Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Bloody Fraud

I’ve just learned about Elizabeth Holmes, former CEO of defunct medical equipment company Theranos (so close to Thanos that I actually wrote that first!) she’s 6 months older than me, almost to the day, and 16 years ago, she convinced investors and the general public that she was on the verge of a breakthrough that would change modern phlebotomy (that’s blood tests). She claimed that she had invented a machine that could run “1000 tests” on a single drop of blood. It was a spurious claim that was never substantiated, never fully peer reviewed and never approved by the FDA. 

Somehow, the company continued to receive funds from investors, hire people (and fire them for asking too many questions), and run inaccurate tests on real human patients for many years. The company dissolved in September 2018, 15 years after its incorporation.

Elizabeth Holmes, disgraced CEO of Theranos

This tale made me think a lot. This woman is a generational peer, and she had a really good idea. Anyone who knows me knows I am constantly full of good ideas. But where we differ is in our approaches. She dropped out of Stanford after 2 years and never completed her degree in chemical engineering. She didn’t have the knowledge to make her idea work. It’s a shame because a 1 drop testing solution would be beneficial to so many people. It really was a good idea, and perhaps with time, patience, study, and due diligence it could have been viable. 

She became the youngest female self-made billionaire. Meanwhile, in the same amount of time, I’ve drifted from job to job, I’ve never really found my place in the world, until now. Everyone has their own timeline. I might only just be starting my journey to greatness, but then I haven’t committed the biggest fraud of the 21st Century, so... silver linings! 

In a way, she’s what you’d describe as a typical millennial (as described by many a baby boomer). Impatient, entitled, and not prepared to do the work. Others, including John Carreyrou (the Wall Street Journal journalist who broke the story) have called her a sociopath. I think she was foolish, and the lies got out of hand. But I also think that ultimately, she set out to deceive.

If you’d like to learn more about this story, I’d enthusiastically recommend The Drop Out Podcast from ABC Radio available on iTunes, and you can read John Carreyrou’s latest article on Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos here in the Wall Street Journal

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Reflections on the Manchester Bomb from "That Woman"

The 22nd May 2017 started like most others. It was a Monday, and I went to work as normal and had an ordinary day, and so did 22 ordinary families. I actually got an early night after a delicious, healthy dinner prepared by my best friend Erika who was living with us at the time.

All of a sudden I was pulled out of deep sleep by sirens. Nickie apologised, but in my sleepy haze, I told her not to be silly, it wasn’t her fault sirens were going past the house. But the ambulances were on a video on her phone, around 20 of them, driving through the city centre. At that point, nobody knew what had happened. There were rumours on Facebook and Twitter, but nothing solid. I was still a little delirious from being woken, but was hoping that perhaps the noises could have been balloons popping, or a speaker exploding. The two of us wouldn’t get much sleep for the rest of the night. Dad called, checking that we were OK, he didn’t know who Ariana Grande was, and so wasn’t sure if we’d have been at the concert. We kept a close eye on GMP Twitter until around 1:15am  on the 23rd when they released a statement to say that a device had been detonated, with more details about those killed and injured coming throughout the night.

The following morning I drove into work and listened to Joel and Lorna on Heart, and Phil Trow on Radio Manchester. The 24 hour news cycle was in full swing and there was no escaping the reality of what was happening in our city. Allan Beswick had been hosting his late night call-in show as the news broke, and the Breakfast show was filled with live commentary from people who had been there; people who had seen things nobody should ever see. The stories were graphic, emotional and presenters on all channels were moved to tears, shaking the professional stiffness normally shown in these situations.

Stories were pouring in about the amazing taxi drivers who ferried people in and out of the city all night for free; of the first responders and locals who opened up their homes. I was proud of our city that day, and every day since.

Aj Singh - One of the taxi drivers who offered free passage to those affected

Coming into work there was an air of shock and despair. People didn’t quite know what to do with themselves. Our amazing senior team took the whole floor off the phones and gave us time to process what had happened. They spoke of the resilience of our people, and we learned that several people had been personally affected, and had lost someone. Our colleagues across the world sent messages of support and love, and our customer were so kind when they found out we were based in Manchester.

