A Look Back In Anger. And Every Other Fucking Direction

The Terrorists will not change us…

Except when it comes to delaying our election process, delaying democracy.

Except when it comes to the state wanting even greater powers to actually hack into its citizens private communications.

Except when it comes to freedom of speech because apparently 80,000 people want The Sun banned in Manchester because they are brain-dead twats living in an irony-free zone.

Except I don’t full know how to express myself in words, so here are some emojis.

Except I want people to lose their jobs if they make a joke or say something possibly defamatory.

Except now I’ve got a tattoo – solidarity brothers and sisters.

Except when it comes to being able to actual discuss just what the fuck is going on in the world.

Standard Response

Following the events at the Manchester Arena on the 22nd of Many 2017 there followed the usual, typically predictable response to a terrorist attack.

The #PrayFor and #NotAll hashtags fly like winged monkeys, the avatars changed to accommodate the latest geographical victim, well one that is in the West at least, you’d never have a static avatar if you had to commemorate everyone blown to bits in the Middle East.

The UK press wait a day or so and then dwell upon the attacker(s) because for some reason it feels that the public need to know their name(s), their background, their history because that doesn’t detract from the victims at all.

We also have to preach the mantra that terrorists don’t represent Islam but merely a warped view of it and it has nothing to do with religion.

That last point is bollocks, always has been, always will be…

Give it a week and then the police will release a report about an increase in “hate crime” – quite what being blown up, run over, shot or stabbed is if it isn’t hate is beside the point in this most Orwellian-like crime, but if you’ve been called a nasty name that too is a crime apparently on a par with loss of life and needs as much media focus.*

Above all it is pushed by all and sundry that we should “carry on” and that was should not let “hate beat love.”

Hate

Hate is OK.  Hate is a valid human emotion.

This past fortnight has all been about love, or people’s versions of what love is, not even Foreigner knew what it was and needed it showing to them but either way its was all about love.

One big, homogeneous, nondescript, identity-less Love.

The avatar changes, the bee tattoos, the candle-lit vigils do nothing but focus on the individual and their suffering, which is nothing, it is absolutely fuck-all to those that were actually killed, their next of kin and those who actually could have been victims.

What, so you didn’t “love Manchester” before you changed your avatar and you will stop loving it when you change it?

Your bee tattoo and graffiti, possibly a nice symbol of solidarity is really just look-at-me narcissism, less about love and more a constant reminder of carnage.

You only have love? You have no hate, because hate is all terrorists have and you are better than terrorists?

Not killing people makes you better than a terrorist, not having any other emotions makes you an unthinking drone.

And this is the problem.  I don’t hate you for changing your avatar or getting a tattoo or painting a picture, or singing a song or lighting a candle.   Grief, if that honestly what it is as opposed to relief, is something personal that we all deal with in our own way.

What I do hate, apart from delusional, murdering fucksticks is the rest of the response; that we carry on as normal and yet we still modify our behaviour, our language, our ability to ask questions or offer up answers and even opinions.

In the Kübler-Ross model there are five stages to dealing with grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance.

There seems to be a collective brain-fart at work that we avoided the 2nd stage and just focus on the 3rd and 5th.  The world of social media seems to turn into Rimmer after he has had his first meeting with the Polymorph in Red Dwarf.

You neither have to bargain with terrorists, because you can’t and you certainly don’t have to accept it, regardless of what Mayors of London say.

I have love and it doesn’t need mood slime to help flourish, but I certainly have hate too.  The hate won’t keep me any more safe that those apparently without it but it is my response to events, along with continuing to question and to use the same language.

Hate is OK.  Hate is a valid human emotion. It is all about how you channel it.

 

Thanks for reading.

 

 

*Hyperbole but it does seems as much gravitas is placed on “hate crime” statistics than any other crime.  Crime is hate, all crime is a hate crime.

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The Sound of Inevitability

Last week I was round my mum’s house when she got a phone call and when she uttered her friend’s name and then promptly ran out of the room with her worried voice in full effect I knew, deep down, what the call was about.

After she came back into the room and put the phone down I saved her the effort of needing to explain what the call was about.

My mate and I first met at primary school, I’d say about aged 4 and bonded over our interests in BMX bikes and He-Man.

He had Castle Greyskull.  In fact he had all the bestest toys.  I didn’t have toys to contribute to this relationship but I did have the vivid imagination that came with childhood.  We spent most of school in a fairly large group (akin to a 6-person Stand By Me) and a good deal of the weekends and holidays were spent together due to us living close enough for our parents to trust us to go out on our own.

The bond between our families was curiously similar too, during our whole tenure of infant and primary school (up to 11 years old) we were the only kids whose parents had divorced and so both our mothers had bonded over that too, so much so that, come sleep-overs at each others houses; the line “and if you misbehave your mum have given me permission to smack you” was the promise made to each of us every time, not that it was every enacted.

