Fond as I am of writing about the questionable antics of Manchester’s current inhabitants, the following provides a welcome note of interest and (dare I say it) education on the topic of this fair city.Regular, observant readers may remember I wrote a few months ago about Manchester’s now infamous bollards; a traffic control measure brought in on Cross Street to limit access and ruin the vehicles of those unable to heed warnings.
This film, from 1901, shows the same bit of street.It’s a little different back then, as you will see, and makes for fascinating viewing.I particularly like the proliferation of hats and moustaches.
Oh Twitter, you little scamp. Once again, you’ve thrown up something that any respectable blogger of Manchester-related gossip and tat can’t refuse. I’m not sure how many of us Manchester bloggers of gossip and tat there are, but surely the creation of an account by one Jen Thompson can’t be ignored. Jen who? I hear you ask. Perhaps if I referred to her in her more familiar, tabloid guise you might be less quizzical – it’s Wayne Rooney’s £1200 a night ‘friend’. Here she is: I should make it clear at this point that the account I’m referring to is supposedly from Jen herself. It is highly possible (likely) that it’s not her at all but, it has to be said, judging by the content on it, if it was a fake it’d be coming from an individual with either too much time on their hands or an unhealthy obsession with either professional footballers or the ladies they choose (pay) to spend their time with.
So anyway, what’s she talking about on Twitter, this young lady thrust into the limelight thanks to one of our nation’s World Cup heroes (cough) with a wallet and libido apparently larger than his family values? Well, herself, generally. She seems to spend a lot of time sending messages to OK and Hello magazines and pleading with the public at large to ‘follow’ her, promising to reveal more ‘true stories in her own words’ before the News of the World get a chance. She also seems to spend rather a lot of time fending off messages from users with the surname ‘Rooney’.
Her latest stunt was to reveal the following:
I have 100% Slept with @RioFerdy5 (Rio Ferdinand) before I slept with Rooney I thought he was single and he set everything up with Wayne...
Adding for good measure:
Marvin from JLS as well is another
It’s almost like she’s been flicking through a copy of Heat Magazine and choosing the (successful, wealthy and attractive) men she likes the look of. What’s that? Oh, that is what she’s been doing! (I don’t actually know this for a fact but then, as far as this subject goes, facts don’t seem to be entirely important).
Rio’s response to this, being a prolific Tweeter himself, was short and concise (Note – He uses the word ‘Tweeps’ here to refer to the people who follow him on Twitter – his Twitter friends - people – peeps):
Hahahaha!! Tweeps u lot have disappointed me being so gullible with the latest stupid rumour! Don't believe the hype. There are some Vindictive people out there.
Generally I am left with a melancholic air of sadness, embodied by ‘Miss Jen’ herself who, in her desperate attempt to get her Twitter account noticed, sent a message to someone from a Big Brother series (8 or 9 I think, if that matters) asking him to spread the word about her account and help get her some attention. His response was along the lines of ‘I’m sorry I really don’t know who you are,’ and, when she told him, he replied saying, ‘Well I don’t really want to get involved, and I don’t much care either.’ Snubbed by an ex-Big Brother housemate – it doesn’t get much lower than that.
Two little treats here, both notable for differing reasons but with an obvious common theme. It’s our friend El Hadji Diouf again with his extraordinary taste in cars and gleeful disregard for parking laws. What I hadn’t appreciated previously, when I’ve talkedabout these before, is that there was actual video footage of these incidences. The first one here is, as I said, notable obviously for its main content but the details are also worth a mention – anyone catch his number plate as he drives away? Nice, or should I say, fancy.
This is the best one though, purely for the reason that it proves that this monstrosity of a vehicle actually exists. It’s...well, I am without words I’m afraid, not only for the look of the actual thing but for the way it appears people seem to treat our footballing friend. Note to El’s friends: Just because he acts like a school kid who’s got one up on a teacher by making fart noises at the back of the class, doesn’t mean you have to encourage him.
