Birthday U2!

So, it was my birthday on Saturday, and at the start of this year I’d tried to buy a ticket to see U2 in Manchester on their eXPERIENCE + INNOCENCE tour, which fell on the same date, but within seconds of the tickets going on sale, they were already sold out which was really annoying since the only ones then available we being sold at massively inflated prices on secondary ticket sites – and I’d pretty much forgotten about it.

Then, first thing in the morning, I was looking on Twitter and saw a post from the Manchester Evening News linking to an article about the U2 gig later that day. I then remembered that someone had recently told me that with gigs like this, production ticket returns are often released for sale on the day of the gig, so I thought I’d quickly check on the Manchester Arena website, and I was able to buy a ticket at the price they originally went on sale!

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Jo Brand’s Big Splash recording

Me and James have just spent the last couple of days down in London, partly for a meeting about some more graphics we’re doing for a Channel 5 documentary later this year, but also we were down there to go to the Hackney Empire, where we were in the audience for the recording of Jo Brand doing stand-up for a show that’s going to be on Dave later this year.

doodledoMOTION are doing titles and graphics for the 5-part series called ‘Jo Brand’s Big Splash’, which will mix the stand-up gig with a documentary about water, which sees Jo trying out loads of different activities including swimming, diving and rafting.

Because we were guests, we got front row circle seats, so there’s a good chance we could end up in some audience shots in the final edit.  And knowing the way editing works, I can almost guarantee that they’ll cut us laughing at some innocent joke as the reaction to something really inappropriate!!

It was actually a really good gig – I wasn’t quite sure whether I’d find it that funny, but I think Jo’s comedy has become a lot more inclusive, whereas in the past it had quite a reputation of being feminist and man-hating. I don’t really know whether it ever really was, but that’s kind of what gets associated with her!

Straight after the show, we went up to the green room for a few beers and to hang out with the crew and people from the production company and UKTV, and Jo also came up for a bit after she’d finished signing autographs at the stage door.

Then, once stuff had been packed up at the theatre, we went to a nearby pub with the production guys, and then a few of us went on to get some food in some part of London I didn’t really know!  To be totally honest, we had a few beers, and I was definitely aware that I was a bit tipsy as the night went on… I was certainly talking a bit more than I usually do!!

Not exactly sure when the show airs but will post about it when I know!
Just another quick mention for work stuff – a couple of weeks ago we did the opening title for a programme that went out on BBC1 called ‘The Street That Cut Everything’.

It was shown on Monday 16th May, with the first part showing at 9pm and then concluded after the 10 o’clock news. And in the morning they did a feature on BBC Breakfast with the documentary’s presenter Nick Robinson in the studio, with our main graphic appearing on video wall throughout.


Last night I went with John to see Derren Brown’s latest live show ‘Enigma‘ at the Lowry.  John runs the Public Reviews website, and he had a couple of press tickets to go and review the show, so I went for free on his spare ticket!

I find Derren Brown fascinating – I think all his TV shows are great, and he presents traditional magic and illusion in a very contemporary way.  I also find it amusing to read people online who think he’s got real powers(!), but I’m actually in two minds as to whether he uses hypnotism and NLP as part of his act. Certainly stuff I’ve seen on the internet about those methods demonstrate that it’s quite possible, but I don’t really know, and am suspicious of any of his own explanations!

Anyway, back to ‘Enigma’. It really was a brilliant show – great theatrical staging, a very clever structure to the performance, and some really good magic tricks!  And Derren Brown’s an incredibly engaging character – he basically had the whole theatre eating out of his hand.

I’m not going to write about the tricks themselves – mainly because he asked people not to since the show is still touring – but I’m sure it will end up on TV in the near future, just like his previous ones have.  I’ve got an inkling how some of them were done (and today I’ve read a bit about some of the other perfotmances which have given me some more clues), but some of them were truly mind-blowing.

The final trick was one that I just can’t work out how he managed to pull everything together in the way that he did, and with a clever back-reference to something earlier on that seemed pretty throw-away.  John was actually part of the finale – he was one of the 6 volunteers who caught a frisbee thrown out into the audience – so I know it wasn’t done with stooges!

If you get a chance to see the show at all, I can thoroughly recommend it!

