Friday 28th November Part 2
It's 7:30pm, Friday evening, I get in the car, start the engine and run it for a few minutes. There's ice all over the windows in the form of droplets of water frozen solid. As the ice starts clearing I take the ice scraper from under the seat, get out and clear the remaining ice off the windows. A big cloud of steam has collected behind the car from the exhaust in the cold air. I bang the scraper on the concrete clearing the ice off it, open the car door, get in, close the door, put the car into reverse and drive out of the driveway. I reverse onto the road, stop, put it into drive and go towards the city.
There's a dense fog limiting visibility, it glows around the yellow-orange streetlamps. I flick a switch to the right of the steering column once, extra headlamps come on, then I flick it another notch and the rear fog lights are on. The roads are quiet for a Friday. I put on the stereo and the cassette plays the 80's hits.
I'm going out on my own tonight. No-one could make it so I'm going to explore and enjoy venues on my own.
I'm in Didsbury now, park on the sidestreet and go over to the Slug and Lettuce. I go inside and order a soda water with no ice. The bar staff are polite, there's good music and a nice atmosphere.
I stand at the bar and enjoy being out on a Friday night being smart wearing a medium blue shirt, black trousers, belt, black shoes, and a black jacket.
Ok, this is good. I'm standing at the bar having a good time, it's nice. Around the room there are 7 groups of ladies, 3 couples, and 2 groups of guys. It's surprising how women outnumber men tonight, maybe it's the early dinnertime crowd.
I go to a high table with high chairs and sit there. I'm also enjoying the night because I've been working on the book today all day, so it's nice to be out after work satisfied that I've got lots done.
There are two ladies in their late 20's talking at the table next to me. I join in the conversation
Lady 1: "So when she dates a guy she's saying how he's not this, not that, as if she's going to marry him."
Lady 2: "She should go on a date and enjoy it."
Me: "Hey, you talking about dating? What kind of places do you go out to meet people?"
Lady 1: "We don't really go out very much."
Lady 2: "We go to peoples houses."
Lady 1: "The Northern Quarter is good though. Have you been there?"
Me: "Yes. I went to the Northern, that was ok. I liked the way it has the different rooms."
Lady 2: "Where's the Northern?"
Lady 1: "It's on Tib Street. I've been there too."
Lady 2: "Where else do you go?"
Me: "When it was warm weather I was going to Kro Bar Piccadilly Gardens."
Lady 1: "I used to go to the Kro Bar on Oxford Road."
Lady 2: "There's 3 Kro Bars now isn't there?"
Lady 1: "Yes."
Lady 2: "The food at the one near the university, I went there and it was very good."
Me: "I also like Tiger Tiger. You can go there and there's a bar downstairs, nightclub area upstairs and there's dancing."
Lady 1: "I don't go out dancing very much."
Lady 2:"Me neither, unless I'm very drunk!"
Lady 1: "My husband doesn't dance either, he's over there. We used to go out years ago but now I'm married and we go out for meals. My husband is 40, he doesn't look 40 does he?"
Me: "No. When I was at Tiger Tiger last week it was the guys who were 30 or 40 that had the best moves. There were a few of them dancing there. I think students today don't have the benefit of going clubbing like we did. In the last 4 years a lot of clubs have closed down so most people go to bars and don't dance every week."
Lady 1:" Do you have a girlfriend?"
Me: "No, not at the moment. I've got a few to go on dates with but they all want to meet up midweek."
Lady 1: "Yes, Thursday is a night for dates."
Me: "If they won't go out on the weekend to the city and dance, then I don't know if they're my type. I wouldn't want to end up dating someone and staying in watching Strictly Come Dancing or X-factor!"
We talk for a while longer. They're nice people and friendly, we get on well.
I say bye and leave the venue.
I send a text to Jackson (who I originally met at the Monday night social event in Didsbury) to see if he's out in the city tonight. It turns out he is. He's on a date and he reckons it will finish at 11pm.
I go to the car, get in, and drive towards the city.
I drive to the sidestreets near the Ritz, cars are roaming around the streets searching for a space. I drive to the end of the road, do a 3 point turn, drive back down the road and there's a free space. A car must have just left it so I park.
