What do the general public think about the internet?

https://vimeo.com/331179758

We (BBC R&D) helped NESTA to explore what the general public think about the internet. It was during a bitterly cold day but me, Rhia and Vicky took to the streets of Manchester to ask the public in a series of vox-pox interviews.

The results surprised me, as it was clear most were concerned and have serious but diverse reasons. Some gave short and some in-depth detailed experiences. The video only scratches the surface.

Over the past few decades, the internet has become the most important infrastructure of our time, radically rewiring how our societies work and how we interact. We asked the BBC to find out how ordinary people feel about these changes – watch their varied answers in the video below.

The video is a small part of NESTA’s Visions for the future internet work.

In March 2019, the World Wide Web turned thirty, and October will mark the fiftieth anniversary of the internet itself. These anniversaries offer us an important opportunity to reflect on the internet’s history, but also a chance to ponder its future.

Massive thanks to the people of Manchester who answered our questions even with the weather at close to zero degrees!

3 parties in a week, and all for 40

40th Birthday

My parents asked me what I want to do for my birthday late last year. They were thinking I could do a big party in Bristol. But I suggested why not have three of them instead?

Each party/bash representing a section of my life so far.

  • Bristol (0-19)
  • London (19-28)
  • Manchester (28-40)

40 years of opioninated conversation and living life to the maximum

Of course my parents thought it was too much, but I was certain it was a good idea and I could do it.

Happy to say I was right. I had planned to put in sometime at the theme parks of England (Alton Towers, Thorpe Park, Blackpool) but due to half-term decided I’d better not because I would end up in queues (Love the European theme parks for this). Plus I decided I could fit everything around work (or work around everything). I won’t lie, I would have been absolutely exhausted if I did!

Manchester party

So it happened and I was blown away by the friends and family who attended but also helped make the whole thing happen. Couldn’t have done it all without them! Thanks to everyone who came, gave their time, cards (I got so many cards I had to shift them around the flat) and even gifts. Also thanks for all the people who wanted to be there but couldn’t make it for different reasons.

Thank you to everyone again! 40 started with a bang, look out for 50 – ha!

On turning 40…

40 years of opinionated conversation and living life to the maximum

Soon I will turn 40. Most people fear or can’t imagine ever getting to 40 but I’m much less worried about that. I kind of feel young and although there are noticeable changes like grey hair in my facial hair, creaky knees and a noticeable lack of excess energy.

Regardless I’m still playing Volleyball regularly and trying a few other things including trying Basketball again (that was hard work!). My eye sight is incredible and off the charts for my age, I have been told.

Its funny how the things you do when you are young persist into older age. For example I can still be found with my diabolo on warm days or during the Manchester firejam. Still riding my skateboard when going short distances and considered getting rollerblades again. Convinced this is the future of transport and feel lucky to learned this when young.

My routine is still organised chaos but…  I like it that way and to be fair an ordinary life doesn’t interest me but its tricky as unconventional life isn’t always easy. Especially with a partner, but we manage by sharing calendars.

The only strange thing for me is being at the BBC for coming up to 15 years! I joined just after my birthday. I still feel quite young even with all the younger people I work with.

The 40th is usually a big one and as usual I decided to do something different for it. I decided to do 3 party’s, each one representing the three different cities/eras of my life so far.

  • Bristol (0-19)
  • London (19-28)
  • Manchester (29-40)

I had planned to fit theme park trips to Thorpe Park, Alton Towers and Blackpool pleasure beach too. But frankly it was too much and with the Easter holidays it meant the parks would likely be packed with kids also trying to get on the rides.

Without a doubt, 40 is going to be fun!

Put on your own Moon Festival event?

Moon 50 Festival

I’m still very excited to be a digital adviser on the Moon Festival for all reasons I mentioned in my previous blog and so much more.

One of the things I suggested for the Festival was the ability to run it in different locations. It made sense to me, as it is the moon and such a momentous date in history can’t be limited to London alone. Of course London is a great place to have such a event with the Greenwich observatory and the GMT timeline in the night sky.

So with my experience running BarCamps, TedXs and other decentralised/distributed events. I was able to talk the amazing Livia into trying to distribute the event into other cities and countries.