A busy Christmas week

It’s that funny time between Christmas and New Year when generally nothing really happens – so the ideal time to do a blog update!  And since I last posted a week and a half ago, I’ve actually done quite a lot of stuff in that time!

Last Wednesday night, I went over to Liverpool with John Roberts to see a production of ‘The 39 Steps‘ at the Liverpool Playhouse.  He runs a theatre reviews website called The Public Reviews, so we we got free tickets which was pretty cool!  It was actually a really good show – it’s a comedy and was performed by just 4 actors, who changed roles continuously throughout the play, which surprised me at how well it worked!

The show culminated in fake snow being showered on the audience, and then as we left the theatre, we discovered that there was real snow falling – and I’d have been really impressed if that was part of the show as well!  We’d already had a bit of snow in Manchester a couple of days earlier, but there was none in Liverpool when we arrived.


We got back to the car, and within a few minutes we were driving through a pretty intense blizzard, and the snow really started to build up on the roads.

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Too old for clubbing!

As per the title really! Although I can’t deny that I really had a great time! It’s just that after getting back at 3am, then grabbing a few hours sleep on the floor, I feel like I should really have gone through all this 10 years ago – though I’m not saying I wouldn’t be up for it again! It came about from going with James to the end-of-year art show at Manchester Met, which had its private viewing on Friday night. I’ve been a couple of times before, and it’s a really good place to get some inspiration, and also to see potential artists who we could maybe get to do some work for us in the future.

So we spent a couple of hours at the show with James’ mum, as well as his aunt and uncle, and then I kind of gatecrashed a family meal at Felicinis on Oxford Road – a really nice Italian restaurant that had just enough English food to ensure I got a good meal!

So after that, we headed over to Greenroom to meet up with some of the other guys who work on the course that James teaches on, then when we got chucked out of there made our way over to Sub Space which was absolutely packed and really hot and sweaty! But the music in there was really funky, and it was just a very good atmosphere, and whereas normally I’d feel a bit out of place being somewhere like that, I totally enjoyed it. I’ve never really got into going out clubbing and stuff – even at uni – but I’m kind of realising that if I’m in the right mind for it, I can actually have a good time.

Also, this weekend saw a programme I’ve recently been working on go out on The History Channel – I’d edited a documentary on the Vulcan bomber which was being featured because of it being the 25th anniversary of the Falklands war. It was quite weird watching it because I edited it to a guide voiceover, and this was a first time I’d seen it in this version, so it did seem like I was watching a different programme! I thought the show turned out well though, and I’m sure it will get repeated many times over the coming months!

Other stuff… I caught up with Jamie a couple of weeks ago when I went for a barbeque at his with Dean and Sean. It was quite an impromptu thing… I’d been round at James’ doing some work when he gave me a call to see if I was doing anything, so I went straight to his from there, because unsurprisingly I didn’t have any other plans! The food was slightly charred, but it was okay and filled me up! I hadn’t seen Jamie for quite a while – he’s got back into his climbing again which means he’s away from Manchester a lot more. It’s great for him ‘cos he’s really into it, but for me it’s a bit of a shame because I’d enjoyed the couple of times we’d been out riding together and was hoping to be able to do a lot more of it, but I know it’s going to be really difficult to find any time that we can. My bike’s been sitting idle since February, and there’s no-one else I can really go with, and I’m not overly keen on just going out riding on my own.

Finally, I mentioned in a earlier blog about some potentially exciting developments work-wise. Well, there’s still a lot to be finalised, but it looks like things are moving forward. I’ll post more information about it when things are more definite. But in the meantime, we’re currently busy working on titles and stings for a 7-part BBC2 documentary which is going out on Saturday nights from July. It’s probably the biggest job we’ve worked on to be honest, but hopefully it’s a good sign of things to come!

Soul Shutter… and bridge nutter

Just got back from a nice meal at Jamie’s and I have to say that tonight I’ve seen probably the worst film ever! Well, 51 minutes of it because that’s all we could take!! It was Miami Vice, with Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx, and it was dire! Bad script, bad dialogue, no character development… basically just shots of fast cars and speedboats!! Total rubbish – that’s time I’m never going to get back!! Apart from that though, it was really nice spending the evening with Jamie and Dean, and we ended up watching a DVD of Victoria Wood instead!!

