Homeless

A small portion of the beautiful MBC...
A small portion of the bleedin’ marvellous Manchester Book Club …

Ah, the heady days of April ’12 when Simon S and I decided it was high time we set ourselves up a little literary group in Manchester…seems so long ago! A brand new venture for me having never ever (believe it or not) been a member of a book group before, let alone run one. Although we’ve since lost our lovely co-host to neighbouring Liverpool and others to new jobs/cities, etc, the group has gone from strength to strength, gently growing in size (though I’m careful not to let it get too rowdy) and now with a friendly, mixed group of regulars with a wide taste in books and wide-ranging opinions and experiences to go along with it.

I’d like to think the benefits run both ways. I meet like-minded people who won’t glaze over when I launch into the merits of [insert name of author here]’s work and will accompany me on all manner of wild literary escapes (including the Northern Classics Literary Coach Tour this October) across the city and in turn I look out for them at our monthly meetings. Or try to. Lately I have been absolutely bowled-over and deeply disappointed with the attitude of businesses across the city who seem completely unenthused and, in the case of our previous meeting-place, frankly inconvenienced at hosting a group of lovely, untroublesome bibilophiles who meet to chat quietly and, frankly, spend a whole lot of money of food and drink!

The unnamed city-centre bar that we had made our home for the past year and a half began to turn more and more unfriendly and unaccommodating until a particularly rude waitress trying to steal our tables spelled the beginning of the end.  Since taking the brave move to leave I have found that locations around the city simply don’t seem to want the business on what is still, in most places, a very quiet Tuesday night. My emails and calls remain unreturned, any thought of committing to a monthly reservation balked at. What’s wrong with you people!? Don’t you fancy a few decent bookish types descending on a drizzly Manchester weeknight to drink all of your beer?!

Phew. Rant over. Now I have this dilemma off my chest I am happy to announce that I have found a willing and enthusiastic venue that I’m hoping will be everything the group hope for and deserve and more. Roll on Tuesday evening because I hear they have ping-pong tables as well! Woo hoo!

Are any of you members of a book group? Which venues prove the best and are you ever met by difficulties finding that perfect place to settle down and chat books? Alternatively, are you the owner/manager of a Manchester watering hole that is book friendly?  Let me know!

6 thoughts on “Homeless

  1. Our, admittedly fairly small, group meet in various places. If we want food we usually head to Liquor and Burn and then a NQ bar. Gaslamp is a favourite. I’ve been contemplating joining yours too though.

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    1. Ooo Liquor and Burn, where’s that? We did have a night at the Gaslamp for our December meet purely for the Dickensian vibe but the lack of food is a big issue as people come straight after work. Our night last week was a winner so I’m hoping we’ve finally found a home where the staff are enthusiastic about what we’re trying to do. Hurrah! Do send me an email if you’d like to join. I have a bit of a waiting list going at the mo due to demand but we’re always keen to welcome friendly new faces when we can 🙂

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  2. I belong to a book club and a writers’ group, and while the book club meets at each-other’s homes (we take turns hosting and make a potluck meal of the dishes and drinks we bring) the writers’ group is in the same predicament as your book club. We had a place that was arranged by the founder, but they’ve let go the employee who kept the cafe open for us after their usual business hours and have not returned our emails. So we’ve started looking for an alternative and I think have found it last week. It’s a cafe with a lovely patio and a fountain and their pastries are to die for! I’m not sure why people are so resistant to the idea of having a standing reservation for a dozen people to come eat and drink at their establishment, and since in your case they’re a bar I can’t imagine their other customers are all mimes!

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    1. Thankyou Olga, my sentiments exactly! The house idea would be brilliant (and cheaper) if we all lived in a similar location. I can’t imagine many of them would be keen on trekking all the way out to my house! :-O 😉 It’s nice to know that other people sometimes find the same difficulties but do manage to find a solution in the end!

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  3. I was part of a book group, and we used to meet in each others homes. It didn’t last because so many of the younger members started having babies – difficult to keep up the motivation for books when baby takes so much of ones time. But I’ve been part of other discussion groups, and we’ve enjoyed pubs (probably a little different here in Oz) and cafe’s. The challenge is always finding something that a) group members can afford to purchase food or drinks, b) the noise levels allow for indepth meaningful discussions to occur. We found cafe’s were happy to have a standing booking and they worked hard to keep us there. Good luck with your challenges, and hope your book group enjoys the comfort of knowing you’ve given it so much thought.

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    1. Thanks Tamara 🙂 I suppose any issue with cafes would be that we all find it easier to meet after work during the week, which is inevitably quite late! Manchester is a buzzing city with lots to offer but the difficulties we have had did take me by surprise, I considered being less demanding of my venue but the least you can expect is politeness ! This month’s meet was a success so I am feeling positive about our new location going forward.

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