Thursday, 6 May 2010

'I'm ambidextrous when it comes to strangling people' (Shan, D; 2010)

As my title may suggest, there is a man of many talents in our midst. A month or so ago, May was inconceivable as a time where I could enjoy myself. That said, only the first 12 days were foreseen as a murky mess of deadlines and stress

Yesterday, after posting uni work, we scoured the shops of Ormskirk, calling more specifically at WH Smiths and Waterstones to compare the prices of The Thin Executioner.

The Thin Executioner is the first instalment of a new series by author Darren Shan. When I was ten years old, I read his vampire series and loved them. I still have all 12 books lined in order on my bookshelf. I also have the first few of The Demonata series which regrettably I still haven't managed to read. Yesterday, though I still felt particularly ravaged by my cold, we set out in the rain to the train station. On our last visit to Liverpool we had discovered a leaflet in the pages of a Shan book advertising a signing. We decided we really must take this opportunity, and now I am so glad we did.

We wandered through the streets yielding umbrella's to ward off the grey skies; there wasn't much I could do to combat the cold; such adverse conditions to only the day before. We allowed Paul to nosy around Top Man and Primark before heading to the bookshop. We still had an hour and a half to kill and decided to sit in illy enjoying a hot chocolate, which apparently had been a popular choice with the punters that day. Once we had finished, we bought our books and joined a slowly forming queue.

Yes, they were mainly high school students, but I had been that age whilst reading the series. I also learnt whilst waiting that there is an adult series by Shan and his vampire books have been converted to manga too. We waited for forty minutes before the author arrived and a further twenty until we saw him. He was obliging and signed every single book which was placed in front of him. There were even those who presented him with his entire back catalogue! Hayley and I noticed Shan posing with his hands clasped around the throats of his ‘victims’. We were amused by this stance and as we were visiting him in a pair, I jokingly asked which one of us was going to be subject to his strangulation. He replied coolly, ‘I am ambidextrous when it comes to strangling people’, which I found particularly funny. So he managed to strangle both of us whilst looking pleased with his efforts.

Our books were signed, each with a personal message and sweeping signature. Hayley, for some reason, was jealous that I had a smiley face drawn in mine. The signatures themselves look rather prominent as they are written on a black page in silver marker pen. Signed and dated, a nice reminder of an author who encapsulated my mind in younger years inspiring my love for reading, and especially writing!

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Satan's Hollow

It's always nice to go somewhere new, it makes a change from the same old and is usually much more memorable. After work last week I went to an 18th birthday celebration. It was great to chat to my auntie and uncle etc who I haven't seen for quite a few months due to a hectic work schedule. I was really enjoying chilling out with them, but as I had promised to go to town with friends after my previous weekend away, I had to leave after being there for only an hour. Mum was very kind to drop me at the bus stop.

Many people, when I told them where I was going, asked where it was. For once, I didn't have the slightest clue. I met friends at Picadilly in Manchester as usual but then assumed sheep position behind Tom and Chris. They lead us down towards Yates before veering off to a side street. The odd bunch forming a queue alongside the building were my indication that this was where we were headed. At this moment, despite having spent a good twenty minutes on Piccadilly surrounded by cash machines, Tom decided he had no money. On our return from RBS, we still had a good 20 minutes or so of waiting. It turned out that there was a gig finishing up inside.

Entering the building, we were in a corridor lined with gambling machines which lead us past a locked set of doors to a main room. In the centre of the club there was a raised railed area. At this point there was a band playing some form of 60's music, a theme which continued til long after they had vacated the stage. Whilst they cleared the area, we had a look around. There were two bars, one near the door which we visited first; no cheap stuff, just blue WKD and Smirnoff for £2.80 a bottle. Good thing I wasn't looking to become paralytic. The DJ box was shrouded by a towering Satan with his arms streched along the walls. In the corner of the room was a 'mortuary', i.e. a raised platform lined with benches and I found myself a nice pillar to perch on whilst observing the crowd. The branches of the 'trees' above me glinted as they were decorated with fairy lights which dangled above.

There was a strange selection of people scattered about the room. This is why I love these places, no two people look the same; they embrace individuality presenting an interesting aesthetic for those like me. I didn't fail to notice an intriguing barman in a Misfits t-shirt which Del found amusing. I also spotted a face which looked strangely familiar...

The second room opened its doors, and, as the 60's music hadn't yet relented and was getting slightly tedious, we decided to investigate. We were greeted by the likes of Head Automatica, The Used, Lostprophets, Fall Out Boy and Disturbed. I liked it. This room held it's own in terms of intricate design. Skulls were embedded around the ceiling and branches gnarled their way across.

The familiar face was back and it turned out that he was with a girl from college and her boyfriend. We all pretty much kept as a group with one half leading the other between the main room and the smaller one. The music wasn't quite what we're used to on a night out, I thoroughly enjoyed the change but it took its toll on Tom and even Rachel, who are more used to the likes of The Venue and 42's. I really enjoyed the music, Adele and Andy are slightly more into rock rather than indie so they enjoyed the likes of Drowning Pool and Metallica.

I was right to ponder over the guy; when Andy introduced him as Charlie, it clicked into place. One of my high school friends had dated his brother and he went to my primary school too. Strange how faces you may not encounter often can stick with you. I hope we visit Satan's again soon, new places are always an adventure because you don't always know what to expect!