Friday 10th April
It's 3am. I've been on a night out in the city and I'm walking back to the car. It's parked out in the wastelands on the south side of the city. Lately so many people are going out to restaurants in Manchester, by 8pm there are no spaces where I used to park near the BBC, so I park further out.
The wastelands are where there are old industrial buildings, some of which have been knocked down to leave large areas of dusty gravel. They've been turned into makeshift car parks or cordoned off and left for developing. Some people park their cars in the building sites at night. Often there are winos around sitting on a wall chatting amongst themselves which offers some security.
I'm walking along Oxford Road past the Cornerhouse cinema and then take a right down a sidestreet. There's lots of building work going on here and a big container is in this sidestreet blocking the way so cars can't drive down. The container takes up so much of the street that only 2 people can pass between it and the wall of the buildings. The spar 3 months ago moved from Oxford Road onto this street too and it's always attracted trouble.
I'm walking along the street between the container and the buildings. The last time I came down here a month ago 2 youths were stood either side holding up packets of drugs and offering them for sale. Tonight as I walk alongside the container there's a doorway with 3 men who look like real bad guys.
The ones who go out boozing and fighting aren't really the bad guys in the city. They wear shirts and trousers so are proud to be smart when they set off. It's just later when they get drunk often end up in brawls. The bad guys to watch out for wear non-descript trousers, boots, those polyester navy jackets with orange lining that people used to wear in the 80's. They're not here for a night out, they're here to get money off the partygoers.
As I'm walking down the narrow alley created by the container, ahead and to my left there's a doorway with 3 bad guys. One of them with an unkept beard comes towards me. I notice he's got blood running from his mouth down his face as if he's been in a fight. I'm considering turning back and getting out of here then I decide if anything happens I'll run into him and past him like an American Footballer – a technique I've used in the past that works well.
If I turned and went back the way I came it might take too long to turn around. This situation is too much for 3am after a night out.
The guy says: "Do you have any spare change?"
I say no and walk past them, past the container and towards the wastelands. Ok, so it was probably just some drug addict who had been fighting earlier.
Friends say I'm very streetwise although when trouble starts it happens so fast it's hard to calculate what's the best course of action. To be really streetwise is avoid any narrow alleys.
With these kind of people around on a night out it's no wonder the general public don't feel safe on the city at night.
Summary and venue reviews: Friday 10th April
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Quiet at 3am.
Notes: Oxford Road is the main road leading from the south to Manchester centre.
Alleyway near Oxford Road