Wednesday 9 December 2015

Cherished Memories

Memories exist because we tether them to subconscious;
To stop them drifting out on a sea of forgotten.

A rotten sentiment is soon forgotten, but a cherished memory is a stream begotten;
undammed and free-flowing.

They burrow in your ears, and they crawl through your eyes.
A toddler's piercing wail, or a grown man's cries.

But remember that memories are deep and sweet.
Those pulsating, amber glowing, constancies.
Collective, stacked, a bounty of wordless anomalies.

Sometimes they are hyperactive, some days they are subdued.
Entrenched in our minds like boiled-sweets imbued.
That fruitful seeping into the crevices,
They permeate and remain,
Those saliva soaked synapses in the brain. 

Saturday 21 February 2015

Manchester Food and Drink Festival 2014

Stuff your faces and quench your thirst, as the Manchester food and drink festival returns. Everyone flocked to sample cuisine from restaurants all over Manchester and further; with traditional Greek and Vietnam street food on offer, alongside other familiar faces such as Piggie Smalls and Bangers and Bacon. 2014 is set to help one splurge a little before drinking away your work stresses in the 100 Greatest Beers Fest, while listening to some live music performances by a collection of indie and acoustic artists.

Spirits were already from the get go, as can be expected for a Friday evening. Newcomers and seasoned attendees grabbed hold of a pale, dark, amber or bitter ale, wetting their whistles with one of the numerous beverages available. After sampling 'The Devil's Bedpost' and being kicked in the back of the throat with a sharp aftertaste, many washed it down with something a little smoother, in the form of a 'Vanilla Jack' or 'Jasmine Green Tea'. One guest described it as 'a sweet amber treat for the taste buds'.

Under the canopy, at one end of the beer tent, visitor's ears were delighted by a live band, who performed folksy and indie sounds that perfectly captured the atmosphere on what was a sunny and blissful evening. While some there listened with adoration, others sat at the long benches with family and friends, soaking up alcohol like stories, letting the music surround them. All may agree that the acoustic tone certainly encapsulated the essence of the end of summer in Manchester; this, after all, is a city thriving on it's musical influences.

Once palettes were cleansed, and stomachs began to grumble, everyone seemed adamant about pigging out a little. And where better to do that than Piggie Smalls or Bangers and Bacon. The former presenting hand-crafted hot dogs cleverly named after popular rap stars. Chilli Con "Kanye" West and Notorious P.I.G were just two of the artists/dishes on offer. Bangers and Bacon  however took prides in its heat rather than its witty name. If you have love for all things fiery and spicy, then try their tantalizing corn-dog creation, which will leave you salivating and perspiring you'll wish you were back in the beer tent. Another original creation came in the form of the dinner dog. Just as the name describes, this is an all in one roast dinner, battered and conveniently served on a stick. If you haven't eaten, or you're just in a rush, then the combination of beef sausage, peas, carrots, potato and Yorkshire batter will satisfy all your needs.

If you haven't the iron throat, or want to avoid grabbing the Gaviscon rather than deal with copious amounts of heat, then may be something sweeter or more aromatic will suit your needs. In fact, their was a nice array of stalls equipped with cuisines with various tastes and flavours. Many were extensions of the restaurants in Manchester, including: Tampopo, Odd Bar and Rozafa. Although these restaurants themselves unfortunately didn't present any new dishes, they were of course recognisable treats in the midst of the unfamiliar independent restaurants, of which most of the foodies eagerly sampled.

People flocked up and down Albert Square sampling as much as they could, selling most places out before six o'clock. Queues were never ceasing at The Lotus, as foodies got their fix with eastern promises fulfilled with trays of creamy, aromatic specialty curries. However, many including myself preferred the succulent, alluring sweetness of oriental cuisine. The sweet and spicy smells that emerges from the Viet Shack did not fail to capture the attention of anyone who passed the stall. Their simple and elegant 'In a hurry Curry' for anyone looking for a a mild tangy flavour, that was hearty and moreish. Although somewhat overshadowed by the appetizing pork belly and noodle salad. Slow-roasted pork belly served on a bed of noodles and garnished with salad and finished with lemon sauce, and your choice of chilli flavourings. Quite simply a pleasure sensation for those that was persuaded by the texture and spice palette of excellent traditional Vietnamese cooking.