Anyway, all this weekend I’ve been over at some mills in Compstall on the set of a short film called ‘Soul Shutter’, starring Georgia Taylor (who used to be in Coronation Street and has done some other big dramas since). It’s being produced by Hamish and Rob, and they’ve managed to rope in a load of people to give their skills for free to get it made. Somehow, I’ve been persuaded to do all the computer graphics stuff for it, and having been there all weekend directing the CG sequences, I’ve realised that it’s going to be a lot more work than I’d originally been led to believe!!

There’s a lot of action that takes place within photographs, so a lot of it was shot on a totally white set, and I’m going to have to key in loads of effects, as well as also doing moving images in photos on a wall, a bit like you see in the Harry Potter films… only with the budget being a few million quid lower!! Was a really good experience though, and I hope I can make it look expensive! I’ve got a load of photos from my phone of the shoot here.

On Friday evening I got a call from Jamie seeing if I was up to anything because there was a group heading off to do some bridgeswinging! I went with them a few years ago so I knew that there was no way I’d do it, but I said I could bring my Z1 and film them throwing themselves off the side of the incredibly high bridge! It was really cool and I got some nice shots of people leaping, though obviously because it was dark and my light can only really illuminate short distances you don’ really get a feel of the whole action. I’ll probably try and cut something together and maybe stick it up on Youtube or something.

I kind of wish I could summon up the courage to do it, but the thought of jumping into darkness really doesn’t appeal to me! Not convinced either that it would make the slightest bit of difference if I was able to see where I was jumping but maybe I should add it to my list of things to do before I die… just as long as I don’t die doing it!

Bow(l)ing out from MUTV…

Chris, Joe, Steve, Craig, Brian, Carole, Asim, Scott, Gareth, Ajay, Mandy, Katrina

Well, tonight I had my official MUTV leaving do, in which I’d decided to go bowling rather than the more traditional route of just going to the pub for the night!

Anyway, we met at Duke’s 92 in town, and it was a good turnout… to be honest, I was kind of worried about how many people would actually come. It was a bit weird though, because I really do feel uncomfortable if the attention is put on me, and this was one occasion where it was difficult to get out of that! While we were there, I got given a card, a HMV voucher and a book – “The Bluffer’s Guide To Football”… though I kind of feel that it may have been more useful six years ago!!

Then 15 of us went down to Parrs Wood to the Megabowl for a couple of games of bowling, and it was quite good fun, and it looked like everyone who went enjoyed it. By some kind of miracle, I managed to win my first game…

  1. GARETH – 139
  2. BRIAN – 122
  3. JOE “THE KID” EVANS – 111
  4. KATRINA – 108
  5. IAN – 66

…but almost came last on our second!! Strangely enough I don’t have those scores!! Ian did a heck of a lot better though, coming either first or second!

There are photos of the night here.

Christmas party #2

Last night I went to my second Christmas party in a week! I guess this was probably be the last social event for me for a long while, so I’ve been making the most of these last couple!

Like last year, we had our party along with all of the Manchester United employees, and it was provided by ‘The Christmas Company’ again… the theme this time was ‘Gatecrash The Kremlin’ – so there was quite a bit of Russian music and Cossack dancing going on!

The meal was pretty good, and we didn’t have to pay for our drinks… so the night didn’t cost me anything… which was definitely a bonus (especially since my heating died on Sunday and I’ll be paying to get that fixed this week!)

They had dodgem cars there but I didn’t get to go on them because I couldn’t be bothered queuing(!), as well as a fairground stall where you had to try and hammer a lever to get a rubber frog into a container – though after about 10 failed attempts I gave up!

You can see the party photos here.

Christmas party #1

Last night I was at Airplay‘s Christmas party (I’ve done various freelance work for them over the last year) and it was a pretty good night.

They’d invited all of their freelancers along as well as the regular staff, so I knew a few people there, but there were quite a few faces I’d seen around their offices who I spoke to for the first time at the party!

Leighton even came up from Birmingham for it, and everyone seemed to enjoy the night… he was slightly the worse for wear by the end of it! There was a free bar until half midnight, and Dave Walker made the mistake of buying a drink at 12.40am… and ended up buying a single Malibu and Coke for £7.50. He was well hacked off!!

There are a load of photos from the night here.

Got my second Christmas party – the Manchester United one – on Monday evening, and that one should be really good if last year’s is anything to go by.

