- My dress has already been criticised today by the head of Harborough police. I saw him on the streets and he said he was not overly keen on my combination of colours; the pink tights I believe were a little too garish for him. I was a little offended and thought about suggesting he focus his attentions on arresting the legging lovelies flashing their front rumps nearby but I was running a little late for work and had to go on my merry way. The dress got me into a rather uncomfortable situation later on the same day when the Liberal Democrat councillors came to call. As a sleep deprived reporter I had not even considered the political connotations of my choice and had to come clean and admit the dress was down to an overall shortage of office wear rather than an attempt to fly the colours of any clan. Today’s dress is a present from my Godmother who bought it from a shop in Harborough called Labels for Less. As I said I was a little but sleep deprived and in a rush to get ready I paired it with Kurt Geiger wedges and police officer displeasing pink tights.
Every year Salford puts on a two day festival called Sounds of the Other City. It has a little more grit than most two day inner city dos and plenty of good ales, fancy foreign beers and tasty fresh food more commonly found at a farmers market than a festival. The weekend has not started well but I’m trying to be a more positive person and so I pick out the prettiest dress, comb out my hair and with my glad rags on try to raise my spirits for what has traditionally been a slamming party.
Though it wasn’t meant to be the way the boy and I end up alone and having the kind of time alone together that we rarely have these days. It is one of those days when you find yourself falling in love just a little more than ever before, I hope you’ve had them. You remember why it is that you work through the tears and the tantrums because in truth this is the one in your life with who everything just feels right.
We go skipping through the shops like children, searching for a cardigan to keep me warm because I was too worried about looking good for my boy in the band. The weather is freezing and the boy does his best as usual to usher me into his hooded top but its blue and for boys and the dress is too pretty to be covered by it. We end up settling on a long grey cardigan from Wallis which will now be my new cover it up for work. The problem with the project is that I have lots of very pretty dresses which are borderline suitable for the workplace, some a little short, some a little low, this will make even the shortest shimmery shift suitable for the most conservative court appearance.
After sipping down strawberry beers and munching on chicken tacos and tasty chilli which even my soft-core taste buds can handle we slink back on the walls to watch a wailing guitar guy leads us in a chorus of She’ll be coming round the mountains when she comes. We glimpse an old friend who I haven’t seen for some time, she is looking well and loved up and there is something about seeing somebody so content that cheers me through just as much as my cherry beer; strawberry got sickly quickly.
We head over to the gig where the boy plays an acoustic set. The crowd seem to like it and I wish I could be playing the part of the reviewer once more. The venue has a great feel to it and the two girls who put it on are either extremely excitable or just pissed. Either way their enthusiasm is infectious and the crowd laps it up.
We end up hanging out with the other Onions and our friend Ben, who is just lovely. The last time we were here our gang was a lot bigger and I miss the rest of the crew, especially the girls; Anna, Clara, Ellen and Niki. They are all great company and I wish we had all found work in the same city. Sometimes I find myself a little jealous of London which has landed all these great ladies and I lament not making it down there to see them as I should.
We watch a surf band from Wales. They are playing at one of the city churches where they are selling beer and alcopops. It is surreal and though I fear my mother might not like it I lie beside the boy on a blown up sofa beside the altar. I figure its okay because this is the Church of England and I figure they do things different from us Catholics, we kneel.
Later on we head back to The New Oxford, where the boy had his gig. There’s a band Frazer King, friends of the boys who are playing and based on the last time I saw them they are well worth a watch. Though I do not tell the boy, there is something a little sexy about their lead singer who growls the lyrics. When we get there we find the band outside, setting up on the steps of Salford Magistrates Court, having decided they are too big for the venue. I am amused by their arrogance but their choice of setting is inspirational and the set is sublime. I shiver throughout and see traces of blue on my lips but I don’t want to miss a moment and dance and sway with the boy just to keep warm. They put on a show and its one of those gigs you just know you’ll never forget. I wish the crew were all here but its great and I’m happy and in love and I don’t care if it lasts, its here and we’re happy.
