Friday, August 30, 2002

Gah! So sorry for the silence, but I honestly have been running around like a madwoman since Tuesday. There was boring stuff, like being carted off to Luton for work conference purposes, but that's all you'll hear about that. However!

I'm pleased to announce that I will be reprising "Be My Baby" with the Actionettes tomorrow evening at their seasonal 'do Sophisticated Boom! Boom! Here's the flyer:

It's at the Garage and I've got a fab little dress all ready to go. Hooray for last minute excitement!

What else? I'm well on my way to organising a similar night here in Manchester - in fact I've just been for a nice chat with a guy who puts on loads of soul and 60s nights already. It will run in late October and I will of course be beseeching all and sundry to come along. (pssssst - it'll be free entry!)

Tuesday, August 27, 2002

My first all-nighter!

OK, so we only lasted until 3 am. But it was fantastic, because I'd been dying to go to one of the Ritz all-nighters for years now. In fact, I'd never been to the Ritz! These days, it's mainly host to cheesy 70s and student nights - just drive past on any Saturday and you're bound to see packs of tarty girls fighting over taxis and being sick in the gutter. But as a venue, I have to say it's brilliant. From the sprung dance floor to the upper balcony where you can relax with a drink and watch the dancers to the carpeted ladies room, I was thrilled with every bit of it. There's even a food stall where you can grab a chip butty. Mmmm.

Anyhow, some of my favourite people watching moments...

1. The old school enthusiasts decked out in their original 70s baggy trousers - not like flares, but wide and straight-legged.

2. The array of rucksacks proudly left on the stage by the dance floor - each of them covered with northern soul patches.

3. The Welsh northern soul contingent, with their cool rockabilly jeans and bowling shirts with enormous dragons on the back.

4. The car we saw with a customised windscreen adorned with famous soul logos - from Stax to OKeh!

I was worried that we'd be elbowed off the dance floor by the better dancers, as I'd once read about in Soul Survivors: The Wigan Casino Story, but I needn't have worried. Everyone was friendly, and our little moves were actually better than some I noticed around us - aided, no doubt, by the silky smooth and oh-so-forgiving wooden floor.

I would love to know how many people lasted until 8 am!

Saturday, August 24, 2002

If you ever want to post a letter from Nevis, Ghana, Liberia, the Commonwealth of Dominica or St. Vincent and The Grenadines, there are now fantastic girl group stamps for your philatelic needs. Check 'em out and read this surprisingly candid and moving account of the stamp launch at the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. Wish I could have been at the pyjama party!

Friday, August 23, 2002

Wahey! Manchester Mardi Gras has been saved at the last minute. For those that didn't know, there was a dispute over the alcohol tolerance zoning around Canal Street, which was resolved late yesterday. I'm not one to go for all the full-on clubbing, but we're going to Tribeca tonight. It's their 3rd birthday, and my friend Suz has VIP passes for a free drink! The opening parade starts at 9 PM too, so I'll have to catch some of that. Time to dust off the pokey 'ol digital camera...

Thursday, August 22, 2002

OK, today I'm going to be a bit more serious. While reading some sites about restaurant service, I stumbled onto a link for a fascinating resource for people being bullied at work. Want to know why I quit telly? Then read some case histories like this and, in particular, this. More extreme than what I went through, but enough of it hits very close to home and brought a lot of unpleasant memories rushing back. I wish I'd found this site at the time...

Wednesday, August 21, 2002

It's amazing how the world goes round. I met heaps of amazing people at the party, but it's also triggered things here in Manchester. Like Carole, who lives here too and couldn't make it to Saturday's show. We've been having lovely chats and she's inspired me to get a similar night planned in Manchester after long last (more on that later!). She's sent me some amazing pictures, and kindly agreed to let me put them on here...

A pic she took of Dusty back in the 60's

Carole (front) with Dusty, Peppi Borza (Dr. Who fanatics might know him!) & Madeline Bell (!!)

Carole with Madeline Bell last year.


After I saw the Dusty pics, I went and dug out some albums to listen to this morning. "I wish I'd never loved you" was so gorgeous all over again, and I filled up with tears. "Famous" people come and go, but her passing was one of only a few that really affected me. As it turns out, Carole and I were at the same Pet Shop Boys show where I burst into tears when they did "what have I done to deserve this".

