Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Excess Month: Research Comes to a Close

View this post on Instagram
A post shared by Matt Tuckey (@matttuckey) on

I've just spent the last month preparing for National Blog Posting Month, or #NaBloPoMo2018, taking place over November. The idea is to post to your blog every day of the month. Blogger Amie Clouse is overseeing the challenge on her blog, Blissful Lemon. She's introducing the concept of 'Create30,' the principle of still uploading every day but not restricting oneself to blogging, so introducing other mediums like animation, knitting and photography.

This year, like last year, I'm writing to the theme of 'excess,' the idea that there is more than enough in life to keep you busy, meaning there's more than enough to write about. I may diversify into some of the above creative mediums.

October was a chance to prepare for this, with the intention of watching films on the theme of excess- rich people partying, messing their lives up, and making extreme decisions.

Whether I'll use that as a template for the next month remains to be seen.

Unfortunately, I didn't get to do much of this research as the streaming sites I used last year have largely been shut down, and I'm not on Netflix or the like. I was already reading The Sum of All Fears, a thousand-page war novel by Tom Clancy (still am), and I've been busy sorting out a holiday to Amsterdam and a long-term dispute with HMRC- both of which are behind me now. But, over the course of the month I met an astronaut, found out my colleague's dad beat up a well-known singer, watched a friend of mine on TV, attended a gym launch with a load of soap stars, photographed a building I used to work in before it got knocked down, signed onto a 5K run and started training for it, went to the opening night of a Deansgate bar and met a soap star there, and followed a Jamie Oliver recipe.

And that's just the preparatory month.

This is the 17th post this month. I'm perhaps in danger of running out of ideas, making this year's NaBloPoMo more challenging than the last. It'll be more difficult on account of my phone camera refusing to work. Not sure what to do about that to be honest. The real work starts tomorrow. Last year I managed 30 in 30. Will I this year...?

Monday, 29 October 2018

AMC Oldham Moves to Chadderton / The Bi Life / Northern Quarter Drinks (all unrelated)

The Oldham branch of support group Andy's Man Club has gone from strength to strength over the last year, supporting men with depression. Now the group has reached a certain size, we need a bigger venue than our current host can offer us. Oldham Sports Centre moved us between three different rooms, the last of which was far from ideal, but now Chadderton Wellbeing Centre have stepped up and offered us a space.

The meeting will run in the same format at the same time, just a little further out of town. Curious to see what our new room looks like. I'll be doing a workout beforehand too, so I'm curious to stick my nose around the rest of the centre too.

Also, did anyone see The Bi Life on E!? If not, here's the pilot:

It's basically Love Island with bisexuals, so hardly original but an entertaining reality TV dating gameshow nonetheless. One of the contestants is Daisie Lou Thilwind, who I met about a year ago through a friend. She's cool.

Daisie is on the left

The pilot was great and Daisie came across really well. Here's wishing her all the best!

In other news, Jess Rose from Love Island, who has just married her on-screen boyfriend Dom Lever, liked my tweet.

Finally, something open to all adults: Manchester Cool Bars are heading out to the Northern Quarter on Saturday night. We're starting in The Daisy, a quirky cocktail bar under Evelyn's on Tib St.

Sunday, 28 October 2018

My Colleague's Dad Beat Up Lou Reed

Glasgow, 1960s

My colleague told me this story about her dad, and it's too good not to share. We'll call him LD.

Glasgow, some time in the 1960s. LD is managing the Crazy Daisy, a popular casino and occasional celebrity haunt. One night, in walks 'Perfect Day' singer Lou Reed. He's sat at one of the tables, talking to a group of women. They're trying to bag a celebrity, of course, but he starts to make some lewd comments about their appearance.

The women are evidently uncomfortable with these continuous remarks, so LD steps in and politely asks him to cool it.

Well, Reed doesn't take too kindly to this, and gets out of his chair. “Who the FUCK do you think you're talking to?” he asks, squaring up.

Within seconds, the two of them have a hold of each other and the fight ends up on the floor, shirts pulled untucked and brylcreamed hairstyles dishevelled. Security dives in and they're separated quickly.

LD didn't mention if Reed was thrown out. I expect he was.

I'm sure my colleague said this all happened in Glasgow, but Google only suggests a nightclub in Sheffield in the 70s. Whether I'm remembering wrong, or it's just not documented, I don't know.

Saturday, 27 October 2018


After months of meetings and phone calls with TJ at Welfare Rights, I'm back on Working Tax Credits. It's taken years of hard work. I've heard numerous other advisors telling me I can't have it. It's taken a lot of arguing with HMRC (TJ being the most effective at this), bagfuls of lever arch files full of paperwork, hours of phone calls and loads of meetings. But the money is going into my account.

There have been a few contradictions in the various letters that HMRC have sent me in the last 2 weeks, saying I am, then I'm not, eligible. Hopefully things will now continue as they are for the foreseeable. As mentioned in previous posts, it's hit-and-miss as to whether your advisor will be able to help you, but TJ has been superb and I'm glad I booked that appointment all those months ago.