Paint The Town

Just got back from Bradford where I went to see the first night of Delirious’ Paint The Town tour at the Abundant Life Centre, and it was a really excellent night. The only weird thing really was I think it’s the first gig I’ve been to on my own, which means in some ways it wasn’t as good as when saw them in Bradford last year because it was much nicer being there with really good company.

But anyway – my observations – a great show… Martin Smith’s voice sounded really good… in a much better shape than when I saw them at Soul Survivor in the summer. Having heard ‘Now Is The Time’ and ‘Miracle Maker’ live earlier this year, I knew they kicked serious butt live, and the other Mission Bell tracks sounded better live too… as is often the case with Delirious.

I’d never been to Abundant Life before, and it’s a slightly weird place as a venue… certainly felt more like a church gig than normal. Also they made use of their screens, and a 2 camera mix was used throughout (pretty well done actually), and what reminded me of the old days a lot was the fact that all the words were projected on the screens, which did seem a bit out of place at a gig… but was actually quite handy ‘cos I didn’t know all the words to the new songs! Saw Joe Wardman who was working on the merch stall there (an old friend from working at Spring Harvert who goes to Abundant Life) – I’ve not seen her for about four years, though we do chat occasionally on messenger… We weren’t able to talk too much because the stall was a bit manic, but will try to catch up properly sometime in the future.

Setlist: Intro – pre-recorded strings version of ‘What A Friend’, Here I Am Send Me, Rain Down, God In Heaven, Solid Rock, Miracle Maker, Lead Me, Fires Burn, History Maker, Paint The Town Red, Heaven, Take Of Your Shoes, Majesty, Now Is The Time
Encore: Love Falls Down, Every Little Thing
(Pretty sure the set list’s right… it’s done from memory – I used a bizarre song association memory technique to remember it!!)

Christmas Party, plus Dave & Ceri’s Wedding

Well it was the MUTV Christmas Party last night, and for the first time in the years I’ve been there, I actually enjoyed it!

This year, we’d all been invited along to the main Manchester United staff Christmas party, so it took place in a massive marquee in one of Old Trafford’s car parks, which was done out in the theme of Rio (apparently!) We got a four course meal, and then there was a disco, free bar, and a mini fairground! There were loads of people there, and it was a bit weird have Sir Alex Ferguson just 3 tables away from where we were sitting! I took some photos of the night and you can see them here.

Two days earlier and it was Dave and Ceri’s wedding! It took place at Ivy Cottage in Didsbury, and it was packed!

It was a really nice service, and saw a few people I hadn’t seen for a while.

Then we headed up to Bolton for the reception, and because it’s nearly Christmas, the decorations had quite a festive feel, and was all really arty! It was a nice day, and Dave and Ceri obviously were really enjoying it!

You can check out the photos from the day here.

Delirious gig in Bradford

Well it’s my birthday today, and I’m at work! Woohoo!

But last night was a little better anyway… went to see Delirious on their World Service tour in Bradford with Sa – and the gig rocked!!

We got there quite early so grabbed some food, then met up in the theatre’s bar with Caroline and a couple of her friends who were also there – but they had tickets for up on the balcony, so we all grabbed a quick drink before we headed down to the main floor for the gig. They were really good – it was quite a different atmosphere from when we saw them back in January… it was certainly a spectacular show! The support act – RRWC – were also pretty good, and impressed me enough for me to buy their CD (which I even got signed by the band, even though I didn’t know who any of them were!!)

There was quite a funny moment when a couple that I know from working at Spring Harvest – Emma and Iain – were called up onto the stage to do a slow dance whilst the band played ‘What Is This Thing Called Love’!

So all things considered, it was a totally brilliant night!

Anyway, back to my birthday… I’m so happy to be officially a year older! Prezzie wise, got a bit of cash from family, and a really cool T-shirt from Miss Wallace, so not too shabby really!

Land of Hope & Glory…

Went to BBC Proms In The Park in Cathedral Square last night, which was the Manchester part of last night of the Proms. I was with Sarah, Emma, their friend from work Katheline, and Becky – and I’d been really looking forward to it, although the weather forecast for the evening wasn’t too good…

Got there about quarter to six and were confronted by a big ‘Wimbledonesqe’ queue! So we joined the back, and eventually managed to get into the Square.