- The dress is from Topshop, a tea dress. I usually hate showing my back, its broad and has a mole which I would love to move but its an eight and when it fits I get a bit carried away and forget all my usual insecurities if only for one day. It is on loan from Kat Ingham, who is in Manchester but who I unfortunately missed out on seeing tonight as she was at the sound of the other city, or Maps.
Sound Control, Manchester 06/02/210
By Ellie O’Neill
Oh the sound, the sound of The Drums. When I heard seven days ago I was going to see them, I got so excited I began practicing my dance moves and planning what to wear to a night I thought would be monumental. This was the act which I thought would propel Manchester’s new venue Sound Control to a whole new level of luxurious musical mania, an act which would test their control of sound, an act which would pull in the crowds so sadly sparse upon their opening night. This was their chance to be The Venue for music lovers to go to when they wanted to hear great music and to hear it lovely and loud with lots of beautiful bass.
Sound Control was brilliant. Other than an audience tending a little too much towards the student crowd, pulled in by the cheapness of the drinks. The sound delivered perfectly and the place was packed. The basement was once again closed, presumably not because numbers failed to reach full capacity, but because of the heating being broken, again.
There are two issues Sound Control will need to resolve before it reaches its hey-day, the first is the choice of act, no matter how I try to put a positive spin on it I think The Drums are dreadful. So bad at one stage I nearly leave but am persuaded by my companion that reviewing only the first ten minutes of the act would be a tad harsh. The second issue is the crowd, which I strongly suspect would be a lot more friendly if those who were only there for cheap bottles of beer would leave, leaving behind the kind of people the venue needs, music lovers.
The Drums put on a performance so self indulgent that one gig goer suggests they were getting a little too happy about themselves; I am tempted to leave the rest of the quote to your imagination but it is too much of a line not to share, “God, was it just me or were they practically tossing themselves off up there at how terrific they think they are”. I try to enjoy them, I really do, I loved Sound Control the last time I came here and genuinely had high hopes for the night but The Drums don’t deliver to a crowd which would generally be just as happy dancing to the music of, well anyone really and the free unsigned gig I went to at Fuel earlier in the night in Withington had much more gumption than anything they had to offer.
When I first came I was inspired by the potential of the venue as somewhere for lovers of good indie to desend, whether they were old-school rockers or drainpipe wearing T-shirt clad disco dancers. Today I was struck by the shallowness of the place. The few people who were making moves could have been doing so to their I-pod, it was like being at a silent disco where someone’s let off a silent scent and you don’t want to say anything for fear someone will think it was you. I would rather drink water or pay £4 for a beer in the place if it means not being surrounded by people whose only concern is reaching a state of sedation so thorough that they struggle to remember who they saw the previous night.
I don’t want to upset you too much with my description of The Drums, but it is after all a review of them so I must. In spite of having a back catalogue of some really great tunes which fully tested the Sound Control machine, they were as one guy beautifully put it “Aaaarrrgh, that was awful, just awful, I’m so glad to get out of there”. Unfortunately at the time someone who looked scarily like one of The Drums was standing next to him outside. I had looked forward to a crowd in this venue who would dance with no regard to posing or prancing, a bunch of gig-goers who would genuinely be there to greet the act with an enthusiasm and willingness to boogie the night away, unfortunately I was horribly disappointed. As well as being called “A nice piece of meat” by a man whose only intention tonight was to find himself a honey and having a drink spilt on me by a guy so coked up he had no awareness of his actions, I was struck by how few people were dancing.
The sound was awesome, but the performance was dire. They continually rocked out to their own tunes, failing to engage with the audience or even notice they were there, so struck were they by their own greatness. They could have been at Rockefeller centre or The Queens Garden Party, there was no adjustment for the crowd to which they played and most of the time they barely acknowledge those who had forked out £8 to see them.
I came here expecting to see an act who could inspire the audience, but what I saw was an act who hardly hold our attention and a crowd who leave the moment they stop, leaving behind them a tide of plastic cups more akin to the debris of the cattle-market that was once The Bop.
