Tuesday, 20 February 2007

Local Heroes - Stanley Morison

Stanley Morison (1889-1967) was an English typographer, designer and historian of printing. He was actually born in Essex, but his connection with this area comes from the period in 1921-1923 when he was typographist to the Cloister Press on Didsbury Road (which has now transferred to Bredbury).

Self-taught, having left school after his father abandoned his family, Morison became an editorial assistant on Imprint magazine in 1913. As a conscientious objector he was imprisoned during the First World War but became design supervisor at the Pelican Press in 1918.

In 1922 he founded the Fleuron Society dedicated to typographical matters (a fleuron being a typographic flower or ornament). He edited the society's journal The Fleuron from 1925 to 1930. The quality of the publication's artwork and printing was considered exceptional.

From 1923 to 1967 Morison was typographic consultant for the Monotype Corporation where his research and adaptation of historic typefaces in the 1920s and 1930s, including the revival of the Baskerville and Bembo types. He pioneered the great expansion of the company's range of typefaces and hugely influenced the field of typography to the present day.

Morison was also typographical consultant to The Times newspaper from 1929 to 1960 and in 1931 he was commissioned by the newspaper to produce a new easy to read typeface for the publication. The typeface Morison developed with graphic artist Victor Lardent, Times New Roman was first used by the newspaper in 1932 and was published by Monotype in 1933.

Morison edited the History of the Times from 1935 to 1952 and was editor of the Times Literary Supplement between 1945 and 1948. He was a member of the editorial board of Encyclopædia Britannica from 1961 until his death.

more on TYPOGRAPHY here

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Friday, 16 February 2007

Save our Savoy?

We are fortunate indeed to have one of the last small local independent cinemas on our doorstep. The Savoy is convenient, comfortable, and amazingly cheap. The only problem is that nobody goes to it. Last time I was in there, the audience total could be counted on my one hand which wasn't holding the ice cream. So, the poor woman who runs the place is operating at a loss: hence the myth that it's being run as a front for money-laundering. But now she's called local bluff and put it up for grabs - and beer-saloon giant the Barracuda group are applying to take over the site. Queue public outcry - of the kind which went up when Tesco established its foothold. We don't want it. We don't need it. And it shouldn't be allowed anyway. So goes the argument. These are the same people who rent DVDs twice a week, but suddenly they are simultaneously dewy-eyed and hot under the collar about a cinema they don't go to. Are we to have another derelict building gracing the main road, or more brushed aluminium 'continental' tables spread invitingly across the pavement? Watch this space.

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Thursday, 15 February 2007

Ward off the wardens

Feeling as jolly as Mrs Tiggywinkle, and twice as pretty, I blinked in the early morning sunlight, sensing spring in the air when ..... Could this be all a dream? Was this Heaton Moor? Or had I been transported to some country bearing the prefix 'former'. Had this become ' The Former Heaton Moor'? Believe me when I tell you that no fewer than three uniformed officers, huge and fearsome-looking, were patroling fifty yards of Heaton Moor Road! I was scared! Military style hats, luminous jackets, size fifty two across the chest and stiff as contiboard, jack-boots - and expressions that would curdle the cream in Backs Deli!

I decided not to take to the bushes but to appear nonchalant. After all, I'd parked at Nat West and they couldn't enter that hallowed ground, could they? Or, could they? They might report me to Nat West for going for a pound of sausages while my car in all it's red sports coupee splendour sat in their poxy car park! I had an alibi! I'd been to the cash-point and printed out a quick statement.That made it all legal didn't it?

I darted into the Health Centre as one of these officers goose-stepped around a black Mercedes parked at the kerb. Should I dash into the waiting room and shout 'They're here! Get to your car while I keep your seat in here!'? Thinks 'You'll be at least another forty minutes and that's if you do manage to decipher your name from the PA system that sounds like the first moments of a bagpipe tune-up'.

Then I realised why I shouldn't do anything. Only doctors, funeral directors and financial advisers would have a black Merk. That was ok. I crept back toward the Co-op and saw two more of these Nazi-looking despicable-seeming allegedly servants of the people, one on either side of the road. I wondered if they drank coffee, or ate doughnuts or spoke or breathed or did any bloody thing other than menace poor innocent project managers out for their morning shop.