So many of you got in touch to ask how you can be part of Moon Festival and too often we had to say no because of time and money which we hated to do because let’s face it, you had some really brilliant ideas. And so we decided to open up our programme to the world.

Livia has the full very friendly guideline for the proposals on the same page.

It makes a lot of sense for the likes of artistic events like Future EverythingAbandon Normal Devices festival and the Manchester International Festival (to be honest I’m really surprised there isn’t a event in this years line up) to say the lest. Of course thats just around Manchester events! I’m wondering about all those centres like FACT, Home, MOSI, etc. Of course it could be anywhere, any city, any town, any community, any country!

Not got plans for the 50th Anniversary of the moon but can’t make it to London? Don’t fancy Bluedot? What you waiting for? Try running your own… Don’t hold back let your creative juices flow!

I personally was thinking about a storytelling event like the Moth around the Moon and our relationship with the moon. If anyone is interested in the proposal in Manchester let me know.

The Moon 50 Festival

Best of the recent TEDxManchester’s

TedX Manchester 2019

Last year I never got a chance to write about TEDxManchester 2018, partly because I tend to take pictures with my camera and its the new venue (Bridgewater hall) policy not to allow cameras in.

Regardless I went to TedXManchester 2019 (without my DSLR), and thought its about time I got back into blogging some of the best talks, especially as they are put on youtube now. Because they are on youtube so quickly, I created a playlist with the best TedXManchester videos. There are a number missing and its worth saying the list is highly opinioned. Theres some key ones from previous years gone by including my own and Carrie’s super popular one.

But I wanted to give credit to the best ones this year and last year.

2018

Last year the outstanding talk was form Vikas Shah’s How to save your own life.

A year later Vikas tweet is a perfect description.

I felt the talk was extremely brave, powerful and honest. The mental health message was powerful.

2019

This years outstanding talks were difficult to pick one. I was torn but decided although everyone loved Ged Kings talk I wasn’t super keen. I found Andrew Szydlo and Jon Carmichael’s fantastic but its not online yet so decided Katherine Ormerod spoke to me like Emma Harvey’s “Whoops, I changed the world” at TedxBradford.

Although I don’t let social media run my life, and use it a certain way which bother some. I find the continuously running theme of living life with these digital tools interesting. There was a talk just before with Chris Bailey (this is from TedxLiverpool) which was good but felt too preachy for my palliate. As I write this blog post in a coffee shop, I’m watching a woman taking a selfie with her tiny dog to a social network. She took about 12 photos before finally settling on one to post. I find the whole thing strange as posted about before, and I wonder how many are in control, following fashion, doing so out of peer/social pressure, etc…

Sharing really is caring? Something we seem to have forgotten?

Sharing is caring

I haven’t been to a Manchester Futurists for a long while, But I saw the topic of The Future of Transportation with Nick King and Gary Barker and decided it would be a good one to attend with my petrol head partner. Now to be fair Nick and Gary did say it was going to be all about the car and it makes sense with them both coming from Autotrader. So will forgiven them for talking about cars and ownership not transport.

During the Nick and Garry talked about many things but one of their main points was about how selfish we are as a nation/culture. This is why ownership of cars is still going to be a large part of the future and things like car sharing, pooling, etc will still be a rarity.

I can’t remember the exact questions but generally they asked;

Who has used Airbnb? Quite a few yes were heard
Who has booked an Airbnb in the last year? Fewer people say yes
Who has booked a place with a stranger? People smile and giggle but theres about one or two yes’s.

Conclusion people value their privacy and the sharing economy will be mainly lost on Brits because of this. Now thats quite a step but lets go with it… They used Airbnb but also suggested similar for Uber, Zipcar and all the carpooling systems.

Future of transport slide

Now I was slightly seething at this. Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of problems including diversity with the sharing economy if you like to call it that (how ironic).

I don’t disagree with what was said or pointed out but its worrying. As populations move into cities, the very idea of sharing resources is critical.

Over the last year I’ve watched when people talk about their ideal homes, default to a physically detached house. Then watched the confusion when I talk about a duplex flat. Why would you want that? Surely you want your own garden, your own space, your own…. Well actually no. I like shared gardens, I like real public spaces. I like public transport and as a host of Airbnb a shared spare room.

