Manchester

Self-promotion : Challenge 23

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It’s all well sitting behind a screen and dreaming that one you’d like to see your play on a stage being performed by actors, or listening to a piece of radio that you wrote etc. This will only happen once you get your name out and the internet is a great place to start.

The goal is visibility. Name recognition can lead to industry awareness, respect, paid writing assignments, and greater creative control over your career. That would be a nice goal to aspire to, but I still need to pay the bills and working full time in the day job will be a reality for years to come. Somehow, Hollyoaks or Corrie aren’t going to come knocking, unless I can go to them with some credits to my name.

The first stop was to get some work published online so I sent off my CV and examples of written features. Two e-zines took me on as a features writer so long as I could contribute three articles per month. The first time I saw an article that I had penned published online with my name next to it, well that was a nice feeling. Always great to see your name next to something that you have put heart and soul into.

The next piece of advice I was given was to start a blog. Having no idea what I would write about, the only thing at the time that I felt confident writing about was running. My first blog title Sweaty Betty was born. I wrote in that for approximately nine months. Due to a serious back injury which affected my running, I neglected this and felt that I wasn’t in the position to blog on that subject given the current circumstances with my health.

I don’t know about other people, but thinking of a name for a blog is not the easiest of things to come up with. I rattled my brains for weeks to think of a catchy title, that would not only sum me up, but also be a reference to what my interests were. I wanted the blog to reflect my journey as a struggling writer, and then The Northern Scribbler was born.

The blog has only been live for nine months, but already has over 1800 views, and I’m pretty sure they are not all from my mum and the other half. It’s always a massive compliment when a complete stranger decides to follow my blog, as they don’t know me and they have taken the time to sign up to an email notification everytime I post something. I currently have 42 people who have signed up to following my blog and I appreciate every single one of them.

I’ve been taking part in @sofluid June writing challenge this month. I decided to participate as my entries to the blog were very sporadic and I wanted to spark some life into the site. As a result of doing this challenge the creator of http://www.writesofluid.com wanted to feature me in an interview about the challenge. This was a really nice request, I’ve never been interviewed for anything before – except jobs, and quite a compliment to be featured next to “proper published authors”.scribbler

Finally, in order for me to gain a greater knowledge of stories and structure I decided to become an online theatre reviewer. It’s a great way to see live shows and Manchester is rich in the arts industry, both with our fantastic The Lowry, Opera House and the Royal Exchange Theatre, but also it has a large fringe theatre scene which seems to be growing. Being part of this is such a privilege, and is also a cost effective way to see lots of exciting plays.
This is a post for http://www.writesofluid.com’s blog writing challenge. One blog post a day for all of June.

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BBC Salford Sitcom Showcase

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On Friday night I attended the second year of the  Salford Sitcom Showcase at the BBC Studios in MediaCity. A colleague from my masters course had managed to secure extra tickets, and even better the tickets belonged to the gold wristband brigade.

The gold wristband brigade are looked after, something that “cheap seats” moi was not used to. And of course made the most of the corporate hospitality (darling!).

I enjoy the thrill of being in the audience, whether it is at a concert, theatre or in television studios. As I write this, I will be attending the Celebrity Mastermind recording tomorrow night which reinforces my audience geekness.

The Salford Sitcom Showcase is an event for the BBC to platform six theatrical presentations of new potential sitcoms to local audiences and to the industry professionals. I do believe that Citizen Khan was picked up at one of these showcases last year.

The first sitcom was called Chain Gang and was written by Kevin Cecil and Andy Riley who wrote together on Little Britain and Spitting Image. More recently they wrote the international box office success Gnomeo and Juliet. The log-line for Chain Gang is “At Sunbeans every macchiato is served with a smile…apart from one branch in Bristol, where it’s more likely to be emptied over your head”. The premise for the show is that the execs at Sunbean send in the wimpy Alistair, fresh from management training to turn around the Sunbeans branch lazily run by the ruthless Natasha, who sleeps with musicians by telling them that she works for a record label.

I really enjoyed this pilot episode, especially Paolo, a camp, Brazilian who spends his working day at Sunbeans on his blackberry – and that’s not the flavour of muffins either. Paolo was played by Stefano Braschi and I could easily see him being the lead character in this show if it did get commissioned as he was far more likeable than Natasha. A gag about him cleaning his cock-ring in the milk steamer had tears of laughter rolling down my cheeks.

