Preview of Angels with Manky Faces at the Bluecoat, Liverpool

A special preview of Angels with Manky Faces will be held in the upstairs bar of the Bluecoat, Liverpool, on Wednesday 24 June from 6.30-7.30 p.m. The preview will feature a talk on the historical research that went into The Gangs of Manchester, an introduction to Angels with Manky Faces by script-writers Rob Lees and Jill Hughes, and screenings of two of the film sequences specially made for the play (introduced by MaD film-maker, Paul Cliff). The films feature Clint Boon, Martin Coogan, Phil Beckett – and many more … This is a free event; tickets for the Liverpool performances of Angels with Manky Faces (Unity Theatre, 22-23 July) will be on sale on the night.

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Thinking Allowed

The Gangs of Manchester is the subject of a special edition of Thinking Allowed to be broadcast on New Year’s Eve at 4 p.m. on BBC Radio 4.
Hosted by Laurie Taylor, Thinking Allowed offers a weekly review of social research. Recent programmes covered topics such as the “cocaine girls” of 1920s London and the relationship between sexual repression and social progress.
For the New Year’s Eve edition, Andrew Davies is joined by Geoff Pearson of Goldsmiths College, University of London (author of the acclaimed Hooligan: a history of respectable fears) and Tara Young of London Metropolitan University, an expert on youth in present-day London.

Book signing at Borders, Manchester Fort, and some plans for 2009

One more book signing has been arranged: at Borders, Manchester Fort (Cheetham Hill) on Sunday 21 December from 11.00 till 1.00.

More events are in the pipeline for 2009. These include a reading from the book in Strangeways (HM Prison, Manchester) and an illustrated talk at the Manchester Histories festival, to be held at Manchester Town Hall.

Work on the play, Angels with Manky Faces, is well underway: the first costumes will soon be ready, songs are being recorded, and locations have been scouted for the scenes to be filmed. One of the gang scenes is to be filmed on “the flags” in Angel Meadow, the site of some of the incidents described in the early chapters of The Gangs of Manchester.

Are you Russell Brand?

The first of the three scheduled book signings took place at Waterstone’s at the Trafford Centre this afternoon. Thanks to Kate and the rest of the staff – and to everyone who bought a copy of the Gangs of Manchester. There will be a few scuttlers tumbling out of stockings around Manchester come Christmas morning. Thanks, too, to the woman who came over to the table to ask: “Are you Russell Brand?” She made my afternoon. I wasn’t Alan Titchmarsh, either – his signing was the previous day.

Next up: Waterstone’s in Manchester city centre (Deansgate branch), at two o’clock next Saturday, 22 November. Just don’t ask for J. K. Rowling. She’s the Saturday after.

Meet the Author

If you’re in the Manchester area during November and would like to meet the author of The Gangs of Manchester, come along to one of the following bookstore events:

Saturday, 15 November, 12.00: Waterstone’s, Trafford Centre

Saturday, 22 November, 2.00: Waterstone’s, Deansgate

DATE TO BE CONFIRMED: Borders, Cheetham Hill Road (Manchester Fort)

Andrew Davies will be signing copies of the book, and talking to readers about the scuttling gangs of Victorian Manchester and Salford.

Mike Duff on The Gangs of Manchester

Manchester poet and novelist Mike Duff has written an appreciation of The Gangs of Manchester in the fanzine United We Stand (issue 177, November 2008). Mike read an early draft of the book and wrote the poem “The King of the Scuttlers” in response. This is what he made of the final version:

THE GANGS OF MANCHESTER is a well thought out, brilliantly told, historically accurate and definitive work about a phenomenon that swept the slums of Manchester during Victorian times: The Scuttlers. This was a Manchester of public houses, gin-shops, singing saloons, organ grinders and monkeys and music halls. Of prostitutes and pimps and lodging houses where men slept the line (if you couldn’t afford the price of a mattress they let you sleep on a wooden chair, the chairs were placed around the side of the room, and men would fall asleep upright on a rope stretched from one wall to the other). This was a Manchester of salvationists, revolutionaries, thieves, cadgers and Fenians. And Marx and Engels knew the Meadow, Ancoats, the Adelphi in Salford well and drank on the Crescent. It was here amongst the bedraggled that they formed their theories. And the author captures the mood, danger and violence of the times. So much so that you walk the streets of Manchester with the Scuttlers. The Scuttlers were groups of youths who caused murder and mayhem across the streets of our city and frightened the authorities into a frenzy. Scuttling (gang warfare for turf) first arose in the squalid, rat invested dwellings at the bottom of Rochdale Road, when Angel Meadow went to war with Ancoats over who controlled New Cross, and it quickly spread across the poorer parts of the city to Salford. Gangs and gang leaders quickly became legendary (the Bengal Tigers, the Bungall Boys, the Meadow Lads, John Brady and Owen Callaghan). Their mode of dress was amusing by modern standards, they favoured silk flashy scarves, brass tipped clogs, bell bottomed trousers and had their hair cut short at the back and sides and they sported long fringes plastered down beneath peaked caps that they always tilted to the left. Their favoured weapons were belts wrapped around their knuckles, pokers, hammers and chivs (knives) and remarkably they ranged between 12 and 22. The Rochdale Road wars lasted for thirty years and on every page of Andrew Davies’ gritty book there is a tale or two that will shock the reader and lay low the myth that the youth of today are any more out of control than their predecessors. In fact I’d argue that the kids today are angels in comparison. If you don’t know the streets of Manchester or Salford it will not impair your enjoyment of a book that is simply the best of its kind that I have read.

Mike Duff

 

Angels with Manky Faces

Tales of totty, scuttlers and gin … a play inspired by The Gangs of Manchester is to be staged at Manchester’s Library Theatre in 2009. The North Manchester-based MaD Theatre Company will be performing Angels with Manky Faces from 19-22 August. If you saw one of MaD’s previous productions at the Library – ASBO, She’s just nipped out for fags or Les Puddings Noir – you’ll know you’re in for a treat. More details will follow soon – keep an eye on the page on the play.

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