I do like doing Airbnb in a similar fashion. Some of the best Airbnb’s I’ve been in are when there is one host and myself. For example when I went to Madrid and Copenhagen. I spent a bit of time in the company of the host but never too much time. We both understood, when to back off and give some room.

i know its just me but the difference is the planet is becoming over populated and resources are getting tighter and more costly. The ability to sharing is not just important but is becoming critical. In the future of transport there was a suggestion that autonomous cars will have their own lane. I shook my head thinking when is there going to be room to fit another lane in. Most of the lanes are being converted to bus and bike lanes.

Through out I felt like I needed to remind people being human is a team sport. If sharing isn’t part of your thing, its time to fight it out with the millionaires in New Zealand.

Update

I noticed the latest NPR/TED radio hour is all about Finite resource, something I was thinking while listening to the original talk and writing this blog post.

In a world with limited resources, can we find ways to salvage what’s disappearing? Can we innovate our way out of a finite landscape? This hour, TED speakers explore ideas about living with less.

Rather than living with less, can we also share more and make our limited resources go further?

Manchester’s crazy crane skyline

Manchester cranes at Oxford Road

Its pretty crazy to see the amount of cranes in skyline right now. Its extremely noticeable and picked up by many including the Manchester evening news.

Its good to see things moving on and up, but wow! My young boy wishes to live in the centre of a skyscraper city may come true…

https://twitter.com/mennewsdesk/status/986687801893715968

Its a night with A Guy Called Gerald not Trafford Parsons

A guy called Gerald and a annoying person called Trafford Parsons

I booked on Funzing to see and hear from the amazing legend A guy called Gerald. Originally I booked to see him on the 10th October but on my journey on my scooter back from work caught a text message on my pebble watch that Gerald was in a motorcycle accident and the event would be cancelled.

FUNZING EVENT UPDATE: We are very sorry to inform you that A Guy Called Gerald has been in a motorbike accident and will not be able to hold the event tonight. The good news is that A Guy Called Gerald will make a full recovery and be able to hold the event in the future. We will be in contact in the next 7 days with a new date. Apologies for any inconvenience caused – Funzing Team

Quite spooky being on a motorcycle when seeing this but great to hear he was fine.

7 days later another text message from Funzing.

FUNZING EVENT UPDATE: A Guy Called Gerald: Acid, House and Hacienda.
Due to Gerald being in a traffic accident the talk was postponed. Gerald has since made a full recovery and the talk will now take place on 21st November. The talk will be held at the same venue as before – The Frog and Bucket, Manchester.

Great it happens to be on a day when I can make it I thought…

The day comes around and I’m looking forward to it. After settling down in a chair with a drink. Things start with a guy in a massive hat and dungarees climbing on stage, closely followed by Gerald who is looking very cool in his sunglasses and relaxed style.

A guy called Gerald

Its clear that the guy with the massive hat and dungarees is there to keep Gerald on track and ask questions. As Gerald talks, he draws on the backdrop but he gets annoying when he’s not spelling the words correctly and asking how to spell words to write (now I understand why). As a man with dyslexia, I would avoid writing things on the back if it wasn’t necessary and I wasn’t sure how to spell it. Heck I would let it go. But it happened again and again. It started interfering with the Gerald’s talk. Worst still this man was interrupting Gerald more and more.

Frankly it got worst and worst, his interruptions and rambling was getting out of hand as he started telling his own story. Some people shout for him to shut up and let Gerald talk.

A guy called Gerald
Finally Gerald gets his story out, while talking to his cousin.

They were right we had came to see and hear Gerald not this other guy, who called himself Trafford Parsons? To be fair the first time he said his name I heard Trafford Parsley. I never heard of him and frankly never want to hear from him again after ruining my and other peoples night.

He took the option to turn an event about a legend into a story about himself and that is unforgivable, disrespectful and just bang out of order. I only came back in the second half because I hope it would get better. It only slightly did but I also did wonder why for all the talk about Geralds music, nothing was played at all. The first half had no music and the second half had a random playlist from the late 80s. Like a Spotify playlist or something on low volume for background.

