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Preview: HOME is where the People’s Art is – the first Manchester Open Exhibition

Whilst works, appreciation, opinions and afforded gravitas come in all shapes and sizes, art should be inclusive and HOME is bringing this ethos to life by celebrating the amazing talent of Greater Manchester.

In the first region-wide exhibition of its type, HOME welcomed submissions from all across all 10 boroughs, for the inaugural Manchester Open Exhibition which opens tomorrow, Saturday 18 January and runs until 15 March 2020.

Justine Le Joncour – Newton Street

The exhibition sees entries from all levels of experience; established artists, new and emerging talent, enthusiastic amateurs and first-time artists.

Ben Goring – Rich
Gwen Evans – Ar Lan Y Mor (By the Seaside)

With over 2000 pieces submitted, over 500 works were selected by a special panel which included HOME curator, Bren O’Callaghan and Helen Wewiora, Director of Castlefield Gallery.

The result is a wonderfully eclectic exhibition representing the wonderful people of Greater Manchester, which includes paintings, prints, photography, sculpture, digital and mixed media, video and audio, spoken word, performance and more.

Kat Preston – An Ode to Willendorf

And, in the words of the great Jimmy Cricket (never forget) there’s more…(it was a contemporary reference toss up between him and Columbo)…

20 of the artists have been shortlisted for a Manchester Open Award, and the five winners will each receive an artist bursary to the value of 2000 pounds, in collaboration with Castlefield Gallery, which will be tailored to each individual artist, and may cover such things as travel, materials, studio rent, website development or any aspect of their practice following peer advice. Full details including the names of all finalists can be found HERE

Just one more thing (nobody puts Columbo in the corner), visitors to the Manchester Open Exhibition during the first four weeks will get the chance to vote for the winner of The People’s Choice Award.

All winners will also receive (and I LOVE this) an award made by Stockport’s On The Brink Studio, from Manchester poplar, bog oak and wax from the beehives on the roof of HOME.

Jen Orpin – It’s the Manc Way – Safe Passage

So support Greater Manchester by helping support HOME support Greater Manchester and head on over to the Manchester Open Exhibition at HOME from Saturday 18 January.

I’ll be visiting this week and will share what is sure to be my joy and favourites in a further post and pics on here, Twitter and Instagram.

More details can be found at https://homemcr.org/exhibition/manchester-open/

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Current affairs Events Literature Manchester Preview/review The Arts

Review: Jon Sopel – Inside Trump’s White House (Penguin Live)

Politics, eh?

What larks.

I heavily, heavily jest. But if like me, you’re fascinated by the goings on in that big White House across the pond, you can would have been equally fascinated by BBC North America Editor, Jon Sopel, as he talked about his new book A Year at the Circus.

Given a foot in the door to both the book and the Oval Office itself, via Penguin Live’s event, Inside Trump’s White House, at The Dancehouse Theatre, Manchester, we were all enthralled as Jon chatted candidly but never salaciously about what it’s like to be part of the media pack when the POTUS is one Donald John Trump.

And if Alec Baldwin ever falls out with Saturday Night Live, Jon does a mean Trump impersonation.

Touch wood he voices an audio of the book which, if his excerpts and anecdotes at the Penguin Live are anything to go buy, promises to entertain, enthral and indeed educate with what I perceive will be a balanced, fair but candied account of life at the BBC when posted to Pennsylvania Avenue.

Find out why the press require protection at a Trump rally;

Just what it takes to quote the Leader of the Free World on the BBC news, when that quote is,

I’m fucked

and what to do when you’re quietly having dinner in a D.C. restaurant and the Pres’ and his First Lady are at the table next up you having a frosty dinner in the wake of Stormy Daniels…

A Year at the Circus: Inside Trump’s White House is out now at all good book shops and websites, and is published by Penguin Books.