The dress I am wearing today is one of the boy’s favourites; he has been a bit of a grumpy of late ever since he realised many of the dresses would be sold. He has a bit of a thing about me lending my clothes to people as it upsets him as he then struggles to look at me in them without the memory of happy times of me wearing the dress; anniversary dates, meals out, summer days etc. are apparently tainted by someone else having worn it. It is strange but he assures me it is a boy thing. It is perhaps because of this I am unable to persuade him to go with me to a clothing swap shop in Manchester today. It is being put on at the 8th day by some students, one of whom has assured me they can set me up for dresses for the year. I am wary however as I have been fooled before by such gushing support so I try to approach the evening as cynically as possible for a person who loves the idea of getting newish clothes for free. I smile as I enter to see a swarming mass of foxy, feisty, women, trying hard to look as though they are not waiting for the whistle to break from their friendship groups and fight as politely as possible for frocks, tops or the ever coveted brand new with labels designer item. These sales are a great way of getting money for old rope and if you are lucky or selective about visitors you can get some really good finds. I have heard an awful lot about swap shopping but at first thought it sounded a little too much like swinging; however, desperate times and a lack of dresses mean I have no choice but to investigate.
In credit to the volunteers who have put this evening together every effort is made to aid visitors; strong sustainable bags are re-distributed, clothes are laid out nicely and in relatively well organised tables and they even make a flawed attempt to filter the hoard. The problem with a lot of the things available is the quality of the clothing; there was more Prada-mark than one could believe, and though I should have been more wary after seeing the waddling shuffle of ugged hooves I had carelessly handed over my bag of high-end well washed barely worn finds before seeing the state of some of the clothing. A lot of it is from the lowest possible end of the high street and some of it is neither washed, pressed or even unstained. I would be embarrassed to put my washing out in this state let alone give it to others in return for a new wardrobe but many people seem quite happy to hand over questionable clothing with no scruples.
Interestingly there is no limit to the amount of items you can walk away with which is quite good as in spite of feeling rather forced together the lack of rules means the atmosphere is fairly relaxed. I find most people reasonably polite, many of them excusing themselves after shoulder barging you or ripping a vest from your finger tips, which is unnecessary in this shop but sweet nevertheless. I end up with one or two dresses and a horde of tops but all will need some level of adjustment or dry-cleaning to make them blog worthy but I guess that’s just part of the fun of swapping.
I am considering organising my swap shop with tea and home-made cakes where people can bring unwanted dresses and swap them for luxe items from my extensive wardrobe or for other items of clothing brought by other swappers. There will be a bit more enforcement on the door as I will not have dirty hockey tops messing up my home and though we usually run a shoes on in the house policy, any Uggaly wearers will have to leave their slippers at the door and legging lovelies showing front rump will be provided with a modesty pashmina for their own good.
Today I am feeling a little bit vulnerable. It may be a result of the flimsiness of the dress which is pure silk from Topshop unique and which once gave everyone on my NCTJ course a rather raunchy display when I entered our office after being caught in a rain storm. Never forget to check in the mirror when you come in from outside and if wearing a thin dress such as this make sure you pop on some French knickers and a covering cream bra or even a slip. That is unless you think you might enjoy a day spent blushing as red as your underwear.
I think the real reason has nothing to do with the dress which is transformed easily with thick woollen tights and cashmere cardigan; it has a lot more to do with the attitude of duplicitous and down right rude men and women. Yesterday a horrible person, stole my friends wallet whilst she was dealing with the baby on the bus. What really upset me and her is they must have kept an eye on her to see whether she became distracted so they could swipe the bag from the pushchair. I don’t really understand people who rob mothers, perhaps it is because they are on crack and think of them as an easy target, or maybe they have childhood issues. Either way it seems rather rude that they take from their fellow bus riders and not going and getting a bit itchy fingered in HMV. Not that I am advocating a shop lifting campaign at this establishment for crack users, but one must admit it would be a lot better than stealing from a Mummy. I find myself thinking today that I hope rumours of the power of karma which us Catholics are kept ignorant of are true and the person in question comes back as an assistant for Naomi Campbell and gets regularly beaten and exposed to class A drugs they are not allowed to touch for fear of punishment. Obviously none of this would be the result of them being around Naomi who has apparently softened in old age like a mature but tasty brie.