Our team had never been closer than we were that day. People coped so well, just getting on with it. We were allowed to leave early and attend the memorial that evening in Albert Square if we wanted to, so I drove 3 colleagues to town and met Nickie, along with thousands of others spilling out of the square and down Princess Street and Cross Street. People wanted to share in their grief. Chetham’s School choir posted a video of them singing “Don’t Look Back in Anger”, and the sentiment felt right.

Despite being far removed from what had happened – I wasn’t injured, I didn’t know anyone personally who had died – I felt things deeply, as I always do, and so, immersed in the constant cycle of news coming out every minute of every day, I fell into a deep depression, punctuated by the names of the dead. I wrote poetry, I cried, I went to bed early, I posted on Facebook. I couldn’t move past it.

On 25th May, a 2 minutes silence and vigil was planned at St. Ann’s Square. I had made the decision that I would stay at home and observe the silence in quiet reflection alone. It was my day off, so I went to my Slimming World class in the morning and the atmosphere was, as would be expected, sombre. Somewhere over the next couple of hours I decided that spending the rest of the day alone would be a bad idea. I drove the car to Levenshulme Station and took the train to town. It was a scorching hot day and I was wearing shorts, sunglasses, a cap and a comic book graphic teeshirt. I know this because that “iconic look” was plastered over the internet later that day! I decided that I didn’t want to turn up at the square empty handed, so I bought a big bunch of sunflowers from Marks and Sparks at the station, and made my way through the throngs of people to St. Ann’s Square.

When I arrived with, probably 40 minutes to spare, the square was already pretty packed. If I close my eyes now, I can still smell the bouquet of the floral carpet that started at the Robert Cobden statue, and radiated half way down the square. It was getting busy, and I started to feel nervous. You must remember that there was still tension in the air, and armed police stationed throughout the city centre.

I went to Seen, the designer optician shop in St. Ann’s Parade where Erika works, to meet up with her and we sat with a coffee talking for a while. With 5 minutes until the vigil, we emerged into St Ann’s Square to an unending sea of people; Mancunians, press and people from outside the city. The silence was observed by everyone, in the square and beyond. There were lots of children and babes in arms, and not one of them made a sound. It was eerily beautiful. Next came a huge round of applause signifying the end of the vigil, and then silence again. I became nervous as this second silence hung heavily across the city.

I don’t know what made me do it, but I started singing “Slip inside the eye of your mind, don’t you know you might find, a better place to play?” The song had been in my head since I heard Chetham’s singing it days before, and I had always been a fan of Oasis since my formative 90s childhood. A lady, Jackie, joined in behind me, and slowly but surely, the sound spread out through the crowd. The sound grew larger and larger and by the first chorus, half the crowd was singing along with me! I heard a shout from the back “come on, sing up, you heard her!” and all of a sudden everyone had joined in! It was an electric moment which still gives me goosebumps to this day. As the last notes waned, and the crowd began to disperse, I was surrounded by people wanting to shake my hand and give me supportive hugs and say thank you. Josh Halliday, a reporter for The Guardian had caught the moment on his phone, and had tweeted it to his thousands of followers. What happened next was absolutely unexpected.
Video courtesy of BBC 5 Live/Audio courtesy of The Guardian

I was interviewed by media from across the world; The Guardian, Sky News, a Danish TV network, and later on that day ITV and Channel 4. The hustle and bustle of those next few days helped me to process what had happened in my home city. I still remember Dad calling to tell me that Noel Gallagher was on TV talking about how “That Woman” started singing at the St. Ann’s Square vigil, and a message from my brother who was at the Courteeners concert. I received hundreds of supportive messages from the most unexpected places. People I hadn’t seen or spoken to in 20 years got in touch. I reconnected with an old friend that I had fallen out with. Strangers tweeted me and got in touch via Facebook. I even got a bunch of flowers from Noel Gallagher! The most significant and poignant message I received was from a gentleman who was injured in the IRA bomb in Manchester in 1996. He told me that watching me singing helped him let go of his anger after 21 years.

