School days from Prague
Monday 29th December

It's 8pm and I'm parked outside Jackson's place in Withington. It's a cold night outside as temperatures are below freezing. The cars parked along the street have ice on them.

Jackson walks down the steps from his flat and gets into the car. I drive out onto Wilmslow Road and go north towards the city. The car radio is tuned to 105.4FM playing classic hits of the 80's.
Me: "It was playing 90's before but whenever we're both in the car it plays 80's music."
Jackson laughs and agrees.
Bros starts playing – When, Will I, Will I be famous – which we laugh about and listen to as we're driving through Fallowfield.

We reach the city and I park on a sidestreet near the BBC studios.

Jackson: "What time are we meeting them?"
Me: "9pm at the Footage and Firkin. I don't think they'll come because they already rearranged from 8 to 9. In the text she said she'd meet us about 9pm. Using the word about, who knows.
Jackson: "Ok."
Me: "It doesn't matter because we'll have a good time anyway."
Jackson agrees.

Jackson: "What time is it?"
Me: "We've got 35 minutes until 9pm. Shall we go in Odder."
Jackson: "Ok."
We go into Odder, take a look around, sit for 5 minutes and leave.
On the way out of the venue I say:
Me: "Is that a new jacket?"
Jackson: "Yeah. I'm not sure about it though."
Me: "It looks good. It's 80's!"
Jackson: "Thanks."
Me: "Let's check out Revolution."

We go into Revolution.
Jackson: "They've got cool chairs in here." he says referring to some designer chairs that really jazz up the venue.
Me: "We can get drinks in here."
Jackson: "I don't know. We could check out Kro Bar."
Me: "If you want. It's what we do nowadays, go from venue to venue!"

We walk out onto the street in the icy cold. It's so cold tonight people are covering their mouth with a scarf or their hand to warm up the air before they breathe it. We go to Kro Bar.
Jackson: "It's empty in here."
We leave and go to the Footage and Firkin.

Now we're in the Footage and Firkin standing near the bar.
Jackson: "It's not so good in here."
Me: "We'll go somewhere else, like Revolution."
Jackson: "Odder was better."
Me: "We'll wait for Alex K."
Invited Alex K along tonight as well.

I get a text from Katya that they'll be late. I reply and say we'll be at Odder.

It's now 20 past 9.
Me: "Alex K isn't usually late, we'll go to Odder and I'll tell him we're there."
Jackson looks at his phone and says:
Jackson: "I've had a missed call from Alex K."
I check my phone.
Me: "Me too. I'll phone him."

I dial Alex K's number as me and Jackson are walking along Oxford Road.
Alex K: "Hi."
Me: "Hi."
Alex K: "Where are you?"
Me: "We're going to Odder."
Alex K: "- - - - - - -"
Me: "I can't hear you, the cars are too loud." I say as lots of cars drive past on the main road.
Alex K: "We're in Odder now. Why aren't you here?"
Me and Jackson start singing Bros down the phone: "When, Will I, Will I be famous." and laughing.
Me: "We'll see you in a minute."
I finish the call.

We arrive at Odder, go inside, upstairs and there's Alex K and Maz. Maz is Alex K's friend who he met at the catering job.

Maz: "Hi how's it going?"
We shake hands.
Alex K: "You said to meet at Revolution at 9. We've been waiting for 20 minutes."
Me: "I said meet at the Footage and Firkin. We'll go to Revolution later."
Alex K: "You said Revolution."
Me: "I wouldn't do that on purpose. You know I'm always on time."
Alex K: "It doesn't matter."
Me: "Maz. This is Jackson."
Maz: "Hi."
Jackson: "Hi."
We get some drinks.
Maz: "Let's sit down."
We sit down at a table and talk for a few minutes.

I notice some people leaving some seats on the raised seating areas near the windows.
Me: "Let's sit there."
Everyone gets up and moves.
Me: "It's important to get good seating if we're here for a while."
There's a guy and a lady sat nearby who have left bags on one of the seats.
Lady: "Do you want me to move the bags?" she says politely.
Me: "No it's ok." I say as there's enough seats for everyone.

We sit in Odder and enjoy the venue.

