HOME > NEWS & COMMENT
Welcome to G7uk.com
 

 
 
Wednesday 28 March 2007

Cowboy opticians and cheap spectacles (hooray)

I could write a book about my bad experiences with opticians over the past twenty-five years.

(more…)


Filed under: Health,Shopping — GS @ 1:47 pm
Wednesday 8 November 2006

Environmental health officer hit by ‘strong smell of mice’ at London Starbucks

Starbucks has been fined £12,000 after one of its coffee shops was found to be infested with mice.

‘Mouse droppings were found next to spoons, knives, cups, clingfilm and boxes of biscuits and coffee that were about to be used, London’s City of Westminster magistrates heard.’

Read more…

The staff need to wake up and smell the er… mice.


Filed under: Food & cookery,Health — GS @ 6:33 pm
Thursday 21 September 2006

An inconvenient truth: Gay Manchester was better 20 years ago

Ad for Heros gay club, Manchester 1980's

I get tired of newspaper articles that make out that the gay ‘scene’ in Manchester used to be so seedy and bad years ago, but now it is so wonderful. It just isn’t true.

Take this article from 2003 which appeared in The Manchester Evening News — a newspaper that can be relied on to regurgitate hype about gay Manchester (just check out contradictory figures in the Evening News for attendance at Pride over the past eight years).

Here the Evening News quotes Iain Scott, owner of Taurus bar and restaurant in Canal Street who says:

“The last 10 years have seen the biggest evolution,” says Scott. “It has gone from three, maybe four, venues to over 30 venues in the Village Business Association.”

There may only have been a handful of venues around Canal Street. But if he is suggesting that there were only three or four in the whole of the city centre, then that is not true at all.

Flyer for Stuffed Olives mid-1980's with typewriter and magazines of the time

I moved to Manchester in 1982 and in the early to mid-1980s there were the following gay bars and clubs in Manchester city centre:

Stuffed Olives, High Society, No1 Club, Manhattan, Rembrandt, Dickens, Napoleons, The Union, New York, Heros, Archway, Thompson’s Arms.

A quick look at a couple of issues of Mancunian Gay magazine from the time shows some others that I don’t remember. The November 1983 mag lists: Why Not? on Ashton New Road and the Egerton Arms Hotel on Gore Street. The May 1984 issue lists Shadows on Union Street (later called El Cid). The June 1985 issue includes Paddys Goose on Bloom Street.

I make that 16 pubs and clubs. Not ‘three or four’.

‘Him Monthly’ August 1983 issue lists a leather/denim night every Friday at the Wheatsheaf pub on Camp Street (would you believe?) and there was the Poly gay disco also on Friday nights. And let’s not forget the Bloom Street Cafe and Gaze bookshop and Clone Zone which were also on Bloom Street.

There were two gay bars that we used to go to in nearby Stockport: The Baker’s Vaults and the New Inn.

Flyer for Heros gay club, Manchester, 1983

In those days, gay bars and clubs were almost entirely gay. There were no straight boys looking for a fight and no shrieking hen parties. On the whole, people were not on drugs and it was rare to see anyone drunk and incapable. It was really quite civilised and fun. You could enjoy a night out without worrying that you might have your face punched in or drink spiked.

Yes it’s true you had to knock on the door to get into some places. But that kept out the trouble-makers. These days they are inside the pubs and clubs.

Ad for Manhattan gay club, Manchester 1980's

In the 1980s some of the places were in better parts of town: Stuffed Olives and Heros were on the other side of Deansgate to Kendall’s department store. Manhattan was in Spring Gardens and No.1 Club was near the town hall. In fact, far less ‘seedy’ than Canal Street is now.

Ad for No 1 gay club, Manchester 1980's

Many venues were gay owned and run (unlike today). There may be double the number of venues that claim to be ‘gay’ now. But I reckon there are fewer gay men and women out on the scene now than there were in Manchester 25 years ago.

This isn’t just because everywhere is now ‘mixed’, but also because older gay people aren’t welcomed by and don’t ‘fit in’ to most places in 2006. Meanwhile, many gay youngsters reject what the scene offers and can socialise perfectly well without it.

Years ago, it really was like a family. You would see senior citizens in The Rembrandt and The Union alongside 18-year-olds. Out on the scene we had friends of all ages and some of the older ones were almost like aunt or uncle figures to us. We valued their experience and advice and enjoyed their company. They cooked meals for us (poor students) and threw the best parties in town.

