mum vocalises in agreement.

“And if there are cavity ties... I mean, there is a dispute, really, between the current owner, who thinks it's...”

It's my turn to sigh in exasperation.

Tuesday, 23 April 2019

K Klass in Gorilla

I dropped into Manchester club Gorilla to see house music legends K Klass on Sunday night.

Here's Paul Taylor warming up for the duo...

... before K Klass take to the decks.

A great night of piano house and old school tracks from Retro Events. I managed to say hi to Russ Morgan and Paul Roberts, the remaining group members, at the end of the night.

I told them I saw them in Ampersand in 2008... and that I lost my virginity to someone I met that night. Couldn't have done it without you, guys.

Monday, 22 April 2019

Come to Miss Swimsuit UK

On the blog: a trip to Gorilla to see K Klass. In the city: a few things...

New meetup group Manchester 20s - 30s opens. The organiser has only bought the 50 member-limit package on meetup but she's set up a Facebook group to continue the organising. Seems an effective cost-saving technique to me as Meetup can get expensive if you're paying for the group.

On Saturday night I'll be at VIVA nightclub for the Manchester heat of Miss Swimsuit UK 2019. Think gorgeous girls in bikinis, a smart club, and a swarm of reality TV stars. I'm going with Manchester Cool Bars and Clubs. Tickets are £20 on the door. There are some online but I'm not sure how to access them. Anyway, Manchester Cool Bars are meeting in nearby Dog Bowl before diving into the club.


Sunday, 21 April 2019

Meetup sure is a mixed bag

Friday night I dropped into Castlefield's Wharf pub, ideal for sunny sessions in their large beer garden, with Young Professionals in Manchester.

It was great catching up with people I hadn't seen in ages, along with some regular friends. I'm friends with the organiser of this group, and I'm one of the hosts, so I want to be clear at this point that the criticisms I'm about to make are about specific individual attendees, not the group itself. I've talked to a lot of cool people who are relaxed, decent people who talk and listen, who chat to anyone, and are generally positive people. But I find that the bigger the meetup, the more I bump into difficult, needlessly critical, arrogant people who don't listen and don't have the level of social skills that you'd expect from someone in their late 20s or early 30s. But then, you find that in every sphere of life, I guess.

You might have seen next week's Saturday night meetup with Manchester Cool Bars and Clubs, which I'm hosting, to Viva for the Manchester heat of Miss Swimsuit UK, a competition held across the UK every year. I've been ripped by a few people- usually guys- for running this meetup. It's been slated as misogynistic, (despite the CEO, the costume designer, the DJ and most of the judges being women) and that me running that event makes me look bad. I've explained that, at nearly 37 years old, I'm past giving a fuck about what some arrogant bloke from Oldham thinks. Or anyone else, for that matter.

I would still recommend people give this a shot. Among the group I found people who liked my kind of music, who I might be doing other nights out with soon.

Saturday night saw another big meetup, held by Manchester Megamix. we met in Tusk in the Northern Quarter, a small bar which we filled, and again was a mixed bag. Some great, cool people, and some difficult ones: in the latter case the same people, in fact, whom I'm convinced use Meetup as a crux to hold up a semblance of a social life, as nobody will invite them to anything else.

Arseholes aside, I'd still recommend people give Meetup a shot. It's growing by the day as people try it out.

Away from Meetup, I read Cowboys and Aliens, a graphic novel which was made into a movie a few years ago. I found it at Manchester comic fair for a quid, so I wasn't expecting a masterpiece. I thought, there must me more than just cowboys and aliens beating the crap out of each other, right?

Hmm. Very silly. I checked out the movie adaptation starring Daniel Craig.

Also dumb. Lazers blow up a wooden saloon, but don't set fire to the parts that weren't in the immediate beam? If you're going to do 'sci-fi,' get the 'sci' part right.

I'm seeing K Klass in Gorilla tonight. Get involved with this meetup and this meetup!