For more Penguin Live events, visit https://www.penguin.co.uk/events/

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Culture Events LGBT LGBTQ+ Literature Manchester News Popular culture preview The Arts Theatre

Preview: Penguin Pride 2019 (part of Pride at HOME)

Last year I shared my immense joy at what was an evening of entertainment, enlightenment, education and laughter (I couldn’t find a synonym for lolz beginning with ‘e’, ok?):

Penguin Pride – less a review, more a tribute

Well it’s back and I’ll be there and you should be too. And I’ll tell you for why…

This year, Penguin Pride will take place on Wednesday 21 August at my own home from home – erm, HOME.

In this, the year commemorating 50 years since Stonewall, Penguin Pride will be looking back and celebrating how far LGBT rights have come, where we are now and what the future may hold.

This year’s line-up includes a mix of old and new Penguins Live faces:

Multi-award winning poet and playwright, Toby Campion, returns as MC and yes, you may have even seen him outside that photo booth in those adverts with his BFF…

Other writers and performers taking part include award-winning Yorkshire poet Andrew McMillan, arts writer and Attitude columnist Paul Flynn, Glasgow based author, Kirsty Logan, Liverpool based writer, Emma Morgan and LGBTQ+ writer roo

For full details and tickets, head to https://homemcr.org/production/penguin-pride/

To read about last year’s event which included performances from this year’s Toby Campion, Paul Flynn, Kirsty Logan and Andrew McMillan, head here to Penguin Pride – less a review, more a tribute

If it’s half as good as last year’s, I’ll run out of superlatives.

See you there…

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Culture Events Manchester Popular culture preview The Arts Theatre

Preview: Dracula – The Blood Count of Heaton

Last summer I spent a very happy evening wandering round Heaton Park, not lost (although I’ve done that too), but at Romeo and Juliet – a production that took its audience to different locations round the park giving depth and reality to the oft told tale.

So this year I’m thrilled that I’ll get to do this again, swapping the Bard for Bram Stoker as Feelgood Theatre presents Dracula – The Blood Count of Heaton.

Celebrating their 25th anniversary, this is the show Feelgood’s audiences voted they’d most like to see again – so it already comes complete with a glowing recommendation.

A contemporary reimagining of the classic tale, we’re promised hypnotic music, vibrant dance, magic and illusion created by Peter Clifford who has worked with Derren Brown and David Blaine – impressive!

Not only that but Clifford takes on the title role so we’re in for a treat!

Audiences are encouraged to dress the part, with a prize given each night for the best costume – so polish those fangs and dust off your capes.

On until 11 August, tickets can be purchased from http://www.jumblebee.co.uk/Dracula or in person from the Farm Centre Cafe in Heaton Park.

For more information, head to http://www.feelgoodtheatre.co.uk/

Now where’s that wooden stake.

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Culture dance Events Gigs Giveaway Manchester News Popular culture preview Preview/review The Arts Theatre

Back with a Bang! Refract festival returns to Sale this Summer

Those who have already discovered this award-winning arts festival will be thrilled to hear that Refract is back for its third edition in and around Sale, this July.

Those who haven’t yet discovered Refract – you’re in for a treat.

Running from Thursday 18 July to Saturday 27 July, this unconventional 10 day festival, curated by Waterside Arts, promises the best in live comedy, music, dance, experiential performance and theatre, with something for everyone.

Highlights at Refract:19 include:

  • Japanese rope art from Lumo Theatre in Wiredo

  • A preview of one-man show First Time, as Nathaniel Hall drops in on the way to Edinburgh Fringe (ironically, the second time Nathaniel has brought his show to Sale – read my preview here)

 And, of course, so so much more…

Competition!

To celebrate the return of this wonderfully different and exciting festival to our very own Greater Manchester, I’m running a competition to win a pair of tickets to see Frisky and Mannish in their Poplab – bringing their wildly popular brand of musical infotainment right from BBC Radio 1, BBC2, BBC3 and ITV3, straight to the streets of Sale (well not strictly the streets – just one – Waterside Plaza.

With two pairs up for grabs, for your chance to to see the Pop PhDs themselves on Saturday 20 July, click the link below and follow the instructions (oh it’s nothing sinister, I promise):

The great Refract:19 giveaway!