In the intervening months between then and now, I have seen the popularity of the song grow and grow. Noel Gallagher talks about it often (although he STILL refers to me as “That Woman” who started singing!) and it is played up and down the country every day. Manchester has recovered. Those brave people who were injured with shrapnel, the families of those who died, the first responders – they have begun to recover, but many have been left in constant pain. Some are unable to sleep without nightmares. Some will never see their child, mum, brother, partner again because of one despicable act of cowardice.

Don’t Look Back in Anger has become a Manchester anthem again, just as it was 20 years ago. The song, now a song of defiance against terror, has helped me out of the dark hole of depression. It helped me look at the positives in my life, and with the help of an amazing life coach – Heidi Mavir – has allowed me to come off anti-depressants after 15 years. This all sounds like a big ask from one song, but for me, Don’t Look Back in Anger has helped me to stop being “That Woman” and to start being Lydia again.

Monday, 19 March 2018

Instructions on Confidence

I'm Lydia, and you might know me from such Facebook posts as "I'm spiralling" and "I fell in a hole".

Outwardly I scream confidence, but inside?

Put it this way, I am what happens when you put armour on a jellyfish. My armour is my wit, my empathy, and my smile.

A warning to begin with; this blog jumps around a bit. It’s not linear because I’m not linear.

My parents have always raised me to be confident. There are numerous videos of me singing, dancing, holding court with my aunts and uncles, and generally being the centre of attention.

Little Confident Lydia
(Author's Own)

Before we go on, I must talk about privilege. I know that despite my brown face and femaleness, I am extremely privileged. I have a wonderfully middle-class life in Manchester with my wife and our two cats. I’m university educated with two degrees, and I’m in fulltime employment. This is how and why I am able to exude faux confidence when I'm depressed. It's a long learned skill.

When I was 10, a girl in my class decided to bully me.

What followed was 15 years of victimhood and my confidence was knocked at every turn. People who didn't like my confidence picked on me, chipping away at my armour.

In 2007, I started the long road back to some semblance of confident me. I applied to appear on How To Look Good Naked with Gok Wan. I was selected and went down to London, a few times a week, for 6 weeks to be pampered, preened and polished. They told me I was great. I needed to hear it.

The 6 weeks culminated in a nude photoshoot and a catwalk show at The Trafford Centre.
And then everything was ok!

Of course, I'm kidding! I was filled with pseudo-confidence, bravado. Despite the joy of doing How To Look Good Naked, I was plagued with the spectre of mental health. I am PROOF that you can be destroyed by mental health problems and STILL appear to be confident.

My depression started at around 15 years old when my parents moved away for work and I went to live with a family from church while I did my GCSEs. I was 15 so I thought I knew everything, but in reality, I had compartmentalised. I was being bullied, I was just discovering my sexuality, and I was, at times, not able to see my parents when they came to visit me.
Supporting Behind the Mask Mental Health Charity
(Author's Own)
The trickle of sadness started there and grew into a looming, snarling black dog over several years until medical intervention.

After the show, it took years to work out what confidence actually was. At this time I was still being bullied, by a so-called friend. I was taking months off work unable to get out of bed and I was miserable in my job. 

So how did I get it back?

Lesson #1

Make changes.

I left my job at the Council in 2008. It was a job that consisted of speaking to mostly vulnerable people to get them to pay their council tax arrears. It was a toxic environment where, again, I found myself bullied. I was also being micro-managed, belittled, and disciplined for just existing.

I think it was my brown face, queer haircut and outspoken desire for change within the department that she hated. But who knows?

So I went back to university! I did a teaching degree and took a break from myself.

Lesson #2

Find your passion.

Around the same time, I started working for Chorley FM (yes it's real) on their LGBT show. It was a revelation! I could talk to my heart's content, be politically engaged and outspoken, and play music, following in my dad's footsteps. From there I moved to Gaydio, did a spot on BBC Radio Manchester, and then joined the Gay Agenda team, guesting on a weekly radio show (now a lively podcast). 

