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First Tuesday current affairs discussion - Tuesday 6 February 7:00pm start

Tuesday 6th Feb: First Tuesday Current Affairs discussion

We'll discuss a couple of topical issues in the news

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Manchester reviewed
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Manchester lifestyle reviews

Gina Czarnecki at the Bluecoat

Gina Czarnecki

at the Bluecoat, Liverpool until 19 February 2012

Reviewed by Denis Joe December 2011

Curator: Sara-Jayne Parsons; Free Entry

 

Britain’s most famous art collector, Charles Saatchi, recently rounded on the contemporary art clique, condemning buyers as ‘vulgar’ and criticised curators as showing "videos, and those incomprehensible post-conceptual installations and photo-text panels, for the approval of their equally insecure and myopic peers". And he may have a point, it does seem that many feted artists today produce art whose only value seems to lie in the shock effect.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Wind in the Willows

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

Adapted for the stage by Alan Bennett

Presented by Library Theatre, performed at The Lowry, directed by Chris Honer

Reviewed by Charlotte Starkey December 2011

 

Some people, who find animals endlessly fascinating, tend to be outward looking, always seem glad that they are still alive to enjoy the world, just like Mole; others, who do not have the same connection with animals, seem to believe the world should feel privileged that they are alive, just like Toad. This is a generalisation, of course; but I realised the limitation of imagination, when an English teacher whom I had admired, declared that ‘animal stories’ are ‘not sufficiently substantial’.

 

I never did grasp the meaning of that and promptly threw him into my trash bin, having just read Gulliver’s Travels and Animal Farm as well as having been brought up in the company of animals, wild and domesticated. After all, I had read The Wind in the Willows by the tender age of six months, or so it seems from this distance, and my love of the tale has never waned. This production is no place for the self-lover, the introvert, the angst-ridden career seeker or anyone on a mission. It is for those who find something quite mad, amusing and mysterious about creation and understand that the unpredictability of animals comes largely from their having to share a planet with a rather weird race of beings - us.

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Manchester film reviews

Rachel Weisz in The Deep Blue Sea

The Deep Blue Sea

Screened at Cornerhouse, Manchester

Reviewed by Anne Ryan November 2011

 

In this new film the two Terences form the perfect marriage - Terence Davies, the director who has shown his past growing up in war-time Liverpool and Terence Rattigan the playwright of thwarted middle-class passion. As with Noel Coward’s Brief Encounter, The Deep Blue Sea is a love story, but this time we see what happens when a woman follows her desires and throws away everything else in her life.

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Manchester lifestyle reviews

Adolphe Valette (1876 – 1942) at The Lowry

Adolphe Valette (1876 – 1942) at The Lowry

on until Sunday 29th January 2012

Reviewed by Dr Charlotte Starkey November 2011

 

Adolphe Valette’s haunting impressions of Manchester and Salford sometimes evoke the response, ‘Oh, they are so dark!’ That is not true of most of them but also not a surprising remark for a few paintings of which it is only partially true. When he painted scenes of Windsor Bridge on the Irwell, 1909, Albert Square, Manchester 1910, India House, Manchester 1912, York Street leading to Charles Street, Manchester 1913, and others, Manchester and Salford were regularly dark, very dark. Engels had described the area close to the River Medlock in 1842 to 1844 (cf. India House, Valette) as one of the worst slums in Manchester.

 

Fog, smog, pea-soupers of an atmosphere which left faces, lungs, clothes and lives filthy, damp and generally pretty dismal enabled Valette to see nocturnes of a ghostly beauty. He is, arguably, one of the first painters to recognise beauty specifically in the commercialised industrial world, certainly to find it in Manchester. In fact, India House is reminiscent of Turner in its use of reflected light and in many of his ‘Manchester/Salford’ paintings Valette’s colours are a complex mix of muted tones and colours, creating highlights and depths for emphasis and perspectives, never simple.

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Manchester music reviews

50 Words For Snow by Kate Bush

50 Words For Snow, by Kate Bush

by Denis Joe November 2011

 

I love this time of year: the run-up to Christmas. Whilst some moan about lack of tradition and meaning, and whinge about the ‘consumer’ orgy, I am never less than amazed at the crowds in city centres who put themselves through so much in order to show their family and friends just how much they care. That is something to celebrate. It is a time when people show themselves as caring and unselfish individuals.