Now I'm walking through the city on my own at night. I've done this thousands of times before, but because lately I've always been out with someone it's more noticeable to me that I'm on my own. It's when a group of thugs walk towards me on the pavement I'm cautious. It's because I haven't got someone to watch my back. Me and Alex K were like a tag team, we could take on anyone – him with his boxing and me with a few martial arts moves. Although it's good to be cautious, it shows I'm streetwise and aware of what's going on. This isn't an action film, and even action heroes can't take 6 guys at once.
Now I've been on the street a few minutes I'm used to being on my own and go into Odder. The lady behind the bar smiles to me which makes a difference since I'm out on my own. It's a show of confidence that I'm a cool guy having a good time. I take a look around Odder, then leave deciding to check out some places near King Street.
I'm walking along Oxford Road under the railway bridge and a lady offers me 2 leaflets which I take.
Her: "Free entry to Jillys tonight."
Me: "Free entry?"
It was £5.50 to get in when me and Alex K went there on the 6th September.
Her: "Yes. It's that leaflet." and she points to one of the 2 leaflets she's just given out.
Me: "Has it been refurbished?"
Her: "What do you mean?"
Me: "Last time I went it was falling apart. There were no seats and people were sitting on the left over wooden supports for the seats."
Her: "It's still like that." and she makes a face as if wondering why she's handing out leaflets for such a place, then she smiles.
I go across St. Peter's Square and over to Albert Square. The Christmas Market is on. Lots of people in the sheds drinking beer and chatting. It looks like a friendly place. People in yellow jackets are at the entrances so it must be closing. I ask one of them as I'm passing
Me: "What time does it close?"
Security person: "9pm" she says politely
Me: "What time do the bars close?"
Security person: "They stop serving at 9:15."
I wasn't planning on going to the market. I'm going to the bars at the King Street area and maybe to a nightclub later.
I arrive at King Street and go to the doorway of Grinch where a lady is standing with 2 friends.
Doorman to lady: "Do you have a reservation?"
Her: "No, we're just going for a drink."
Doorman: "We can't let you in unless you have a reservation."
She and her friends go to another bar called Chaophraya.
I go inside Chaophraya too, it's the only bar here that isn't booked up, it seems ok. I'm politely greeted by the guy who was sweeping up at the end of the night on the 24th October when I was out with Alex K. I go to the bar, get a beer and stand next to one of the high tables towards the side of the bar.
I'm having a really good night going out on my own. One benefit is I don't have anyone expecting me to approach random people. It's double sided. If I'm on my own doing it, I do it for enjoyment, conversation and finding things out. It's cool, fun, relaxed. However, if some people are with me too there can sometimes be expectation that they want me to approach so they can chat to new people. It's because I'm good at it so rather than improving themselves they want me to do it for them. To the point where they never approach anyone.
Anyway. There's a group of guys and it would be good to have a guy conversation, cars, going out and football. I go over to the group of 5 guys.
Me: "How's it going?"
Guy 1: "Hi."
Me: "Is this place any good? I thought I'd check it out."
Guy 1: "It's ok, we don't usually come here."
Me: "Where do you normally go out?"
Guy 1: "We don't go out that much."
They're not very friendly. They're dressed in shirts and courdrouy style trousers.
Me: "Ok, see you later."
5 of them and I could tell by their body language they didn't want to meet new people. I could have tried more and used some better lines but what's the point. It's the way it goes. Not everyone wants to meet people. You've got to learn to respect that not everyone has social skills. I'll just keep playing the numbers and besides, I don't think they would have been much fun to talk to anyway. The rest of the people here are in couples. It would still be a good place to bring a group of friends though.
The mobile phone beeps. At first the mobile was useful for contacting people by text, but now it's another communication channel to deal with. Landline, mobile phone, email. All this technology and it's more difficult to get in touch with anyone than ever. I check the phone for a message. It's from Rebecca saying she's at the Christmas Market at the moment with her parents. On a Friday night! She's written it as if suggesting we could meet up later. I don't know where I'll be going so I don't reply.
I go to a chair and table and sit down, enjoying the venue. It's ok here. People seem to be more than ok with me out on my own.
I leave Chaophraya. It's 9:45, I'm not far from Tiger Tiger so I go there.