I like to think such incidents of crime are isolated but two things which happened yesterday made me realise that not everyone in this world or indeed in Manchester is a nice person. I know this will seem obvious to the majority of you but I have always been a bit blinkered when it comes to spotting the b-words of both sexes. Yesterday whilst at a cash point I saw a man who looked like a student, carrying a blackberry and wearing expensive sports gear barge into a woman as she walked away from the cash point only because she had taken too much time. I muttered abuse under my breath but other than rip out his headphones and demand he follow her to apologise I wasn’t sure how to make him see that pushing a girl half your side in the chest is just plain rude.
The other incident occurred later on the same night at the students union. I was killing time after the swap shop and feeling quite pleased with myself for managing to rescue back my Next suede coat from out of the clutches of an Ugg wearer, in my defence i am saving it for the theatre starlet when she returns from London this weekend and as a reward I thought I would treat myself to a coffee/ beer in the students union whilst transcribing an interview. I have never actually been into the students bar since I was at Manchester University four years ago and fancied seeing whether all the hype about its splendour was for real. It turned out that it was but it took me such a ridiculous amount of time to get inside that the novelty was a little lost on me after a run in with a horrible bouncer who refused at first to let me in. I tried to explain I was reviewing a gig and I had a student card still but in the end let him continue his unending rant whilst getting out my sd card and silently flashing it at him at which point he backed off a bit. I tutted at the grey giant and muttered the offensive statement, “for goodness sake” at which point his uglier even larger friend decided to join in with the fun and told his friend he had made me an unhappy lady. The charmer responded crossly he didn’t care whether he had upset the stupid cow or not. Well, I was so upset I ended up telling on him to the girl behind the bar who gave me a drink for my nerves where upon I went off to hide until the boy arrived. We crossed paths with him before going to see Adam Green only to hear him threatening to blow the place up because he hated students. Now I must admit I am not the biggest fan of students myself. It is probably because I am a bit jealous of their freedom but I also get annoyed when I hear the horrible ones on the bus who dress as though hey are wearing clothing from the original fifties, not the nice fitted flattering stuff but the clothing my grandmothers mother was probably wearing whilst saying the word like a lot and asking over and over if their long-suffering friend knows what they mean and slating the North. In spite of this the majority are quite sweet and even the annoying ones don’t deserve to get blown up by a grey student despising giant.
It is horrible how some people feel they can treat others and I do wish my general response was a lot more effective than the occasional mutinous muttering. I am going to have to work on quick responses to amateur terrorists and cash point cjawhatsits or else I will run the risk of ranting for eternity without ever making a stand against them. Watch out for your handbags wear them in front of you where possible and keep your phone out of sight. Make sure you build up your arm muscles so bank barges bounce back off you and if you go to a gig at the academy make sure you do your best to avoid the wrath of the warlord.
One of the difficulties of writing a new blog every day is when you plan to write on a particular subject events will usually conspire to prevent one from doing so. I began the morning thinking it would be appropriate to do a blog on the wonder of YSL touche éclat after looking in the mirror and being greeted with a god awful blemish, it wasn’t long however before I realised it was just a stain on the mirror and after spending an hour on the boy’s new toy, the wiiii I thought this would be an appropriate topic as in spite of the only game I have ever been addicted to being The Sims, I must admit I was rather taken with the various sports and surprised to find out I am a terrific archer. All of my plans were abandoned however when I came across what is surely th most ridiculous statement in fashion to date; joggers are now in vogue. Well I was not about to let such a ridiculous statement go unchallenged and began to scribble furiously. I was just about to post when the boy returned out of breath and babbling about some scally wags who had apprehended him on his way home from the post office. I must admit it my jogging bottom outrage I had neglected to notice he had been gone longer than expected and felt rather guilty.
