A Beer, A Beer, A Beer for a Beard

So I was on twitter last night and made this bold statement…

Of course to know the name of someone with a beard was so I wasn’t accused of sexism that this offer was only open to men (bearded ladies also accepted). But I will honour this offer on production of a proper beard or the name of a beard wearer in attendance. Just go here to buy your tickets for the Saturday afternoon session (when the offer will be available).

Independent Salford Beer Festival 2015

While you’re on that site, also consider going to another session, or all of them. And if you don’t know the name of a beard wearer then I’ll be there and I’ll be probably wearing a name badge so you are all beers in.

Caveats

Fake beards like this will not be accepted…

Nor will drawn on ones…

 

You can get a pint…but only if you follow me on twitter, otherwise it is a half pint.

 

Tweet using the hashtag #ISBF2015 and give the account (and me) a follow.

Community vs Council

I am going to try to write this piece without it drifting into the realms of party politics and hopefully non-libelous comments.

 

 

Much has been made recently about a Northern Powerhouse and also devolution of power to the major cities of the North of England and giving more autonomy to county councils.  The general hope being that communities will have greater say and therefore a choice of how they are governed.

The town of Atherton in Greater Manchester falls under the control of Wigan Council.

They have a community centre called The Formby Hall.

This hall was a gift to the town of Atherton back in the early 1900’s.

Two annexes were added to the hall as part of the festival of Britain.

In circa 2011, with a valuation of the hall of about £235,000 Wigan Council sold The Formby Hall (and numerous other community centres under their ‘control’) to a company called Rose Leisure (or Eight Wonder, you know how businesses like to change names and have various subsidiaries).

The sale price, on record, for The Formby Hall was £65,000.

The covenant was that the sale would be made under the proviso that Rose Leisure would maintain all their newly acquired buildings so that they could continue to function as working halls to host a variety of activities.

The Formby Hall, for example, hosts (hosted) NHS Blood Donations, various gigs, charity nights, dance clubs, wedding receptions and probably most well-known The Bent n Bongs Beer Bash

Rose Leisure never really maintained the building, the roof is in a particularly bad way and only with some local people did it get fixed to an adequate level so that the Beer Bash could go ahead in 2015.

In about May of 2015 rumours spread that Rose Leisure were telling people with bookings that they would only fulfill them up until July of 2015 and all events after that would be cancelled.

Due to this “leak” it then forced Rose Leisure and Wigan Council to admit that The Formby Hall had been sold to a company called Hilldale Housing Association.

Hilldale are a bit of an odd company in that they themselves are only a conduit for investors to buy up properties for development.

In June of 2015 Wigan Council spent £2m on terracotta tiles

In August of 2015 South East Lancs CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) successfully had an Asset of Community Value (ACV) put on The Formby Hall under the Localism Act of 2011.

Hilldale had made assurances that the hall could stay open until March of 2016 but the doors were locked and as such no one can use the hall, it can fall into a further state of disrepair and of course it can be claimed that it is not being used and therefore it’s now lack of use by the community does not make it an asset worth saving.

In September of 2015 a notice of demolition was put up outside The Formby Hall, this is because due to a loop-hole an ACV can only protect a pub from demolition and the ACV had forced Hilldale’s hand.

There have been various groups formed and a petition of about 4,500 was handed in to Wigan Council to object to not only the initial sale (primarily to Rose Leisure) but also the demolition of a building that in essence belongs to the town and people of Atherton.

It is sad that said local groups have been butting heads with not only the council but with locally elected councillors and that relationships have soured and become cynical and cold.

This is how modern politics work.  It is not a democracy but an elected dictatorship whereby small outlying towns are ostracised.  It is unsurprising that voters are becoming more disillusioned by the whole process.

The case of Formby Hall is still ongoing and very much up in the air, it is hoped the council will listen, for once, to one of its communities.

