It’s been a bit of a manic weekend, to say the least. After work on Thursday I took the train up to Manchester – not that I got much chance to see the city, as by the time I got there all I wanted to do was get to the Travelodge and sleep. It’s not a myth that everyone is friendlier outside of London, as far as I was able to see – everyone in Manchester seemed to be genuinely pleasant and obliging, which is very refreshing coming from a city where eye contact on public transport is Strictly Forbidden.
The next day, Mr Mauro and I took a stroll around Manchester city centre. There’s not much you can see in a morning, especially when you don’t want to stray too far from one particular location, but what I did see was lovely (especially from the point of view of a person looking to find a place of their own in the not-so-distant future…I wouldn’t rule Manchester out at all. I’ll definitely be looking to spend a few weekends there next year, exploring the city a little more thoroughly.)
Next, to Waterstone’s, easily the biggest Waterstone’s I’ve ever been in, with a little conference room on the top floor. This is where ‘Twisted Tales of Austerity’ took place – a small but enjoyable gathering of people, with readings from ‘Horror Uncut’. Myself, Tom Johnstone and Rosanne Rabinowitz took part in the readings (Tom read Joel Lane’s ‘A Cry For Help’, a brilliantly cynical little story.) Here I am, reading ‘Ptichka’:
Afterwards, there was a brief Q&A, and I was fortunate enough to meet Simon Bestwick and Priya Sharma, two of the other contributors – both were every bit as nice as I’d thought they’d be, although I suspect I may have come across as a bit of a lunatic, as I often do when I meet people I admire (Ray Cluley has previously been a victim of this.) We also got to see the Royal Exchange Theatre, courtesy of TTA press’s Roy Gray – a harder working chap you’ll never meet – and what a beautiful building it was. The theatre itself is a self-contained building-within-a-building, almost like a little space station inside a suitably grandiose hall. Stunning without being ostentatious. I think what I liked about Manchester was how much of the old city is still there – lots of converted train stations and warehouses. It makes for a fascinating landscape.
Speaking of converted buildings, we then went on to an American style burger bar called Almost Famous, where Mr M had what he claims was ‘the best burger he’s ever eaten’. (Not much for me there as a veggie, but the sweet potato fries were pretty spectacular.)
Our train back was woefully early so we didn’t get to spend anywhere near as much time as we’d have liked to in Manchester. Next time, definitely.
The rest of the weekend was spent at the MCM Expo at the Excel centre. It’s all very nerdy so I won’t go into too much detail, but for someone like me who is hugely into anime, gaming, comics and the like it’s basically shopping heaven. (And I don’t usually enjoy shopping, so that’s saying something.) I did, of course, go in cosplay (no sniggering at the back!) Sometimes it’s nice just to let my nerdy side run wild. Everyone else there is as much of a geek as you are, and nobody bats an eyelid at a grown adult walking around dressed as an anime character – probably because they’re dressed as Boba Fett or Ezio Auditore.
I’d promised to take my younger sister along, which meant I ended up missing the Forbidden Planet signing event. A shame, as there were a lot of authors I really admire taking part, although frankly the opportunity to avoid making a socially inept arse out of myself in front of loads of cool people is probably one I should take more often.