My mate was always the more quiet and introverted one when we were at school or in a group but far more brash and fun-loving when with our mums.  He was the first person to use my mum’s proper name, a fact that at that young age caused a bit of confusion “Who is this person whose name you are repeatedly mentioning?” being my usual internal dialogue.

We made daft tapes together. Me and him presenting radio programmes with silly characters, all of whom would probably have uncontrollable flatulence at some point during their “interviews”.

We went to the same high school, we were in the same form, but as we grew up and got put into different sets based on capabilities, the circle of friends we hung around in changed, we used to hang out and stay over, only they became less and less frequent.

Different colleges, different universities came and went but what was odd is that at least once a year we would bump into each other.  Fate would have it that our paths would cross as each of us making our solitary journeys back to our own homes and that privacy would give us each a chance to chat and catch up, we were in our own world just like when we were kids.

Over this last week my mum began digging out old school photos, unlike myself and my friend, my mum and his mum had remained close.

The funeral was today, my first humanist ceremony and it was packed to the rafters.  My mum was more upset than I was but talking to his mum gave them both some solace. His mum, like me, somehow knew this day would come; it was never going to make it any easier, she had had the misfortune to find him and what gave her comfort was that she could see in his face that he’d taken control, made his peace with himself and a world he was always off-kilter with and was now finally at peace.

He will now become another statistic in the gender and age-range that sees more suicides than any other and while a lot is made about depression and mental health and about talking about things and remaining positive there is always going to be a grim inevitability that surrounds certain people and sadly that is the thing those left behind have to come to terms with.

The way someone dies should never eclipse the way they lived.

 

To the larger world, a statistic he might be but to me he will always be Fiendish Fart-Head.

 

Thanks for reading.

 

Cats, Lifestyle and Snowflakes

Oddly it is two years to the day that I wrote this piece as I had just lost my cat Izzy (who the vets insisted on labelling as Issie).  Now I find myself writing an ode to his son, Jones.

Both Izzy and Jones came into my house pretty much as soon as I’d moved in which is approximately 10 years ago and where as Izzy was a normal cat, in as much as the descriptor normal can be applied to a cat, it was quite clear that Jones would be an altogether different sort of normal.

It is fitting that he Jones died two years to the day that his dad did.  Looking over their “birth” certificates there were born 2 years apart and both died just after the age of 16.

Yesterday evening was like any other evening, the bowl of a hurriedly eaten breakfast was being transported down the stairs while I was trying not to break my neck tripping over Jones as he weaved in front of me, stopping to make sure I was following him and it wasn’t just a ruse and that quite possibly he was finally going to get fed.

Jones was a bottomless pit when it came to food, he would happily eat until he was sick (and then eat that) or it would come firing out of the other end in every conceivable location around the house.  He couldn’t have milk because this too would cause the release of equally noxious liquids, so there was a finite amount that I could feed him that would keep him going to his cat box regularly and with good consistency and that would also, vaguely, fulfill his appetite.

Jones is a cat that whenever I was in the kitchen he was expecting food.  He couldn’t remain asleep in his bed (or wherever he was sleeping) for fear that he may be missing out.  When he realised food wasn’t forth coming he’d make a point of either drinking water loudly (yes, loudly) or licking his bowl for the last few bits of dried morsels that might be left from his last meal.  I was going to do a blog about things that cats won’t eat if they fall on the floor but it would only consist of onions, garlic and bread with chilli sauce on it.

I fed him as usual, then stepped out for about 20 minutes and returned to find him on the floor, being sniffed at by our other cat.  He regularly slept on the floor but that fact that there was no reaction, either to the sniffing Missy or that fact that I might be bringing him yet more food instantly rang alarm bells.

Then came the hail, the thunder, the lightning.

He is now buried in the April snow.

But it was last night when I was going to bed that I realised all the habits I’d developed because of this cat.  The sofa seats could stay down as he wouldn’t be around to pee on them.  He only ever weed on the settee, never “his” chair, I found that out in his first weeks in the house.

I could shut the door to the living room and my bedroom, to keep some heat in.

I can probably leave things on the floor, or things can fall on the floor and now not be targets for the biggest flood of urine I’ve never experience before or since.

I cleaned the cat box and it wasn’t automatically used straight away.

I can give Missy a bit more food, which she can leave and return to, and she can even have some milk.

I won’t have to watch any food I’m eating for errant paws being stuck onto my plate like the intro sausage off Grange Hill.

I might make it from upstairs to the kitchen in one smooth, non-delayed motion.

I wasn’t woken up before my alarm.

I was actually spread out in bed rather than hanging over the edge.

 

He wasn’t waiting outside my bedroom door this morning and he won’t be there to greet me when I get home.

 

Thanks for reading.

 

Jones (left) and Izzy (right). Sleep Well.
Jones (left) and Izzy (right). Sleep Well.

 

SpinningFields Manchester – Spreading the Disease

It seems that separate bits of Manchester architecture comes under threat at the same time in an almost cyclical fashion.

In January of last year I ranted about the sad state of some of the proposed decisions facing the heritage of central Manchester.