 

What I hate about this time of year is the omnipresence of the Christmas pop song, as if the music industry feels that it needs to force people to be happy. The exception is Fairy Tale of New York, a song consistently voted the best Christmas song of all time; it has everything a great Christmas song should have: pathos and sentimentality.

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Manchester music reviews

John Barrowman

John Barrowman at Liverpool Philharmonic

Reviewed by Fat Roland November 2011

 

Two mostly-naked male dancers bend over to show the business end of their hot-pants whilst John Barrowman’s septuagenarian parents dress up for a comedy skit on sexual domination.

 

I’m not sure how I got here, but it all seems to make sense. I was expecting a teeth-whitened Torchwood show tune extravaganza, but here, at Liverpool Philharmonic Hall on John Barrowman’s 27-date tour to promote his latest album The Best Of John Barrowman, there is so much more going on.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Celluloid

Celluloid by Lloyd Eyre-Morgan

Performed at Three Minute Theatre, by Dream Avenue Productions

Reviewed by Emma Short November 2011

 

Having been officially open for two months Manchester's Three Minute Theatre has emerged and stamped its mark on the ground floor of Afflecks on Oldham Street. With its intimate performance space and in house bar this comfortable venue recently hosted Dream Avenue Productions' Celluloid by Lloyd Eyre-Morgan.

 

Lloyd takes us straight into the heart of dysfunctional family life. Mum Dawn's (Janet Banford) struggle with her past is played out not only upon the counsellors couch during regression therapy but also within the family home. With the help of Josh's (played by Daniel Booth) method of escapism; a penchant for viewing life through a lens, we learn from his footage the extent and impact this situation has had over the years.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Beautiful Thing

Beautiful Thing by Jonathan Harvey

Performed at Royal Exchange, Directed by Sarah Frankcom and Designed by Liz Ascroft

Reviewed by Dave Porter November 2011

 

A clear line can be drawn from A Taste of Honey by Shelagh Delaney through to Rita, Sue and Bob Too by Andrea Dunbar, and on to Beautiful Thing by Jonathan Harvey, which has just opened at the Royal Exchange.

 

All three plays take a poke through the underbelly of life and the people at the bottom of the pile who are excluded from everyday society. Beautiful Thing takes its cue from A Taste of Honey in its portrayal of fumbling gay teenagers and an overbearing, brassy mother; while the brutal demotic of council estate life in Dunbar's world clearly mirrors Harvey's south London high-rise hell.

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Manchester film reviews

Wuthering Heights

Wuthering Heights

Screened at Cornerhouse, Manchester

Reviewed by Anne Ryan November 2011

 

I first read Wuthering Heights as an impressionable teenager – I read it through in one night, captivted by the sexy hero and the doomed affair, this was love and it was dangerous. In Andrea Arnold's raw new film we are transported back to that passionate reckless teenage love.

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Manchester music reviews

No Thyself by Magazine

No Thyself, Wire-Sound CD

by Denis Joe November 2011

 

Stop! When you cease to amaze me. (“Stuck”)

Punk began in 1976 - its initial location was London but with the release of The Buzzcocks EP, Spiral Scratch the focus moved to Manchester. A movement quickly sprung up that featured the likes of The Fall, The Drones, Warsaw (aka Joy Division), Ed Banger and the Nosebleeds, Slaughter and the Dogs and pop-poet, John Cooper Clarke.

 

The Manchester scene of the late 70s produced some of the greatest pop of that (or any) decade, and thankfully for me, many of these groups played in Birmingham or Wolverhampton. For pure magical, unashamed pop music there was the Buzzcocks. Howard Devoto left the band in 1977 and Pete Shelley took over as singer/lyricist, producing such gems as Orgasm Addict, What Do I Get?, I Don’t Mind and Ever Fallen In Love With Someone You Shouldn’t Have Fallen In Love With? For chin-strokers and other pseuds there were The Fall and Joy Division.

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