New Years Resolution , one of : to read more. A book a week. Hard to find the time. When I get the time all I am ready to do is sleep. So not easy. But am determined.
So recording my reads for 2011 here to give myself a kick up the backside. I may even sneak in the odd review. Just for myself. Good discipline. To help prevent further brain rot.
Just recording this for my own satisfaction , but any comments very welcome. It’ll be just like Judy and Richard’s Bookclub. Not.
January – Week One
I come from a northern industrial backwater that is stuck half way between Liverpool and Manchester. I won’t say where it is but it isn’t hard to work it out. I havn’t lived there for many years. But I’ve spent most of my life in the North West of England. I feel ‘Northern’ rather than ‘English’ and when I’m asked where I’m from I favour Alexei Sayle’s response of ‘The Peoples Republic of Merseyside’. Except I’m not, not really – I’m from somewhere stuck in the middle of there and MancLand,I’m neither fish nor foul; a hybrid creation of that grim industrial hinterland. I strongly identify with where I’m from and I’m drawn to books that mirror that sense of place and celebrate it. Which is why I’m reading ‘How not to Run a Club’ by Peter Hook.In some respects it’s a book that is about having a love affair with where you’re from, and that place is Manchester.
I have some history with The Hacienda. I know the area. I suspect that that goes for most people who read this book. You’d want to read it because you were there. I was. My friends were. And from what I can remember we had a really good time. And we were young, which is a large part of it.
I’m not young anymore. A large part of the appeal of this book for me is that it takes me back to my ill spent youth. I’m pushing forty, what can I say? I spend a lot of time at the moment thinking about when I was younger. That’s normal isn’t it? Tell me it’s normal.Not that it matters because I’ll do it anyway.And this book isn’t helping. But I digress.
The point here is that, for me, I pick this book up and that’s it,I’m off taking a trip down Nostalgia Boulevard. Which is a shame because as the title suggests,this is the story of a man who put everthing on the line and it went badly tits up. In a business capacity. Beyond the nostalgia is a story of human endeavour and learning the hard way. And of loving where you’ve been born and raised with a passion. But reading this I often found myself sidelining this as I tripped off on my own little foray down memory lane.
I remember seeing Peter Hook in both Dry Bar and The Hacienda, and more than once. When I saw him he was usually propping up the bar and engaging in lively conversation with people, lots of people. What are you supposed to do in your own bar or club? He always looked like he was in a rush (ahem) to get to the next big thing. He had long hair and wore leather trousers. I thought that he was fit. In the book he says that at his peak he was there seven days a week. It is strangely satisfying to colour in these footnotes of my youth.
‘How not to Run a Club’ is about ‘How not to run a club’. It should read as a poignant cautionary tale. On some level it does. Yet ultimately it reads as something more. It triumphs as something else – it’s about the human condition – misplaced loyalties , poor judgement, losing control, betrayal , ego and a group of people who for better or worse were passionate about their city and their place within it.
In business terms the Hacienda founders got absolutely shafted and reading the book I did feel sorry for them . But had that just been it (as if that wasn’t enough)then the book would have left a bitter taste in the mouth and been strangely one dimensional. Yet this book has a curiously optimistic thread running through it . That thread is Peter Hook – and those few individuals around him who remained loyal and didn’t take The Hacienda for everything that it had got. I felt angry reading about the level of theft from staff and friends. I have run my own business and experienced the good and bad of having friends working for me so I identified with much of this content. And the financial accounts were truly terrifying to read.
Ultimately though you get the feeling that if they could go back in time they wouldn’t change having done it – because at the root of it all was this shared love and loyalty for that beautiful grimy dark satanic milled city that is: Manchester
January – week two