When I'm presenting, or guesting, I am unashamedly outspoken and confident.

Lesson #3

It's OK to be someone else for a bit.

In 2010, a friend asked me to take part in a drag king competition. It wasn't my first foray into drag, but I hadn't done it in many years. I got through to the final and ended up leading the Pride Parade as Our Kelly, just behind Sir Ian McKellan. 

Since then I have done drag all over the country. I have performed at Pride festivals, hosted burlesque shows, and even have my own night "The Boi Zone". I'm never as confident as I am when I'm in drag behind a literal mask, and that's OK.

Lesson #4

Find confidence in the bad stuff.

It's easier to be confident when you're happy and healthy. But the place I found the most confidence was my depression. Coming out loud and proud about my depression and anxiety about my suicidal feelings and hopelessness, when to others it seemed like everything was great, helped immensely. 

When you tell people, they tell you and you find confidence in the sharing of those dark secrets.

Lesson #5

Be an imposter

Whatever I'm doing, I feel like I'm faking it. So I embrace that. I behave the way a competent person would. This is how I push myself forward, by just doing the thing I think I can't.

Like sharing this.

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Notes From the Queer Ghetto

Across the world, "Gay Villages" provide a safe-space for LGBT people who have struggled for many centuries (thanks colonialism)! From San Francisco's Castro District (arguably the first "out" LGBT Quarter) to New York's Christopher Street, these are important historical areas. They should be recognised as such (what's the step down from a UNESCO heritage site?)

I live in Manchester, and grew up in its suburbs. Our Gay Village - Canal Street and its surrounding areas - brought me up and out. By today's standards, I was a late queer bloomer. I came out a little bit, at age 17, and fully by age 20. I came out fully thanks to the safety and support of my university LGBT society (Edge Hill 2002-2005). I was a self-labelled banner waving dyke. My first trip to Manchester's Gay Village was in 2003. I had, of course, seen the marvels and mystery of this magic street on television in the '90s. But actually visiting for the first time, my eyes were opened. I'd never seen so many LGBT people in my life! Later that year, I attended EuroPride and my love for the area was cemented.

Canal Street looking West from Minshull Street
By Parrot of Doom - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,
I have learned about its history and significance to the LGBT community. It was the scene of the Aids massacre in the '80s, it was the hope of the community at a time when you would be gay bashed if you went anywhere else; and it was home to many protests against discrimination and hatred (and still is). In the winding back streets of the Gay Village (known to those in the know as simply "The Village"), you'll find the remnants of this once booming community - support services, a local football team, the Gay Gordons, all coming together.

Recently I have seen so much outrage and horror about the developments within the boundaries of Whitworth Street, Portland Street, Princess Street and Minshull Street. There has been talk of residential property for - shock horror - families set to destabilise the status quo. But I have to ask a question of the LGBT community - what is it that you want? A non-viable ghetto where business people can’t keep their businesses open? Because that’s what we have now (it would appear). The number of businesses that have shut down in the past 10-15 years is reaching double figures - Bar Risa (standing empty for over 10 years), Essential (empty for 4 years), Villaggio, Eden (now Delicatezzi), two short lived restaurants in the space next to Richmond Tea Rooms, Sackville Lounge, Bandit (now replaced with the fantastic No.1 Canal Street), Coyotes.
Canal Street looking West from Chorlton Street 
By David Newton, CC BY-SA 2.0,
I would love to see the area become more like the Castro district in San Francisco - with shopping, living, and entertainment - maybe even a bakery! Right now it is only clubs, bars and hotels, along with LGBT charities. I support The Village as much as I can - I run a monthly karaoke night, I sometimes work on the doors, I occasionally go out drinking, I frequent the restaurants for Sunday Lunch. But I very rarely go 'out out'. Let’s be honest, the current village is catering for a demographic that is on the decline. It's on the decline for good reasons. The kids don’t want to be ghettoised. They want to be out, proud and fierce in the NQ, Deansgate, the suburbs. They don’t have the reverence for the safety of our village because they’ve never needed it - and please remember, this is a good thing!