Entries close Sunday 7 July and winners will be selected at random.

For the full rundown,dates, tickets and to essentially plan your cultural journey into all that is right in the wonderful world of artistic endeavour, visit the Waterside Arts Refract:19 website now.

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Culture Events Manchester News Popular culture preview Preview/review The Arts Theatre

Theatre review – Minefield

Walking into HOME theatre on Thursday night, my plus 1 and I discussed the subject matter of the production we were about to see; that of the Falklands War.

Both of a similar age (he 15 months older – devil is in the detail), we both agreed that the Falklands was one of the first significant ‘news’ events we were aware of at infant age. The second was the Miners’ Strike, some time later. The latter, mainly because I was scared of Arthur Scargill – the man who…

shouted on the television.

I am not pitting (sorry, that was truly not intentional) any one side against the other by having that particular fear. In fact, everyone from that era seemed to be ‘shouting on the television’ at one time  or another. It was very much the intonation du jour.

And so whilst the Falklands War was one of my earliest memories, it is admittedly a conflict that I know less of than the World Wars of earlier decades. Phrases such as ‘the sinking of the Belgrano’ and ‘Goose Green’ are familiar to me, but the details less so. In fact it is indeed pointed out on stage that it is not a conflict that is taught in schools.

And it should be.

And I now know a lot more.

And it is thanks to the incredible company who, as part of the Viva! Festival at HOME, brings those two months vividly to life in Lola Arias’ Minefield.

I need to be careful not to fall into a trap of looking like I’m (arrogantly) reviewing six men’s experiences of war, rather than a play. But here lies the fascination, if you like, because the six men who stood before us on stage last night are not only acting out and, yes, entertaining us with an account of the Falklands. It is their account. And their memories. And their lives which are being laid bare before audiences.

At this point, I should also strive to call the Falklands, the Malvinas too. Or at least reference this name as the six veterans were from both sides of the conflict:

Gabriel Sagastume – a soldier who never wanted to shoot a gun and who is now a criminal lawyer;

Marcelo Vallejo – a mortar direction controller who today is a triathlon champion;

Ruben Otero – who survived the sinking of the ARA General Belgrano, and who now plays in a Beatles tribute band;

David Jackson – who spent the war listening and transcribing radio codes and who now listens to other veterans in his role as a counsellor;

Sukrim Rai – a Gurkha and knife-expert who now works as a security guard; and

Lou Armour – who was on the front page of every UK newspaper when the Argentinians took him prisoner on 2 April 1982. Today he is a teacher for children with learning difficulties.

To give you a sense of the purpose of the production, Argentinian Director, Lola Arias, says

War isn’t what interests me, it’s what comes after that interests me. What matters to me is what happens to a person who went through that experience. What matters to me is what memory has done, what it has erased, what it has transformed.

Never has a vision been so realised than in Minefield. Not only in the accounts that as an audience member, you feel moved and privileged to be privy to, but in the imaginative, clever, informative and humorous ways in which the play does so.

I want everyone I’ve ever met to go and see this production (no mean feat, given that it’s only on for two more nights; 13 and 14 April 2018, and hence my review being a little shorter than I might like, given my desperation to get it out asap on my lunch hour), and so I won’t commit to any spoilers because I have true faith in all of you going straight online to book your tickets (see details at the end of this post).

However, I will throw in some phrases to give you something of what the production brings to the table in just one hour and 40 minutes of live theatre of which I have never experienced before and will stay with me for some time:

  • An account of a veteran who transported body parts in what was his own blanket (and remained so, sleeping under it for the duration of the conflict
  • Maggie Thatcher as you’ve never seen her before (nice legs David Jackson)
  • Diaries, letters, blankets, and stark, stark memories of a period shared with a captivated audience
  • A striptease
  • On stage therapy as one veteran shares his searingly honest and painful memories of the war to another, now trained as a Psychologist;
  • An Argentinian Beatles tribute band; and
  • so much, much more.