That previous (rather long, in hindsight) post about Twitter and, particularly, Mani, reminded me of something else I meant to mention here – the end of a fellow Manchester blog, one that was a little more controversial than the meandering observations you will have found on these pages.FUC51 is (or rather was) a little play on words – or letters, more accurately.A blog about an era of Manchester’s history, when the Hacienda was still a club, not some ‘apartments’ (flats), and Factory Records released everything they did with a FAC number – The Hacienda was FAC51.Peter Hook, bass player with Joy Division and latterly New Order, the bands that largely funded the Factory Empire, recently opened a nightclub in Manchester called FAC251 – itself a play on letters and more than a little nod (more of a neck-cracking head butt without a target) towards the Hacienda days. FUC51 was set up to air the views of some who opposed Mr Hook and his cronies’ tendency towards wallowing in the past and, more pertinently, trying to milk the nostalgia for everything it’s got; a stance that, says FUC51, give the press and the rest of the country (World) an excuse to assume Manchester is stuck on a one trick loop of bow-legged swagger and ‘fookin bangin’ tunes, paying little respect or due attention to the new music being produced here and ignoring the fact that some people might not be trying to recreate the Madchester days or, even, that it doesn’t have to be the case that if you’re from Manchester and you play music, you must be influenced or compared to Joy Division/New Order/The Smiths/Stone Roses et al.
Are we all up to speed now?Good.FUC51 spent its life in a very different way to many blogs, this one included, in that people actually read it and took notice of it.They even wrote a piece in the Guardian detailing their plight (although, as the blog was always, and remains, written entirely anonymously, it’s possible it was run by, or at least received contributions from, a Guardian journalist, giving them something of a foot in the door.How will we ever know?We won’t, probably) and apparently had Peter Hook himself in quite a lather over its content and general message.So why am I writing about it?I’m not sure really.Just marking the end of an era.
Well well...I had thought my recent excursions on here into the world of Twitter might be mere one-offs, and Twitter would barely get a mention henceforth. The beginning of this week, however, has produced a whole three newsworthy tales from the strange world of Manchester’s Twittering celebrities.
First up, we have Mani – ex-bassist with the Stone Roses, now of Primal Scream and collaborator with Peter Hook on the FAC 251 project, as well as playing bass with Mr Hook in a self-dubbed ‘super band’, called Freebass. Recently, it seems, Hooky (as he is affectionately known amongst Manchester’s whimsical community) called time on Freebass, just before the upcoming launch of their first album. Mani – a bassist with a Twitter account and a chip on his shoulder – wasn’t too happy, judging by the following messages Tweeted over the weekend, all of them directed at Peter ‘Hooky’ Hook and the Freebass project:
"used to adore the man, now he's a self centred sellout reduced to hawking his mates corpse around to get paid. And he can't play" "I'm fine, dunno about the vulture who is ravenously devouring the last morsels of putrid flesh from Wilson/Curtis bones [...] I'm getting back with the "real"players tomorrow thank fuck. Can't be doing with talentless nostalgia fuckwit whores." "and I haven't even started on the cunt’s amateur night, one trick pony shite 2 string bass playing yet either. Used to laugh [...] we were all laughing behind his back watching the stupid wank struggle to do the same old shit he's done for the last 30 years !!"
There were more but...well, we lost interest to be honest. The language, of course, is Mani’s, not our own, so you’ll have to excuse us that. Interestingly, barely had the week begun when a public apology had been issued from Mani and duly accepted by Hook – after it had appeared in all of the local and national press. What’s that smell? Can you smell it too? Hmm...smells like a PR stunt to me.
Next in line could slightly tenuously be referred to as a furore and is still, as I type, developing its legs. By the time I’ve finished typing it may either have been completely forgotten about or, equally, caused the biggest celebrity stir since...well, something big. The former, I suspect, but nevertheless Jason Manford deserves a mention for his openness and lack of apparent fear through his Twitter account. It’s a reasonably long and complicated story but I will try to condense it so as not to waste any more of your time than is reasonable:
Jason did a gig over the weekend for the Help the Heroes charity, in which he made a comment about the lack of support from the government for those going out to war and, crucially, returning injured. Watching the cut of the show today, which is due to be televised, his comment questioning the government has been removed in the editing process – something he Tweeted about:
“Just watched my bit at the @HelpforHeroes gig. Can't believe some shithouse edited out the bit about the Government. Free Speech my arse!” “I said it's disgusting that they sent soldiers out, they come back injured & have to rely on charity. 1 in 4 homeless people are ex-services.”