To balance out an evening of light drinking and heavy food consumption, there was the feature attraction, in the form of the Pavilion. With sets events on over the course of the nine days, including on the second Friday a Hotel Football live cook off featuring Gary Neville. An exclusive ticketed event that promoted what is to come at Old Trafford in November, with Neville and Giggs joint venture. Cookery lessons, lectures and tutorials were all present from regional and national chefs, alongside baking and cake decorating workshops.

So, if you are in the mood for food, and are on the brink and need a drink, let the Manchester Food and Drink Festival be your first and only stop. Share in compelling meals, thirst quenching beverages, original live music talent and a plethora of activities, that are all bound tight with a friendly and accommodating atmosphere.

Wednesday 13 August 2014

Life After Graduation

Anyone who foolishly believes they will immediately attain a job in the field that they have strived three years in, needs to tune back to the reality of graduate life. As a recent graduate, and new to the world of full time work, I have realised the stress and trepidations that come with complete independence, income worries, council tax, utility bills, house hunting and house sharing. And I hasten to include the most difficult of all of these, growing up in to a respectable adult.

Over are the days of late nights and partying till the early hours, drinking and then stumbling into lectures with that terrible hangover still hovering on the periphery of your vision. Then checking your bank account constantly till the second that loan, grant or bursary come in. Or spending forty-eight hours straight in the library for that essay you left till the last minute (not going to lie, I will not miss that one).
                Instead, you will be working the nine till five every day, and it hits you just how exhausting it actually is. As a twenty-one-year-old, who has lucked out for the last five years by budgeting his EMA and student loan to avoid working while studying. I now understand after working eight hour shifts five days a week, why my own Dad fell asleep on the settee all those times when he came back from work. It is especially draining for the first few weeks; unless you have worked part time most of your life.
                In the end, concentrating fully on an academic career, and not working during your study will inevitably hinder your professional career. Some people I met through university have managerial/supervisory experience, and they are in their twenties. And I don’t have to remind you of the expectation of such credentials from prospective employers. A degree alone is just a certificate after all. Therefore forcing oneself to do all the extra curricula activities, promotions, volunteering, campaigns will not only get you noticed by future companies, it will boost your CV exponentially.

Once you leave you will have the arduous task of finding a job. Any job will do for the time being, right? But have you really stopped to think about the job market today, no one can just find a job, and our generation is more knowledgeable than ever about this challenge we face.
               Some may be incredibly lucky like me, finding a job in the heart of a bustling metropolitan like Manchester. These are opportunities that are seldom thrust every graduate, so take what you can get a first, till you can establish yourself. By then you will be ready to job hunt, for something more befitting your academic aptitude.

                As most if not all graduates tend to go home till they have established enough capital and experience to find their own place, some will venture in to the corridor of complete independent living. As frightening a concept as this might appear, most of the time you will have no problem with it. If you have friends you want to live with then you can rely on one another to search for housing close to your work that befits your current living habits; hopefully an upgrade from the “squalor” of student digs. After all, you are young professionals now. If, in other cases you are going alone, just take your time, look at lots of houses, find the one and the house mates that you feel comfortable with, and of course do lots of research on the house and area. Once you have done that, then the hard part is over.

Graduating is the easy part. It is the parts afterwards that may cause some unexpected distress. If you can live comfortably with a temporary job on your own, take it. Go where the jobs and opportunities are available to you; don’t necessarily follow what everyone else is doing. Convenience is your best friend: for travel, utilities and shopping. Remember, you have to pay council tax now, no more exemptions. With that in mind, remember your utility bills too. Research the area, house history, landlord/company, and be sure this is the right house for you. Be cautious of late nights; you have work in the morning. However, try to keep active, have fun and broaden your horizons; you are getting older and need more stimulation till your career takes off.
                The most important thing though is to insist on pushing yourself. That means interview after interview and application after application. You may fail a hundred times, but it will mean you will become a hundred times wiser because of it. I am sure most would concur that they want their degree to unlock doors to the future, so I say, use it and express your potential.


Monday 26 May 2014

Cautiously Drifting ...

Cautiously Difting, endlessly observing.