It was simply a car crash to watch and deep down frustrating to see every time Gerald was interrupted. I think if Trafford had not shut up in the second half more, I might have walked out for good. I wanted to ask a question but by the end of the night I was so annoyed that I couldn’t be bothered and Trafford didn’t leave enough time for proper audience questions.

Later looking him up, I realise he might be a Manchester icon in the same way when I first time came across Gordo.

I ask Trafford, wheres your self-awareness and respect for Gerald?

It was like he wanted to share the limelight! Sorry no you can’t that night was about Gerald not Trafford. If you want your own, speak to Funzing and get your own night. For me this is unforgivable. He ruined the event and my night. I’ve already asked for my money back!

I’m not the only one looking at the reviews of the event.

Would’ve been a whole heap better without Trafford Parsons! A rude man who didn’t allow Gerald to tell his story or share his experiences. Boring and a waste of money

 

Interesting journey through Gerald’s music history. Co host was a little irritating at times although I appreciate he was trying to keep Gerald on track, it wasn’t always necessary

 

The Pepsi challenge is back but will it work this time?

https://www.flickr.com/photos/cubicgarden/29159417537

The Pepsi challenge is one of those things people of my generation remember well. It caused a fuss and likely upset a lot of coke-cola fans. But over the decades since, people like Malcolm Gladwell have reasoned why the test its self was broken.

In his book Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking (2005), author Malcolm Gladwell presents evidence that suggests Pepsi’s success over Coca-Cola in the “Pepsi Challenge” is a result of the flawed nature of the “sip test” method. His research shows that tasters will generally prefer the sweeter of two beverages based on a single sip, even if they prefer a less sweet beverage over the course of an entire can.

Regardless Pepsi has decided to do the whole thing again comparing Pepsi Max against full sugar Coca-Cola. The taste test is next week in Manchester at Market Street on Saturday 25th August and then Sunday 26th in Piccadilly Gardens.

Take the diet pepsi challange and I will make it easy by forgetting to cover the cans

I’ll try and make it to one just to see what they do different this time around….

Why are so many Londoners leaving for Manchester?

https://www.flickr.com/photos/criminalintent/2108478134/i

Interesting bit from the Manchester Evening News about people moving from London to Manchester.For me as someone who moved 10 years ago, it was quality of life.

“For the same amount of rent I now live in a city centre flat, it’s still a novelty to be able to live so close to the centre.

“I had to catch a train and two tubes for the 7 mile journey to my office, spending £40 a week to top up my Oyster card. Now I have just a 20 minute drive from home.

“It was a struggle to save any money, but now I can afford to have a car and go on holidays.

“I think people are becoming aware of the fact it is no longer necessary to build your career in the capital, there are many opportunities for graduates in Manchester.”

London is great but it was becoming more and more difficult to buy a place, are if they theres plenty of opportunities but what use if you so tired travelling or broke paying for taxis to get home? Although I was happy to see and use the night tube in the past few years.

I spent 8 days in London recently and I do like London but the quality of life I have right now blows away what I had in London. Yes I wish Manchester would sort out its transport system and there could be more places to go without drinking or loud music.

Zonal fare structure for Metrolink

Manchester Metrolink zones

As I thought Manchester Metrolink saw sense and are looking into a zonal structure for charges.

10 Years in Manchester this week

Hulme Bridge

What on earth am I still doing here?

10 years ago I made my way up to Manchester. I hadn’t really spent much time there. First time was staying in the Copthorne hotel in Salford Quays for a BBC Innovation lab and i wasn’t impressed. But I gave the city another chance deciding its going to be a new challenge, new place to discover and a better lifestyle than staying in London and moved. I was more or less right…

Why I moved to Manchester…

Time has gone by quickly and if I didn’t have blogs and calendar events going back that far I might have forgotten. To be fair a lot has happened in the 10 years, here’s just a few picked randomly.

I have visited both Manchester City & Manchester United stadiums, although not a football fan. Seen the Manchester riots and the same city come together to clean up. Likewise for the Manchester Arena attack and how the city rallied together.

The weather I have to admit is sometimes pretty dire sometimes. I tend to bring my windproof umbrella everywhere with sunglasses if there is a hint of sun. From what I can tell most Mancunians, refuse to take an umbrella which seems insane to me. Manchester sits in a bit of a bowl and so although the mountains are clearly viable but the rain does gather over the high land.