I get to the door, the doorman looks at my clothes and lets me in no problem. The ground floor bar is quite busy. I get a drink and go to a table.
I chat to a random guy. He's at a table of 5 people, two ladies and 3 guys. He's about 34.
Me: "Hi, hows it going?"
Him: "Good, you?"
Me: "Yes. I was in Manchester so I came here for a bit, check the place out. I came last week to the 10th birthday party."
Him: "Yeah? Was is good?"
Me: "Yes really good. Are you going to the club later?"
Him: "No, we'll go somewhere else."
Me: "Ok see you later."
Him: "See you later."
Some people are nice and don't have much to say.
I'm standing and there's people around and I spot another random, this one who I might recognise.
Me: "Did you go to school in Manchester?"
Him: "No, in Chester."
Me: "You looked like someone I thought I knew."
Him: "What, in the same year?"
Me: "No, two years below. But when there's someone from the same school we have like a camaraderie anyway. Did you go to Manchester University?"
Him: "Yes. I'm out with friends from university."
Me: "What did you do?"
Him: "Politics and Economics. I'm looking for a job now."
Me: "Where are you staying?"
Him: "Near Chester."
Me: "At home? Are you claiming dole?"
Him: "At my parents, no I'm not claiming. When I get a job I want to move here. It's nice where I'm living but after being in Manchester it's a bit quiet."
Me: "It depends what you like. Some people like suburbs, some like the city."
Him: "I like it because there's lots going on."
Me: "You should claim dole, get a flat here with the rent and council tax paid for then look for a job."
Him: "That's not a bad idea."
Me: "Claim some of your tax back before you start earning."
Him: "What do you do?"
Me: "I'm doing my own thing. Written a book for students recently, and a few other things."
Him: "What kind of book?"
Me: "So they can make the most of university."
Him: "What kind of things are in it?"
Me: "Studying tips, managing money, accommodation, going out."
Him: "Sounds good. Where are you selling it?"
Me: "It's in some bookshops around Manchester and Cheshire areas."
Him: "That's good!"
Me: "I've got get it on Amazon as well."
Him: "How come you're writing? Did you study English at university?"
Me: "No, I was always good at writing. I was in business to business but wanted to do more business to consumer. I came up with the idea and wrote it."
We talk a while longer, about 45 minutes altogether. We get on really well. It's hard to find good guys to have a conversation with nowadays. As we swap contact details the ladies with him give us a look as if ‘what are you doing?'
Him: "Ignore them. They don't understand."
Me: "Yes. It's good to meet guys. That's what pubs were about."
I say bye and go upstairs. He lives a long way away at the moment but if he plans to move to Manchester in future he can come out with us. Whether we meet again or not, it's all good, this is a good night.
I even start considering whether I have more fun going out on my own when approaching and having conversations with random people, rather inviting and meeting up with people. Maybe I could do this every week and have a good social life anyway. It would be without the hassle of inviting people out.
I reach the top of the stairs at Tiger Tiger, now I'm in the main upstairs bar area. This is it. This is what going out is all about. There's about 40 people here and they've all made an effort to look smart and enjoy a night out. It's quiet for a Friday because of the fog and ice on the roads. That means only the people who really enjoy going out for the music, dancing and so on are out. All the boozers stayed at home.
I stay here a while enjoying the music and atmosphere.
I go into the bar off the side of the main room. A random person says hi to me:
Her: "Are you here for JCI?" she says smiling
Me: "No what's that? Is this an event."
I just walked in here and now I notice people here are dressed more for a business meeting.
Her: "Yes it's a private party. We're all here for JCI from all over the country."
Her friend: "I'm from Leeds."
Her: "I'm from Birmingham. It's a chamber for people in their 20's and 30's."
Me: "Like a chamber of commerce?"
Her: "Yes we have an event every week."
Me: "What kind? Morning events?"
I ask this because it could be one of those breakfast business groups.
Her: "Most of them are after work at 6:30pm. It's £96 a year to join."
Me: "Do you have to pay for the events as well?"
Me: "Do you have to get involved a certain amount?"
Her: "Join in whenever you like."
Me: "Sounds ok."
Her: "What do you do?"
Me: "Run my own business."
