Manchester, Leicester Prides.

Dear Diary,

I wrote this piece and forgot to publish it.  I had some other more pressing things on.  I just checked through my drafts and here was the article I had written a few months ago. I suppose the benefit of publishing it now is that as I re-read this and voice record it I can think back to these moments.

So here are my experiences and some photos from my final prides of 2018; Manchester and Leicester Prides:

I have attended Manchester Pride before and have been on a few nights out here too. I really do enjoy the vibe of this city.  I attend many Prides up and down the country, and in fact other countries too.  Manchester certainly does feel special.

On Saturday 25th August, after a usual cycle to the station, I got the train up to Manchester via Nottingham. Stepping out of the train station here, my friend, Seb, and I were greeted by a rainbow coloured zebra crossing!

Rainbow zebra

Seb and I hadn’t planned it as well as before and rather than arranging to go  up on the Friday to be prepared, we arrived on the Saturday just as the parade was starting. We stood for a long time watching the procession with our bags down by our feet.

Eventually, we got a beverage in Wetherspoons and then joined the end of the parade.

Joined the end of the parade

It’s so strange because last year, EVERYONE joined in, in a huge snaking group dancing to the music and celebrating Pride. This year, they didn’t.  I am not sure if it’s the position we were in, or the fact that that day was quite cold, the end float music wasn’t as loud, but the mood was somewhat different.

We walked to our accommodation. It was a bit of a trek. I moan, I suppose, because I had my heavy holdall bag but it wasn’t that bad at all. It was only 20 odd minutes.  We kept saying we’d book it tomorrow and tomorrow became the next day.  The prices had crept up and we weren’t going to spend a fortune on a hotel. Seb found a stay, on the cheap at the YHA dorm room.  My first time staying in a dorm.

I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best and we ended up with lovely people. As we checked in, the room was vacant but possessions were on the bed. After a while, he came in and he introduced himself. He was a lovely guy, Dedryck, 33, travelling from Belgium and exploring some places in England. A while later, we were joined by Eddie. Likewise, a really nice guy.  Bizarrely, he did not actually use the room other than a shower before he left for what I imagine was a very heavy weekend.

Our YHA room mates. Eddie on the left and Dedryck

We got ready and out we went. Canal Street and the Gay Village have a wonderful vibe and with all of the gays out in force, it felt alive.

We enjoyed some performances on the open stage but once we finished here and tried to enter some clubs, the cold hit. There were so many people, that the shortest queue was probably about half an hour. We attempted to enter some clubs, but eventually were lured into having something to eat.  The cold made me want to go. After agreement, we left early!

The next morning we awoke to pouring rain. Really heavy. After deliberating for a couple of hours, we got an Uber to Primark, where I purchased a dashing red coat. Then we went to eat some savoury pancakes. It was here that I bumped into Dave Richards, who I met about 5 years ago volunteering at University. It was so nice to see him.

We left and walked to Canal Street.

It was cold, and raining yet some people managed to walk around in shorts and cropped tops. I don’t know how they did it. We went to the community stage in Sackville Gardens, just by the Alan Turing memorial. Despite the wet conditions, we were dancing along to the music and I suddenly spotted Oliver Potter. I watch his YouTube videos sometimes. I do think he is quite attractive. I, of course, had to ask for a photo.

Afterwards, we walked up to see my sister, Tiffany and her boyfriend, Alex in Piccadilly Gardens and they instantly recommended The Alchemist. The drinks looked amazing and they tasted wonderful too. After a quick chat we returned to the dorm for pre-drinks.

I love my Malibu. It is well documented. But Seb said he was going to have gin as Malibu can be quite sickly.  I did agree as sometimes I do enjoy a gin and tonic. However, faced with a massive bottle of pink gin, no matter how much mixing went on, it was difficult to swallow. I don’t usually have an issue with swallowing.  Seb and I managed to polish off the entire bottle. During this, our next room mate, a Portuguese 21 year old called Pedro awoke from a nap he had been having.  We got into an intense discussion on Brexit before alcohol moved the conversion elsewhere. He was a lovely guy too who was travelling around the country getting at a taste of the UK. I dread to think what impression we gave him.