Like I said, the world goes round in funny ways. And it's great.

Tuesday, August 20, 2002 we go. They didn't turn out as well as I'd hoped, but that's point 'n shoot quality for you. If I get some better ones, I'll post those too!

"Umm...interlude bit in the middle...guess I should dance!"

"Spring is knockin' on a winter's door, and that's how it goes..."

Me with the lovely Actionettes in our "be my baby" routine

You'll notice that I didn't manage to get The Hairstyle sorted out. This was purely down to the fact that a) I had to travel from near Peckham to Shepherd's Bush, which took nearly an hour and a half and b) it was 31 degrees all weekend, which plays mayhem with the important things in life like liquid eyeliner and hair volume. Luckily one of the Actionettes was a whiz with hairspray and a brush, and we managed to get a sort of bouffante going. Huzzah!

I was feeling pretty shy & a bit nervous at the beginning of the night, it has to be said. But after dancing along with the Actionettes to some 60s videos downstairs (and let's be honest, the 4 or 5 San Miguels helped too), I felt ready to go. The Actionettes started with a couple of routines, including an amazing one to "Love Power" by Dusty. And then it was time for me...

There was no stage, so it was slightly disconcerting to have the crowd watching you from 6 feet away - which is probably why the ol' voice wobbled in my opening line... "On many things I'm mistaken/Like a fool before I've been taken/The lies he told me to cover/Times that he was out with another..." but then all the practicing kicked in and wahey! I was loving it. The unexpectedly adoring audience boosted my confidence too, so by the end I was giving them cheeky winks and all the moves I'd copied from my idolettes. By the time I went back on for the finale with the Actionettes, I was having a blast and it all seemed over too soon.

For the rest of the night, I was treated like a princess. When I was younger, I NEVER got to be the belle of the ball, so it was pretty mindblowing.

We were just one part of the evening though, which also included a mini record fair, original 60s videos on a loop downstairs, and some wonderful DJing upstairs in the bar. The bf was happy to pick up an Ann Margret/Lee Hazlewood single he's been looking for, while I scored a fantastic copy of Connie Francis' "don't ever leave me" (an Ellie Greenwich song!) complete with a picture sleeve.

If you're interested in reading some accounts of the evening, go here (just click on Messages).

p.s. The Actionettes' own club night, Sophisticated Boom Boom, is happening again on Saturday, 31st August at the Garage in Islington. I'll be there come what may!

Monday, August 19, 2002

Well, it was amazing. I'm completely exhausted though - and I have to run to work for a few hours, so I'll have to post a bit later on. But on the plus side, I should have some pictures back by then that I can scan in, so come back later tonight for the whole shaboo.

Wednesday, August 14, 2002

If you could see me right now, you would laugh. I'm planning my look for Saturday's club 'do (always try your look out ahead of time, right girls?) and currently rolling up a complicated curler pattern while listening to "new thing" by Saint Etienne and "he's a rebel" by Debby Boone. If you want to see what it (should or will, depends) look like...

Oh yeah, and you thought *I* was a coffee beeyotch? (it's not an insult - I bow down to someone who has a "Miss Silva Magic-Grind-Spot", flaunting the manufacturer's suggestions for correct bean grind settings)

Also before I go - if you know Pink Lady (and even if you don't, check out this great site!), look at what my friend is bidding on eBay....

Monday, August 12, 2002

Exciting news! One of my friends, who is working on the new series of Linda Green at the moment, phoned me over the weekend to alert me that Simon Pegg would be filming with them this week. He's most likely playing a fleeting shag/love interest. I say most likely because if you've ever worked in telly, you'll know that things are rarely sorted out ahead of time. Ever. But anyhow, excuse me while I go stalk.

I'd tell you about my weekend, but it was really just spent being domestic and exploring villages outside Manchester, where we want to move out to in the next year or so. Fun for me, not so exciting for you to read about.

However! I'm quite pleased to announce that I'll be singing a couple of girlgroup numbers at a 60s club night in London next Saturday, 17th August. It's being put on by the Spectropop list-owners, and I'm so excited I could scream quite frankly. Downstairs in the bar, they'll be screening 60s videos non-stop. Upstairs, the illustrious Mick Patrick, Malcolm Beaugart, Phil & Ian Chapman will be DJing (amongst others) and that's also where my little performance will take place. Ian has collected original backing tracks over the years, and we're still planning which ones I'll do...but I promise you it will be lots of fun. There might even be an appearance by the Actionettes, the fabulous 60s dancing troupe.

