Today has been a sad day for footwear. Back when I was a a 23-year-old with the world at my feet and a job as an events manager which paid a tidy little sum my main outgoing other than restaurant bills and bar tabs was shoes, I was obsessed with them. For the first time in my life since I was 18 I was totally debt free. Out of my monthly salary after all bills were paid I still had an indecent amount left over to spend on myself. Though I smoked and had a fondness for Marks & Spencer sushi and sausage and onion cobs every Friday when I was too hangover to use the phone, I had no children, no mortgage and no monthly car insurance or pension payments. I was young, free, practically single and absolutely loving the independence of it all.
The boy was living a hand to mouth existence as he was still studying for his music degree but I was free to fund our outings and as one of the girlfriend of Manchester’s hardest working band I got to play the part nearly every weekend; we would all hangout backstage drinking down the riders, dragging on rolled up cigarettes and generally just hanging out feeling ever so slightly like the cool kids.
At the time I guess I knew the life we were living would not last forever. I was having a hell of a good time but work was taking its toll on my health and I’d dropped down to my smallest size since I’d had a minor eating disorder back when I was 18. I remember looking at my bank statement and feeling sad at how little I had to show for all the brilliant nights out and evenings just spent drinking red wine round a rickety table listening to music and playing cards in between musing upon our dreams for the future.
Other than Sylvanian Families I had never really felt the desire to collect anything. My sisters had their key-rings, their badges and even at one stage their dice and my brother had the monopoly on every phase and craze out there including Thomas The Tank Engines, Thunderbirds, Power Rangers and even at one stage care bears which was extraordinarily cute. It was when I realised I was spending much of my money on momentary pleasure products that I decided to start a collection and as I had no particular interest at the time in tea cups I decided I would collect shoes. As my regular readers know I am a slave to Kurt Geiger. The shoes they make are so well balanced you can stamp around in a pair of stilettos for sixteen hours straight without feeling an ache. They are creative, original and considering how well they last lusciously priced.
This then brings us to today’s dilemma. There is a man in Market Harborough, his name is Andy but I have always known him as the saviour of shoes. Many times I have brought him a forlorn pair at the end of their life and he has carefully restored them to beauty. One time he managed to restore my red or dead spike heeled stiletto ankle boots to spanking brand new in spite of me having ground the five inch heel to a mere three inches after a weekend in Liverpool visiting a friend where we danced till we dropped to sleep in his dorm just before dawn. Today Andy very kindly explained to me there was sadly nothing he could do for two of my favourite pairs.
One of them was the first pair of pricey shoes I had ever purchased. Brought in my lunch break from Berties at Kendall they were soft white leather with five inch thick wooden heels. Generally I believe white shoes should be saved till ones wedding day and even then they should be hidden and if possible cream but these were divine. Unfortunately as I tend to run in heels as well as walk whilst racing to get the bus back to see the boy after an after work drink my heel snapped on Deansgate. It was humiliating and I actually sat down and cried. I hadn’t even had any hooch but I was just so sad for my poor innocent shoe. Andy said it could be saved in an expensive operation but the job would have to be sourced out and the operators may well break the wood in the process.
The other pair are of the Kurt Geiger variety. I bought them foolishly after getting made redundant from Webb PR a month before Christmas. I was a little heart broken about losing the job and in a fine example of someone who had temporarily given leave to their senses and indeed their financial situation I sneaked away on a Christmas shopping trip with the boy, and bought three pairs of shoes in the sale. Admittedly they should have cost £400 and came to just £120 but still I had just been made redundant and with no job on the horizon it was a foolish mistake. I guess I have never regretted it because today, 15 months after the fact, I still have the shoes and they are still stunning. Unfortunately one of them, a pair of mustard yellow t-bar three inch heels was mortally injured back in May. I was chasing a story at the time and as I tore down the road the pin snapped and I had to traipse around on tippy toes the rest of the day. Andy says there is no hope for them and though I know I should consign them to the bin they are just too lovely, perhaps at some time in the future there will be better technology for such injured shoes? I live in hope.
- Today’s dress is from the wonderful Rebecca Allison. She sent this in a lovely package from the states and as well as a pair of earrings there was a beautifully written letter. I realise the dress comes up a little short on me but I hope you will not take too much of a hump at me modifying it for the workplace by pairing it with the skin tight Lycra number from Zara sent by the lovely Clara, believe me it is to protect your eyes from a legging lovely sight. Again if you do get the chance take a little look at her website. It is a fabulous way to start ones day and has given me goosebumps in the past with the sheer poetry of her posts. http://solsticetosolsticetosolstice.tumblr.com/
At last I hear you say, the end of the story is nigh. Today I considered not finishing this little modern-day romantic fairy tale because I have had a bloody awful day. I thought that if I was going to write this blog, I was going to do so by waxing lyrical on how utterly awful I am feeling; how sick I am of taking tablets which leave me nauseous and sleepy; and, how awfully cross I am about finding I have put on weight, another joyful side effect of quetiapine. Instead however I have decided to swallow down the bitterness and rather than dwell on the present pain to immerse myself instead in the ghosts of my past in the hope I can fight off the persistent pull of negativity which has been weighing me down since yesterday.
