Daily archives: January 3, 2008

For further research – 3/1/08

Asides from England’s Lost Eden: Adventures in a Victorian Utopia to follow up on-

King William II “Rufus”. King of England from 1087 to 1100, rumoured to return, like King Arthur, in times of national crisis.

Witches of the New Forest. One coven of whom set up a “cone of power” to repel German invasion during the Second World War.

Herne the Hunter and Brusher Mills.

Future Squats of Manchester

Future Squats of Manchester, originally uploaded by spinneyhead.

Pasted on the corner of the abandoned Cine City in Withington. The text, as best as I can make out, reads-

“The rapid urban regeneration of Manchester has resulted in dozens of ne ‘luxury’ apartment buildings. These new homes for the rich are part of a planned attack on local working class and poor residents. Gentrification projects like these lead to rising rents and the homogenisation of our communities. Local residents and families will gradually be forced out of their homes as young, single profesionals are welcomed.

Often, these expensive flats are built next to some of the most economically deprived areas in the city. Planners, architects and eventually residents turn a blind eye to the conditions of many of the city’s sitting tenants, the like[s of which?] these homes were never designed for. Worthwhile regeneration projects aim[ed at improving?] standards in the very worst areas of Manchester lose out to grand displa[ys desig?]ned to attract the interests of more [?] investors. Newly gentrified are[as?……] incoming residents by the state [install?]ing strict surveillance, greater po[lice presence and harsh?] penaties.”

Savoy Books

Being served in the post office in Withington this afternoon I looked down and checked out the name on the big package the person to my left was weighing. Alan Moore, it said, which I found amusing- I was standing next to a package destined for the greatest living comic writer. Northampton was where it was headed, noticing which I did a little mental double take- maybe it really was going to the greatest living comic writer. Then I spotted the name of the company sending the package- Savoy Books– and was absolutely certain it was going to THE Alan Moore.

Savoy Books is based in Withington. I didn’t know Savoy Books was even still a going concern. I should have said something to the guy posting the parcel, but I’m me, and terribly English about starting pseudo-random conversations with strangers in Post Office queues. So I didn’t. I really should have.

Savoy books was started in 1976, as a publisher for material that was too risky or strange for other imprints. They almost immediately fell foul of the law and were regularly raided by the corrupt vice squad of “God’s Cop” James Anderton. Publisher David Britton has to be one of the last writers in this country to go to jail for his art, serving two spells in Strangeways. Undaunted, he incorporated his experiences into future works such as Savoy Dreams and Lord Horror– which went on to become an inflammatory multi media cottage industry, spawning comics, sequels and music.

My first experience of Savoy Books was in a seedy little second hand bookshop in a building where Bar 38 in MAnchester’s “Straight Quarter” now stands. I’d look at the Lord Horror and other comics- large format and too expensive for a student- and tell myself I’d buy some one day. Eventually I managed to get The Adventures of Meng and Ecker, collecting their comic appearances and reprinting articles about Savoy and Lord Horror. There’s something to offend on every page and the art’s dense and dark. It’s not easy reading, but I’ve just pulled it off the bookshelf and I’m going to flick through it and lose more time, having already spent an hour or so trawling the Savoy website.

Environmental news round up

Trees absorb less carbon dioxide as the world warms up.

The ability of forests to soak up man-made carbon dioxide is weakening, according to an analysis of two decades of data from more than 30 sites in the frozen north.

Oil price hits $100 per barrel for the first time.

German cities ban the most polluting cars.

Solar school in Trafford.

A School in Trafford is about to become one of the country’s ‘greenest’ when solar panels are installed on its roof as part of a renewable energy drive.

Sale Grammar School is being given the panels, which are worth about £20,000, by the Co-operative Group.

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Upcoming wastes of time

Mentioning Midnight Club in the last post reminded me to go and find out when the next edition of the franchise is due. Midnight Club: Los Angeles is due out on March 28th (it’s also available for the PS3).

Due a month after that is Grand Theft Auto IV (again, also available for PS3, or in Special Edition packaging).

Both are products of Rockstar Games, a company not known for its socially responsible game play. One of the great joys of Midnight Club is causing mayhem and destruction amongst the humdrum commuters who get in your way. The gangster’s rise storylines of the GTA franchise are wonderfuly immoral as well. State of Emergency for the PS2, a ‘riot sim’ as one reviewer puts it, was an entertaining exercise in destruction and multiple on screen characters, but incredibly shallow for long term gameplay compared to its big brother. I had a few hours fun smashing and burning and ‘sploding until someone went and traded it in. Manhunt 2 went so far over the top that it was banned in this country until recently and I atill can’t find a listing for it on Amazon.

All of which pedigree makes it a little odd to find- nestled between the violence, gunplay and speed of the Rockstar oeuvre- Table Tennis (also available for the Wii). It just seems wrong, like finding a Hello Kitty doll in a box of hand grenades.

The 12 Days of 2007 – September

The Spinneyworld store opens, it’s still not got much stock, but I’m going to start filling it.

The Art Car Parade.

Heat death of the refrigerator.

September saw the Spinneyhead trip to New York. When we landed I was dressed for a Manchester September, not the hot and sticky night we flew into. One of the first things I thought as our taxi rumbled onto the freeway was “Wow, this looks just like the streets in Midnight Club.” Traffic was heavy. In one queue a limo pulled up beside us and I could hear the familiar opening verse of “Laid” by James. No matter where you are, you can never get too far from Manchester.

Our Manhattan hotel was an eccentric dive, but the Mouse preferred the room in Rochester. The reason we were there was Harry and Meg’s wedding. Further proof that you can’t escape Manchester was the beermat in a Rochester bar telling us all about the pub we used to do the quiz in.

Pictures from the USA trip are in this set on Flickr.