Was I glad to get back to my unit, - I mean, apartment, and into the womb of my kitchen and to Woman's Hour. Thank God I was safe! They were playing I'm Not Gay but I Snog You All Day. Was this the 'Former Womans Hour?

Tuesday, 13 February 2007

Wish you were here?

Is it worth living in Heaton Moor? Most emphatically - Yes! The national rail and motorway networks are on the doorstep, and we're fifteen minutes from an international airport. I can be in London in just over two hours, and Malaga in three. Is that enough? If you live in a small terraced house (such as bachelor's paradise in Mount Road) your investment of £120K two or three years ago is now coming up to £200K, And if you have one of the large Victorian houses with its original features, you could be looking at £750. Meanwhile the price of luxury flats has actually been depressed because of speculative building. So in the prestige block where I live there are four two-bedroomed, two-bathroomed apartments for sale at the moment in the £200K-plus bracket. Now is the time to pick up a bargain. And Tesco is open until 11.00pm.

Sunday, 11 February 2007

Coffee on the Moor

Wintry sunshine on a Sunday in February - bright enough to encourage a stroll, punctuated by coffee in one of the pavement bars. Goodness - it's just like being abroad, isn't it! Except that in most parts of Europe, when you go into a pavement bar, a waiter comes over, greets you, wipes down the table, and takes your order. Two minutes later, you're sipping your cafe latte or twirling the straw in your cocktail. In Heaton Moor, it's different. You sit down - carefully avoiding the chocolate sludge clotted over the table after the last customers - and then ... well, you wait. You wait five, or maybe ten minutes. You wonder if they've closed or there's a strike in the kitchen. And then just before you decide to move on, a sullen work-experience waitress appears and mumbles something you can't understand. No greeting. No welcome of any kind. But you are so relieved to be served at all, you order your coffee. Be prepared to spend a lot more time watching street life pass its merry course: youths dressed for summer staggering out of the Elizabethan, hailing taxis; young girls in pink shell suits and high heels clustering in the telephone booth; the Conservative club disgorging a motley group of daytime revellers. Eventually your coffee will appear - most of it in the cup if you're lucky, and thoughtfully pre-cooled. And here's where the only advantage of this experience comes in. Following this, you will be left undisturbed, for a long, long time.

Saturday, 3 February 2007

Jazz on the Moor

Well - would you believe it! There's now jazz on the Moor - in plural. The Blue Cat features rock bands, poetry readings, and even stand-up comedy, and occasionally something approaching jazz creeps into their repertoire. Now we're to be treated to a Thursday night offering at Town Bar, and George does allow the odd blues group into the sacred lounge of the Nursery. Our cup runneth over. Take care at the Blue Cat. This place serves very good but rather expensive imported beers, and the proprietor gets universally bad reviews if you look HERE.

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Friday, 2 February 2007

Local writers - Joan Bakewell

Yes - it's the thinking man's crumpet, as Frank Muir called her. Joan Bakewell was born in the very same leafy part of Heaton Moor (Hooley Range) as I am writing this. She went to Stockport Convent and then on to Newnham College, Cambridge, where she met another local celebrity, Brian Redhead, and her future husband, Michael Bakewell. Of course she is best known as a broadcast journalist and presenter, and she has the distinction of having been sacked as the arts correspondent for Newsnight by no less than John Birt himself. She has written four plays for radio and three books. Her autobiography, The Centre of the Bed describes at length her affair with Harold Pinter, while he was still married to the actress Vivien Merchant and she was still married to Michael Bakewell. She currently writes for The Independent.

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Thursday, 1 February 2007

Snacks on the Moor

Blue Corn
This is the health food shop with a small cafe within, next door to Somerfield. It's run by Mahoud and his wife, both Azeri Iranians and both kind, gentle people. It took a while to catch on but now has a regular through-put of customers buying their meusli, nuts and organic fruit from there. I have to confess to having joined the group of senior citizens who partake of Mahood's pesto-and-cheese toasted sandwiches washed down by his excellent coffee. Like the rest of my fellow geriatric diners I try hard to remember to wear my woolly hat, scarf, and gloves and to declaim my order in a loud voice. Come and Join Us!