Back for a second night on Canal Street, we found it to be less busy.  Rita Ora was playing and Seb wanted to go.  I dismissed the idea because I knew everyone would be queueing to get in. After a little walk along, we bumped into Eddie. I was so pleased and relieved to see him. I thought he was dead. As I said, he had checked in and gone out on Saturday night and had not returned to sleep in the bed.

Eddie!

A few different places were visited and we stumbled upon some guys we met the year before. The music was too loud to really know whether they recognised me. Regardless, I asked for a photo and for some reason my high-pixel camera phone decided to take a poorer quality image than I could have got from a potato.

We bumped into this guy called Bradley. Never met him before but instantly was attracted to him. He didn’t say much but he had nice mannerisms and a very friendly and laid back feel about him.

Liam, who I know from back home, eventually managed to get into G-A-Y and we stayed put for a while to meet up with him. Eventually though, we needed a bite to eat. I saw a guy with a #BeMoreMartyn logo embroidered into his jacket. I asked for a photo and asked him about it. After the Manchester bombings, I remember watching a BBC documentary about how Martyn flamboyantly lived his life and it just really touched me. I know someone who knew him on Facebook and this guy said he was friends with him too and wears this to ensure his legacy lives on.

We moved down the road into another club and I bumped into Benjamin. I have followed him for sometime on Instagram. I am not entirely sure how I came to follow him. I think it has something to do with a former username “BigBalledBen” or something like that. I am intrigued.  I would like to meet up to find out more about him  finally though – albeit in the horrendously loud environment of a club where all I could do was attempt to communicate by screaming into his ear.

Despite being freezing the night before and subsequently wrapping up warmer, it was actually quite moderate outside. There was no rain either. I therefore sweated so very much once inside t he clubs. It wasn’t attractive and I hated it.

Back to the hostel we went.  Here we got talking to three guys who had just arrived from the Essex area.  It must have been a 20 minute chat.  People are generally friendly, plus the alcohol probably helped.  Generally, I admit, I liked the feel that the YHA gave.   Thankfully, we had nice, trustworthy room mates – the story could have been very different. I dread to think of the worry I would have had if there had been someone dodgy. I forgot my lock so I left all my stuff out. YHA itself had a message that I liked – of kind of, helping people out who are travelling through. I didn’t read the literature so I may be mistaken but this is the feel it gives off. There are books in the common area and everything is kept nice and clean.  Here are some photos:

We went and got lunch and then got the train back.  On the way to the train, we were walking behind Andrew Tindall.  This is the guy who I saw last year and who has needlessly blocked me on Twitter at some point before that.  I think it had something to do with a slightly risqué comment I made whilst he sat on a throne of “innocent” smoothies. I know. I am still not over it.  Boooo.

Seb got off at Nottingham and I went back down to Wellingborough.  For the first leg of the journey, from Manchester to Nottingham, we had to sit on the floor . Apparently, a service, maybe West Coast, for some reason was running so  everyone, madly trying to get back home, had crammed on to the only train going back in that area. Imagine if there was a nationalised service that could have put on some extra rolling stock knowing that there would be overcrowding issues. I live in hope that one day this could happen.

It was a lovely trip away. I was able to take my mind off things for a few days and I had a really good time.

A week passed.  It was Friday 31st August, and I wasn’t sure whether I fancied going to another Pride which I hadn’t attended before.  I texted a friend in Leicester and decided “why not?”.  It’s only half an hour from me. Plus I needed another distraction and doing something different was just what I needed.

It was a hot, sunny day and all the gays turned out in force.  The parade started off small but it quickly swelled and marched through the centre of the town out towards Victoria Park.

I followed the parade and then me and Andy went to the park.  We’d overtaken the parade a while back so arrived to a nearly empty field.  Despite this, in the glorious s un, it made the atmosphere feel quite good.  Within half  an hour, numbers hugely increased, and the atmosphere, especially once the drag acts had started, was buzzing.

We had a look around some stalls and the watched some of the performances.

I hadn’t been there that long but I decided I wanted go and I needed to head to Oxford so I said my “goodbyes” and walked to the train station. As I left the park, I was taken aback at the size of the queue to get in. It just went on and on.

A short but sweet trip.

Thanks for reading or listening,

Speak soon,

Samuel

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