Thursday, July 12, 2007

Quiet for a reason

I've been quiet for a reason - or several reasons - (a) I'm reading a good book, a very good book, more of which when I've finished it (b) I've been writing, or thinking about writing the next bit of the thing I'm writing (c) work etc. In Manchester, the international festival has been slightly underwhelming, at least partially because of the rain. The one time I sat in the "tent" outside of G-Mex, it wasn't the minimalist avant garde sax quintet that drove us out, but the freezing cold. For an event that received quite a lot of public largesse, it was disappointingly private sector in its approach - Sell tickets and leave it at that. In my job, I talk alot about "added value", and MIF seemed to lack that. It did the PR bit really well, but nobody I knew was even aware that it was on. It palpably lacked the "street buzz" you'd find in the city at other times of year, for other festivals, for a lot less money. In fact, coincided with the smoking ban, pubs have seemed near empty - the annual student exodus taking its toll, just as much as the rain. Two years from now, they need to do a lot better. I'm sure some of the performances/events were impressive, but unless you'd booked in advance, I wonder if you'd even have noticed? More pleasing is the news that Gordon Brown has today set his face against Manchester's supercasino. I've been bewildered by our city fathers' continued addiction to this. I think if Manchester had supported Blackpool all along there might have been a "win", but this spurious municipal sparring has not been a pleasant sight. Back on literary message, there's a couple of interesting lit. events tomorrow - Fiona Campbell and Catherine O'Flynn at Manchester Library at 1.00 and Friday night at Islington Mill, an intriguing event with "sound poet" Phil Davenport.

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