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Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Manchester Festival Fun - Dave Haslam, Bernard Sumner, Rocket Theatre; Carlos Tevez NOT Invited

Now, I'm not normally one to take much notice of football-related matters, particularly once the cricket season is underway; my involvement with the beautiful game really only extends as far as playing a risky but amusing game of Guess-The-United-Score-From-Mr-Liz's-Current-Mood once a week during the winter months. It has, however, come to my attention that a hirsute gentleman by the name of Carlos Tevez has requested to leave Manchester City because Manchester is too small and there's nothing to do.

My response to this is two-fold. Firstly, if only Mr Tevez had read an excellent and informative blog by the name of Things To Do in Manchester, he would have realised that, erm, there's loads of things to do in Manchester. Secondly, I can only surmise that Mr Hairy-Face has never been to Albert Square and sat outside in the balmy evening sun, sipping ice-cold beer with friends, during the Manchester International Festival, for this is what I did on Monday and there is absolutely nothing finer. Even better, we were waiting to see Dave Haslam interview Bernard Sumner in the Pavilion Theatre, a large tent masquerading as a fairy grotto for the larger-sized elf, strung with lovely twinkly lights and then seemingly heated to a pleasantly warm 200 degrees centigrade.

I'd been looking forward to this event for ages; since I was about 15 in fact, and I was privately a little terrified that it would all be a huge let down. Would grumpy, taciturn Bernard turn up, refusing to talk about the past and storming off stage after one question too many about Peter Hook? Or would we get the newly-invented housewife's choice Bernard, so recently seen on BBC Breakfast, chatting amiably about his role in two of the most important bands ever to come out of Manchester (or indeed anywhere)?

We got the second one, and Bernard was splendid. He and Dave Haslam talked for an hour and a half about anything and everything, and I think the audience would genuinely have been happy to sit and listen for another hour at least (notwithstanding the possibility that some of the smaller audience members might have melted clean away). The only flaw in the evening was that it took place on a school night, thereby forcing me to miss the DJ set from Terry Hall that took place afterwards (well, that and the highly urgent wee that inevitably follows the loveliness of sitting outside in the balmy evening sun, sipping ice-cold beer with friends etc etc.)

Mr Tevez has perhaps also overlooked that as well as the MIF, a second festival is currently running in Manchester - you know, that place where THERE'S NOTHING TO DO. The Not Part Of festival runs until July 16th, and offers an excellent mixture of theatre, music, literature and comedy - we went to see Rocket Theatre's production of Oscar Wilde's Lord Arthur Savile's Crime on Sunday at the Palace Hotel, and it - joyously - turned out to be an excellent mixture of theatre and cake.

When I say "production", this was essentially a group of greedy people sitting around large communal tables, eating scones and drinking tea, while two energetically talented actors ran around them, acting their socks off and generally giving their all on one of the hottest days of the year so far. The play has been cleverly shortened and adapted so that Martin Harris and Dan Willis can play all the parts, a ruse of which I am often suspicious because I am so easily confused (particularly if it's Shakespearean comedy - far too many twins), but here it works, maintaining the spirit of the play whilst also meaning that you're home in time for Horrible Histories.

Lord Arthur Savile's Crime is on again this coming weekend (9th and 10th July) as well as the following Saturday 16th July - you can go for afternoon tea, as we did, for £22 a head, or for a three course evening meal during the evening performance for £33. NB - if attending the afternoon performance, bear in mind when choosing your table that the dainty sandwiches are self serve and are located at the back of the room; watch your other half's look of confusion at you choosing such apparently rubbish seats turn to open-mouthed admiration as you shoulder-charge your way to the front of the queue, extra large Alan-Partridge-style plate in hand.

So, Mr Tevez, perhaps you're right about Manchester. Or, more likely, perhaps you just weren't looking in the right places.

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