Over the years, much has been made of the fact that England, as a population, is rather better at celebrating other people's festivities than its own. We do NOT, for example, get a day off work for St George's Day, and you certainly see more green-hatted individuals roaming drunkenly about the streets for St Patrick's Day than their dragon-slaying counterparts on England's equivalent. Even allowing for the fact that we've thrown ourselves pretty wholeheartedly into celebrations for Golden Jubilees and Royal Weddings in recent times, I can't help worrying for a nation whose idea of having a good time is to organise a concert involving Paul McCartney and Jessie J.
Little wonder, then, that Manchester is gearing itself up to revel next week in the name of Independence Day. A couple of items look worthy of note, and they couldn't be more different; even more helpfully, they are on different days. First up are the festivities at Spinningfield Restaurant and Bar Neighbourhood, whose 4th July Stars and Stripes Party starts at 6pm and offers a free cocktail for anyone who shares a name with a Hollywood star (they're thinking people like Will Smith, Pamela Anderson, Bradley Cooper, Kate Hudson, Julia Roberts and Michael Jackson). You have to take ID (one which has presumably not been altered with crayon), and as I do not share a name with any of these famous folk I will just have to content myself with ordering a big plate of their excellent lobster tacos and watching as Julia et al scrap it out at the bar.
Friday 5th July sees celebrations of an entirely different kind at The Whim Wham Cafe, whose Gindependence Day party is surely worth attending for the name alone. The night marks the return of The Whim Wham Club, albeit to a new home, and sees something of reunion of all the club's favourite performers: expect burlesque from original Manchester Girl Lola Pops, live music from Emma Divine, and sterling piano from Henry Botham, along with a gin saloon cocktail as part of your £6 entry fee. The evening starts at 9pm, and if you want to eat then drop them an email to reserve a table.
So if you catch me talking in a poor American accent next week, fear not: it's all just an excuse to drink a little more gin than usual...
- The Whim Wham Cafe is at Arch 64, Whitworth Street West, Manchester M1 5WQ.
- Neighbourhood is on Avenue North, Spinningfields, Manchester.