Quite right Jason. I especially like the use of the word ‘shithouse’.
We’ve saved the biggest fuss for last - a story that has spread from Canal Street to around the world in a matter of hours, largely, if not wholly, thanks to Twitter. John Amaechi is an ex-NBA basketball player who now lives in Manchester – he’s from here originally. He’s a public speaker now and famously the first NBA player to come out as gay, albeit some years after his retirement. That explains the speed with which the story spread, incidentally – his connection with the NBA - but it doesn’t take away from the incident in question. He was (apparently, we have to say for legal reasons) refused entry to a bar on Canal Street because he was, “big and black and could be trouble.” Here’s his original Tweet:
“I can't believe it. I got barred from entering a bar (Crunch Bar in Manchester) because I was "big and black and could be trouble." Wow.”
The story has since been on the BBC news and of course all over the internet and the apparent final word came from John himself, on his blog, where he has posted a three page statement from the bar. A statement, incidentally, that he quite clearly states he in no way endorses, agrees with or recognises as any moral conclusion to the matter. You can read all about that here but we’d rather end with a picture of the man himself; one he uses as the title to his blog – a page that, when you arrive on it, is dominated by this. I love the apparent vanity. I might adopt a similar format for this blog...or maybe not.
In the course of the small amount of ‘research’ I did for yesterday’s musings on the weather, which mainly involved reading Twitter and clicking a few links (intrepid journalism this), I came across something else loosely weather-oriented. It also involves a form of transport, in this case boats; large forms of transport, namely planes, being something I’ve been vocal about on here before – namely my dislike of travelling in them. I’m not too bad with boats – at least if a boat’s engine fails, you just stop. If a plane’s engine fails, you fall out of the sky. Still, I’m not entirely enamoured by anything that involves me getting on something without any get out clause. You can’t get halfway to America on a boat, for example, and decide that, actually, you’re not that keen on being on water that much after all. Same deal with planes.
These videos, therefore, do little for my rational, sane mind when contemplating travel by sea. The first shows the inside of a boat that is experiencing some rather rough seas (stick with it (or fast forward) – it gets good after about 1:20). Nothing a few nuts and bolts wouldn’t fix, you might imagine, but a little extreme none the less. The second video...well. Three words from me: No. Thank. You.
Our dubious, rather reluctant love affair with Twitter continues this week with a startling episode on a Tuesday afternoon. I say startling but that actually renders me grouped with the people I was just about to talk about – those Twitterers with a penchant for near hysterical statement; flippant, off the cuff comments that still leave me wondering ‘did you really think about that before you said it?’
The answer would probably be no – Twitter isn’t about thinking about what you say, it’s about speaking your mind, then moving on, forgetting about it – not blogging about it. I, on the other hand, am not a true Tweeter, evidently, as I do things like write about other people’s Twitterings on here. I can live with that.
The prompt for this episode came from the oft-discussed and infamous weather systems of Manchester. Our offices are in Manchester (handy for a website all about...err...Manchester) and, on aforementioned Tuesday afternoon, large grey clouds were gathering over this very hamlet. A storm was evidently imminent. A flash across the sky – a rumble of thunder – then a large deluge of water from the skies. My Twitter account – kept open to review the musings of those talking about various things, including, unsurprisingly, ‘Manchester’, sprang to life.
“Thunder storm in Manchester” one of my esteemed Twitter ‘friends’ had written, some 20 seconds after first drop touched ground. “Really?” I felt like writing back. More inevitably followed – many along the same lines but some (the reason for these paragraphs) a little more...how should we put this...hysterical? Attention seeking?
“End of the world weather in Manchester,” said one. “Manchester is flooding...send help,” another. Perhaps my favourite: “What happened to the weather in Manchester?” Err...it changed? That’s pretty much what happens with the weather. Especially in England. Especially in Manchester.