Everything changes. Gentrification is fucking awful - but so is a 15 year stagnation and decline. Every year it gets harder for the bar owners and business owners to keep running. Overheads are high, custom is spotty. Queer people don’t want to pay to get in anywhere (not even £1). They want their drinks cheap, and their entertainment high quality. They complain if drink prices reflect the prices across Manchester (I pray they never drink in London!)

So what am I trying to say?

Things need to change. Those changes can be positive. But if you really want the Village to stay as it is - then you’re going to have to start using it! Not just once in a while, not just at Pride, not just once a month. You need to spend your money there every week and not elsewhere.
You have a choice of where to spend your money, and if you choose to spend it outside of the Village, then you can't really complain when the city decides that something needs to change, nor when you look around and find are no LGBT people there.

I will end with a conversation I’ve had many times over the years.
“Canal Street is getting too straight” someone will say...

“Babe, if the place was full of Queers right now, there would be no room for other straight people now would there?” I reply.

But it's not.

Thursday, 8 March 2018

WOMANchester - Female DJs are KILLING the scene

DJ Nickie B, DJ Easy Tiger & Gina Breeze
Manchester has long been known as a hotbed of musical talent, and the DJ scene is no different. The list is long - Dave Haslam, Hewan Clarke, Mike Shaft, Graeme Park, Mike Pickering, Irfan Rainy, Simon Nicks (Nicksy); and Manchester’s scene is thriving with venues like Albert Hall, Sound Control and Suburbia to name but a few.

But while male DJs often have top billing in this great city, the women are often unknown, operating in smaller venues, working bloody hard and travelling the length and breadth of the country to share their talent.

Gina Breeze
Gina Breeze
Gina Breeze (Miss B) was given a residency early in her career at the legendary SpeedQueen club and her love of House Music blossomed, Gina gained great support culminating in an invitation to play on the G-Stage at the world-famous Glastonbury Festival.

In 2013, Gina beat off over 300 entries to win the Parklife Festival Producer Competition with her own killer track ‘Don’t Stop’. The track was snapped up by Layers, an Italian Record Label who are focusing on infectious house beats.

In 2015 still producing under 'MissB' - Gina had her 1st E.P released with NYC's Get Up Recordings!
Gina is probably best known for her work with Homoelectric spinning her sizzling beats to sold out crowds. You will find Gina playing regularly at Manchester’s newest and most stunning hotspot, The Refuge.

Additionally, Gina is producing original music in the studio and her latest E.P is out now on Classic Music Company.

Hazel O’Keefe

Hazel O'Keefe at the Northern Power Women Awards

Hazel, known as one of the hardest working women in Manchester’s club scene founded Dulcet Sounds, an award winning not-for-profit event management company in 1998. The company encompasses popular Manchester brands, all developed by Hazel with the commitment to nurture female talent, not only in the North West, but internationally (Hazel has big ideas and the work ethic to fulfil them!) – The Women in Comedy Festival, Club Feminista and Laughing Cows Comedy, to name but a few. Her work has been recognised by Manchester City Council who awarded her ‘Women of Arts and Culture.’ and commended by the Northern Power Women Awards in 2017 as an Agent of Change.

‘Hazel’s work has nurtured and empowered hundreds of female performers to explore their talent by providing a supportive space.

Hazel has achieved a unique way of supporting women in Manchester and has created a legacy for women both at a local and international level in an art form where women are still under represented.’ Manchester City Council.

Hazel is resident DJ at Club Feminista serving up a melting pot of guilty pleasures, soul, rnb, funk, disco, deep house, reggae, indie, rock, pop and plenty of goodies that don’t fit into any category, not to mention the old MADchester favourites!

Her latest venture at TriBeCa Manchester is to bring more arts and culture to Manchester's gay village.

Screw the DJ

DJ Screw
DJ Screw (or Caroline Wright to her friends) plays Funky Vocal House and specializes in Retro House.

