At the time of writing, the UK is slowly attempting to reclaim some semblance of normality. Tourism faces many challenges including encouraging the public to go out and reconnect with Britain’s popular attractions and areas of natural beauty.
Welcome to Yorkshire has kick started its efforts with the launch of The Yorkshire Gift Card, an initiative designed to boost regional, national and worldwide support for the county’s businesses.
At the time of writing, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden had just announced that indoor live theatre performances can recommence on August 1. This followed a £1.57 billion emergency support package to help protect the future of theatres, galleries and museums. While he said that the grants and loans will preserve the arts sector’s “crown jewels”, he didn’t seem able to name many of these jewels. Although the long-awaited package has been welcomed, there are still worries that the funds will not be enough to save jobs currently under threat. It may also be too late for organisations that have teetered on the brink of collapse since lockdown began in March.
In September 2011, Deborah Dixon experienced every parent’s worst nightmare. Her son Aaron died in his sleep two weeks before his 24th birthday. The cause of death was eventually diagnosed as Arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC), a genetic heart defect. Having previously been admitted to hospital twice after blacking out, doctors put it down to dehydration. Aaron was never given an electrocardiogram (ECG) as this is not a common medical procedure for people aged under 35.
As I write this, Australia is on fire while the South of England struggles with another bout of severe flooding. In 2020, temperatures in the UK are predicted to deliver the warmest year on record – for the sixth year in a row. Despite overwhelming evidence, the throwaway response from many is ‘that’s just global warming’. The term is bandied about in such a matter-of-fact fashion that its meaning has become severely diluted. To some, it just means getting more use out of their factor 30 bottle. But this doesn’t just affect ice caps thousands of miles away, it’s also on our own doorstep.
The arts world could never be accused of being over-funded, so to set up a new venture is always a bold move. Despite this, confidence is high among the team at newly formed production company, Northern Ricochet.
It’s a dog’s life, and a flaming well good one too. Dogs have long been a family fixture but these days they rival their owners in terms of comfort and care. Our canine chums have their own swimming baths, grooming salons and clothing ranges. Owners even install ‘doggy cams’ in their homes so they can keep an eye on their pet at all hours.
When I was growing up, I had two career ambitions: 1) to be a pop star, and 2) to be a Blue Peter presenter. Unless they start a spin-off show called Blue Rinse Peter, it’s possible I’ve missed the boat with the latter dream. So, when the chance presented itself to report from the blue carpet at the iconic TV programme’s 60th birthday, I didn’t need asking twice.
A cancer diagnosis is devastating. Lives are turned upside down and it can be hard to remember a time when the greyest of clouds weren’t hanging over everything. I have lost three close family members to the disease. I know from experience that anything which brings a feeling (however fleeting) of normality is a valuable thing.
A number of places are synonymous with the history of gay culture: San Francisco, New York, Paris, Bolton. That last one is not a typo. In the 1880s, Bolton was the location for one of the early gatherings of gay men brought together by a mutual love of the works of the celebrated American poet, Walt Whitman.
If you’re old enough to recall brick-like mobile phones, TV pong and computers the size of a bungalow, the pop single may be one of the first things you bought with your pocket money. It was for me, trudging down to the local record shop like a pre-pubescent J.R. Hartley (ask your Gran), hoping my favourite record was in stock.
The 2018 Greater Manchester Fringe is almost upon us. Now in its seventh year, the festival has grown from a handful of shows in just six venues to featuring dozens of performances all across the city. With low cost tickets providing greater access, especially for the first time theatre goer, it’s never been easier to go along and enjoy some new, original, accessible theatre.
Among the new work on offer this year is ‘Peg & Bessie’. A funny, sentimental story about the lives, loves, laughs and losses of two sisters in the Autumn of their lives.
“I strongly object to paying £27.50 to walk the length and breadth of the train with a sausage in a plastic box.” – Kitty, Victoria Wood As Seen On TV
The advert once said the train was supposed to take the strain. Now it’s the cause of it.
Here’s a sobering thought. In under 10 years, it is estimated that more than a million people in the UK will be living with dementia. But what is a life with dementia actually like? We regularly read stories from carers and medical practitioners but rarely hear directly from the person with the condition.
My knowledge of poetry begins and ends with Pam Ayres (ask your Granny) and four-line stanzas where something rhymes with Nantucket.
But Manchester is the place to rediscover the art of poetry. The city boasts a burgeoning poetry scene with a whole new roster of artists making serious headway.
Is there anything more quintessentially British than fish and chips?
It’s a meal that conjures up all sorts of memories, especially those that take us back to childhood. For me, a chippy tea was a Friday after-school treat.
“Gliddy glub gloopy, nibby nabby noopy, la la la lo lo
Sabba sibby sabba, nooby abba nabba, le le lo lo
Tooby ooby walla, nooby abba naba, early morning singing song”
They don’t write lyrics like that anymore, do they?
As Fame‘s tough love dance teacher Lydia Grant so aptly put it at the start of the classic TV show: “Fame costs and right here’s where
you start paying…in sweat!”
Their motto is ‘bake it, bring it, share it, eat it’. As mottos go, it’s a good one.
Each month, Manchester-based LGBT social group the Village Bakers get together so people with a passion for patisserie can meet and eat all the goodies they’ve made at home. It’s a cult for cake.
In just a few short weeks, Carl Austin-Behan has raised the profile of Lord Mayor of Manchester beyond measure. It’s fair to say that many of the city’s inhabitants hadn’t even realised there was a Lord Mayor until the 44-year-old was sworn in.
When I was at university in the early 1990s, I shared a flat with four girls studying at Glasgow School Of Art. I recall that a lot of alcohol was drunk and a great deal of inventively flavoured home-made bread was eaten.
These are tough times for the arts. Even in the best of economic climates, setting up your own producing theatre is no mean task. Dozens of different elements have to slot into place but, sometimes, a project feels like it’s meant to come together.
A forgotten community, sleeping in doorways, huddled in grimy corners sheltering from the weather. Admit it, how many times have you walked past a homeless person pretending not to see or hear them? I know I have and, with the numbers on the streets growing at an alarming rate, it stabs at the collective conscience.
Ah, the golden age of steam. This phrase brings to mind the glorious engines that once choo-chooed across Britain. A time when the railway network was king, trains stuck rigidly to a timetable and arriving even a couple of minutes late was a no-no.
It is 55-years-old but shows no sign of slowing down. The TV institution that is Coronation Street produces five episodes each week, a far cry from its original remit of just one weekly show.
A lot of hard graft goes on behind the cameras to keep the show on the road (street?) and a team of hard-working, dedicated individuals all play their parts as much as the actors on screen.
Yank! Is the latest collaboration between London-based Aria Entertainment and Manchester’s very own Hope Mill Theatre.Following their success last year with ‘Parade’ and ‘Hair’, the pairing now bring us a gay love story set during World War 2. The musical, based on the real history and events of the time tells the story of Stu, an awkward young man from the mid-West of America who is called up to serve in the forces in 1943.
Friday 13th April, 1979. A young, innocent, teenage boy (me!) travels to the big city (Edinburgh) for his first pop concert. Accompanied by three pals and a rabbit gonk (that someone stopped me from throwing towards the stage incase I took someone’s eye out), I saw the Queen of my musical world Kate Bush live on stage. Only 20 years old, she sang, danced, spun and acted her way through ‘The Tour Of Life’, a theatrical rock extravaganza unlike anything seen before.