The people have been generally good, I was worried about diversity but weighted up everything and decided it wasn’t any worst than a lot of places in the UK. Ultimately I didn’t feel like I would be in danger due to my race, especially in the city centre. I was right.

When I was first introduced to Manchester and looking for somewhere to live Hayley from the BBC showed me around a place called Cholton and I remember asking her about the city centre, to which she laughed and said no one lives there. She was likely right at the time but I made the right decision at the right time. The city centre is so walkable, skateboard-able and crammed with so many bars and cafes. Weirdly I hardly drunk booze in London or Bristol but in Manchester I started to indulge my cocktail tastes. You could say Manchester drove me to drink, but in a comfortable relaxed way.

Public transport in Manchester still baffles me. The tram is great and living near Piccadilly station is a great location. But the lack of a viable Oyster card type system is frustrating to say the least. I still remember taking a bus down Oxford road for 80p then being charged £3.20 on the way back. Something about a magic bus although operated by the same company and the exact same route. The city centre free buses are good too but generally you can walk from one end to the other in 30mins. The scooter had been great for longer distances not easily covered by the tram or train. I also find it crazy you can get back from Leeds at 2am but the last train from Liverpool is 11pm!

Equally baffling is the amount of gravy put on anything from meat to chips and the Mancunians & Liverpudlian accents which even now still has me scratching my head, even now!

Like a friend, who told me to go back down south, soon after I moved up; I should stop moaning frankly life is good. There are always frustrations, but the city and people of Manchester have been good to me.

It was a good idea to move up really early instead of later; I know many who didn’t come and for many reasons but I was just at that moment in my life when it wasn’t difficult to up and leave London. Life has massively improved and I generally think some of that is down to new friends, the costs of living and being able to make choices which fit. I also seem to have a knack for picking places which get gentrified.

Will I be here another 10 years? Its hard to tell. Considering Cardiff, as the BBC is moving its base to the centre of the city. Its also closer to my parents which is a plus. But I certainly feel the effect of Brexit and unsure how long I can put up with the change of attitude. If an opportunity came up I’d certainly give it some consideration but it would have to be in another city for sure.

In memory of Damian Cox

Damian with a pie butty
Only in Manchester can you get a pie butty, held by the late Damian Cox.

Damian Cox was more than a character, he was an incredible outspoken figure and a joy to be around. It was a shock to hear the news that he had died suddenly.

The funeral is this week and unfortunately I’m in Maderia Portugal for ICIDS 2017 and can’t be there. Death is always shocking and scary but having been so close myself I tend to have a slightly different view on death and want to celebrate life more than ever.

Because of this I wanted to share a few of the reasons why Damian was just such an amazing person.

When I first moved up to BBC Manchester on Oxford Road I met quite a few people and I did some publicity work for the BBC as they wanted to recruit more locally. Now I don’t know for sure, but Damian claims he joined after seeing my mug shot somewhere. He use to call me the pin-up boy, which use to make me laugh, even many years later.

I clearly remember him showing me some of the northern delights like the pie butty which without realising made it to the top of the only in manchester list in buzz feed.

At BarCampMediaCity, I clearly remember Cristiano coming to me and someone else on the Saturday evening and saying, we need to talk to security because someone is clearly drunk; he was joking, laughing, touchy and being loud about everything.
I asked who (wondering) and Cristiano didn’t know his name but described him having a flat cap, northern accent and cheeky smile. Within a single heart beat, I remember saying with someone else; is it Damian Cox? Christiano looked puzzled.
Thats just Damian, he’s always like that… we laughed.

Damian was fun, full of spirit and a joy to be around. He told it exactly how it was, wouldn’t hold back and wouldn’t be without his flatcap. Even during the heat of of Hacked.io in the O2, he stood out due to that bloody flatcap!

Hacked 2013

He will be so missed by not just by his family, friends and colleagues; but BBC North and Manchester. He embodied the reason why the BBC moved to Manchester.

Rest in Peace Damian Cox

Was helpling actually helping or just causing hassle?

https://www.flickr.com/photos/cubicgarden/17976106422

I had a cleaner, shes a friend and before her another person who became a friend. However the last cleaner left the city centre, it became clear it wasn’t fair to have her clean once a month when the travel was so painful in Central Manchester.