Friday, 19 April 2019

Mirror Image Style Launches in Manchester

Last night saw the launch of women's clothing brand Mirror Image Style in Impossible Manchester. I managed to get guestlist and rolled in early doors.

I gather Hanna Eliza from Love Island had something to do with it, although I didn't see her all night.

I had a few phone problems and the videos I shot didn't come out, but the catwalk segment featuring the clothing range went down well, with gorgeous models provided by M Models Management and accompaniment from teen dance troupe Centre Stage providing the dancers.

To celebrate the launch, Mirror Image Style were giving away £500 of goods in a free raffle. To enter: post a picture of yourself on social media and tag any of the night's sponsors. Winner: Jordi Leigh!

A plethora of TV celebs dropped into the event including Big Brother's Chanelle McCleary  and Ibiza Weekender's Marlie Lewis and Chloe Chaloner. They dipped out early and I didn't get a chance to say hi, but I did meet a few celebs.

2018 UK Glamour Model of the Year Grace J Teal

Playboy model Sarah Longbottom

A great night culminating in some hilariously cringey hip hop karaoke in the upstairs bar (surprisingly not by me).

Monday, 15 April 2019

Don't stay in this Easter

A short week ahead as Easter kicks in at the end! Good Friday will be, um, good, as Meetup group Young Professionals in Manchester are dropping into sunny Castlefield for a few early evening scoops. Join us in The Wharf from 7pm onwards.

Saturday night sees Bolton boxer Amir Khan fighting former 3-weight US champ Terence Crawford.

It also sees House music legends Sasha and John Digweed playing at the Albert Hall.

Sunday night sees 90s dance group K-Klass playing in Gorilla.

I know from experience, though, that putting these on Manchester Cool Bars won't have a massive response, but- great news- I've been made admin on Young Professionals in Manchester, a bigger, more popular group that allows for a bit more variety. Whether people there are into house music, who knows. I've asked in the discussions, but my experience has been that people don't check those comments.

Last night I polished off Road to Perdition: Detour, the third in a trilogy of graphic novels following '30s gangster Michael O'Sullivan as he runs from the Chicago mob with his young son. It's another great, tense instalment, but it's weakened by a stupid scene in which Michel robs a police station, and all the cops hand over their guns instead of shooting him in the chest. It kinda reminded me of that scene at the end of Naked Gun 33+1/3.

Other than that, it's brilliant. I found a sequel at a recent comic fair- I'm keen to see how the duo continue their adventures.

Sunday, 14 April 2019

Chamber Music and Manchester's Ailing Nightlife Scene

Manchester's nightlife scene continues to nose-dive with the closure of both Neighbourhood (due to fucking gangland stabbings and equally violent doormen) and Coyote Ugly, due to water damage. Issues aside, I liked both of them. With Artisan long gone- the Spinningfields bar opposite Neighbourhood- the Avenue looks set to be a ghostly alleyway for people making their way round to Alchemist and Oast House.

What a shite state of affairs.

Anyway, I wrote back in November about a Waterstones book signing with Will Ashon, author of Chamber Music: About the Wu Tang.

I've recently finished the book, an incredibly well-researched analysis of 36 Chambers, the debut album from hip hop collective The Wu-Tang Clan. The book begins by tracing the origins of hip hop, and the black jazz musicians that laid the foundations for one of the most successful groups in hip hop history, before looking into the Wu's collective talents and how their individual verses are tailored to make them, as rappers, stand out from the eight other performers in the group. It takes in 1970s Brooklyn upbringings, their home city of New York through the ages, the lengthy number of martial arts movies many of the group idolised (and later sampled during production) and the technology (and occasional lack thereof) during production. It's fascinatingly detailed and addictively written- making you want to stick on 36 Chambers for another listen, in every chapter.

The Big Issue's Jane Graham extols the book's virtues better than I could.