We are the watchers who guard the night, we are the mediators who hold the light.
Carrying candlesticks of crimson guilt, melting, burning, fizzling out.
The streets are paved with lecherous promises; ones which end abruptly and chaotic.
These arbitrary spots are precious reminders of a past once clean.
Innocence lost, frivolity obtained.
Ghouls of an amber tinted glow; stalking a prey, feeding off knowledge.
The learned suffer, but Karma delivers retribution.
Like the cogs of a clock and the bees of a hive; the world we in habit keeps proceeding undeterred.
Entropy's curse; space, time and shock. The material decay, conclusion to a moral clock.
Impulsive vices are inconsequential, superficial to the fastidious consumers of the unhindered conformity.
Lambs to the slaughter, cannon-fodder in a domestic space.
We are the human race. Fallible and idiotic. Watch how we trip over our own feet.      


In my overtired, yet underspent state, I decided to stop revising for my final exam and write a little entry in my journal, and soon after a poem emerged. I really enjoy Modernist literature, especially Modernist poetry. Being a person who has never accepted the constraints of a system of subject criteria or rules to govern a poem's structure; like that of the Shakespearean sonnet. I find the free range and lack of structure more appealing to my style of writing; especially concerning the use of allusions to great classics. Albeit my poetry seldom does not have a degree of high culture about it; considering my references are based on pop-culture, and the style itself is more indicative of Allen Ginsberg's 'Howl' it represents something more of a post-modern free verse poem. I don't tend to rhyme either, and if I do it is often to disrupt the pattern or half-rhyme to simply produce some fluidity in subjectivity. In this sense, I owe a lot of my poetic inspiration to T.S Eliot's 'The Wasteland'.



They crash, they burn, they melt and glow.
One will improve, one will proceed, one will be meager, one will succeed.
Another will yield, another will subsist, another will dispute, another will resist.

Second-hand visions, with nausea in tow. Eyes wide and vapid, and cheeks with vermilion glow.
Grease stained hands, fingertips cheesed. Is that the food or is that the mead?
Hardly a sight that isn't recorded, snapped, tagged, bombed or blogged.
Information all accessible from a night cloudy and fogged.
Then there's the work; books, journals and texts.
Off goes my phone; where are we off to next?
A new bar, saloon or club. Costumes, camaraderie, lethargy and grub.
Return to our digs, burnt toast, a fire begins.
Ushered outside; glassed paved-pavement and blood stained chins.
Fights ensue, no clothes and hot heads.
Red heads, Blonde heads, Brown heads, Black heads, White heads, oh wait ... I am no longer a teenager.
Let us shed those acne based puns and rejoice in our beds.
Frivolous sex; one, two, three or four. Just remember protection and always lock the door.
Use a hat, use a tie, use a belt or a stick. We all have costumes, masks and a side that's sick.
Friends are balanced, your time managed well.
Lecturers would be proud, but not of your last drunken spell.
So proceed on with caution; get an A, get a first.
Quench your appetite and quench your thirst.
A thirst for knowledge, a thirst for the next step, a thirst for life, experience and rep.
An online presence, a face for the next life. An online profile, a profile that's rife.
With expression, thoughts and whimsical quotes.
You think you're a Descartes; delusional worth it denotes.
But soon you will graduate, no more laughs, fun and games.
Maturity, job hunting, and ridiculous work names.
Like 'Big John' or 'Tuna' or 'Anna Faris Twin.'
Or 'Stoner,' 'Drunked,' or 'Lazy-arsed Kid.'
You'll reflect on those days, so close and just gone.
You'll wish you did better, a first grade or none.
So I'll tell you, from a man who's been there, done that, drank like a mule, drank like a twat.
Indulged till he blew out his mouth, nose and arse.
Performed song, dance, and ritual; which people thought were farce.
Just stick by these rules, and treat them like Gold.
Not the Golden Rule, or shower, that's just old.
Instead: parents will say, 'spend it wisely, and don't go crazy.'
You'll misconstrue, and your memories will go hazy.
From another night of Red Bull, pro-plus and library days.
Your head will spin, effervesce and eventually blaze.
But you get independence, maturity and a personal sense of integrity.
After all, what can one expect, from going to university.

Matthew Smart

Monday 23 December 2013

Breakdown on the M6: An unexpected Misadventure


Like so many of us, I struggle to enjoy public transport. The self serving nature and lugging of luggage are just some of my personal woes. But this doesn't mean these journeys can't be enjoyable. For instance, the relaxation gained from two hours of sleeping, reading, or gazing out at the countryside, comes with immediate acceptance. Needless to say, my journeys homeward are typically unexciting and dreadfully average. However, I was in for a surprise on Friday the 1st of November, when my boring travels evolved into a "momentary" adrenaline joyride. Without embellishing too much.
     I was firstly met with a bombardment of obstacles; which only seem dominant while travelling via coach. Contending with the lateness of a coach is something we all (as British people) can take in our strides, but getting on a shoddy-looking coach is another. I'm not trying to pick at the small details, considering I paid a pittance for the travel. It is the fact that this looked like an old coach - something that should have been awaiting the crusher. When you wait for a Mega Bus, and a white smoky Snowdon coach pulls up, it makes you a little weary of its transporting ability. As reluctant as I was, I got on it as if I was first in the dinner queue. I had been waiting for an hour after all, I just wanted to lay back and get on with my reading.

