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I’m in the Daily Star offices in Broughton, near Preston, on Saturday as Louis Saha scored a 72nd-minute goal at Old Trafford 35 miles away.
There was never going to be any coming back from that for Sunderland. Ten-minutes before the end, at about 7pm, I was told I could leave for the night. So off I raced to Manchester for what should be my last summer night out taking photographs of people smoking.
Forty-odd minutes later I was on Oldham Street. I had about half an hour of light (ISO 500) before the flash came out.
A Manchester United fan walked past me wrestling the biggest beef burger I’ve ever seen. ‘What was the score?’ I asked. ‘1-0’, she said, adding, ‘You don’t have to look so pleased’. She knew who I supported.
Piccadilly was splattered with Manchester United and Sunderland fans. There is a real European feel to the streets of Manchester these days, so unlike a decade ago.
I was not expecting much joy from Deansgate where all the posh bars have street tables and chairs. I got a couple of negative responses before things started to take off. People were watching and listening as I persuaded one table to allow me to photograph them. Then, as I left, it was ‘aren’t you going to photograph us?’ I kept getting stopped by more people.
There are a lot of bouncers outside the Deansgate bars and quite a few wanted to know what I was doing, but none stopped me photographing.
It was the same story down Oxford Road. The moshers and the hen parties were only too happy to oblige. I photographed a friendly transsexual on Canal Street. One for the family album.
After a stop off in a pub Walkden, Worsely for a quick drink with a friend, it was back up the M61 to Preston.
Two targets here: the smokers section of Lava Ignite nightclub (Tokyo Jo’s to me) and outside Squires nightclub where the smokers have a rather exposed pen. I was denied photographing here as the manageress (who has been supportive in the past) was off and her deputy said I needed her permission.
Strictly speaking this is not true as the smokers pen is on the street, but it’s silly to do these things without co-operation. One for next time.
But it was mental in the smokers area of Lava Ignite where the punters have to queue to get in (or should that be outside). The 6ft by 12 ft walled in area was packed.
It got a bit mental. It was around 1pm and people were much more drunk than when I normally catch them 8pm or 9pm. There were a lot of requests for me to take photographs without the people knowing what I was doing. Things were going a bit fast and noisy to discuss the social issues of smoking. I took the pictures up anyway (they’ll go on flickr so they can get hold of them, cigarettes or not).
In the Old Dog Inn got talking to a rather delightful couple who attend fetish nights in Preston. Had no idea there was one held in Bitter Suite. Sounded very interesting. ‘They are,’ she said, ‘especially in the dark corners.’ ‘Can I come along?’ I asked. She nodded. ‘Can I take photographs?’ ‘You’ll get your throat cut’, she replied. I’ll take that as a no.
My smoking project now slows down. I’m targeting office and factory workers now. But I will be out around the pubs when it’s raining to capture the huddled-in-doorway shots.
Pray for rain.