Screw, so named as she worked in the prison service, like many djs, started developing her talent as a hobby at home. She bought a home mix from Argos and, in her own words, didn’t have a clue what she was doing! She is completely self-taught. Her first public performance came after she was asked to DJ at a friend’s 30th birthday party, about 7 years ago. Steph Kay, the owner of Vanilla Bar in the Gay Village, was at the party and asked her do a retro set at the bar for that year’s Manchester Pride. Her success built from there, with a residency at Vanilla.

Two years ago, Screw entered a competition for all of the village DJs for which she had to produce a 30 minute mix. She beat all the other DJs, mostly men, winning a half hour set on the Pride main stage.

Since then she has opened Manchester Pride’s main stage, worked at events with Hazel, DJ Nickie B and the other Dulcet Sounds DJ, performed at SLD (S**t Lesbian Disco) and the national women’s festival LFest, to name but a few.

DJ Sandra D

DJ Sandra D has recently returned to Manchester from the bright lights of the capital. She has been linked to many successful venues and nights. Here are just a few: Ruby Tuesdays, GrlWld, Tribeca Manchester, Ku Bar, Candy Bar, Scala, Miss-Shapes, Popstarz, Ghetto.
2011 was a monumental year with the TV show Candy Bar Girls, following the lives and loves of London lesbians and myself in my new role as DJ and Promoter of Candy Bar.

She first made a name for herself on the gay alternative scene as a popular, lesbian DJ at Popstarz and Ghetto. Having played at some influential nights on the gay alternative scene, she moved into promotional roles at those clubs after gaining experience in the role of Promotions Manager of Candy.

This Saturday, 10th March 2018, Sandra brings BICCY to TriBeCa Bar on Sackville Street. Biccy came together because of a love of partying. Who doesn't love a great night out with your mates? So combining their dedication to letting your hair down and unpretentious tunes, comes a Saturday that isn't serious. Dress up, dress down, wear whatever. Just be fabulous.

DJ Nickie B
DJ Nickie B

Nickie’s lifelong passion for music, particularly house and glitterbox, has shaped her performance. On their wedding day, Nickie’s new wife gave her a set of decks as a wedding present, and a new passion was born.

Self-taught using YouTube videos, and refined under the support and tuition of Hazel O’Keefe, Nickie has now been DJing professionally for 5 years. In that short time she has built up a dedicated following through her work at TriBeCa Bar and Club Tropicana. Starting her work as a DJ on the Burlesque Circuit in 2013, she soon became the resident DJ for several burlesque events in Manchester.

Not long after this, she joined Dulcet Sounds, an award winning, not-for-profit, Manchester based event management company who produce around 800 events per year.

Her DJ CV includes; The Village's newest bar, No.1 Canal Street,  the prestigious Sparkle Ball 2017, the highlight of Sparkle, the transgender celebration, Birmingham Pride’s Women’s Stage and LFest. She will be back at the Sparkle Ball in 2018.

Gemma Torr

Gemma Torr
Not your typical mobile DJ, Gemma Torr has the ability to bring the energy of 1000 Duracell Bunnies to any event. An ex-youth worker and teacher, Gemma fell into DJing when she realised that running kids parties was a far more enjoyable way of working with kids!

Originally from Rotherham, Gemma started DJing part-time whilst working in sales after the economy collapsed and the job she was made for (teaching adults) no longer existed. Her first gig was DJing in a dive of a Rotherham pub next to the football stadium playing Northern Soul on a touch screen system!

She landed a residency at Rotherham’s 3rd busiest pub, where she stayed for 6 years covering gigs as diverse as birthdays and weddings, and fisherman’s club meetings!

Gemma moved to Manchester in 2016 when she met her partner, and was immediately offered a residency at playing singalong Madchester, 90s indie, Britpop, cheese and retro rock to the punters at the Lost Dene on Deansgate. Hazel got in touch shortly after she moved to Manchester after hearing Gemma’s awesome Prodigy vs Spice Girls mash up, and since then she has worked for Club Feminista and other Dulcet Sound led events and even brought her partner’s Silent Disco venture to TriBeCa for their killer Chechnya Fundraiser in June 2017. This year Gemma is set to DJ at LFest for the second time.