Saturday, 13 April 2019

These are the top 15 Willpower Fails Brits Face

A story provided by SWNS Digital, providing the largest broadcasters & publishers (and me) with world-class journalism. To have your psychology-related story published, email it to me at

The average Brit treats themselves to a little of what they fancy up to 14 times a week, a study has found.

A light-hearted poll of 2,000 adults revealed our favourite foods, holidays and retail therapy are among the things which Brits are most likely to give into. It also emerged one in 10 have ducked out of an exercise class they'd previously booked or swerved the gym to head for a drink or to have a meal with friends. More than 40 per cent have given into slice of cake instead of having the fruit they’d planned to eat. One third stay up past their bedtime to watch ‘just one more episode’ of a box set. And another 15 per cent admitted find it impossible to turn down the prospect of a fun night out. Yet seven in 10 Brits are also firm believers in the phrase ‘a little bit of what you fancy does you good.’ Another 48 per cent find that if they allow themselves a little bit of what they want, rather than saying no completely, their overall resolve is stronger.

The stats emerged in a study by ZA, a new PizzaExpress offering where pizza is available by the slice.

ZA is inspired by the early years of PizzaExpress, when founder Peter Boizot (who died in December last year) first brought pizza to the UK back in 1965 and sold, fresh, hot pizza by the slice in SoHo.

Spokesperson Zoe Bowley said: “Giving into the goodness is incredibly common, according to this research.

Though our survey has also found having a little bit of what you fancy can do you good and can even help keep willpower stronger than trying to resist our favourite things all the time.”

The study also found a fifth of Brits have spent far too long in the sun because they want to make the most of it – despite feeling they should have already sought shade. (Guilty.)

Forty-five per cent of adults are happy to admit they’re not very good at resisting things they like the most. (Again, guilty.)

However, on a positive, 36 per cent believe their resolve has increased and become stronger as they’ve aged. (I'm failing in this regard.)

It also emerged a third think they should be able to enjoy what they’d like when they want it, without worrying about the consequences.

Over 40 per cent of adults find it hardest to resist temptation when hungry (a category I fall straight into, like Galaxy chocolate falls straight into my gob way too often), and 28 per cent struggle if sleepy, according to the OnePoll data.

And 35 per cent are more likely to give in to temptation if they’ve had a tough day at work or are feeling a bit stressed. (I can relate.)

As a result, 60 per cent of respondents wish they had more willpower (yup) with 36 per cent admitting to being jealous of others who can resist temptation (yup).

ZA, which translates as ‘a little bit of Pizza, a little bit of PizzaExpress’, is based on the idea, ‘a little bit of what you fancy does you good’.

Zoe Bowley added: “We’re big believers in the idea that having a little bit of what you fancy is good for you.

These survey findings tell us a healthy dose of balance brings us Brits happiness.''

1. Eating a sweet snack instead of fruit as planned
2. Staying up late to read because due to being so engrossed in the book they are reading (me)
3. Staying up past bedtime to watch ‘just one more episode’ of a favourite boxset (me)
4. Picking up a favourite food ‘to go’ rather than cooking as a treat
5. Having an extra drink on a night out instead of going home early (I have missed the last tram more times than I would care to admit if I could even remember)
6. Buying lunch at work despite having something from home because it was more appealing
7. Spending too long in the sun because you want to make the most of it (in 2010 my GP told me I was going to have to be very careful from then on- I perhaps haven't been)
8. Having an extra coffee just despite not needing the caffeine (Monster, maybe)
9. Having an extra slice of pizza just because (Well, hey, if I cooked it, I'm eating the whole thing)
10. Having a cheeky peek at an ex on social media see what they’re up to now (I need to cut down on SM for numerous reasons, this being one of them)
11. Going on a night out because of FOMO (60% of my social life exists because of this)
12. Obsessively checking if WhatsApp messages have been read or replied to
13. Booking another holiday even if it’s more than budgeted (I need other people to have money to do this with too, so it's a rarity)
14. Cancelling a previously booked exercise class
15. Cancelling plans to go to the gym to go to the pub instead

Monday, 8 April 2019


Last night I read On the Road to Perdition: Sanctuary, the second instalment of the graphic novels from Max Allan Collins and Steve Lieber. Another great, tense, noirish chapter in the tale of a father and son on the run from the mob.