As my plus 1 and I left the theatre, largely in silence (we hadn’t had a spat), we broke that silence to marvel at what we’d just seen and how we’d describe it to someone who hadn’t seen it.

A better writer than me may come up with a strong tagline but all I can say is, if you can see it, please do. And if you can’t, read about these men, and all those who are not with us to share their own personal tales. Be it on a drum kit or in drag.

Picture credits: Tristam Kenton

To book your tickets (do it), please do so here.

For more information on the Viva! Festival and the full programme of events, please click here.

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Celebrity Culture Events Gigs Gigs news Manchester Music News Popular culture preview The Arts

New Music Launch! Manc favourites Jess Kemp & David Gorman to hit The Deaf Institute

Fans of singer/songwriters Jess Kemp and David Gorman will be thrilled at this double bubble news that they will be co-headlining a gig at top city venue, The Deaf Institute, on 18 May 2018.

Each will be individually taking to that iconic stage with a full band, to launch some brand new music to treat the senses!

Jess Kemp

Readers of this blog will be familiar with Jess’s work, having recently sold out The Whiskey Jar.

From her debut single Stars, to her debut EP Camden, Jess went onto headline small spaces round the city such as Manchester Academy 3.

However it was the release of VondelPark last year, which catapulted Jess to stages such as Kendal Calling and Bluedot, as well as recently picking up ‘Best Songwriter’ at the Unsigned Music Awards.

Clint Boon said

I was knocked out the first time I saw Jess Kemp perform live.

She’s not just a world-class songwriter, she’s a fantastic performer.

Who are we to argue with Clint?! Head over to hear Jess’s new singles No Shouting and On the Ground on the 18th.

http://www.jesskemp.co.uk/

https://www.youtube.com/user/JessKemp94

https://spoti.fi/2I7ePvb

David Gorman

If you’re a fan of Mumford & Sons, Benjamin Francis Leftwich and Sunday mornings, David Gorman is most definitely for you.

David has already enjoyed a fantastic year so far, starting with a nomination from the Bolton FM Unsigned Show for the ‘Best Male Solo Act of 2017’ and having his latest release Another Midnight long-listed by The Unsigned Music Awards for ‘Best Produced Record of the Year’.

Having already played gigs around the country including London, York, Leeds, Liverpool and Sheffield, he’s back to Manchester and taking to The Deaf Institute stage on 18 May to launch brand new single Chicago is Calling, featuring the beautiful harmonies and finger-picking style style synonymous with his music.

https://davidgormanmusic.weebly.com

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCaToPrKr1pz2E3fKYTwQmeQ

https://spoti.fi/2I5B3xC

All the deets

So what are you waiting for Manchester ?

To book to see both amazing talents on 18 May 2018 at The Deaf Institute, click on the link below:

https://www.seetickets.com/event/jess-kemp-dave-gorman/the-deaf-institute/1200292

Doors open at 7pm and tickets are on sale for £6 each.

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Culture Events Manchester Popular culture preview Preview/review The Arts Theatre

Madama Butterfly 🦋 Fatal Passions and Attraction

I last wrote about this topic (in more detail)in my dissertation in the year cough cough etc.

You understand my entire dissertation wasn’t based on Michael Douglas but a small portion of it. I don’t have a degree in Michael Douglas.

I focussed on the femme fatale on film and how feminist theory has been applied on celluloid.

Have that, eh?

It was the lovely Glenn Close in the fantastically, ferocious Fatal Attraction who my attention was focussed on in part of my fancy pants essay. And whilst there are both implicit and hugely explicit parallels to be drawn and homages to be noted between Fatal Attraction and Madama Butterfly, I think that a little of the huge sympathy audiences have for our female protagonist in the latter should also be reserved for her or the former.

I’ll get to it.

Madama Butterfly is my favourite opera. Hands up I haven’t seen ALL of the operas. I work full time and have two cats to deal with. But it is a story and a score I’ve returned to theatres to see multiple times – once through the medium of ballet (those on stage, I mean, I didn’t go pirouetting off to the Opera House).