Some of you maybe thinking or want to ask,

why the heck have you got a cleaner Ian?

Well I do clean the flat but I’m extremely busy, don’t like it and have a level of cleanliness set from my parents (aka close to perfection). To get close to that would require constant cleaning every few days. So thats why I outsource this and happily pay someone else to do a big clean once a month/every 3 weeks-ish. On top of this I do Airbnb and its simply not on to charge how much I do for a semi clean place.

I heard about hassle.com via Alexandra Depledge at Thinking Digital Newcastle. Signed up and got a message saying there was no cleaners in my area (Central Manchester!) anyway about a year later I gave it another try this time with some success.

In my original query, I asked for once every 3 weeks rather than every 2 weeks. At the time the options were weekly, fortnightly or monthly. Hassle support put the request to my cleaner and she accepted it, we were all good – or so I thought.

My cleaner was Portuguese but African decent. She was good but out of 7 scheduled cleans, only cleaned 4 times. 3 were missed because of problems her end. The last time, she didn’t even text me to say she wasn’t coming. (I usually wait in the flat then leave them in there while I go get breakfast or brunch). Just nothing! I enquired what happened through the helpling dashboard (when I started using it, it was hassle.com but somewhere along the line changed to helpling.co.uk). But in the end had to speak to help support.

After a few days they told me, my cleaner was no longer available and I would need to get another one. But the kicker was the information that I hadn’t hit the minimal number of cleans and my deposit wouldn’t be returned!

Firstly I would like to apologise for any confusion caused here – When you make a regular booking with Helpling, you agree to commit to bookings with a Helpling cleaner for a minimum of 3 months, this counts for a minimum of 10 cleans for weekly bookings and five cleans for fortnightly bookings, as outlined in our terms and conditions. (https://www.helpling.co.uk/terms). If you are unhappy with the cleaner that you have been matched with, we will be happy to assist with finding a more suitable replacement at No extra fee. However if you choose not to complete the minimum number of cleans required, we reserve the right to charge the full value of the remaining bookings to your registered credit or debit card (up to a maximum value of £60).

Of course I was pretty peed off about this and told them exactly what I thought. They said if I get another helpling cleaner, it would be returned. So I tried. I really did try!

Short story is I did this 3 times (trying once a month and once every 2 weeks). I even had cleaning agreed and secured by 2 different cleaners but everytime on the day or day before they cancelled or gave an excuse why they couldn’t come and clean.

Hi Ian — we wanted to let you know that all your future bookings with S*** ******** have been cancelled.

Hi Ian — we wanted to let you know that all your future bookings with J************* have been cancelled.

Hi Ian — we wanted to let you know that all your future bookings with K********* have been cancelled.

This of course meant I changed my plans to stay in each time for no reason.

My last email reads…

SEP 30, 2017  |  03:03PM UTC
U******:

Hi Ian,

Hope you are well.

I just wanted to get in touch with you in regards to your request for a cleaner from Helpling.

We have been in touch with all cleaners in the area, but unfortunately, nobody has accepted. I am very sorry for any inconvenience caused.

Please let us know when you are available for a cleaner to come and I will be happy to help find a great cleaner!

Looking forward to your response.

After the 3rd time I have given up but want my deposit back again!

I’m seriously wondering if Helpling were/are actually helping because it seems my experience was strangely problematic for a simple idea of a cleaner in central Manchester?

My honest thoughts is in the buy out of hassle, something changed?

9 extraordinary days of the Manchester International Festival

All my Mif2017 events

When I first came to Manchester, one of the many reasons I stayed was the international festival. It wasn’t just the festival but it was kind of mind blowing to have so many premiere art events in such a short distance and reasonable priced. The big one which I will never forget is Marina Abramović’s presents which surprised me at the time and then blew me away i retrospect. 2 years I watched a contemporary ballet called the tree  of life and there has been plenty more great experiences.

I bought quite a few events early May in between my travels. I missed the opening of the tickets, so a lot of events were sold out so I grabbed what I could even if I didn’t know so much about the events.