Katya arrives with one of her friends.
Katya: "Hi."
Me, Jackson, Maz and Alex K: "Hi."
Katya: "The rest of my friends are coming later, they take so long getting ready they can't turn up on time."
I look at Alex K and Maz as if to ask them to talk among themselves and I talk to Katya.
Me: "So what have you been doing?"
Katya: "Packing and tidying the flat. This is my friend from Finland."
Finland lady: "Hi."
We talk and get on ok, not as well as on Saturday when it was just me and Katya. I get the impression she's not interested. I'm not that on the ball either. I stand up, go to another part of the venue (where the group can't see) and go over to a table where 2 ladies are sitting.
Me: "Hi, how's it going?"
Lady 1: "Hi."
Me: "I noticed you had an unusual style." one of them has a fashionable top and black nail varnish.
Them: "Thanks."
Me: "Are you students?"
Lady 2: "Nothing as interesting as that. I work in admin. She's a fashion student."
Me: "I could tell by your style. Where are you studying?"
Lady 1: "MMU."
Me: "Are you celebrating anything?"
Lady 1: "No, we've just come out. How about you?"
Me: "I'm with some friends over there. I've got to get going in a minute. We should meet up again."
Lady 1: "I've got a boyfriend."
Me: "Ok see you later."
I meant as friends but it doesn't matter, I feel better now. I've approached someone else, it gets me a better perspective as I return to the group.
I go over to Katya, Maz and everyone.

The seating is set out as sofas and chairs around a big table. On a chair to my left is Jackson. On the sofa and chairs to my right is Katya and her friend from Finland. On the big sofa opposite is Maz and Alex K.

Katya and her friend are in conversation. Alex K says to me:
Alex K: "Read her palm."
I haven't used the palm reading for a while. I'm grateful for Alex K to remind me.
Me: "Let me read your palm."
Katya: "What what?"
Me: "I'll read your palm."
Finland lady: "He wants to read your palm, hand."
Katya: "It's because people in England talk so fast."
People I've known in the past said that for dating foreigners the language barrier can be a problem, especially if they don't understand jokes. Katya's English is good and she gets jokes. Occasionally she might not understand the odd word.
She holds out her hand.
Me: "Are you right or left handed?"
Katya: "Right handed. Which do you want?" she says now holding out both hands in a comedy way.
Me: "The right hand."
She holds out her right hand.
Me: "This is the heart line which says what you'll be like in relationships."
Me: "It goes towards the part between your two fingers. If it was to the right you would be the kind of person for who a relationship is a higher form of love and put the person on a pedestal. If it went to the left it shows the person is more materialistic. Yours is in between which shows you're well balanced between the two."
Finland lady: "Do mine." she says holding out her hand.
Me: "It's the same as hers."
Finland lady: "Ok. That's interesting."

Katya's two friends arrive dressed smart and fashionable. One goes and sits down in the free chairs next to Alex K and Maz. The other one sits on the sofa in between Alex K and Maz. We all introduce each other.

We start doing the 80's film credits routine which I came up with when out with Jackson on the 5th December.
Me: "You know how in the 80's films during the credits at the end they show clips of characters that were in the film. If you were in an 80's film what would you be doing?"
Katya: "I wouldn't be in a film."
Me: "Ok, that's a good answer I suppose."
Finland lady: "She'd be saying ‘what what' asking what it means in Lithuanian!"
Katya: "You'd be translating for me."
We're having fun.

Me and Jackson look at Alex K, look at each other and me and Jackson start laughing.
Katya: "What's so funny?"
Me: "Nothing. Alex K is an actor you know."
Katya: "Really. What films has he been in?"
Me: "Short films."
Kate: "Ok."
Jackson: "He's practising one of his poses now."
Alex K is sitting opposite us on the sofa listening to Vaida and Lady 3 (Katya's two friends) talking. He looks like he's doing a pose for the camera in one of his films. He's sitting there with his hand on his chin doing a – I'm listening and still cool – look. Actually it does look very cool. To be fair Alex K is very good at being on camera and photograph. Me and Jackson laugh so much about this and the 80's routine in general we get up and walk off to the other side of the room to calm down!

We go back to the group and enjoy being here, enjoying the atmosphere, talking with people who enjoy good conversation. It's a really good night.

It's now 12:30
Alex K: "Me and Maz are going to get some food. We'll be back in a bit."
Me: "Where are you going, the newsagent?"
Alex K: "Yes and a takeaway."
Me: "Can you get me a Twix."
Alex K: "Ok."
Alex K and Maz leave the venue.

We talk a while then Vaida and Lady 3 start to put their coats on.
Vaida: "We are going. Are you coming?" she says to Finland lady.
Finland lady: "You stay if you want." she says to Katya.
Vaida, Lady 3 and Finland lady leave.