Last Tuesday I was invited to the opening night of Madama Butterfly at The Lowry Theatre.

My heart leapt in anticipation of what I knew would be a roller coaster of emotions throughout the performance from drama queen over here.

Opera North did duly take me on that ride and tears did duly flow.

You can read more here but, to summarise, Madama Butterfly 🦋 is a tale of the romance between Cio-Cio-San, a young Japanese girl and geisha who falls for the promises made, by visiting American naval officer Pinkerton, and agrees to marry him. This is to the chagrin of her family who are horrified that she is prepared to sacrifice her ancestral religion and embrace Christianity.

Pinkerton is going into the marriage for what he can’t be sure is love or a whim ‘someday I will take a real American wife’, but worries not, given that he is returning to American for an undisclosed period of time.

Three years pass and Butterfly still waits for her husband, and it is revealed that her marriage brought her a son. Together they wait for Pinkerton to return. Return he does, but with the ‘real’ American wife he always intended, here for the child, not Butterfly.

Devastated, Butterfly agrees, with what would be her penultimate sacrifice, the final being her life, using the dagger which took her own father’s life.

With a rousing score by Puccini which devastates me as much as the story playing out, there isn’t a performance goes by of this wonderfully sad story that doesn’t leave me in tears and as said Opera North’s was no exception, with a wonderful orchestra conducted by Martin Pickard.

Sung in Italian with English subtitles, the production was set in the home of Cio-Cio San (Ann Sophie Duprels) which was simply designed with what you might describe as typically Japanese minimalism, allowing the eye to focus on the players and drama ensuing within – not that you would need encouragement to do so.

Along with Merunas Vitulskis (Pinkerton) and Ann Taylor (loyal maid Suzuki) and all the players, I was mesmerised by the passion and emotion displayed through the vocals, body language and even periods of abject silence (the devastating scene as Cio-Cio San waits at the harbour with her son, to no avail).

The audience’s heart strings are tugged to breaking point by Cio-Cio-San’s sorrow and so I return to Glenn Close’s Alex Forrest, in Fatal Attraction.

There are immense parallels, as said some obvious (Alex playing Madama Butterfly at her home as she cooks newly acquainted married lover Dan Gallagher (Douglas) dinner, later trying to make nice by buying them two tickets to said opera.

There is even a nod (bow?) to Japanese culture in early scenes where Dan and Alex’s paths first cross at the launch for a Japanese self-help book.

Everything in Alex’s home is white, crisp, clean simple lines. Her father is dead (there is a double bluff where she proclaims him to be dead from a heart attack when Dan feigns collapse, only to then reveal she is joking and he is very much alive – Dan later learns he is in fact dead). She is spurned by her lover who has an American wife and child (to be fair to Dan, Alex knew of this from the off). However it’s the role that Alex doesn’t have, hers being that of the other half of a two night stand whilst Dan’s wife is at her parents.

There is a child (unborn) that Dan rejects upon being given the news that Alex is pregnant (immediately offering her money to abort). The (unsuccessful) suicide attempt as Alex slashes her wrists when realising that Dan is going to immediately return to his family set-up, their ‘love’ affair lasting only a weekend.

Alex is spurned by her lover but he is not her husband. He belongs to another and was never hers to begin with. Cio-Cio-San was lead to believe Pinkerton was hers and whilst both women are spurned, the latter is wholly more naive to reality than the former.

However, who can fail to be moved by the scene in Fatal Attraction where on the night of the opera performance that Alex had tickets to, she sits on the floor at home turning the lamp on and off rhythmically to the desperate strains of Puccini’s score, face frozen in an expression that is both despair and rage.

It’s terrifying and we’re all cheering Alex’s downfall in the end (not in support of Dan, it has to be said, but his ever so lovely wife Beth (Anne Archer). But shouldn’t we reserve a little of our sympathy for Alex?

She may not have had the naivety of Cio-Cio-San and her reaction to rejection may have been somewhat more outwardly facing than self-destructive, but there are definite parallels to be drawn.