There is a petition here if you wish to sign it…

Update: January 2016

Council recommends prior approval to demolish Formby Hall

The above link gives most of the information you need to know, the fate now lies in further planning meetings and a possible intervention by Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government Greg Clark and the constituent MP Chris Green.

Wes Craven – A Projectionist’s Tribute

I’m writing this piece having just got back from FrightFest 2015 

It seemed apt that following the news of the death of Wes Craven that the final film of the night – the entertaining Tales of Halloween should be a horror anthology featuring 10 individual stories directed by current protégés of Wes Craven and was dedicated to his memory.

For those of us that grew up during the 80’s we were to be intrigued by a new bogeyman – his name was Freddy Kruger and he came into being in 1984’s “A Nightmare on Elm Street.”   Now it wasn’t just the creatures under the bed or in the closet that would frighten you but you now couldn’t even escape when you fell asleep.

I watched that particular film as a child of about 13 while recovering from my first dental filling – it still scared me watching it in the daylight and filled me with dread come night-time.

As I grew up I became fascinated by Video Nasties and the bods behind FrightFest have done two quite excellent documentaries about this censorious Spanish Inquisition-like moral panic that came about in the early 80’s in the UK.

One of the films on the list was Last House on the Left – a film that was only fully released uncut in the UK in 2008.  I was fortunate enough to meet the now sadly late lead villain of the piece (David Hess; along with Gunnar Hansen, the original Leatherface from another banned movie “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre”) at a horror all-day event in Welwyn Garden City some time around 1999.  That film itself set a standard of the “home invasion” genre that is popular these days while also being a fore-runner of the “torture porn” subdivision.

But before that I had become a film projectionist at my student cinema.  I saw Scream there for the first time as a punter (on a day off) and it was a very effective horror thriller.  The open set-piece with Drew Barrymore having quite a most profound effect on me.  It proved so popular that we regularly screened the film and I projected it twice.

On my first projecting mission of Scream I not only the spliced the film together (this is way before DVD’s) but also had to set-up the screen, the sound and do various technical checks.  The cinema was a big hall with a stage and it was built in a wind trap.

Stupidly I hooked up the sound and the speakers first and while testing projecting the first 30 minutes scared myself shitless as the torment of Barrymore’s character played out this was accompanied by the emergency exits opening and banging closed, the various ropes and pulleys clanging in the rafters and then, once the screen was down, being blinded by the light from the projector and having to run like a mad man out of the wide open hall hoping I wasn’t set upon by some unseen fiend lurking being a seat or the various curtains.

I never made that mistake again.

The second projecting mission of Scream requires a bit of Projecting 101:

The films which I projected came in reels.  These could either come “head” or “foot” first.  Head is the start of a reel, foot is the end of it.  You may have seen old countdowns like this:

We take out these but there is a test frame to let you know you the reel is the correct way around so they can be spliced together in the correct order.

See also Fight Club

 

I state now I have never edited any genitalia into any film I projected.

This time I had left some trainees in charge of the splicing and they’d informed me that there were no test cells, so it was blind luck if it was edited together correctly.  A quick test projection showed the first 3 reels were OK so it should be assumed everything else was going to run smoothly….

Everything was going fine during the screening, audiences were jumping out of their seats, screaming and laughing in the right places then, just as the anxiousness of every cigarette burn signifying a new reel has subsided, of course the last reel had to be the problem.

No sound and Courtney Cox’s feet were where on top of her head.

A loud “FUCK” echoed around the hall as I ran into the projection booth, shut down the projector, ran the film back and re-spliced it together.  The hopefully now corrected film was re-looped onto the projector and the film was restarted after about a 10 minute break, but then something even more strange happened and a very important lesson was learned…

This little break and return “to reality” had not impacted on the audience one iota, the still jumped and screamed and laughed as the last act of the film played out and the end credits rolled.

That is the magic of film.

That is the beauty of horror movies.

That was the genius of Wes Craven.