Her: "It's ideal for you. There's someone you should speak to who knows more."
She waves a guy over. Everyone here is in a good mood.
Him: "Are you from JCI?"
Me: "No. This lady was telling me about it."
Him: "It's good. What do you do?"
Me: "Run a business."
Him: "Oh right! What sort?"
Me: "Publishing. I've written a book which I got it in some bookshops and work on a few other things."
Him: "Some members here have their own business and some have jobs. I have a job and I joined for the social aspect to meet people. I enjoy it a lot."
Me: "What type of events are they?"
Him: "Regional development like public speaking and business skills."
We talk a while. They're all very enthusiastic about the organisation which is good to see.
Him: "I'll get you some details. I don't have a card on me."
He goes and asks the lady for one of her cards.
Him: "Here's a card with our web address and telephone number on it. Let us know if you want to join."
Me: "Ok. See you later."
It sounds ok. On the card it says JCI Junior Chamber International. Worldwide Federation of Young Leaders and Entrepreneurs. At £96 it's a lot better value than the Manchester Chamber of Commerce.
It's an organisation. Always organisations. Whether it's business or those religious cults, everyone needs and organisation to bring them together, to tell them what to do! I've got my organisation – Friday night at 8:30pm. But I don't have any leaflets, business cards, marketing materials, or even a sales pitch. Although I'm getting the hang of finding the right type of places to go out and the right type of people.
I go to the main bar room in Tiger Tiger to enjoy the atmosphere and music .
I go downstairs to the VIP room. Someone asks me
Her: "Are you here for Nicola's 21st birthday?"
Me: "Is this a private party?"
Her: "Yes. Stay a bit if you like. It's ok."
We chat for 5 minutes. It turns out she works outdoors at Delamere Forest in Cheshire with activity groups teaching them how to climb and other outdoor things. It sounds like a cool job.
I leave Tiger Tiger.
On the way out I get a text from Jackson – the guy I met at the social group in Didsbury held on the first Monday of the month.
Message: "Are you still in Manchester?"
I reply that I am and we arrange to meet. He comes over to meet me outside Tiger Tiger.
We walk across to the Arndale
Me: "How did the date go?"
Jackson: "It was the Brazilian lady, it went ok."
Me: "What happened."
Jackson: "We went for a meal at a restaurant on Deansgate."
Me: "Did you pay?"
Jackson: "Yes. It cost £30."
Me: "That's not too bad."
We have found that whenever we dated Brazilian ladies they very much like men to take them out and pay for stuff. I'm sure they're not all like that, just the ones we met were.
Jackson: "She did offer to pay. She took out a twenty."
Me: "You should have taken it!"
Jackson: "Yes. Ok, I'll take the twenty and I'll only pay 10!"
Jackson: "She couldn't help it though asking whether I had a mortgage or was I renting, and whether I was running a business or working for someone. How was your night. Were you with anyone?"
Me: "I went out on my own and to be fair I had a really good night. I don't know if that's a good thing though!"
We go to Kro Bar. Stay a while, chat, then leave and go home.
I had a good night. I found that it's possible to go out on your own and socialise whether you're with friends or not. It's been a good experience.
Summary and venue reviews: Friday 28th November
Click here for Season 2 Index
Medium busy. Clientele: students, casual and smart casual. Décor: 6/10. Music: chart, indie, classic hits.
Notes: A place that is ok to go out on your own.
Odder Bar Manchester
Slug and Lettuce Didsbury
Medium busy. Clientele: smart casual, smart. Décor: 7/10. Music: chart music.
Notes: It's a venue where it's relatively easy to start conversations with people.
Slug and Lettuce Didsbury
Busy. Clientele: smart casual. Décor: 8/10. Music: quiet background music.
Notes: The people aren't very friendly to speak to if you're out on your own.
Medium busy bar, not very busy club. Clientele: smart. Décor: 8/10.
Notes: An ok place to go on your own and have conversations with people at the bar.
JCI - Junior Chamber International
A group for people in their 20's and 30's to get together and do courses on public speaking and
Kro Bar Piccadilly Gardens
Busy. Clientele: smart casual, trendy. Décor: 6/10.
Kro Bar Piccadilly Gardens