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned

Or as originally written…

Heav’n has no Rage, Like Love to Hatred turn’d, Nor Hell a Fury, like a Woman scorn’d…

We all focus on the fury but rarely the scorn. In both stories, both women scorned suffered fatal consequences, one more directly, one indirectly, by their one hands as a result of their reactions.

Madama Butterfly, a beautifully sad story that must be seen and also heard, not least by Opera North.

Part of the Fatal Passions season at The Lowry there’s that F word again), you can see further Opera North productions such as Saloma at the theatre through to April.

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Manchester plays host to Fizz Club – cava load of this! (sorry)

I’ve been a member of a number of clubs in my life.

Chess club, book club, netball club,

Never has my enthusiasm been so strong, my interest piqued so much, my commitment been so absolute than for this particular club I’m proud to be a member of.

That of course is Fizz Club, as brought to us by the people from the fantastically popular The Fizz Festival

Imagine, if you will, a place you can go where everybody knows your name. And they’re always glad you came.

Actually on that point, I’m pretty sure only the lovely ladies who run the club know my name and that’s because I’m like an excited puppy when it hears the tell-tale jangle of its lead – my ears pricking sharply up at the pop of a cork.

To use another canine analogy (and why wouldn’t you), I’m like Pavlov’s dog. The cork is my bell, and at the mere POP I’m salivating, flute in hand.

That’s a bit gross, but you get the general idea.

Anyway, I basically love fizz, sparkling wine, whatever you want to call it.

Actually we need to call it fizz – it’s what the club’s called, after all.

And whilst my favourite is and always will be champagne, I thought that to be educated in all things fizz would be serve me well in two respects:

  • I would have the opportunity to expand my mind as to all of the different varieties and types of sparkling wines there are out there, as well as tasting and learning about different champagnes on the market; and
  • It would hugely justify my obsession with fizz it I placed it within an educational context.

I can drink it because I know a bit about it and I’m in a club and I need to be a good club member. So there.

And so duly did I join Fizz Club as did my husband (men, go join!) and I haven’t looked back since.

Up until this year, Fizz Club evenings had taken part in the suburbs, with tasting events in locations such as Hale and Knutsford.

However, this year Fizz Club is sharing the love further and taking their tastings into central Manchester as well. Perfect for anyone living in, working in, visiting, basically anything-ing Manchester.

Event are open to non-members too but at this point I shall link to all the deets of the advantages of what it means to be a member:

Become a Fizz Club member

Last week I attended the inaugural city centre event. Originally planned to be held at Kiehl’s on King Street, the Beast from the East and Storm Emma put paid to that, causing the store to close and matters in hand relocate next door to the wonderful El Gato Negro Tapas, with a chance to check out their top floor bar and dining space (that of the rather marvellous and infamous retractable roof better utilised in summer).

And so the Spanish theme was no coincidence (El Gato Negro Tapas had already been on board to provide us with delicious canapés to accompany our tasting), Cava was on the menu, with five different wines to taste and pour over.

I personally have a penchant for Cava over Prosecco as it’s made in the traditional method, in the same way as Champagne (note how I capitalise the drink types – fizz is that important) and is generally more dry than its sweeter Italian counterpart.

From the Catalonia region and the area of El Penedes, Cava traditionally brings together three grapes: Macabeo, Xarel-lo and Parellada.

  • Bodegas Sumarroca Cava Brut Reserva

The first was brought to us by the lovely people at El Gato Negro Tapas themselves and on their menu at a cost of £6 a glass.

Decidedly toasty and very bubbly I would happily and unashamedly drink this as a session Cava. That is not to insult it by saying it can be knocked back without due care and attention. It’s to save it was lovely and light and I could drink lots and lots and lots of it…

The next four were brought to us by Codorniu.

I say brought to us – the poor rep and guest speaker joined Kiehl’s as a victim of the weather, and held hostage in Aberdeen. So more accurate is to say the next four were sent to us by the lovely man from Cordoniu and presented to us and poured by the equally lovely Janet who runs the whole lovely fizzy affair.