The second production was called Homeboys and was written by Pete Jackson, who had a stint of acting with Ant and Dec on Byker Grove. I found this show started off very strong, lots of laughter and characters were set up almost immediately in their first scenes.

David and Brian are Homeboys; 20 something brothers still living at home, despite their parents’ best efforts to get rid of them. David and Brian are total opposites, David is a cocky salesman, and Brian is a recluse who spends his time under the kitchen table in a homemade bar.  The lovely Pauline McLynn from Father Ted and Shameless series starred as their quirky mother and for me she stole the show as she helped David to trick his boss into thinking that he was going to make a killer sale in damp-proofing.

Afterwards, myself and my peers were introduced to a few people who were involved in the production. I spent half an hour chatting to Pauline aka Mrs Doyle from Father Ted who was the most delightful and friendly person I could have met.

Afterwards, it got me thinking to my own goals that I have with the writing. Maybe one day it will be a script by me that has made it onto the shortlist for a live performance – who knows?

But, one things for sure, I definitely could get used to having priority seating, access to the actors, all you can drink wine and platefuls of fancy nibbles.

I love Manchester Day

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Manchester is my home.

It’s been my home for the past 16 years after I left my previous hometown ofPreston.

Age 21, pregnant and madly in love I drove down the M61 to set up home and start a new life inManchester.

Who would have thought that as well as falling in love with one of it’s sons, I would also fall in love with the City.

 

Manchester is home to me, Preston feels like a distant memory.

My children were born here, I was married here, I went to college and university here and all my jobs have been here.

Yes Manchester– you really are home to me. I like nothing better than taking the tram into the city on a weekend, strolling down Deansgate, sipping coffee and looking at the wonderful buildings.

Today is I love Manchester Day and I for one am in full support of this. I have been wearing my t-shirt with pride and even writing at work with my pen. I would have loved to have stayed in the city tonight for the celebrations – an injury and childcare issues got the better of me.

What a wonderful way to celebrate the city’s response to the terrible riots a couple of weeks ago. It gives the people of Manchester(and our neighbouring Salford) how proud we are of our city.

All Mancunians whether born or adopted should get involved with the cause. Proceeds from the sale from the t-shirts go to Forever Manchester and RECLAIM – two fantastic causes.

The celebrations continue well into the weekend with the Pride parades and my highlight will be watching Formula 1’s Jenson Button racing down Deansgate on Bank Holiday Monday.

I am proud of this city, I just hope that the gutter rats who tried to sabotage it will learn some respect and eventually fall in love with the great city too.

I ♥ Manchester.

Rise up and prevail Manchester

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I am sat here watching Sky News, waiting for new information and hoping that my glorious city can be saved.

Manchester.

I was hoping that this wonderful city could stand up and be different from London, Liverpool and Birmingham. After all, we spent years rebuilding after the bomb of 1996 to make it the vibrant, exciting city that it is today.

Sadly, most of these thugs probably were not even born when we were hit by the bomb. They have no idea what goes into working hard and building something from scratch.

All they seem to care about is their MTV gangsta culture of fast cars, plenty of bling, mobile phones, designer clothes and shoes. They model themselves on Rihanna and Kanye West and embrace the “reality TV star”.

They have probably never learnt to read or write, had any role models growing up, engaged in sports, had a stable family life or done a days work in their lives. 

These are the minority of young people who give other young people a bad name. The ones who think it is okay to set fire to people’s businesses and homes, who think they have the right to steal from the hard working trader.

I have watched in disgust tonight as my city is once again pulled to pieces. However, this is nothing political (these thugs probably have no idea about politics) – it is just pure greed and a thirst for being on TV and on social networking sites.

This generation are the by-product of the boom of the single parent in the 1990s who would get pregnant to get a council house They have no solid family life, no morals, no dignity and have been dragged up rather than raised to be respectable.

I have been glued to Facebook and Twitter myself tonight and everybody is united in the disgust in this behaviour. The decent people want the army to be moved in and the TV cameras turned off while the army does their work.

For all decent youngsters – thank you for not joining in with this thuggery and hopefully the hardworking, decent part of society will prevail.

I heart Manchester.

Injury again……..

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I haven’t posted on here for a few weeks as I injured my back a couple of weeks ago.

Unsure of how I did this, it had been niggling for a few days and instead of taking a few days off work and resting it. I kept going in and working! Mainly due to the fact that I have only been in post for seven months so still trying to make a good impression with a 100% attendance record.

After speaking to my doctor on the Friday about my leg feeling numb, the doctor upped my medication and told me to go home and rest.