Jackson: "Shall we go somewhere else?"
Me: "Let's get something to eat. We'll go to the newsagent."
Me, Jackson and Katya go downstairs and leave Odder.

Jackson phones Alex K and finds out he's in Poppolinos takeaway.

Me, Katya and Jackson go to Popolinos takeaway where Alex K and Maz are.
Maz: "Hi."
Alex K: "Hi."
Me: "Hi."
Katya: "Hello."
Jackson: "Hey."

Alex K and Maz are finishing their pizzas and look happy. Me, Katya and Jackson order food, sit down, chat.
The food comes. Me and Katya have a garlic bread with cheese and chips. Jackson has a pizza.

We talk and have a lot of laughs.

We leave the takeaway and Jackson says:
Jackson: "We'll get going." as if meaning so me and Katya can do our own thing.
Me: "Ok."
Jackson and Maz go home with Alex K in his car.

Me and Katya go on our own over to the Ritz. It's the only place open on Monday night.
Doorman: "You know what it's like inside?"
Me: "Yes."
Doorman: "You're sure you want to go in?"
Me: "Yes."
Doorman: "Ok."
I've never had that before – a doorman as if warning me about how dodgy it is.
We go inside.
Katya: "It's ok."
We dance to two songs.
Me: "Let's go."
We leave the Ritz.
Mondays at the Ritz in when I went in 2004 were fun. The music has gone from indie to dark stuff. The people are drunk and dodgy.

We go to Canal Street. We go to a pub there and dance. We get on well.

We leave the pub and go out next to the canal on this winter evening.
Katya: "I can't believe I'm leaving Manchester. I've had such a good time here."
We discuss her having been here a year and how it's good she enjoyed it. As it's one of her last nights out here I make an extra effort to make it as upbeat and enjoyable as possible for her.

We leave Canal Street. I need food and drink and a rest. The takeaways are closing now.
We walk to my car.

I'm sitting on the bonnet of my car with Katya facing me.
Me: "We could go to the countryside. Have you ever seen Cheshire?"
Katya: "No. I'd like to."
We get in the car. I put the pedal to the floor and go to Altrincham. I park in the countryside and say to Katya:
Me: "Here we are in Cheshire."
Katya: "Can I have a look?"
Me: "Sure."

Katya goes out to see the view. Fields and trees. It's frost everywhere and white. It's a proper Christmas scene and a relaxed atmosphere.

I go to the car while Katya takes in the countryside.
I go to sleep.
I wake up. Katya has disappeared!
I drive around and find her happy and enjoying a countryside walk down the road. There's houses nearby with wreaths and trees. An Owl hooting.
I pick her up. Drive to a place in Altrincham where I'm staying now. I get some food, drink and drive us back to the city.
I'm somewhat recharged now.

I drive to Katya's place. We go into her flat and she makes me a coffee.

It was a really enjoyable night out. We had a lot of fun. The group of friends, the city venues and finishing in the countryside with a Christmas scene.

Summary and venue reviews: Monday 29th December

Medium busy. Clientele: smart casual, smart. Decor: 7/10.
Notes: Has seating areas suitable for sitting in comfort with a large group of friends. Music the right volume and lighting create a nice atmosphere.

Revolution Oxford Road
Quiet. Clientele: smart casual, smart.
Revolution Oxford Road

Kro Bar 2
Empty. Decor: 7/10.
Kro Bar 2

Footage and Firkin
Medium busy. Clientele: smart casual, students. Decor: 5/10.
Notes: The venue layout is nice with an upstairs, pool table areas and seating areas. The music, cleanliness and maintenance aren't that good.
Footage and Firkin

Popolino's takeaway
Quiet. Clientele: smart casual, students. Decor: 6/10.
Notes: Good value and good quality pizzas and garlic bread.
Popolino's takeaway

The Ritz
Busy. Clientele: casual, smart casual, drunks, yobs, skaters, students. Decor: 4/10. Music: type of death metal, rock, too loud so it's distorting.
The Ritz

Canal street pub
Medium busy. Clientele: smart casual, straight couples. Decor: 7/10. Music: classic hits, chart, dance.

Cheshire countryside
Notes: A Christmas atmosphere on a winters night.

Katya's place
Notes: Manchester Metropolitan University student halls of residence.
MMU halls of residence

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© Alex Remizo