Profits fall in Manchester’s gay village

This morning, both The Independent and The Times have stories about profits being down in Manchester’s gay village. Income has fallen by 20-25% they say.

This is not a surprise to me. Recently I found figures that suggest, since they began charging for entry, attendance at Manchester Pride has fallen to one quarter of what it was in 2002. And contrary to the ‘best-ever event’ hype that we see in the media each year afterwards.

Aw what a shame. Now, after ten years during which time the businesses abandoned their traditional loyal customer base in search of the biggest possible profits, finally the chickens are coming home to roost.

Neither article mentions that gay bars and clubs used to be a safe space that could be enjoyed by gay men and women of all ages. The pubs may have had curtains at the windows but, once inside, they were friendly and rather civilised. You never saw a fight and it was rare to see anyone really drunk and misbehaving.

Anyway, the ‘gay village’ has always been a commercial manufactured thing. Years ago, the bars and clubs were spread across the city centre — from Deansgate and Spring Gardens to Sackville Street. Despite what it says in The Independent, there were no gay bars actually on Canal Street until the early 1990’s (the entrance to the Rembrandt is on Sackville Street and the New Union is on Princess Street).

These days the area is threatening, unpleasant, cynical and aimed exclusively at the 18-30 age group who have a high disposable income and drink a lot. Everyone else has been driven out. There is no ‘community’ anymore and they should stop pretending this now-awful area is anything of the sort.

Even the bricks and mortar have been destroyed in the quest for profit. Old shop fronts have been ripped out to make way for takeaways or bigger bars, stonework has been removed from the front of the old warehouse buildings and the original cobbles are long gone. Controversial and tacky waste-of-money memorials have been put up in Sackville Park, when the cost could have been better spent actually helping people.

It’s not just the fact that we are now more-accepted at other places around Manchester and have other ways to meet people — such as the Internet. It is that we don’t like what the so-called gay village has been turned into by money-grabbing businesses and Manchester City Council.

Now The Rembrandt (which used to be a men-only bar) is to take the drastic step of banning hen parties. Unfortunately, the time to do that was ten years ago. Not now, just because your profits are down.

So what is the future? I think the outlook is bleak for the businesses down there. Gay men and women are going to continue voting with their feet and the over-30’s who, in the past, would have been customers for life, won’t ever return. As the area becomes increasingly ‘less gay’, there won’t be the novelty value, so the ‘non-gay’ customers won’t bother with that part of town anymore.


Another ugly new car-park

new multi-storey car-park, Upper Brook Street, Manchester

I went up to Microdirect — the computer shop — with Miss Noodle and her man. Opposite, this hideous multi-storey car-park has appeared on the corner of Upper Brook Street and Hathersage Road, as part of the ongoing development of the Manchester Royal Infirmary.

It looks like a giant electric fan-heater and feels too tall and too wide for this spot.

Twenty years ago, I lived near here on Daisy Bank Road (gotta love that name). The area used to have a ‘suburban’ feel. But now, multi-storey buildings line the road all the way from the city centre to Hathersage Road. It feels as if the city is expanding out here.



first attempt at making a pissaladiere

I found a recipe for pissaladiere (French onion tart), on the side of a bag of Dove’s Farm Pasta Flour. So I thought I’d give it a try. Olives, anchovies, onions, tomatoes…

It tasted great but I put on far too many tomatoes I think. In fact, some recipes don’t mention tomatoes at all. The Dove’s Farm recipe doesn’t include yeast, but others do. I’m confused (but it doesn’t take much) :-)


Tony Blair on Newsnight

Tony Blair was on Newsnight last night to promote his ‘respect agenda’ and answer questions from the audience. As the programme started, he seemed to have a bizarre glazed expression on his face.

At the end, Kirsty Wark said goodnight to the viewers, the credits rolled, and she completely ignored Blair, who was sitting next to her. She put down her microphone on the table and looked straight ahead at the audience. Blair looked at her, obviously expecting the usual fake end-of-programme pretend chat, but there wasn’t any.

Tony Blair on Newsnight

He glanced at the audience, then back to Kirsty Wark, like a puppy seeking affection. But she continued to look straight ahead. He stared at her. Then, finally, as the music came to an end, she looked down at her notes. Fade out…

I would love to put the video on here for you to see for yourselves, but the BBC probably wouldn’t appreciate it.


Shopping at 6am

NOTE: a New Year and a slightly new look to the Journal which will now be known as the Photo & Video Blog. From today I’m using the software WordPress. Which should save me a lot of time.

Shopping at 6am

I was awake early and so was my neighbour. So we went shopping. It was drizzling and the first day back at work for many people after New Year. Some of them were trooping along almost like robots.

I wanted to try and capture the awfulness of a grey and wet winter morning in Manchester. But, with the blue sky, street lights, reflections in the wet roads and the vivid way my Canon Powershot A70 camera handles this kind of scene, it actually looks quite colourful.

It was good to know we would be heading straight back home afterwards and would be able to dry out and enjoy some reduced-price Sainsbury’s mince pies and cream. Unlike the poor damp office workers.