The recent creation of our Essential A-Z Guide to Manchester, for new students and the like, led us to discover the apparently legendary, and certainly infamous, Owens Park, a halls of residence belonging to The University of Manchester. The reason for its infamy is quite simple – it is one of if not the biggest hall block in Manchester, housing over a thousand students under one roof. Put new, young students under one roof together, give them a couple of grand of student loans and keep their parents in a different post code and what do you get? Mischief is the answer, generally, on a grand scale in the case of Owens Park, it would seem.
Drinking unsurprisingly takes up a lot of the headlines regarding the block. A number of internet forums and websites devoted to the halls block cite ‘nightly fire alarms’ as a particular feature, set off either by crazy drunken students being naughty or, perhaps, crazy drunken students burning toast. Either would do it.
On a meander through the internet doing a little Owens Park research, we discovered something called the Owens Park Tower Challenge. Owens Park has 18 floors and one ingenious wag apparently took this as a challenge; the Owens Park Tower Challenge involves drinking (surprise surprise) a shot of something (sambuca seems popular) on each floor. And then finishing on a triple shot once you’re on the ground, just for good measure. YouTube naturally contains a colourful variety of material on this topic – it’s eye opening stuff. Or at least it would be for anyone who hasn’t been a fresher at university before. In that case, it looks like any other Tuesday night on campus. Here’s a little taste of what the Owens Park Challenge is all about:
The double shot of 85% absinthe at the end, washed down with some Smirnoff Ice, might be what tipped him over the edge. Don’t try this at home, kids.
Disclaimer: We by no means suggest you try to consume this much booze in one go. If you’re a student coming to Manchester this September, staying in Owens Park or elsewhere, look after yourselves. If you’re a parent of a student coming to Manchester this September, you probably shouldn’t have watched that video.
Speaking of Twitter, as I was below, more excitement this week in Manchester’s Twitter community stemming from these...ahem...eye catching photographs (courtesy of @manairport):
Not particularly exciting unless you’re an airport interiors fanatic (and you know that somewhere out there, probably with a website, there is one of them) but given the context it might be just a little bit more interesting. These are the final preparations for the arrival of the Airbus A380, which we’ve spoken about on here before. Manchester airport is to become the first regional airport in the world to run regular A380 flights, flying daily to and from Dubai. £10 million has been spent upgrading the airport to accommodate the new plane, mainly to adapt for the size of it.
The main thing about the A380, you see, is that it’s massive. The biggest passenger airliner in the world. It has ‘vertical walls’, as one expert pointed out – to us land-dwellers, that may not seem such a luxury any more, but if you’ve ever been 35,000 feet up in a metal tube you’ll appreciate the benefit of such things. The size also naturally affords greater diversity in interior layout and you can, if you’ve got the money, get yourself a desk, massage or even a whole suite for your flight to Dubai. First class naturally comes at a price – around £3,000 – but everyone, even those in cattle class, gets 1200 channels of video entertainment to play with.
The first flight of the A380 out of Manchester is scheduled for 1 September 2010 but, naturally, there are an abundance of videos online of the A380 landing in Manchester and these prove, if proof were needed, that it is indeed a large plane. Incidentally, in the third one, you may note that the video is being shot outside someone’s house.
The Manchester Twitter world all went a bit loopy last week because The Guardian sent one of its reporters to town with the simple instruction to go wherever local Tweeters told him to. This isn’t the first time The Guardian have done this – indeed, the TwiTrip is a regular feature for them – it’s just the first time they’ve done it here, in Manchester, and I’ve had the benefit of knowing the city in which they were Twexploring (can you see what I’ve done there?!).
The result was a relatively pedestrian meander through some of Manchester’s popular, famous and not so famous points of interest. He went for lunch in Sam’s Chophouse, had a look round St Mary’s Church, went to the top of a car park in Shudehill to take in a view – it’s cheaper than the wheel, you see. Thrifty, them Tweeters.