But where do older people go in the wonderful gay village now, Evening News? Do tell… That public community has broken down and everyone is poorer now because of it. I would say, in general, there is more ageism, sometime bordering on age phobia (everyone aged over 35 is a paedo — it’s a well-known fact!) and perhaps fewer mixed-age relationships because those are less accepted (‘what will my mates think?’).

However, off the scene, mixed-age LGBT friendships are still very much around. Some of my dearest friends are aged in their twenties. But we rarely meet or do anything on Canal Street. If the gay village, scene and Pride don’t welcome everyone, what is the point of them? Are they a force for good or bad?

Ad for High Society gay club, Manchester 1980's

The old magazines also list a number of gay groups that met and there was the Gay Centre in the heart of things on Bloom Street.

The 1982 and 1984 issues list two clinics in the city centre area where you could get a sexual health check up. Compared to one today. In those days you could actually walk in and see someone immediately without having to wait up to six weeks for an appointment as you have to now.

The Pink Picnic 1990

The Pink Picnic 1990

Out, proud and very visible at the Pink Picnic 1990. It was held on a public footpath next to the Dovestone Reservoir at Saddleworth. No fences, politicians, marketing people, police or permission. All the money collected went to good causes.

And as for people not being ‘very proud to be seen’ until the gay village became over-commercialised and full of straight people in the mid 1990’s, with bars like Manto… What a travesty of the truth: tell that to the thousands of men and women who walked around the city centre (not in front of friendly crowds) and then packed Albert Square for the Section 28 rally in 1988, the Liberation ’91 march, or who took part in the Walk For Life every year.

They were out and proud on the streets. By comparison, how much courage does it take to go to a ‘mixed’ bar where you can pretend to be straight if anyone sees you there?

Liberation 91 march, Manchester

Watch historic video footage of the Liberation 91 lesbian and gay rally in Manchester, 1991

What is there is to be so proud of now? It’s all about money, youth, alcohol and hairless gym bodies. Our (non-political) Pride event excludes people who can’t afford to pay and the binge-drinking, drug-taking, self-destructive culture which it promotes results in many actually ending up with HIV and needing a lifetime of expensive combination therapy.

Raising money to help the fight against HIV and AIDS at a Jumble sale on Canal Street, August Bank Holiday, Manchester 1990
Raising money to help the fight against HIV and AIDS at a Jumble sale on Canal Street, August Bank Holiday, Manchester 1990
Raising money to help the fight against HIV and AIDS at a Jumble sale on Canal Street, August Bank Holiday, Manchester 1990

Above: raising money to help the fight against HIV and AIDS at a jumble sale on Canal Street, Manchester, August Bank Holiday, 1990.

Which makes a mockery of the relatively small amount that Manchester Pride raises for charity. In 2006 people with HIV were actually charged to walk in the Pride parade.

Currently, the gay village is something to be ashamed of, not celebrated. We have let big business and the City Council destroy the community that we once had.

Meanwhile the same people are behind this blatant rewriting of history because it suits them and their business purposes.

As for Iain Scott’s suggestion that in the 1950’s ‘all’ the buildings in the Canal Street area ‘were derelict’, this isn’t true. In a recent episode of BBC’s ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’, featuring David Dickinson, he revealed that in the 1960’s he worked in a building on Princess Street opposite the New Union. There were lots of businesses operating in the area.

Photo 1: from 1963, a shot of the site where Clone Zone stands now on Sackville Street. There are two neat little shops that are open for business. On the far right of the block is what is now Napoleons (then a restaurant) and beyond it a church which stood where the Bloom Street car-park is today.

Photo 2: The Rembrandt in 1962. The shoe repair shop next door was still there thirty years later.

Photo 3: this picture from 1973 shows a restaurant in the building that is now Thompson’s Arms.

Photo 4: a cafe and a couple of other businesses at the junction of Sackville Street and Major Street in 1962. This is the street that is between the CIS building and Bloom Street car-park.

In all, a thriving area I would say and probably with a wider variety of different businesses than there are now.

UPDATES: small additions were made to this article on 5 September 2009.


Filed under: LGBT,Manchester,The media — GS @ 6:08 am
Tuesday 25 July 2006

Should soya carry a health warning?

From The Guardian.

I’m finding it hard to keep up-to-date with what’s good and what’s bad. An article I read recently suggested it may be more healthy to eat butter rather than margarine…


Filed under: Food & cookery,Health — GS @ 2:06 am
Thursday 29 June 2006

Tony Blair’s assault on civil liberties

The Independent newspaper has an article (reprinted from Vanity Fair) about the way Tony Blair has eroded civil liberties and freedom in Britain and the scary way in which many people seem compliant and almost resigned to their fate.