While the situation with the Fire Station on London Road is resolved in so much as Britannia have finally attained their 30 pieces of silver and like wise the Ancoats Dispensary reached its funding targets, just this week Bruntwood put forward their plans for the redevelopment of Oxford Road Station, which made no mention of its plans for the listed Salisbury Pub (or Grand Central for that matter).

Other news was that another historical pub The Sir Ralph Abercromby (petition) was also being tendered to be flattened along with a few other buildings in the area.

There are a few places in Manchester I don’t like to go to drink; namely the Printworks, Deansgate Locks and Spinningfields.

As banal as Printworks is and as loathsome as the Locks are they are at least honest and exist in such away as to work well with the area they have been created in (unless you are the Police).

The same I can not say for Spinningfields; a place as fake and phony as the wankers that go there and the food, drinks and “culture” that exists between the artificial grass, cold steel and empty glass.  It is a lifeless, soulless place.  A cut-through between Manchester and Salford and a place now deemed worthy of expansion by taking a wrecking ball to more of Manchester’s places and sites & sights of interest.

As plans and rumours keep swirling it may well be that most of the buildings will remain and be renovated but the Sir Ralph will make way for, it would seem, a car park, which given Manchester’s history will be horrendously overpriced parking in a bid to drive trade away from local and small businesses and seemingly push it towards that other soulless place that is the Trauma Trafford Centre.

Councils are not my favourite group of people.  From some reason, no matter the size of the council or the make-up that may consist of apparently local people the continually make decisions that run against popular opinion

This piece is not about the politics (or football) of red and blue, merely another hair-pulling exercise about the short-sighted decisions made by our increasingly untrustworthy public officials and that whereas jaw-jaw is preferred to war-war they all fall to more-more.

I hope you find time to sign the petition(s).

 

Thanks for reading.

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.

The Beer House – Manchester Victoria Station – Why Bother

Why bother is indeed a statement, I’m not using that disingenious and lazy media thing of sticking a question mark at the end to disguise my own view as an open question.

You could say this is written from the point of view of a beer snob, I prefer to think of myself of someone who likes good beer, in good surroundings at an agreeable price.

I’ve been going through Manchester Victoria Station for the better part of a decade. I do a lot of commuting via the train and what is glaringly obvious is how poorly serviced Victoria actually is for a decent pint.

I’ve documented the comedic chaos that surrounded Manchester’s “Tap” here – suffice to say that compared to Leeds (both), York, Sheffield and Euston the Manchester Piccadilly one isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing surroundings and I’d be more inclined to trek elsewhere for a pint in a nicer (and cheaper) place as BeersManchester has ably documented here.

Stalybridge has its Buffet Bar and Bury (granted the East Lancs Railway) has The Trackside, Manchester’s station/pub set-up is more convoluted.

We have Deansgate, which is a short stroll for Knott Bar and a host of others.  There is Oxford Road, another short stroll to Font Bar, Thirsty Scholar and the hopefully not going to be demolished in the name of progress Salisbury and Grand Central.

A short walk from Victoria you can treat yourself to the joys of the Irish bar to end all Irish bars that is Waxy O’Connor’s. A bit further takes you into the Mecca of shit that is Printworks, which has a Lloyds bar, but also has bouncers on the door from midday – not a place to fill you with a sense of relaxation.

You have to walk a bit further to get to Sinclairs Oyster Bar in order to get your first decent and cost effective drink (it is a Samuel Smiths pub for those not in the know) but I’m reading that they don’t do cask anymore…hhhmmm, still there is Wellington and the Mitre to pass the time in.

Inside Victoria of old – a place hard to describe without pictures other than calling it a giant metal shed filled with diesel fumes that also scarred the interior building work there was Pumpkin Metro Bar (there is still one at Oxford Road).  With the renovations to Victora that have occured (behind schedule, obviously) over the past year Pumpkin has now been replaced by the Beer House.

What should come as no surprise is that both places were/are operated by SSP.

Outside it looks like this…

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Still a bit of refinement but you get the jist.

Inside it looks, well….

The Dome is probably going to be a lovely place to drink under.

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There is a fair bit of space.

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There are kitsch items from “Victorian” times that constrast heavily with the 3 fruit machines.

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I fucking hate pubs that have quotes on their walls.

I also really fucking hate, really fucking pretentious mirrors.

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The cretin that wrote this might wish to trek to the other end of Victoria station and pay attention to Soldiers Gate.  A place where men passed through on their way to the trenches of the First World War, that certainly is “some stuff happens” you absolute fucking dicksplash.

I really hate incorrect and poorly researched maps.

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But most of all £4.80 a pint….

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I’m walking 10 mintues down the road, I’ll pass the Black Lion and the (R)overs Return and pay a visit to Salford Arms.

The Salford Arms is right next to Salford Central Station, if you happen to be coming into Manchester on a pub escapade I recommend you get off here and sample all the pubs of Salford before you trek up Bridge Street and into Manchester.

Plus you also miss the ticket barriers at Victoria, cost effective all round.