And so the boy and I after spending a night and day together but had parted ways with no way of contacting one another. Luckily our mischievous matchmaking friend had more up her sleeve having decided we were the perfect match. The next day whilst I was daydreaming about the boy and puzzling over whether or not I should go on a date with the other Chris, the boy was sending a message to our friend along the lines of, “Niki I’m a total idiot, I forgot to ask her for her number. Please can you send it to me.” Niki did not hesitate to strum the strings of fate and shortly after I received a text from the boy asking if I wanted to come and see him play a gig at Glass in Fallowfield. In all honesty I wasn’t terribly impressed, in spite of taking a fancy to him whilst he was on stage, I was certainly not about to behave like some kind of groupie girl and go along to watch adoringly as he drummed away like a toy soldier. Instead I went out with some friends and it was not until he invited me on a proper date, to see Gideon and The Deadbeats, now known as The Ten Bears, that I conceded to come along.
When I went to meet him I arrived early so I could catch up with my friend and after admitting I was rather terrified about the prospect of going alone to a gig with a man I barely know she decided it would be best to come along to assist with the magic, and also because she really fancied seeing the band. As this was the wonderful hazy days before the smoking ban, the Academy looked rather magical and with the hippy smoke floating about it was hard not to relax a little and take in the music. Gideon Conn is a bit of a lyrical genius and when he played the little ditty, Londonderry, which is about a first date between two people who are from Derry gosh darn it not Londonderry, I leaned back into the boys chest and felt rather loved up. We ended up all going back to his place for some drinks after the gig and when my friend and her lover went to bed we shared a little kiss before I went on home. I was mad at myself because i was being so careful to take it slow, because I knew I really liked him and was aware most of the last years affairs had ended as a result of me becoming too quickly involved. Though the kiss was nice it was a little too much down to how much we had drunk to steady our nerves.
After this date I tried to back away a little bit and after talking to some friends decided the best thing to do was to play it cool. I was in the middle of doing a dissertation on dating literature and though I had condemned the Rules as utter rubbish more dangerous to women than sexist males there were a few things I had taken from it. For example if you make it too easy for a man it can take away the fun of the chase and they will soon be looking for another lady who is willing to treats them mean. Though there is no way of knowing whether the boy would have been as keen on me if I had turned over on the night we first shared a bed and given him a good snogging, I am always glad we took things a day at a time. It made everything so much fun and meant we went on a host of date nights including a disastrous cinema outing where I demanded we leave after 10 minutes because it was so dire and a pub crawl which was rather messy but all of them ended in the same civil manner with a bit of a peck and then a goodnight sweetheart.
As our first date was spent in the company of a chaperone, we have come to the conclusion over the years that the night on which we should celebrate our anniversary is the first date we had by ourselves. I was completely nervous about the whole experience as by then I knew I really rather liked him but was still technically dating the other Chris though I knew it was just a matter of time before it fizzled out. After several hundred outfit changes I settled on a knee-length reddy brown leather skirt, a pair of black Red or Dead pointy ankle boots with a silver spike heel and buckles which one of my exes had brought me, a black T-Shirt and a frilly sleeveless black polo neck over the t-shirt to hide the ridiculous print on the t-shirt. Over the whole thing I had to wrap myself in my Burberry Mac which I was cross about because it meant the first thing he saw when I walked in would be the coat and not the carefully chosen outfit.
We were both late for the date, though I had messaged ahead to tell him not to hurry he still got there before me and was sat with a drink and a cigarette looking nervous. I couldn’t spot him when I first came in and the butterflies in my stomach started to dance about. He smiled when he saw me and I myself felt all a flutter when I saw he had made an effort to look nice. I fancied him and we had the nicest evening chatting about music, life, art and even our mutual friends and our own families. The evening took a bit of a turn when he decided, or maybe it was me that it was only fair we brought a second bottle of wine so as not to leave the other person out-of-pocket. I am by my own omission a total light weight and when we got on the bus I was horribly aware that I had drunk too much. He had suggested going for another drink in Withington at Solomon and Grundys which would soon become our local hang out, but when the bus started to move I was suddenly aware of how much I needed to get some fresh air. Turning to him I muttered something vague about having had a lovely evening and how it really was time to go home, then I lurched off the bus. I still could have retained some of my dignity if he had not stepped off with me sensing something was amiss and had the pleasure of watching his date throw up outside a building site in Fallowfield, a friend of mine later moved into the flats and I never had the courage to tell her I had thrown up in the foundations of her flat.