Here’s all the events I went to and really enjoyed…

MIF Opening: What is the City but the people? : Thursday 29th July

What Is The City But The People

I actually applied to be one of the people to cross the massive yellow catwalk which was constructed in Piccadilly Gardens. But while applying for it, I received a form asking a ton of questions about my profession. There was about 25 points and I couldn’t say yes to any of them, so I assumed I most likely wouldn’t be selected (rightly or wrongly).

I actually shot a ton of footage for the event, which I won’t lie was incredible. Each and everyone had a fantastic story, from a refugees who have made their way across europe and parts of the middle east, people who have had sex changes, people with chronic diseases, drag queens, teachers, 2 people on a blind date, cyclists, nurses, beekeepers, cake makers, a woman with a new-born baby, Ian Hislop the Architect, Noel from Oasis etc. It was incredible but the two which really got me was the woman who was celebrating her 100th birthday this year; and a man who was raped and in the attack passed HIV. Just incredible and as the screens said, maybe this is just cities – but it is this city.

It really reflected the diversity and of the city in such a great way. It was a real high and well worth watching the video although you couldn’t beat being there. So great it didn’t rain, because that would have ruined everything.

Not related to MIF but after the high of the MIF opening, at the barber the next day. A man walked in without an appointment and when he was offered one with female barber could cut his hair. He refused saying he wanted a male barber. Felt like a bump back from the previous high.

Party skills for the end of the world : Friday 30th June

Party Skills for the end of the world

I had no idea what I had set myself up for. It wasn’t till I saw a poster while taking the tram one day. I knew it was immersive theatre but I had no idea how immersive. So the vague ticket description saying wear suitable shoes had me wondering for a long while.

When I got to the secret venue, my Uber driver was confused and asked if I was in the right place? To be fair I was thinking the same thing too.

Of course I can’t describe all which happened because that would spoil it for others and frankly it would be pretty impossible to do this justice.

So here’s some pictures

Party Skills for the end of the world

It started with a good classic martini or in my case a few (I also made a dirty martini, that was the cloudy martini I had before the alarms went off).

Party Skills for the end of the world

We were moved deeper into the derelict building and then free to try a number of skills to take forward to the end of the world.

Party Skills for the end of the world

At some point more alarms and we were moved quickly through the building. Now I see why suitable shoes are required

Party Skills for the end of the world

Finally we ended up in a big room with a band playing something I imagine Underworld would play at the end of the world.

Party Skills for the end of the world

Then after a speech and blessing we were free to play in a vast building, and play we did till about midnight. I rejected the idea of going to the old pint pot because I had another MIF event at 1030am the next morning.

Party Skills for the end of the world

Interdependance: We need to talk about Power : Saturday 1st July

Interdependence: We Need to Talk about Power

There are so many things to be said about these series of talks and what better place to have them that in the Ancoats Halle, which I have never visited although I can see it from my window. I went along 2 years ago in the old Granada site but these talks were far better and the everything about them was +10 on the previous ones.

Interdependence: We Need to Talk about Power

Seeing Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy and David Olusoga together on stage was pretty incredible. Each talking about power from the angle of race. Then when you can’t imagine how it could get better, Bad Language presented Jason Hickel (Writer of the Divide), Andrew O’Hagan and Deanna Rodger.

Interdependence: We Need to Talk about Power

I’ve already made a note to go along to the monthly bad language events, when it doesn’t clash with Volleyball or Werewolf.

MIF tour: Identity and the Fabric of the City : Saturday 1st July

Idenity and the fabirc of the city

After Interdependance in the Ancoats Halle, there was just enough time to head home have breakfast then walk down to Festival Square for a tour of inner Manchester.

My thought was I lived in Manchester for 9 years and still don’t really know much of the history of Manchester (as clearly noticed when going to the Salford Lads club and asking who the man was on the photos? Yeah I know!)

The tour was short but very insightful, as we walked from festival square/albert square to the central library, through St Peters Square, along princess street then china town. Finally we headed to kings street and on to deansgate. Many facts and interesting stories. Will have to go on another one of the tours soon.

Fatherland preview : Monday 3rd July

Fatherland

With my upcoming conversation on BBC Merseyside about the crisis of masculinity. I got a ticket and wasn’t quite sure what to expect; but what I got was quite a surprise and a fantastic theater performance in the excellent royal exchange theatre. I was very fortunate to have snatched a 2nd row seat too, giving real impact to everything I was watching unfold.