If this is your sort of thing, just email me and I'll send you the details as it's open to all friends of Ronnie, Dusty and Jackie!

Thursday, August 08, 2002

On the bus at lunchtime, an eccentric old man got on in Whalley Range. He had a white magic wand that was taped up in the middle to keep it together, which he seemed to use as a mithering stick.

Tap tap tap on the driver's window. "When's your next bus, tomorrow?" he cried. "I've been waiting here since 11:30!" (about an hour, somewhat unlikely but then again Manchester buses aren't exactly known for their punctuality...)

Of course, the fact that *he'd* been waiting meant we had to all wait to hear him complain. Umm, wouldn't he like to get going, instead of taking even more time up by ranting? Apparently not.

But then, in true Manc fashion, a gobby girl behind him shouted "Excuse me!" in her northern nasal dulcet tones and forced him to take a seat. Sometimes I forget why I love Manchester.

Tuesday, August 06, 2002

The Taj Mahal of shoe stores...

Me again. I'm here to confess that even though I really shouldn't have, I was naughty and bought some vintage 60s shoes on ebay. I really need them for a special event coming up (more on that in a day or two!) and they ended up being much cheaper than buying something new here, even with postage.

But how thrilled was I to discover that the designer, Joseph LaRose, used to make bespoke shoes for the likes of Joan Crawford and Jayne Mansfield? After his death in 2000, some shoes & matching handbags went for $3000 at Sotheby's! You can see some of the shoes here and read the obituary from his local Jacksonville paper here.

At Chig's request, how is Manchester faring after the Commonwealth Games?

Ummm. Well, to be honest I'll have to tell you after this weekend, when I'm in town properly. Where I work is more down by the Aquatic Centre, and not in the heart of the centre. But from the sounds of it, visitors are hanging around for an extra week. One of my friends has been lodging two Aussie athletes, and they're staying until Saturday even though their events are long past.

I'll tell you what I hope though. I hope that having thousands of visitors descend on the city will have taught actual inhabitants a thing or two about enjoying your city centre *without* trashing it. Manchester was sorely lacking pretty bits of green to relax in, and now we have two main ones - the new Piccadilly Gardens and the park next to Urbis. Both are really nice, and both have been packed out during the games with people just chilling out. I hope the trend continues, because it really adds character and energy.

I also hope that the tarting the town up doesn't stop. For example, in front of the Central Library in St. Peter's Square, they put a row of massive flower planters. What stopped them from doing it before? (late night club idiots pissing in them, probably....)

The city centre has been changing lots since I moved here, but it was always missing finishing touches. Shops can open and be beautiful inside, which is great, but it takes the council to change public spaces. It's sad that Manchester needed a major sporting event as a catalyst, but I won't mind if they maintain it.

Friday, August 02, 2002

I've been a bit lax about going to the cinema lately, so it was good to break to cycle and get to the Cornerhouse to see the Argentenian Nueve Reinas (Nine Queens) last night.

The evening started with a quick drink in the upstairs Cornerhouse cafe bar. I must confess I didn't realise it had been renovated - and I'd been avoiding it because in its previous incarnation, it was a slightly pokey cafeteria. Now it's a full bar with a tasteful (cheap!) menu, and the views of Oxford Road and the Palace Hotel (a gorgeous, grade II listed building) go well with your pint of Staropramen. It's also a good alternative to the downstairs bar, which is usually packed out.

And the movie? Let me start out by saying I'm not a fan of gangster films - all too often it becomes one big testosterone pastiche. That said, I love Mean Streets, and you could say that Nueve Reinas is in the same vein - charming small-time swindlers. But that is where the comparison ends, because where Mean Streets is purely character-driven, Nueve Reinas weaves a slow-burning, ever-complicating web leaving you wondering who's conning who. With possibly one of the best endings I've seen in some time, Nueve... shows that you don't need to resort to bang-bang stereotypes to pack a punch.

It's been out since 12th July in the UK - so you'd better move quick if you want to see it.