Friday, 26 October 2018

P1 Gym Launch

Tuesday 16th October: I dropped into the launch of P1 Gym on Kennedy St in the City Centre. Also in attendance:

Gemma Merna, Carmel McQueen in Hollyoaks,
Sonia Ibrahim, Mel McGuire in Coronation St
Kieron Richardson, Ste Hay in Hollyoaks
Nikki Sanderson, Candice Stowe in Coronation Street, Dawn Bellamy in Heartbeat and Maxine Minniver in Hollyoaks.

Nikki Sanderson
The smart new boutique gym occupies the ground floor of the building, around the back of the Waterhouse Wetherspoons pub. Discreetly tucked away, it's a great-looking private members facility with plenty of hi-tech equipment.

The gym's unique feature is the Fit3d Bodyscan, a machine which will digitally render your body and break down your fats, muscle and posture. Just enter your email on the screen, strip to underwear and stand in the airport-scanner-sized tube (don't worry, it's opaque and there's a changing area). These details are then immediately emailed to you. Despite going to the gym 6 times a week, the scan shows I'm edging on the 'needs improvement' area of the scale. Couldn't possibly have anything to do with the giant bars of Galaxy I demolish, could it?

Zanies provided some tasty healthy treats on the night. The Stockport health cafe served up a mini buffet of tasty protein balls and bitesize healthy cakes.

Another great launch by Go:PR. Check out the M.E.N writeup here. Can't believe I couldn't talk anyone into a chin-up competition though.

Wednesday, 24 October 2018


I've been meaning to try out Amsterdam since I first saw Pulp Fiction in perhaps 1998, in which John Travolta and Samuel L Jackson discuss Dutch hash bars and the differences of the McDonalds in various European cities. 

This month I finally got to go with a couple of mates.

We flew in on Thursday afternoon and got a weekend tram pass to avoid taxis, which, we were warned, were dear. We stayed in Hotel Blyss, which was dearer than I was hoping for but was still a shithole. My friend's room had a handprint on the wall above the bed from a previous horny occupant, the TV didn't work plus the chair had a big rip in the side of it. She asked to move to a different room, but the one she was shown was even worse so she stuck where she was. My room wasn't much better.

Pretty much the moment I got there, my main camera on my phone stopped working. It intermittently came back to life, but for the most part I had to resort to shooting in selfie mode, holding the phone the other way. I've still not fixed it. Also, GiffGaff didn't seem to give me access to the internet abroad, so I was catching up every time we got onto the hotel's WiFi.

We made our way out to the town's bar area, and to Favela, a Brazilian-themed bar which was launching that night. The pictures disguise this but it was the first of a few bars which were sparsely attended. We didn't end up in the album as the photographer was being weirdly picky. One guy asked him to take his picture and the photographer refused.

Despite it being a fairly standard wooden-fitted rum joint, they still charged 50c to use the toilet.

Most of rest of the weekend we spent sightseeing: the canals, the windmill, the markets. The windmill was surprisingly central: we hired bikes and rode out to it a mile or so from the bike rental. I thought it would be out in the country somewhere, having remembered this old Hitchcock movie.

There's little point going to Amsterdam if you aren't going to try out the legal drugs. I'm allergic to mushrooms so I passed on those, but I still dropped into this cosy weed shop playing old-school Eminem, and shared a joint with a friend. I'm not great at inhaling and coughed my guts up a few times, but I definitely felt the effect. Obviously, I made sure the cycling was out of the way first.

There are more museums than you could get around in a weekend, so we dropped into a tour guide shop and picked a few tickets. The Sex Museum, a small but tall building, was worth the climbing to see the paintings and Aztec dildos. If you like that kind of thing.

The Banksy Museum was also well worth a look around, featuring chunks of wall decorated by the covert graffiti artist, removed from the UK, and various sculptures.

Noodle bar Wok to Walk was one of a few culinary delights the city had to offer. When you place your order you're given this disc. When your order is ready it'll light up and vibrate.

Later that night we dropped into a few bars at one of the squares, where, weirdly, my friend bumped into one of her travelling mates from Devon, who she'd actually met some months ago in Miami. Small world. What I wrote in my notes on my phone at the time: 'Ibiza prices in Magaluf standard bars.' But at least Magaluf's bars had people in them.

I was hoping to get to the iconic Boiler Room, a house music club, but the lineup was all hip hop and drum 'n' bass that weekend, so we passed.

The next day the canal boat tour took us around the city. The local Dutch guide's knowledge had a few holes in it but it was still an informative, interesting excursion. This hotel had various famous guests over the years. Nobody can remember who, though.

Later that night we dropped into Club Air, a hip hop joint playing mostly Dutch music, which made a change. Think of it as 'Dam's answer to Manchester's History club, only without the door policy. People were very casually dressed. We stood out.

The stairs to get in were ridiculously steep, like pretty much every set of stairs in the town. Next to the DJ booth there was a separate stall monitoring electronics with a digital decibel display. Weird. The club took ages to fill but it was still a fun night.

If you want to drink spirits, the bars and clubs, and the liqour stores, are the only places you can get them. You can walk into a weed shop and get high, but you'll find nothing stronger than wine in the supermarkets or corner shops. Also weird.

The next morning we had quick jaunt around the area before flying home. I enjoyed the weekend but there was so much more to do that we couldn't fit in: Boiler Room, the Ice Bar, Bodyworlds, Sky Bar, the Torture Museum- all of it I made a note of for a possible second trip in a year-or-so's time.