Certainly there’s a lack of interest in politics these days. Partly because politicians and the media have managed to make the subject so boring. Sometimes it seems like one group of public schoolboys (the journalists) having a matey jousting match with another group of public schoolboys (the politicians).

Television — the most powerful medium we have, and the one from which most people get their information, has been dumbed down. The awkward programmes — World In Action, This Week, Panorama — have gone or been emasculated. Scare stories about paedophiles, terror threats and health risks are used to distract the public from what the Government is doing in the background.

Tony Blair has created a society where British people work such long hours that many have neither the time nor appetite for serious subjects in the few hours they have to themselves. They seek escapism.

On the subject of ID cards, Neil Tennant of the PetShopBoys is quoted in the article as saying: ‘my specific fear is that we are going to create a society where a policeman stops me on the way to Waitrose’.

Already I see that attitude developing amongst the police. Most recently I noticed it when we went to the Manchester Passion event on Good Friday. We asked a policeman for directions to the street from where the parade was starting off and I happened to mention that I was there to shoot some video. He replied that he had ‘no objection’ to me filming.

I wasn’t asking for his permission to film. This was on a public street at an event that was intended for the public. But, apparently, he felt it was in his power to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to me using my camcorder.

Shooting pictures at the Carribean Carnival last year, I was asked by one policeman where I was from.

Instead of assuming that most people are at an event for perfectly innocent reasons, now there always seems to be a suspicion that you are up to something.

I’ve been out on the streets shooting photographs and video for twenty-five years and this is something that never used to happen. It makes me feel uncomfortable. I can see the day coming when they will expect to review your videotape or look at the photos on your memory card.

Quality of life for ordinary law-abiding people is being eroded because there is a one-in-a-million chance that the Police may catch someone who is up to no good.

This is sneaking up on us. We are being ‘groomed’ ready for a society where we will be tracked and logged twenty-four hours a day and any variation from the home-to-work-to-supermarket-to-home routine will prompt questions and a request to prove who we are, what we are doing and why.

Like Neil Tennant I’ll consider leaving Britain if ID cards are introduced.

PS. I can’t believe I’m quoting one of the Pet Shop Boys. How gay is that? ;-)


Filed under: Politics — GS @ 3:46 am
Wednesday 26 April 2006

Fireworks on the top of Beetham Tower, but does Manchester really need more city centre apartments for the rich? (VIDEO)

Fireworks from the top of Beetham Tower, Manchester, 26 April 2006

At 9.15pm tonight fireworks erupted from the top of Beetham Tower in Manchester, making it look like an over-sized roman candle firework. A topping out ceremony was taking place, marking the completion of the highest point.

The Tower stands 171m (561ft) and 47 storeys tall, making it the highest residential development in Europe. The first 23 floors will house a four-star Hilton hotel and apartments will fill the upper half.

Some people may wonder if Manchester really needs more apartments for the rich. When so many ordinary people in Britain are absolutely desperate for affordable housing and a large number of relatively well-paid workers are now excluded from ever owning a property of any kind due to high prices.

PFI

At the same time, Manchester City Council is busy trying to force various schemes onto residents of its council (public) housing, some of which is in the city centre. The aim being to pretty much wipe its hands of public housing.

Tenants are being denied a vote on whether housing should be transferred to a PFI (Private Finance Initiative) of the kind that is currently causing disaster in the National Health Service, an Arms Length Management scheme or whether it should remain in Council control.

In other parts of the country, residents have made it clear they want to remain in Council control. Which is something that Tony Blair and his New Labour cronies at Manchester City Council don’t want.

Tony doesn’t like it when people disagree with him and, if residents won’t be sensible and vote the way he wants, the answer is simple… Don’t let them vote at all and leave the decision to people who ‘know better’. In other words, those feeble-minded Labour councillors who have compromised their left-wing principles so much in recent years…

So, the original proposals to give residents a vote on the matter in Manchester are quietly being forgotten about. Instead, local Labour councillors will decide ‘what’s best’.


Filed under: Buildings,Manchester,Politics,With video — GS @ 9:44 pm
 
< PREVIOUS  |  NEXT >
 
 
News & Comment


 
< PREVIOUS  |  NEXT >
 
 
 

Audio Buildings Bygone Manc Computing consumer Crime Documentary Environment Food & cookery Fun g7uktalk Gay General Health History LGBT Manchester Net & technology Personal Photography Politics Production Rushes Science Shopping software Strange The media TV & film Video-making Wildlife With video

 
xx
HOME > NEWS & COMMENT
 
Home
 

© Copyright g7uk.com 1999-2016