My friend Simon and I went to see The Cure at Manchester Arena yesterday. I have just one word to describe the event and that is: phenomenal. It’s without any doubt the best gig I’ve been to in years.
The music was spot-on and was performed perfectly from the first note to the very last. The vocals were incredible, it was like listening to an enhanced version of an album. The three rows of lights gave an impressive accompanying light show.
Here are some photos, click on any photo for full size image:
The Cure (1) – opening song.
The Cure (2).
The Cure (3).
The Cure (4) – The music was spot-on and was performed perfectly from the first note to the very last.
The Cure (5) – Vocals were awesome, it was like listening to an enhanced version of an album.
The Cure (6).
The Cure (7) – The setlist included my favourite song ‘Lovesong.’
The Cure (8) – The setlist also included ‘Friday I’m in Love’ and ‘Boys Don’t Cry.’
The Cure (9) – The finale was ‘Why Can’t I Be You?’
Prior to going to the gig, Simon and I had a lovely tea in Via Fossa on Canal Street, Manchester (gay village). Then we walked down to the arena.
Along the crowded walkways on the frosty winter evening, I counted at least 12 homeless people. This is the most homeless people I’ve ever seen on any of my many visits to Manchester. It’s crazy to think that in 2016 people are still becoming and/or living homelessly.
Driving home after the gig, the temperature dropped to -2°C and I thought of the homeless people I had seen earlier. In my thoughts I wished them a safe evening, prayed that the temperature didn’t drop any further and prayed that it was quick to rise again.
Richard Mayhew is a young business man in London. He has a small apartment, a job were he gets little recognition of his hard work and a high maintenance girlfriend named Jessica.
One night whilst he and Jessica are on the way to meet her boss, he sees a young homeless woman whose been stabbed lying in the street. Jessica tells Richard to leave her. But Richard can’t. The homeless woman insists on not going to a hospital or involving the authorities, so Richard, being a good samaritan, takes her home.
After Richard nurses the homeless woman, named Door, back to a reasonable state of health, she leaves. Then Richard bizarrely seems to slip through the cracks in London Above (his London) and falls into London Underside, also known as Neverwhere.
Neverwhere is filled with all sorts of creative ideas: a Royal Court in an underground train carriage, Rat Speakers, The Floating Market, velvet women whose kiss can take a person’s life, monks, an Angel, a Beast and even a labyrinth.
In this strange world, Richard decides to seek out the Marquis de Carabas. Richard having previously met the Marquis on Door’s behalf when she was at his house recovering from the stab wound. Richard is convinced that Door somehow caused him to lose his London Above life and he wants it back.
Richard finds the Marquis de Carabas with Door at the Floating Market. Door and the Marquis are auditioning for a body guard. Door is on a mission to find out who murdered her family and why. Richard asks Door for his life back and she explains that she doesn’t think it’s possible.
The Marquis and Door recruit Hunter to be Door’s bodyguard. Richard with nowhere else to go, goes along with Door, the Marquis and Hunter. The four of them set off on Door’s quest, but each has their own intentions and wants and some are not compatible with the quest.
The characters are likeable, complex and clever. The reader will enjoy getting to know them and find himself/herself caring a great deal for each of the characters. The plot is pleasant, paced perfectly and continually shifts and twists, keeping the reader hooked in.
The setting and action descriptions were tremendous, allowing the reader to picture the scenes and what was happening. However the character descriptions were repetitive, Gaiman using the exact same words to describe characters again and again. Looked like a copy/paste job. After a while these did become grating, so maybe skip reading character descriptions once each of the main characters has been introduced.
Overall Neverwhere is easy to read, a pleasurable read, fun and moderately entertaining. Well worth a read once, but it’s not the sort of book you’ll read again and again.
As the dark, cold, winter nights draw in and signal the end of the year I’ve took some time out to reflect on the places that I’ve visited this year.
Birdozwald Roman Fort – Photo Opportunities, especially on the outside of the fort.
In May my good friend Simon and I did the first half of our tour along Hadrian’s Wall.
We started at the Cumbria end of the Wall and worked our way along, stopping at several historical sites along the way. In one day managed to enter Northumberland, stopping at Walltown Quarry and Vindoland Roman Fort & Museum.
Unfortunately not many people could make it on the day to share the experience. The Islands Exhibit was also rather disappointing.
But the well-established exhibits were great. My favourites were: the Elephants enclosure, the Butterfly house, the Giraffes, the Chimps, the Flamingos, the Lions, the speckled Bear and the Black Rhinos.
Astley Hall Park/Grounds (3)
In July Simon and I set out to one of our faviourate places – Rivington. But unknown to us, there was some sort of cycling event and with many roads closed we couldn’t work out how to actually get there.