Incidentally Cordoniu is pronounced

COD-ON-YOU

Got that? Good on you.

My mind is blown nearly as much as a few years ago when my brother-in-law returned from his honeymoon in the Champagne region with news that Moët is pronounced with a hard t.

Yep.

Cordoniu is the second biggest Cava producer, the first being (I’ll whisper it out of respect to our lovely friends at the former), Freixenet (pronounced FRESH – EN – NAY).

  • Codorniu Brut NV

This was described as a Brut non-vintage entry level Cava. Perfect as an aperitif, it was very fresh and again light.

Whilst it had an earth aroma, its taste was the opposite and for me quite fragrant.

  • Codorniu Zero

This next Cava came with a quiz question

What do you think has been removed, thus resulting in its name?

I had already decided that sugar had been removed because I am currently obsessed with a certain slimming club and trying to see how much wine I can squeeze out of my syns allowance. So without even tasting it properly, I declared sugar and whilst desperate to love it as it could be my go to ‘skinny’ cava, I was saddened to learn I didn’t really.

Just why I didn’t like it became embarrassingly clear when the answer was revealed to be

Alcohol. It has no alcohol.

Oops. I’d genuinely rather have a vimto as my alcohol free drink of choice. Having said that, this is personal taste on my part and there were others who liked it.

  • Codorniu Vitcultura Ecologically Brut

The next tasted came with another revelation. Introduced as an organic cava, I immediately thought

Marvellous, no hangover. I shall strive to enjoy this come what may.

However our esteemed host told us that whilst sulphur can indeed provide people with something of a reaction, it isn’t what causes hangovers. Drinking lots of alcohol itself causes lots of hangovers. Nothing to do with sulphur content and so organic whilst a good thing in many respects, isn’t the answer to a hangover free drinking session.

I can hear a pin drop.

This wine is aged between 9 – 12 months and had a distinctly apple-y aroma and flavour. A good Cava to enjoy with traditional tapas and a little bolder (some might say ‘funky’. Just like Mark’s 90s ‘bunch’).

  • Codorniu Reina Ma Cristina Blanc de Noirs Vintage

Last but not least was the 2013 produced Vintage which was actually made from 100% Pinot Noir grapes.

Aged for 15 months, I was expecting not to enjoy this as much (yes I appear to run firmly with pre-conceived ideas in life, must stop this) as I tend not to like champagne on the more vintage side which I think is a contradiction to my liking my reds robust and full-bodied), this was not as complex and heavy as I expected it to taste and I liked it.

Advised it was a good food wine, particularly fish, I could see how it could hold its own whilst not taking over the show.

And so the inaugural city centre Fizz Club night was drawn to a close. But not before we were asked if we would like to enjoy more of what what was left from what we’d tasted and liked beforehand…

As mentioned earlier, Fizz Club is affiliated with and run by the same lovely people who treat us all to the annual event that is The Fizz Festival, held in South Manchester.

If you’ve never been, you’re missing out. Handily, though, I have and am happy to provide you with a run down of what goes on here:

An A in Fizzical Education

So what are you waiting for?

The next city centre event is at Randall and Aubin on 25 April 2018 but if you can’t wait that long, head along back to the ‘burbs to Didsbury on 21 March 2018!

Details of these and all events can be found right here!

Cheers and see you at the next one 🥂

Categories
Culture Events Manchester Popular culture preview Preview/review The Arts Theatre

All aboard for Brief Encounter – destination West End, first stop Salford…

I’ve been commuting since I was 12 years old, getting the bus to school, 2.9miles away (that 0.1 is very important given that it disqualified me from the free bus pass that the elusive and illustrious 3 mile commute brought you).