So here I was, an hour into my journey. One toilet break, no toilet paper, no soap, and the tap was inoperable. I bounced side to side nearly falling into an old woman's lap as I tried to return to my seat. Luckily I was greeted with similar compassion for my unbalance, as she got up next and reciprocated. However, I digress. After reading a little more of Jack Kerouac's The Dharma Bums - a fantastic read by the way; combining 50s culture, with Zen Buddhism, just great. I was proceeding on with my commute when the man in front leaned his chair back right into my lap. All I could do was raise my brows and arms in surprise (and helplessness). I am not one to intervene in this type of situation. The way I see it, anyone is free to attain the best position of comfort in this cramped environment. Yet I was overcome with a pretentious urge to voice my discomfort. Thereby turning myself into the most stuck-up person to travel by coach.
     I understand these are all minor qualms, it is just a coach to Birmingham, but I believe all the passengers were stressed and agitated. We all wanted to relax and let the journey take it's course. Something that would have been inevitable if it weren't for the burning smell stagnating in the air. A precursor to a drastic malfunction. I recall turning to the woman next to me, sniffed the air and asked 'do you smell that?' In which she replied, 'yeah ... also isn't it a little hot in here'. I proceeded to scan my surroundings, to which I noticed the smoky air around us. Surprisingly I didn't fear the worst, as the woman reassured me that 'it could be the radiators'. So from this reassurance I attempted to relax for the rest of my journey: even with a modicum of uncertainty still brooding inside. I lay my head back and drifted off.

The next thing I knew, we'd screeched to a stop on the hard shoulder. The driver pulled the mystical curtain back, shuffled urgently to the door and bellowed 'everyone off the bus NOW!' I grabbed my coat, bag, dropped my phone and bolted to the door. Outside with half the passengers I noticed the driver tossing bags and suitcases several feet from the coach. During this time I'd passed from confusion, to panic, to fear. All I could think was 'it's going to blow up, it's going to blow up'. A notion which was only exacerbated by the driver's instruction to head toward the bridge; located thirty feet away from the coach. It was easy to assume the worst from this type of information, instead of discovering the logical explanation, that it was just safety precaution in any breakdown situation. Nevertheless, me plus fifty other travellers stood cold and confused on an unlit motorway for the next hour and a half. I remember selfishly thinking, 'I'm glad I brought my hat, gloves, and coat'. As I was struck by the realisation I'd lost my phone, my half smile faded. I raced back to the coach, the smoke now dissipating, infusing with the cold winter air. I crept around the driver and quickly swiped my phone, pocketed it, and breathed a sigh of relief. It was almost like I was committing something atrocious. A type of bus treason possibly. By disobeying the safety regulation I briefly became a renegade. Moving on from that ridiculous concept, I returned to my unidentified companions.
     After talking to some of the people around me I discovered that we would be stranded for the next fifty minutes. So I got to conversing with some students. Small talk became redundant after half an hour, but as people they were really friendly individuals. I suppose that is often the way with people you meet on your travels. As the narrator suggested in Chuck Palahniuk's Fight Club, everything is single-serving, including "single-serving friends". I felt a little at ease being with other students, it made conversation a little easier having similar interests and lifestyles. At one point when it got particularly blustery I offered the girl who was with us a hat to keep warm - my good deed for the day. Time dragged a little, but eventually some were picked up by a minibus, and finally the replacement coach arrived for the rest of us. As expected a round of applause and cheers began. We raced on board. I heaved my things on the rack above me, sat down content with thoughts resonating of happiness. I was out of the cold, and on a new coach.

My predicted two hour journey evolved into six hours. It was a little different from my usually mundane route, but I met some lovely people - including a nice girl called Ruby on the short train journey to my town. Considering tonight is bonfire night, it seems appropriate to share this near bus bonfire. As it foreshadowed the coming week; along with it's festivities.