There isn't a lot happening on Meetup at the moment. Stay tuned though.

Sunday, 7 April 2019

On the Road to Perdition

You might have seen the excellent Sam Mendes movie Road to Perdition, starring Tom Hanks in an uncharacteristically violent role.

It turns out that this was adapted from the graphic novels by Max Allan Collins, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez and Josef Rubinstein. 

I found some of these at a comic fair in Manchester, but was missing the first instalment. I managed to find it on Amazon, but when it arrived at work it was buried in a drawer somewhere for a month or so. By the time I'd found said opening book, I'd already found Road to Perdition 2, a sequel with all the 3 sequel books in one. So I've got somewhat of a pile of 1930's crime dramas to chug through.

The opening story, 'Oasis,' is a grabber- mob enforcer Michael and his son Michael Junior are forced to flee their world after a betrayal and the murder of their son / brother and wife/ mother. The monochrome layout matches the noir theme, the sharp-suited gangsters and the bitter loss of their family all add to this.

Can't wait to read the next one.

Monday, 1 April 2019

Social Media Meetup Group / Bemusing Security Search at Theatre Impossible

Meetup is a website different to most other social media sites as the emphasis is on actually meeting up in person, as opposed to arguing with strangers on the internet. The Social Media Meetup goes full circle, and brings people together to meet in person to then discuss social media.

As I'm trying to move into a PR role, this might involve SM, and as I'm a blogger using and covering Twitter and Instagram I might benefit from a few extra tips. You might too. The group doesn't have any events planned as yet but the plan seems to be to start with Guest Speakers with a Q+A session, then to move onto Social Surgery Sessions with Mentors and your laptops (I don't have one).

Meetup is quieter than usual at the moment, with even the big groups like Young Professionals seeing their attendee numbers drop and After Work Drinks disappearing altogether. Must be the economy, or perhaps going out drinking just doesn't appeal to many people any more. I dunno. But even when people RSVP, a lot don't actually turn up, meaning people get booted out of said meetup groups altogether.

I've never understood that: why RSVP to a meetup unless you're definitely going to go? A week ago I ran a meetup for cocktails in a Spinningfields bar. 10 people said they'd come. Other than me, there was one attendee on the night. What's happening here? Are people changing their minds? Forgetting? RSVPing but not actually committing?

Whatever the case, my enthusiasm for Meetup is starting to wane. I'm tired of being let down. I'm tired of 10 people saying they're going to do something, then being left stood on my own, or with only one other person. I realise getting angry won't solve anything- this is the way people are. They have busy lives, and the click of a mouse isn't going to fix a date in their minds. The calendars that we all have on our phones go largely unused. (Mine doesn't- I rely on it daily.) But with big changes in my life coming up, which I'll discuss another time, I don't need the added stress of trying to organise nights out only to be stood up on the day.

There is one other thing: Theatre Impossible on Peter St. I've been a good number of times since it opened early last year. The extreme, crazy stage shows featuring sword-sallowing contortionists and faux-lesbian sploshing scenes are eye-opening (and frequently eye-watering) at first, but even they can get repetitive after a while. I've been keen to try other places. Friday night was the last time.

I was searched when I went in, which I never have a problem with. The doormen claim they found 'contraband' on me. He wouldn't tell me what it was, and I sure as shit didn't have anything on me, but he claimed it went in the drug bin.


That night some 'hip hop MCs' performed a 'rap battle,' which was only a sibilance-infected babble-fest featuring two talentless bastards. I walked out. I won't be back.