In all credit to him the boy was an utter star. rather than leave me to stagger home poorly and vulnerable he looked after me and took me back to his house. He tucked me into bed fully clothed but got me lots of water and a bowl, just in case. He shared the bed with me but surprisingly enough didn’t try anything funny and when he got up in the morning to go to work he kissed my forehead and brought me a cup of tea and left me some money just in case to get a cab home. I was utterly humiliated and as soon as he had gone I pulled on my jacket and bolted out the door. After a daytime nap I came clean to my flat mates about the dreadful date and was subjected to hours of teasing and even drawings to illustrate the incident as well as cries of, “well at least you’ll know he is not calling you because you slept together.” After it got past three however they seemed to have exhausted their insults and were now acting quite sympathetically as it had become clear he was never going to text back. I started to cry a little and decided to stop obsessing about it and leaving my phone in my room I joined the boys for our Friends and scrubs marathon. When I came upstairs to bed later on it was to find he had sent me a message after all: “Hey sweetie, you looked really pretty this morning. Was horrible leaving you. Hope you are feeling better, thanks for a great date x The rest as they say is history.
- Today’s dress is on loan from my lovely Auntie Bridgeen. It is from Primark and she loves wearing it on holiday. I managed to do something to my hair in spite of being fed up, put it in a bun after washing it then letting it down in the rain, and am wearing it with a vest for the cold and some suede black boots and opaque black tights for the warmth. The giant took the photos today thus why they are as my mother said a lot more demure than usual.
Release Date 08/03/2010 (Distiller Recors)
By Elinor O’Neill
Sound of Guns have been touring with Adam Green prior to the release of their new single, Alcatraz. Though they were talented musicians when they visited Club Academy in Manchester last month, they never got the crowd going in the way Green did. This was because, unlike Green, they couldn’t help but take themselves too seriously, and looked as though they were sulking throughout.
Looking at the information which accompanies their single one wonders if their management is to blame for their failure to just put a smile on it, apparently their music consists of riotous gang vocals, but one look at these skinny jeaned, floppy haired, frowning five-some is enough to reassure oneself that neither The Bloods or The Crips will be needing to work on their trash talk to take them on any time soon.
Alcatraz is decent enough, and will be lapped up by lovers of pop-rock and (again this is from the press release) “power chords”.
Though it has been beautifully mastered, lyrically it lacks the substance for musical longevity – but on the plus side it is great fun to jump about to.
Everything one reads about this group is complimentary, so I do hope they stick a flower in their guns and enjoy the fast-flowing river of positive critique they have been receiving; if they don’t, I fear they will fail to attract anyone other than the miserable-fringed- fair-weather-few.
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.
Emerging out of the recession with more false starts than Great Britain is the grand opening of Sound Control Manchester. You may have heard it had launched a couple of times back last year, but as these openings either didn’t go to plan or were not quite as spectacular as hoped, much like a bride on her wedding night telling her husband he is her first, Sound Control have decided these other nights didn’t really count. I imagine they are hoping anyone who attended the other launches was too tanked to remember it or have now convinced themselves that even though the music was better than normal, they had been at 42s after all.
Entering the club the first thing I feel aware of is the nerves of the staff and owners. They have embarked on an impressive publicity campaign and delaying the grand opening does seem a wise step. The venue looks superb; with a bar lined with pretty red lights and bathroom facilities far lovelier than anything you’ll find at Manchester’s longer running indie nights. There is paper and soap provided for a start.
Though they have expressed a desire to keep the building in its “raw industrial state” the end look is in places more rushed than raw and as I sit down on the wonderfully springy wooden chairs to take in the place I realise the smell I first noticed when I came in is sawdust which litters the lush tables.
There is some disappointment from people who have come here on a promise of stomping ska and garage in the basement club when it is closed only an hour after it opens as there are not enough people to fill the floor. Most people however, myself included, are quite content with the other floors; a bar area where one can listen to music whilst chatting with friends and a fantastic upstairs room which has a fantastic pa and music pit which when combined with its wonderful mini podiums for chilling out and acting up on could well rival The Academy as a live music venue.
The night is everything a music lover and a dance floor mover would want. The playlist is fantastic; whilst unafraid of old Indie classics for the sentimental, these songs do not define the night. There are plenty of new tunes and an impressive line up is advertised of live music to come, including a visit from The Drums a popular post-punk group from New York early in February.
Sound Control is besides Oxford Road station and as a result the launch attracts some interesting traffic. As well as indie boys and girls, some of whom tell me they were heading to 5th Avenue but thought they would give it a go and were pleased they had, there are middle aged men and even a couple of cowgirls. They all seem united by their appreciation of having found a good music night with decent beer on tap as well as drinks offers. At £3 entry with a flyer and £1.50 for Carlsberg, Alco pops and spirit and mixers you can leave feeling quite tipsy with change from a ten-pound-note.
Formerly a music shop where legendary artists brought the tools of their trade; Sound Control will soon be known as a venue where musicians inspired by such acts will come to play. This is, The Launch Night of Sound Control Manchester, and for the sake of indie-music lovers everywhere I hope it will be the launch of many a great night to come.
For more info and line-ups go to Sound Control