World of Chig   


Chig was saddened to hear, late last night, of the death of Anthony H Wilson, AKA ‘Mr. Manchester’, at the age of 57. It seemed very soon, after his recent announcement that he had kidney cancer (although he has died of a heart attack while receiving treatment). One of my colleagues also lost his sister to cancer yesterday, so there were two reminders in one day of what an unforgiving condition it is.

I would have liked to meet Tony Wilson. I think we could have talked about music for hours on end. Someone I have met (once, on a train) is Stuart Maconie, who was clearly upset at Wilson’s death, judging by his voice and his comments on his Radio2 show today, which he opened with Joy Division’s ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’. I had a lot of respect for Wilson and always found him immensely watchable on TV. He was opinionated and often slightly smug, but I liked him anyway because he had interesting views on music and the arts and was a real music enthusiast. He had probably earned the right to be arrogant anyway, by bringing us Joy Division, New Order and the Happy Mondays, so I think we can forgive him.

Never mind those groups though. I owe Tony Wilson a huge debt of thanks for the Haçienda. The six or seven nights I spent there, all but one of them at the legendary monthly Flesh nights, were the most exhilarating and happiest club nights of my life. Sadly, I know they will never be bettered, but the memories are still there. Flesh at the Haçienda was so good – and on a Wednesday, of all nights – that I used to take Wednesdays and Thursdays off work once a month to make my pilgrimage to Manchester and meet up with a bunch of studenty friends, who I had met out clubbing in Manchester in the first place. One of them was one of the lost loves of my life. (Lost to the evil clutches of heterosexuality and marriage, although it didn’t stop hi…oh, let’s not even go there. I’m getting all wistful and nostalgic, but that’s why I have such happy, warm and fuzzy memories of clubbing at the Haçienda.)

Flesh at ‘the Haç’ (as we used to call it) wasn’t just a club, it was an adventure, differently themed every month, at a time when one of The Verve’s later songs most definitely didn’t apply. I loved it. Bless you Mr Wilson for building the Haçienda in the first place, and for giving it a Factory Records catalogue number, FAC51, as if it were one of your record releases.

I guess it’s about time I watched my 24 Hour Party People DVD for the first time, isn’t it?

* Haçienda photo courtesy the CerysmaticFactory.
* Flesh flyers photo courtesy BBC Manchester.

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