DJ Easy Tiger

DJ Easy Tiger
I couldn’t complete an article about Manchester female DJs without mentioning DJ Easy Tiger. Although no longer based in Manchester, she started her career here in 2015. In just two short years she has won the Mixmag x Coors Light DJ Competition (2016) and has DJ’d all over Europe in Ibiza, La Manga and of course Manchester!

Her DJ sets include original versions dropped alongside sneaky re-edits and her passion is for playing house – of all kinds, classic, funky, soulful, deep, tech – there’s something for everyone!
She has worked with well-known national brands such as London Sound Academy, Meat Free, Urban Cellar, LFest and is a resident for Halfway House. Easy Tiger has also curated her own events ’Like a House on Fire' and ‘Back Room Disco’ and is a proud member of The Magnificent Seven Club spinning 7’ vinyl at the monthly party.

Sunday, 3 August 2014


I am just awesomely happy with 99% of my life right this second. I mean the wife, the job, the roof over my head... But then there's the added extras.

1) New voluntary job - I'm working for my favourite community again! The gays... Actually the LGBTQQs etc. I'm chairing a community sub-committee for the Village Business Association (VBA). It's challenging work and I love it. We've got a pre-pride village clean up on the 16th August and a whole host of other fabulous community engagement plans coming up so watch this space... Actually THIS space!

2) Fundraising - I am involved in a monthly fundraising Burlesque night - as compĂ©re with my darling wife on the decks. Mending Hearts raises money for various children's charities and their shows are amazing! Burlesque and cabaret from just brilliant acts!

3) Drag - I have returned to my first love, DRAG! With the help of Diane Rawson and Jaye Jones, I'm running a new monthly Drag King night at Polari, below Via Canal Street. It's on the last Sunday of the month and we have the best in Drag Kings from Manchester, London and beyond! Come down to the next one on the 31st August!

4) Workshops - After talking about it for 4 years, I've finally found a brilliant studio space - Thirty8 Create in Leigh where I will be doing Drag King workshops! I did one at Sparkle Manchester in July and realised that I can, at last, put my teaching qualification to good use! The first one is on the 30th August - just contact me via my website!

Really just need to keep the momentum going now. The suns out so I'm happy, but once those dark nights start again I'm going to really have to push myself... Must buy a light box!

Sunday, 6 April 2014


It has come to my attention that I haven't blogged at all for the entirety of my holiday... We have just been so busy, so I thought I'd take the opportunity whilst we are on the return Staten Island Ferry to write.

It has been an amazing honeyversary and I have found my spiritual home. Right now as we sail past Lady Liberty, I realise, I should be a New Yorker! 

We have learned all the tricks and ridden the Subway every day. I. Have begun saying 'line' rather than 'queue', 'trash can' instead of ''bin' and always ask for the 'check' rather than the 'bill'.

Things I will miss:
1) Looking out over Manhattan as I take the HBLR (Hudson Bergen Light Rail) to Jersey City.
2) The distraction of chatter in the native tongue.
3) American Netflix!
4) The kindness of folk in the city.
5) Christopher Street and the West Village - Like Canal St. and The NQ had a baby only gayer and more full of hipsters.
6) The Subway - terrifying at first, but once you get used to it, fun and full of adventure! (Also cheap - $30 for a week's unlimited travel throughout the 5 boroughs!
7) Uniqlo - a unique and very minimalist take on design... Been in and out of there all week.

There are many more I could mention. The best bit? Having my wife with me, every day for two solid weeks - from the Top of the Rock to the deepest Subway station I've ever seen! We have had a wonderful and happy time throughout, exploring at our leisure, eating copiously and walking miles.

Someday I will live here, you mark my words!

Lydia, from NY, over and out!

Bloody Fraud

I’ve just learned about Elizabeth Holmes, former CEO of defunct medical equipment company Theranos (so close to Thanos that I actually wro...