Buses gave way to trains once starting uni and then work, and I seriously think after daily commutes including Leeds, Liverpool and Wigan from the Manchester ‘burbs, I should be decorated with some sort of honour – bravery through adversity or something…

These days I’m back working in Manchester city centre, delivered there through the medium of tram.Don’t get me wrong, as much as I love them, they are not without their issues and, as with most commutes, the issues are the other people Recognise the Tram Tribes?

And so, we come to Brief Encounter, one of my favourite stories and films.Noël Coward’s story and 1945 film directed by David Lean, tells the story of two commuters who meet by chance in a station waiting/tea room.

In roles made famous by Trevor Howard and Celia Johnson, He a doctor, removes something from her eye. She, a housewife, lets him.

And so, a love affair begins, made ever more powerful that…(Spoiler Alert – scroll below the train if you haven’t seen the film)


***…it remains unconsummated before both parties go their separate ways, back to their spouses, children and lives; she in 1930s surburbia, he in a hastily yet convenient decision and opportunity to work out in South Africa.***


Now don’t get me wrong, very happily paired up with my plus 1, I’m not seeking out my own station tea room tryst (aka Starbucks), but there is something romantic about the train station (stop picturing Piccadilly Station, naysayers). People being reunited, saying goodbye…and, in this case, meeting for the first time.

If you haven’t already, go forth and watch the film.

But enough of the original source and basic premise, this week (20-24 February 2018), the North West is being treated to an original take on Brief Encounter as brought to the Lowry Theatre, Salford by company Kneehigh Theatre.

Like nothing I’ve seen before, the award-winning production, is adapted and directed by Emma Rice, and produced by David Pugh and Dafydd Rogers, Jenny and Steve Wiener and The Old Vic.

It brings together a stellar cast who deliver energetic performances non-stop, from their interactive relationship with the audience from before curtain up (keep your ears open and your eyes peeled) to curtain down.

(Jim Sturgeon as Alec and the full cast, credit: Steve Tanner)
(Dean Nolan as Fred and Isabel Pollen as Laura, credit: Steve Tanner)

Between them they bring the music, the singing, the acting, the props, the almost tongue in cheek special effects, and the laughter.

(Jos Slovick as Stanley & Beverly Rudd as Beryl, credit: Steve Tanner)

You may be surprised about the laughs. Admittedly there are more than in the more emotive film version of the story, but it’s important to remember the light relief brought by characters Albert Godby, Myrtle Bagot and Beryl Walters on the big screen.

It is perhaps in all of the supporting characters (but by no means supporting cast) that this production excels – the story of Laura and Alec almost providing the bridges to the next scene involving the other characters. At the very least, the footing feels equal.

(Lucy Thackeray as Myrtle, credit: Steve Tanner)

This is absolutely no slight on the scenes involving the central players, more a compliment to the production that the limelight was shared so well between all characters in a story where this would be thought impossible.

(Isabel Pollen as Laura, Jim Sturgeon as Alec, credit: Steve Tanner)

The final station tea room scene (no spoilers, fear not) is no less powerful and moving than that of the film (anyone seated next to me – I just had some grit in my eye, is all).

Lucy Thackeray as Myrtle, credit Steve Tanner

The original music by Stu Barker, and performance of said music, is jaunty and humorous, moving and sometimes melancholy- all as appropriate.

(Katrina Kleve, Lucy Thackeray & Beverly Rudd, credit: Steve Tanner)

Cue outcry from those, who like me, insist that in Brief Encounter there are three in that affair; Laura, Alec and Rachmaninov.Fear not, the stage production brings those powerful strains to the table as well.

At 90 minutes, without an interval, the audience is kept captivated by constant switches between music and word, live action and projected images, costume changes and the aforementioned ingenious props (look out for the toy train).

(Isabel Pollen as Laura, credit: Steve Tanner)

With three more performances at The Lowry before the show moves to a run in the West End, jump on board and don’t miss your chance to see this original take on a classic story.

Failing that, there’s always the Pendolino, but watch out for those lurking in Starbucks whilst you wait…

All the Deets.

ps thank you for retaining my two favourite lines…Funny

Oh mummmyyyy

And heartbreaking

Thank you for coming back to me