I took the Monday and Tuesday off work the following week, and always at the back of my mind was the fact that I was due to compete in the Manchester 10k on the Sunday! A lot of pressure given that I have raised a lot of money with my 10k races.

Salford 10k…..a very Good Friday

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Race day!

Adrenaline flows from the minute I wake up. As soon as the alarm goes off I remember why I have set it for 7am on Good Friday when I should be having a well earned lie in.

As I felt pretty good running the Trafford 10k I decided to keep to the same ritual that I undertook for that race. I had a slice of toast, cup of coffee and a berocca before I set off.

The sun was shining and the birds were singing, so I figured it may just be a scorcher of a run this morning. Putting on my new running shorts, t-shirt and the new investment of Nike trainers, I set off for race number 2 of my trilogy.

I arrived at the sports village and queued up for my race number 950. I started to feel very slightly nervous as my greatest fear in my racing life is being last. I know that someone has to come last, there is no shame in being last but its not something I wish to experience in a 10k race.

So, another dilemma for me. Do I run with my camel-back on to keep myself hydrated or do I chance it without. I wanted to try and run without it as many a run at home I have barely touched the water during that distance. It is more of a comfort thing for me as I have only ran twice without it and both times I felt like an item of clothing was missing. However, I decided to rely on the water station and left the camel-back in the car.

I made my way up to the start line with the other runners. I felt exhilarated……..I really enjoy the buzz of starting a race, and started a bit further forward than I did for my Trafford 10k as I didn’t want to get caught up in too much traffic.

And we’re off!!

It was getting hot and I immediately regretted not carrying my camel-back especially when the route took us through a dusty industrial estate. I could get through it though – only five miles to run and then stop for some water.

I felt really good during this race, not a sign of cramp, knee pain or any aches in my back. The new trainers felt good too – my toes felt spaced out and every step was cushioned, instead of feeling every pace shoot through my body.

I gained a lot of momentum at the half way mark. Firstly I got to hydrate, although I really don’t like throwing plastic cups on the road and do look for bins first. Secondly, I saw my husband and sons waving and yelling me on. That was a real boost. I think my speed picked up from 9:24 to 8:45 for a couple of miles.

I finished this race in 54:35 minutes which was a minute and twenty seconds faster than my previous 10k.

My next race is the Great Manchester 10k in May. That will complete my fund-raising trilogy, but is only the start of my distance running. I cannot believe I have caught the bug.

It was well worth getting up early for on the Good Friday!!

10k numero uno

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This year after starting to crack the pavements in a bid to get fit, and lose the last bit of weight that is refusing to budge from my post-10 year pregnancy belly, I set myself a challenge.

Springtime would boast three 10k races for me, and why not combine them for a spot of fundraising for the kid’s sports team.

I never do things by halves.

So, the first of my 10ks happened last Sunday. If I didn’t have people sponsoring me already I may have snuggled back up to hubs’ protecting armpit, as I could hear the rain on the roof as I lay in my nice, snug bed. At stupid o’clock on a Sunday morning I rose from my pit and started getting prepared for the first race.

Nerves were kicking in too. Always have and always will give myself a hard time over anything I do, and today was no exception! What if I fall over again in the road, what if a runner trips me up, what if I get lost, what if I come last……what if what if what if…….

Small bowl of cornflakes and a berrocca and I was ready to go. Accompanied by my supportive teenager who was very sweet when I told him he should go back to bed, he replied “there’s no one else to support you”…. Bless him!! So off we go.

On arrival I check in, get my number 319, ankle tag so I now resemble a “tagged offender” and a quick hide of the ipod. No ipods and earphones allowed in the race. Me being a rebel need to hear how many miles I have raced and at what pace so I mischievously place mine under the visable jacket with the headphones sneaked under my head sweat band. In my own silly way I was being a rebel, I am a grown up and if I want to run with music on I damn well will (but no one please shout at me if you do see me nice race marshallJ).

The race was great. Apart from misjudging the amount of layers I needed, given that it didn’t rain and it was warm I had to de-layer whilst trying to run. Then just after the 5k mark I saw other child with husband at the side of the road cheering me on. Trying hard not to cry I bravely ran past them and sped up a little (trying to impress the hubs with my newly found athleticism and also wasn’t sure if I was the last runner).

The first race ended with a time of 55.35 minutes which I was ecstatic with, given that I was running at 59 minutes in my training runs. I was buzzing too, got round the course in one go and I wasn’t last. Hurrah for the fat girl!

Next race in a months time.