The naughty boys had turned around to face the boy who had wondered along behind them happily whistling The Shins. Perhaps they were not fans of his musical melody or maybe they are just big fat meanies but either way they turned around and assuming a rather aggressive stance asked him what his problem might be. The boy admits he was rather bemused by the two of them seeing as they were all about fifteen and though tall looked rather malnutritioned. Luckily however he remembered being lectured by both myself and his father on how the best thing to do in such situations is a combination of fight and more importantly flight. As they were not ready to let him pass and responded to his reasoning that he was just out to post his brother’s birthday card by telling him that they were going to, “Rob him up, yeah!”
Well broken down Britain connotations aside I believe the bard would have turned in anguish in his resting place had he heard this grammatically flawed statement. The boy luckily had not been carrying his wallet or prized i-phone and when they refused to move he responded to their cries of “What you gonna do about it, yeah?” by shoving the nearest scoundrel hard in the chest and running a fast as he could. Luckily a diet of crisps, chocolate and Strongbow does not lend itself to athletics and they resolved themselves to call abuse after him than giving chase. Though the boy is I think annoyed at himself for not putting up more of a fight, I must say I am very proud of him for the restraint he showed. He has worked out of late and though I am sure he could have stood his ground my greatest fear would be that the rumours of such naughty boys carrying knifes would turn out to be true and the boy would be no more.
Thankfully he bumped into some community support officers whilst on his way home and told them of the threat which lay ahead for other innocents. This additional patrolling presence is extremely welcome in our area as this is not the first time we have had trouble with scallywags. I find the whole situation extremely frustrating as though a small part of me wanted to go out on the hunt and avenge myself on these toe rags; I admit the archery and sword fighting may have given me a slightly flawed opinion of my fighting strength; there was also a huge part of me which felt painfully sorry for them. To be out on the streets on a cold miserable day than at home with one’s loved ones is a sad state of affairs indeed especially as it was the time I remember as a teenager when I would share the trials and tribulations of my school day with my family. Yes, the dinner table would usually dissolve into a bickering mass but at least we knew we had somewhere to go and someone to go to if we were feeling blue.
When we were dropped off at guides or ATC when we were teenagers me and my sisters would often pass children who would hang out at the bus stops and although they often looked intimidating my overriding feeling when I saw them was that more than anything they looked sad. I am not for a second suggesting one hugs a hoodie or worse still starts wearing this ridiculous trend. They are nearly as terrible as joggers for goodness sake and should exist only in the gym or when running the streets in pursuit of improving one’s fitness or physique. My real problem is that there is no clear answer for how to deal with this problem which is satisfactory to me. Though I detest more than anything the idea that my safety is in jeopardy and walked to the train station by myself at nine last night just to prove to myself I would not be affected by the scallywags, I can not deny I felt scared all the while.
There are thankfully many outreach programmes in the boy’s area which try to tackle these problems but after yesterdays unpleasantness I can not help but feel that the government and we as a society need to do more to stop these children becoming so disillusioned with life that they feel the only thing they have to do is to attack. One of my friends is looking to volunteer somewhere this year and I wonder if by doing so myself I can be of help to such scallywags, even if I can not give them a hug perhaps I can help with a programme which finds some way to engage them in activities which do not involve menacing music lovers.
The dress today is from a shop across the road from 111 Piccadilly in Manchester. I stayed at the boy’s house one night and had forgotten to bring anything for the morning. Having borrowed a pair of his jeans and found a couple of vest tops I was just about fit for going into town but there was no way I was going to spend the day looking like a roughian. I had less than two penny’s to my name so ran across the road to a brightly coloured bargain boasting shop and picked this up for a £5. It has a brilliant drop waist which leaves ones bottom looking rather minimal whilst the cotton material and cut keeps it looking casual. Today it needed a tad of modification to get me through the wintry winds when I went to meet a friend off my course for a drink come the evening so I paired it with a pink jumper from Topshop which my mother bought me eight years ago! With boots and black tights it proved suitable for wiii playing, drinks at Piccadilly station and a night-time walk home on high alert.