We found a bit of ground to sit on, and the concert got under way – but after a few minutes, it started raining a little bit… then that light shower turned torrential and we got absolutely soaked! I was wearing a waterproof so I wasn’t too bad, but my trousers were drenched. We eventually had to stand up because where we were sitting was quickly becoming quite a river!

A trip to a nearby pub halfway through was called for so that we could try and dry out a bit, then we ventured back for the last section which saw a link up with the Albert Hall for all the ‘classics’… Rule Britannia, God Save The Queen and Auld Lang Syne. I must admit though that I didn’t really like singing them because I don’t think I agree with the a lot of the sentiment behind them! It’s kind of very “We are British and we are the best” which is a bit rubbish really, and I’m not overly fussed about the Queen ‘ruling over us’! So it was more of a micky-take sing-a-long rather than a meaningful moment!

Took some photos on my phone and you can see them here.

Matt’s wedding, plus watching Euro 2004!

It’s been a very long weekend! I was at Matt Passey’s wedding to Amy down in East Sussex on Saturday, and I had to get there quite a few hours beforehand because I was looking after the sound for the service. I had to leave the house at 5am (after getting to bed gone midnight!) and then met up with Dave Plumb down in London, and grabbed a lift with him down to Crowborough.

The wedding was really cool – and it was good seeing a load of people from Tamworth who I hadn’t seen for ages. And on the Saturday night, I stayed over at Dave’s in Willesdon Green. There are a load of photos from the day here.

Since I was in London, I headed over to Hammersmith on Sunday morning to catch up with Bin. It was a really hot day, so we grabbed some sandwiches and had lunch in a park right next to the Thames. Then, I met up with Dave because I was giving Hope a lift back to Birmingham on my way up north, and then got back to Manchester at about half six.

Then I got all patriotic because England were playing their first match in Euro 2004, and went with Sa to Exchange Square in town to watch the game on the big screen. There were quite a few thousand people there so it was a really good atmosphere, and it looked like we’d beat the French, but the score totally turned around in the last few minutes. Hopefully England will do a bit better when they play again on Thursday.

Snow Fun!

Yet another mad Monday night…

I got back from work yesterday evening at about nine o’clock, just as it started snowing. I didn’t think it was going to settle, but by eleven o’clock, it had really set in. Now I’m not saying I’m easily led or anything (!) but Jamie got all excited about this sudden bout of wintry weather, and decided that he wanted to go sledging and for some reason I agreed to go as well!! So at about midnight, Jamie was driving me, Dave, Andy and Fran up towards Glossop and the Snake Pass which leads to Sheffield. Now to be honest, the Snake Pass is a bad enough route in regular conditions, but hey, here we were heading up there in blizzard conditions! We started up the windy road up the Pennines (going round a ‘Police Accident’ sign that was blocking the bottom of it!), and I was a tad nervous as we headed towards the top – mainly due to the low visability from the heavy falling snow, and what was effectively an ice rink below us with a major drop to the side of the road!!

We passed a couple of abandoned cars on our way up there, and when we got to the top, pulled over in some kind of lay-by which looked pretty much like the rest of the landscape – ie, white! We got out of the car, and it was ABSOLUTELY FREEZING!! I’d borrowed a hat from Jamie, and was wearing two t-shirts and a jumper under my big coat, plus some pretty thick gloves, but still my teeth were chattering! It was quite weird actually, because although there was no light up there apart from our torches, and the blizzard was stopping you from seeing too far in front of you anyway, the whiteness of the whole area allowed you to see even with the torches off!

So we started walking down the Snake Pass through the snow, pushing a make-shift sledge down the main road! Andy managed to drop into a ditch off the side of the road which gave us some amusement, and we passed a car that had rolled off the road into a pit of snow, which re-ignited my concerns of us driving back down to go home later! Anyway, we found this field with a really steep bank which went down to a stream that was ideal for sledging and spent quite a bit of time up on there. I only went down the bank once because I was mainly taking photos, and it took ages to get back up because the snow was so deep, and I kept slipping back down the hill! At least I didn’t end up in the stream at the bottom – that honour goes to Jamie!

You can see the photos I took here – some aren’t the best because the conditions and visibility were so poor, but you get the general idea!!