One of my best cultural highlights arrived on screen recently. It’s an episode of Imagine on iPlayer which deals with the cultural and economic revival of Manchester in the late 70s and early 80s. Titled – The Factory Made in Manchester – it focusses on the new arts centre being built in Manchester and tells the story of the Manchester music and club boom led by Tony Wilson and Factory records. Great bands, great music and the Hacienda! Yentob nods along as Maxine Peake and others celebrate that golden era and look forward to a brighter future. As a Manc I loved it! You should too.

I have to confess I developed a phobia about crowded spaces during covid but recently have started going out to theatres and bustling pubs again (been a lot to our local – but early evening when its fairly quiet). But in June I went with a friend to see Lemn Sissay in Huddersfield. Good night out, lots of laughs, he was on top form. He had a very tough upbringing in Wigan and I recommend his memoir if you haven’t read it. The same weekend we saw a one-man production of the Ragged Trousered Philanthropists by Neil Gore. It was absolutely excellent, and I left the theatre ready for the fight! Great stuff! I also saw good old Attila the Stockbroker who came to the best pub in my local town. Another great night out. If you haven’t heard his latest album 40 Years In Rhyme, check it out.

Finally, book of the year is Technofeudalism by Yanis Varoufakis. I confess I’m only 3/4 of the way through, but it is a compelling dissection of the current global economic situation. He takes us on a journey from the feudal lords and the enclosures, through to the industrial revolution, and profit driven capitalism, to the rentier capitalism, and cloudalist serfdom of the 21st century. How do we deal with this? I’m guessing it may be something to do with economic democracy – a solution most socialists don’t take seriously enough, but if you want to know his answers you’ll have to read the book. Also, check out The Persuaders by Anand Giridharadas. It’s a book about five of the USA’s biggest campaigners and organisers, people who know how to bring about positive change. Something we need more than ever right now. And to finish, I read Let This Radicalise You by Kelly Hayes and Mariame Kaba. The book is intended to aid and empower activists and organisers as they attempt to map their own journeys through the work of justice-making.

Have a happy New Year!

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