The play was funny, tragic and held together really well. I saw the preview, so I expect by the time it was out of the preview it would be even tighter than what I saw. I was also shocked to find out that quite a few of the cast were not professionals.

What if Women ruled the world? : Thursday 6th July

What if women ruled the world

This is the one ticket I couldn’t get first time around. I loved the concept and tried my best to blag a ticket. But luckily after seeing the previous MIF events, I went back to the site and found a bunch of tickets had been released. So I instantly snapped up one and pushed my other commitments for that night (sorry residents committee) but it was so worth it.

What if women ruled the world

Like partyskills & fatherland I don’t want to reveal too much although I am finally writing this on the last day of MIF 2017 (I got back from Berlin too late to really go to any of the ending events). We weren’t really allowed to take pictures too, but as soon as it was finished no one was bothered so I grabbed some of the amazing set and what an amazing location to host it (mayfield depot) which is the same place I saw Adam Curtis vs Massive Attack 4 years ago.

What if women ruled the world

The best way of thinking about what if women… as partly theater play and partly serious panel discussion. I’m planning to watch the other ones just to see how different they were from the one I went to.

My only negative to the event was the chairs were pretty sore on the bottom after sitting for so long. At least with Adam Curtis vs Massive Attack you could shift your weight around a little, although I remember that being too long for standing.

Interdependance: We need to talk about Technology : Saturday 8th July

Interdependence: We Need to Talk About Technology
After going to the first interdependence event in the Halle, I decided to grab a ticket for this one as the theme was technology in Stoller Hall (another place I never been to before).

Interdependence: We Need to Talk About Technology

The introduction of the robot from Sheffield University, and the reaction from the panel especially Joanna Bryson who verbalised her reaction as, ahhhh cute but wait why has it got a feminine sounding name? And why is it trying to act like pet? I’m now fighting not to treat it the way you want me to react. It reminded me of the very first time I saw a Aibo (sonys robotic dog, which I later owned) at the ICA in London. Everyone was so besotted by it then a member of the panel walked across the floor and kicked it off the stage. Of course Joanna wasn’t planning on doing this but her reaction turned to slight anger about the robot.

Interdependence: We Need to Talk About Technology

I was also trying to squeeze in more MIF events before going away for a week. I wasn’t wrong, another great series of talks hosted by the Aleks Krotoski. If I didn’t have to rush off to Volleyball to coach, I would have tried to catch up with her and some of the incredible guests.

Interdependence: We Need to Talk About Technology
I was very taken by Birgitta Jónsdóttir (who I heard so much about but never met or seen her live) and Laurie Anderson (who I hadn’t really come across before), who were just fantastic in everything they said. Joanna Bryson in the AI debate was off the hook, certainly someone I want to hear more from in the future.

Interdependence: We Need to Talk About Technology

On reflection, MIF pretty much couldn’t do no wrong. From the start with the decision to put the people of the city front and centre (I kind which I’d filled that form out now) to the amazing contemporary theatre productions. From deep note taking conversations in great spaces to immersive experiences in derelict buildings.

I was explaining to my sister how incredibly wonderful MIF is and why she should make the trip up to Manchester in 2 years time for MIF 2019. I said this while having dinner at the London Barbican after going to the into the unknown exhibit, which I was looking forward to.

I was deeply disappointed as I didn’t even get see the black mirror exhibit (they turned it off 5mins before the end and I went and visited everything else (theres 3 parts) before being told the exhibit is actually in the public lobby. To say I was peed off was an underestimation. From what I can see of the long turned off screen in the lobby, it would play visions of the black mirror universe.

My thoughts of a box with advertising surrounding you like 15 million merits, where the screens would pause and play a high pitch noise till you look again, certainly was over-thought. I guess? Maybe a suggestion for 2 years from now, as I can imagine creating this for MIF 2019 using existing technology.

I said it before but the MIF (Manchester International Festival) was one of those things which makes me very happy that I moved to Manchester. Yes could do the same in other cities but the size and culture of Manchester makes it seem like the ideal match. If you haven’t been before, mark it down in your calendar for 2 years time!

What a excellent 9 days! Just excellent!