So instead Simon directed me to Astley Hall Park. It was a place that I had never been to before and is beautiful.
We had a walk around the park, stopping to take photos. Then we had coffee and cake in the on-site cafe.
I have wanted to visit a botanical gardens for sometime now. I wanted to meander inside a giant glass greenhouse full of exotic plants and trees. I even put it as a goal for 2016. So I did a Google search looking for my nearest botanical gardens, found Southport Botanic Gardens (Churchtown) and dragged Simon along.
It wasn’t exactly what I had in mind. No giant glass greenhouse. But the weather was sunny and warm and in its own way it was totally charming. The small park was filled with trees from across the world. I just wish there had been some sort of guide to what species the trees were and where in the world they had come from.
There was an unexpected aviary and a small yet delightful Victorian gardens. There was another cafe, so of course we stopped for coffee and cake.
The Victorian Garden (1).
York is known for its iconic Abbey and shopping. It’s a place that I had never been to until this year.
This blog post is cathartic for me. I always have books on my reading pile, usually about ten at any one time. For a while now, books have sat there looking at me, not being read. If I’m honest with myself, there are 5 books on this pile that I will never finish reading. Each for its own reasons.
So here are the 5 books that I will never finish and the reasons why I wont finish them:
5. When God Was a Rabbit by Sarah Winman
The only thing that is good about this book is its quirky title.
The main character Elly tells the story of her life in first person. Elly starts with her childhood, remembering it in such vivid detail that it instantly makes the plot unbelievable and makes her feel false. There was nothing likeable about her character. The plot had absolutely nothing captivating about it and it had no hooks that gave me the desire to read on.
In the end I couldn’t get past page 64. Each page was painful to read and fundamentally bored me.
4. A House for Happy Mothers by Amulya Malladi
This book was sent to me by a Publicist. I don’t know why they thought I would enjoy it or why they thought it would be the sort of book they read.
It’s about a rich woman called Priya, who has everything she could possibly want, apart from a baby. So she and her husband travels to a Southern Indian villiage to buy a baby.
I felt that as they’d sent it me, I really should read it. Or at least give it a try. I read the first chapter, but it failed to interest me, so I put it on my to-be-read pile with the best of intentions. But I’ve never picked it up since.
3. Love Between Men: Seductive stories of afternoon pleasures edited by Shane Allison
This was another book that was sent to me by a Publicist and one I really expected to throughly enjoy.
It’s an collection of gay short stories about passion, love, but mostly lust. The importance of the first story in an anthology can’t be under estimated. It sets the tone of the book and is supposed to light up the imagination of the reader. Unfortunately the first story in this book was full of jarring stereotypes, overt sexualised description and lacked any of the things that make up a good story: interesting characters, intriguing plot and immersive description.
To be honest I’m not sure how this story even made it into the collection. Let alone became the first story in the book.
2. Rip it up by Richard Wiseman
Psychologist Richard Wiseman presents the As if theory in this book. So if you behave as if you are happy, you will become happy. Simliar to the saying: Fake it until you make it. The book focuses on positive actions, rather than positive thinking. Throughout this book he provides evidence that this theory works through referencing to a wide range of scientific studies.
This book was provided to me by a Publicist and I had three main reasons for not finishing it. First Wiseman appears to believe that the As if theory can solve anything and everything. Indeed on the book’s back cover it states that the theory can be used to: lose weight, stop smoking and feel instantly younger.
Wiseman states that the As if theory can be used to deal with depression. Very mild depression maybe, but to try and tell someone with severe clinical depression to simply act positive is bizzare and ultimately unhelpful.
Second Wiseman is an academic but failed to write about any evidence that the As if theory doesn’t work in all cases. There was a distinct lack of mention of any research that was against his point of view.
Third and finally this book is too long and begins to feel a bit repetitive after a while.
1. The Awakening by Yvonne Heidt
The Awakening is a great book. It’s about three women who call themselves Sisters of Spirits who help people who have problems with ghosts. Jordan is a cop, but when an evil masculine spirit starts causing trouble in her life, she reluctantly approaches Sunny (one of the Sisters) for help.
Jordan starts to fall for Sunny, but the evil spirit wont allow happiness for any of them. The characters are interesting, the plot is well balanced with lots of peaks-and-troughs, the description is clear and Heidt’s writing style is captivating.
This book was sent to me, by my request, by a Publishers Publicist. I read the first three quarters of the book and while reading the last quarter I found out through Heidt’s website that it was the first book in a trilogy.
Having lost contact with the Publicist (it happens) I decided to stop reading the book, as it felt pointless to continue reading the book when I knew I would never get the opportunity to read the other two books.
I’ve removed these books from the I’m Reading section of my sidebar on this blog.
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