He went to Salford Lads Club, for the obvious reason, and a few other places, including Chetham Library, then got to the good bit – the bars. The Temple, Cornerhouse, Marble Arch and Deaf Institute were all he could manage – an unlikely collection but, I suppose, a reasonably representative one. And that was about it. A decent day out in Manchester, I suppose, and it certainly caused some excitement amongst the city’s Tweeters, but I couldn’t help thinking a bit more could have been done with it. You know, like that traditional swim up the Urwell and the visit to the Maine Road pub in a united shirt...those sorts of thing.
Anyway, here’s the man who took the TwiTrip, Benji Lanyado, in the Salford Lads Club weights room:
You’d leave, wouldn’t you? Or perhaps not if your tea drinking preferences stretched as far as Mariage Freres’ Sacred White, a speciality tea grown by French tea company Mariage Freres on a private and apparently secret estate in Sri Lanka that is, as dictated by tradition, picked by ‘virgin women wearing gloves, using golden scissors.’ This apparently ensures that the buds are untainted. It’s currently being served at Kitchen at The Circle Club as part of a new tea menu brought in to celebrate that most British of drinks.
Your £25 gets you a pit of tea for two, although Kitchen do say you can get a good six cups or so from the pot. There’s also a number of other teas on the new menu, starting at a more modest £2.25 and including the Malawi Antlers (£4.50 a pot), a tea only served at one other venue in the UK – Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck restaurant.
Still, the question remains, are there enough people in Manchester prepared to pay £25 for a pot of tea? Judging by the interest in the story (it’s even in the London papers! And GMTV are up here filming afternoon tea at Kitchen) there just might be. Judging by the comments on the article in Manchester’s favourite daily newspaper, perhaps not. ‘Unimpressed’ would be one way to sum up the general feeling on there. ‘You can get a cup of tea for 85p from Greggs’ seems to be the general response. I’m not sure Kitchen would recommend dunking a sausage roll in a pot of Mariage Freres’ Sacred White though.
The internet is a strange and wonderful thing, something I am sure most of us are agreed on. It’s also full of rubbish. The latest ‘thing’ that was all over Twitter yesterday and my old school acquaintances will be LOLZ-ing about on Facebook in about two weeks time (in between requests for magic wands for their pet wizards) is ‘White board quit job girl.’ The following few photos, selected from the 33 that were the entirety of this thing, should give you an idea of what it’s about:
So there you go – ha ha, isn’t she ballsy, screw you Mr Boss Man etc. Except, as many were pointing out not minutes after it ‘appeared’ on the internet, it’s fake. Obviously. People don’t really do these sorts of things - at least, not so well, not so wittily and clinically. People, in general, aren’t clever enough. And, in fact, the following appeared on the same website today, just to make sure everyone’s clear:
This raises the question of ‘what is the point?’ - a question my father asks quite regularly concerning things of computers and the internet. Well, dad, it’s a good question. The point basically is to get people to visit their website – it’s the sort of site that has videos of kittens falling off tables and pictures of people looking stupid - and I guess it’s worked. For a day.
In the town where I grew up, there was a Chinese restaurant with a huge fish tank in the entrance. It was sort of known for its fish tank – people would say, “You know, the one with the fish tank,” and things like that. You didn’t eat the fish – they just lived there, like ornaments, I guess.
Why am I telling you this? A new Thai restaurant called Chaobaby has opened up in the Trafford Centre that has set the live-ornament bar a little higher – I have one word for you: jellyfish.
As far as I am aware, these aren’t available to eat either.
Think of a picnic and what springs to mind? A country meadow, maybe a river running at the bottom, wicker basket, a blanket, daisies, the sun shining, homemade bread and lemonade? No? Me neither – we’re not living in a Jane Austin novel. You might not, however, have thought of Manchester when the word picnic was mentioned. That’s right – a picnic in Manchester city centre. Well, why not.
As part of The Children's Society's National Picnic Week, The Manchester Picnic will be taking place between 6-8 August. The aim is a simple one - just get people out enjoying Manchester, whether it’s the city’s green areas (i.e. parks), tranquil waterside locations or vibrant urban spaces. There will be a ‘Picnic Hub’ in Piccadilly Gardens, with food stalls, picnic benches and entertainment. For more information, have a look on the Manchester Picnic Website. Here’s a map too for you to look at: