Can everyone just stop taking selfies now please….

Heres a little selfie...

Heres a little selfie…

According to the Urban Dictionary (yes, there is such a thing), a selfie is: ‘A picture taken of yourself that is planned to be uploaded to Facebook, Myspace or any other sort of social networking website.’

An alternative description could be: “Self-absorbed, totally unnecessary and often poorly focused snapshot taken with the primary intention of posting on social network sites, for no particular reason at all.”

The BBC has recently released an article, looking at the science behind selfies, explaining that ‘people generally have an image of themselves that tends to be younger and more attractive than we really are. This has led to an obsession with selfies, for the first time ever we are able to take and retake pictures of ourselves until we can produce an image that comes closer to matching our perception of what we think we look like.’

Ok. So let’s just think about that for a second.

Just because you are able to do something, it does not mean that you really should. Selfies are the perfect example of this. I suppose it does show a certain amount of confidence, and possibly a little narcissism, to post self-portraits on the Internet, knowing that others are able to comment on them. However, if they are being Photoshopped to death and then shared in the vain hope of gaining ‘likes’ then I think you may have a deeper issue that needs addressing…

The perfect Photoshop selfie?

I have spent many an evening ‘untagging’ myself from pictures I would rather never saw the light of day, let alone want anyone to comment on. *Is it untagging or detagging – has anyone officially decided on what we are calling this yet?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not totally against the odd self-portrait; I even took one once, of me and my Grandma on her 90th birthday. The result was an unflattering, blurred picture of me looking ten years older than my actual age, highlighting every blemish, pimple and stray hair, and my Grandma looking terrified, staring into camera like a rabbit in proverbial headlights.

There are just so many of them that it’s driven me to a severe state of SOS….(Sick Of Selfies). Just once I want to be able to log onto Facebook without being bombarded with countless selfies, from, ‘I am wearing bikini in winter and then taking pics in the mirror for no reason’ to the more common and disturbing, ‘look at me pulling a duck face at various locations throughout the day’…..yes, you know who you are.

I’m not alone in my despair of this alleged nit-spreading, self-loving obsession sweeping the country. Selfies made an appearance in The Independent’s list of ’50 things we hate about modern life’ – coming in at an unsurprising number six, not quite as annoying as self service check outs but considerably more disliked than the entity known as Gangnam Style (which, for the record, came in at number 22).

Mona Lisa Selfie...

Mona Lisa Selfie…

 

Every man and his dog has access to some kind of device these days, and the capacity to take pictures of some amazing things and sharing them with the world online within seconds. Sadly, looking at some of the selfies floating around it would appear that, for some people, the dog would actually be able to take a better picture than they clearly can.

 

Who was it that decided to, rather than focusing the camera on the wonders of nature or the joy of capturing a special moment, it would be a much better idea to take a picture of yourself looking ridiculous – and then share it all over the internet like some kind of crazed cyber-egotist?

The number of selfies popping up is mind-blowing; over 17 million selfies are uploaded to social media every week and it’s not just the teenagers who are adding to these figures either.

It would be nice to blame the youth for such nonsense, writing it off as a faddy craze but, while they may have started it, they are certainly not the only ones keeping this strange new tradition alive and growing at epidemic proportions.

The first ever selfie was taken in 1914, by the then thirteen-year-old, Russian Duchess, Anastasia Romanov. I’m sure she had no idea just what she had started that day as she stood on a chair and took a picture of herself using a Brownie box camera. Anastasia later sent it to a friend saying: “I took this picture of myself looking at the mirror. It was very hard and my hands were trembling.”

Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna

Grand Duchess Anastasia 

These days the over-55s are taking more selfies than the 18 to 24-year-olds, with one in six admitting to regularly taking one. My own great-aunt Enid is one of these OSOs (Older Selfie Offenders), she’s been known to post the same selfie over a dozen times within a minute. It seems that while she struggles with the concept of press and wait while uploading, she is, however, a dab hand at the ‘art of selfie’- often striking her own version of the duck face pose. Bless her puckered lips…

Turns out there are even a number of websites and Youtube videos offering tips on how to achieve the ‘perfect selfie’, while over on Twitter, ‘self-confessed-selfie-fan’ Kim Kardashian regularly tweets advice to her millions of followers, before getting distracted by her own reflection…

Seems that the selfie is here to stay and, love it or hate it there isn’t much us selfie-phobes can do about it – other than ignore them and hope they go away…

Possibly the most famous selfie ever?

Possibly the most famous selfie ever?

Several of my friends, who shall remain anonymous, are serial selfie-offenders and it drives me crazy. One in particular has even been known to post the same picture several times using different filters. I kid you not…

I will leave you with quite possibly one of the most annoying songs ever released, I predict this appearing in next years list of major irritations…..

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BOXER AMIR KHAN CAUGHT CHEATING ON WIFE

Boxing champion Amir Khan reportedly had a night of passion with French make-up artist Eglantine-Flore Aguilar in a top London hotel, and then asked her to sign a gagging clause.

Amir n Faryal shutterstock

Amir and Faryal on the red carpet

The married boxer paid to fly Eglantine to London from Paris just before he attended the Sport relief

Charity event in March, despite his wife, Faryal Makhdoom being pregnant and expecting their baby in May.

Eglantine, 21 said: “I have told the real truth but Amir is nothing but a hypocrite. He is a role model to millions and claims to be a doting family man, but he is nothing better than a sleaze-ball and he can’t even be honest.

“We met via Instagram in February and Amir was very flattering, he showered me with compliments. When we switched to using Whatsapp he asked me to send him some pictures, which I did, and he asked if he could fly me over to see him in London.

‘We arranged to meet at the ME London hotel on The Strand but I got there before him and waited in the bar. When he did arrive he had his mates with him and we went to eat before returning to the hotel where I waited for him again, this time in his suite.”

While waiting for Amir, Eglantine took pictures of items scattered around the room, to prove she had been there. After ten minutes he arrived and joined her on the bed.

Eglantine

Eglantine-Flore Aguilar

Eglantine said: “Within seconds we had undressed. The session lasted about 20 minutes and he was very loving. He treated me like a princess and I thought we would see each other again.”

The next morning Amir left the hotel for radio interviews and TV filming for Sport Relief at the BBC. It was on his way back to the hotel, where Eglantine was waiting, that he sent her a message saying she ‘might need to sign an agreement’.

 

“He said it was about us and stated that we did not get up to anything. I asked him why he had arranged this he messaged back saying ‘Some gals say and do silly things’.

“I agreed to sign it but didn’t use my real name, he was really paranoid and I didn’t even get chance to read it. When I asked for a copy he said no but seemed happy I had signed it.”

Eglantine says that Khan has messaged her since, saying he would like to fly her to America to meet up again, as he prepares to fight Luis Collazo in May: “ Amir is a sweet guy but he purports to be a loving, religious family man and that makes him a hypocrite. I’m speaking out to let everyone know what he is really like. He might try and rubbish what I’m saying but we both know it is the truth.

“His wife and fans must face facts and know what goes on in the real world. He’s a total fraud.”

While this is not the first time allegations have been made against Amir, Eglantine has also had her share of scandal in the past year.

Previously linked to premier league footballers Ashley Cole, Saido Beratino and several other ‘unnamed’ players, Eglantine has a degree in literature and describes herself as a make up artist.

Last night Faryal, 22, who married Khan in New York last June took to Twitter calling Eglantine a “desperate bitch”.

She wrote: “My husband and I know the real truth and that is all that matters.”

Khan, who describes himself as a family man and devout Muslim, has previously said: “I am where I am through the guidance of Allah and love of my family.”

Amir’s spokesman refused to comment.

CONCERN AFTER ‘LAUGHING GAS’ CANISTERS FOUND AROUND SALE WEST

Nitrous Oxide canisters on Sale West

Nitrous Oxide canisters on Sale West

POLICE are carrying out extra patrols around Sale West after the trademarks of potentially lethal nitrous oxide – or ‘laughing gas’ – abuse were spotted this week.

Tiny capsules used in whipped cream dispensers were found behind both the library and shops on Coppice Avenue, with several also scattered on residential streets nearby.

Substance abusers pierce the top of the capsules, releasing the nitrous oxide, and then inhaling the

Canisters scattered in several 'hotspots'

Canisters scattered in several ‘hotspots’

gas.

This causes a head-rush as the body is starved of oxygen, leaving the user feeling dizzy and slurring their speech. However, more sinister, long-term effects include headaches, vomiting, nerve damage, paralysis and even death.

Adults can buy the capsules, freely available on the Internet, but it is illegal to sell or supply them to anyone under 18.

 

A mum who lives on Epsom Avenue said: “My children were playing out yesterday and the youngest came in with one of the used canisters in his hand.

“They’re everywhere, we saw at least twenty on the way to school and I had no idea what they were until I saw it on our community group, SaleWestVoice.

“Now I do know, I’m really worried, what if he had put it in his mouth?”

Used canister on Coppice Avenue

Used canister on Coppice Avenue

 

Safer Communities Officer, Dave Pilling said: “This is a growing problem across Trafford and we have strategies in place to try and eradicate it. I will be going into local schools to talk to children and staff about the dangers related to Nitrous Oxide and we welcome any information from the public about misuse in the area.”

 

Police Constable Rebecca Fox, part of Trafford South Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “We have been alerted to this issue and would like to reassure residents that any kind of anti-social behavior continues to be a priority.

 

“We have increased police patrols in the area to offer reassurance to the community and I would ask anyone who may have any concerns to speak to their local officer.”

For advice and support relating to the misuse of nitrous oxide please visit the FRANK website.

 

Strangeways…The inside story

JUST outside Manchester city centre, not far from the hustle and bustle of shoppers and office workers, there is a landmark that is known by many, recognized by others and and feared by some.

Strangeways  via Shutterstock

Strangeways 

Today, Her Majesty’s Prison Manchester, previously known as Strangeways, is an intimidating, somewhat overbearing construction overlooking the busy trading area of Cheetham Hill Road where warehouses can be found down every side street.

As a category A prison, HMP Manchester houses more than 1,000 of the country’s most dangerous and depraved individuals, some of whom are guilty of murder, rape and supply of Class A drugs.

Opened in 1868, at a cost of £170,000, Strangeways was originally designed in an overtly

Alfred Waterhouse via Wiki commons

Alfred Waterhouse 

gothic way, as chosen by the winner of a competition at the time for the best design – a man called Alfred Waterhouse.

Manchester had been named as an assize town since 1864, meaning that the city could try serious cases and had the right to execute anyone convicted of murder.

These, public executions, were held outside the walls of New Bailey Gaol, but, having been built in the eighteenth century, it had fallen into disrepair and needed rebuilding.

In 1863, five years before public executions were abolished, a group of Lancashire magistracy met in the Mayor’s parlour at Manchester Town Hall and called for a new county gaol, where executions would be held in private. They proposed that hangings should take place within the walls of the gaol, and that the only witnesses should be the High Sheriff, the governor, a special jury and representatives from the press.

These suggestions met with government approval and bear many similarities to the procedures that were eventually adopted, once private executions were introduced, and permission was given for the new gaol to be built. Some of the original stones from New Bailey were used in the construction of the new one too.

Strangeways, built on Southall Street, was effectively two gaols in one, holding 800 men and the same number of women, with steps in place to ensure that they never came into contact with each other. Notably this included a screen that was pulled across splitting the chapel in half so that even during prayer there would be no opportunity to meet with the opposite sex.

Panoptic design of Manchester Prison via Wiki Commons

Panoptic design of Manchester Prison

Built using the Panoptic principle, Strangeways can be best seen from above where the breathtaking view of all six wings radiating like spokes on a bicycle from the all-seeing central viewpoint can be found.

This was in the days before the all-seeing eye we know as CCTV came into being, the prison officers of old relied heavily on the circular design, patrolling the central area regularly in a bid to deter escapees.

Each wing has four floors split into blocks, with over thirty cells on each, as well as a shower block, recreation area and laundry room for the inmates to use. The cells were originally made for single prisoners but, in more recent years, they have been adapted to house two inmates, often causing overcrowding and other related problems.

Each cell measures just 13-foot in length, 7-foot wide and 9-foot high – when the prison was first opened they were equipped with a simple wooden bed that could be used as a table during the day. These days while the size hasn’t changed the bed has, to be replaced with a metal bunk bed and a separate table and chair, although it is somewhat cramped, especially for two grown men.

Originally some of the cells were fitted out as workshops, so inmates could fill their time weaving matting and making shoes. There was also a treadmill that could be used by eighty men at one time, this was for prisoners sentenced to hard labour; it pumped all of the water used within the gaol from a deep well.

The tall, minaret-like shaft within Strangeways is a prominent feature of the Manchester skyline and

Strangeways Tower via Wiki Commons

Strangeways Tower

originally it operated as both a smoke stack and a ventilation shaft. It hasn’t been in use for years but is still a major feature of the prison nonetheless.

The basement was reserved for the ‘refractory cells’; it was to these that the governor sent prisoners who would not work or who broke prison rules. It was also where the condemned cell was located.

Formed by two ordinary cells being opened up into one large cell, in the basement of B wing, the condemned cell is still there today – although the original use has long since been abandoned.

There were two metal doors, one leading to a long corridor, the other to the visiting area. It was there that family and friends met with the condemned prisoner, although they were allowed no physical contact and were separated by thick iron bars.

To reach their place of execution, the condemned prisoner was led out of the door and across the corridor, before passing through double doors, which opened into the execution shed.

Noose via Shutterstock

The shed was 15 feet square and housed the scaffolding, which was folded away until needed. A pair of doors were opened that in turn opened up the structure, which was then ready for immediate use.

No doubt it was of little comfort to the person about to be hanged that this contraption meant the expense and inconvenience of having to erect a scaffold outside of the gaol each time there was an execution were avoided.

The first person to be hanged at Strangeways was a 19-year-old man called Michael Johnson, who, after stabbing a man in the leg during a pub brawl was condemned to death in 1869 while the last and one hundredth to meet their end on its gallows was a woman, Gwynne Owen Evans, in 1964.

Hanging shed via Wiki Commons

Hanging shed 

 

Strangeways has witnessed many changes since this time, not least the outlawing of executions, however, one of the biggest structural changes took place after the riot of 1990.

Labeled the worst prison riot this country has witnessed, severe damage

Fire damage in B Wing via Wiki Commons

Fire damage in B Wing 

was caused to the building during a twenty-five day period that saw prisoners climb onto the rooftop and set fire to their cells in a protest against conditions within the jail.

Many of the inmates began to feel as if their rights were being ignored. Some were confined to their cell for up to 22 hours a day, with only limited time given for exercise and bathing.

On the roof during the riot via Wiki Commons

On the roof during the riot 

 

 

There were a series of small protests before the riot, which began when, during a sermon at the prison chapel, over 300 inmates rebelled against the guards with the conflict quickly spreading through the prison.

 

When it was brought to an end, and the last of the prisoners had surrendered, extensive renovations were necessary before it could re-open. When it did accept new inmates, the government gave it the new official title of HM Prison Manchester.

In abandoning the old name, it was hoped that the prison’s image would be improved. To many Mancunians however, it will always be known as Strangeways, or ‘The ‘Ways’, as *Jimmy puts it.

Spending eight weeks in the prison earlier this year, while on remand for shoplifting, *Jimmy explains how little has really changed for prisoners on the inside, despite the external makeover.

He arrived at Strangeways after his appearance in court and was placed on the induction wing before being designated a cell on G Wing.

“The walls closed in around me. I couldn’t breathe. Sitting in the corner    of the bland yet sour-smelling box that was my new home I felt physically  sick.”

He goes on to describe the feeling of isolation as he spent time in his cell, what he calls ‘the box’.

"The cell was like a box"

“The cell was like a box”

“The first thing to hit you as you enter the ‘Ways is the stench. The rancid mixture of sweat and damp clothes, despair and sadness. Emotions have a smell of their own too; you just don’t notice it on the outside.

Next is the noise. Not usual, everyday sounds – these are sinister and get louder at night; the screws walking on the landing, keys jangling from their waists, the sound of metal slamming shut and the creak of a lock being opened. These are the noises that make Stangeways, the ones I still hear at night, even though I’m in my own bed far away.”

Although the condemned cell of old is no longer used, the basement is – as a segregation unit for prisoners who refuse to follow the rules. Jimmy spent a week here after getting into a fight with a fellow inmate. The walk from his cell down to the unit is one he will never forget, and one that he says brought him close to those that had been before him:

“I knew we were headed down to the segregation cells when the screws came to get me but I really wasn’t prepared for what it is really like down there.

“As we walked down the stairs I could feel the air get colder, that’s when it hit me we were actually underground. The feeling of isolation was crushing, it felt like with every step I was becoming more invisible, what if they forgot about me and just left me here – who would care, who would look for me?

"it was cold and hkjhk" image via shutter stock

“What if they forgot about me?” 

“The cells down there are freezing, and quiet. The only discernable noise I heard was the occasional sound of a radio somewhere close by. Not clear enough to make out a tune, just enough to make me feel that there was other humans out there, that I hadn’t been left to rot underground after all.”

 

 

He describes his time in the segregation unit as the lowest in his life, where the feeling of being invisible and disposable was never far away, he said:

“I think it is because you are underground, and the fact that people have been there before you but never left. The gallows and hanging tackle may be long gone but we know it was there and what happened – loads of poor blokes went down those same stairs as me but, instead of coming out the other side, they were killed, in a shed like one you would keep cows in. That is the real crime in my eyes, the stuff that isn’t talked about anymore.”

“For me the problem with Strangeways is, and always has been, the mentality of the people running in, the one’s in charge. Until that changes, and until they see prisoners as people, not cattle, they are never far away from another situation like the one in the nineties’. Doesn’t matter how nice they make the outside look when the inside is rotten to the very core, kind of like trying to polish a turd if you ask me.”

While the name may be up for debate, one thing that is certain in regards to HMP Manchester, or Strangeways, is that it will continue to be one of Manchester’s most infamous landmarks for many years to come. Whether it is a much needed necessity or an outdated and inhumane relic of the past is a matter of opinion.

Here is a Youtube video called The Photograph which depicts some of the scenes during the riot and the reasons behind it…

Sometimes you need to relax and EXHALE…

Exhale Therapy is a luxurious spa in Manchester, offering a multitude of treatments from around the world, both holistic and aesthetic. Having heard great reviews, I thought I’d check it out for myself….

9S0A63761

I booked in for a Hammam bath, hot stone massage, rescue facial and Shellac for my nails – after all there is no point in doing things by halves:)

Exhale Therapy is based in Didsbury, not far from the village and just around the corner from East Didsbury Metrolink station.

 Having taken my car, I was delighted to find they also have customer parking right outside which was a great bonus, it only took me about twenty minutes to get there from Sale too.

Reception at Exhale Therapy

Reception at Exhale Therapy

The reception area is just gorgeous and really set the tone for my whole visit. Expanses of marble and eastern artwork along with the relaxing piped music made me instantly forget the hustle n bustle I had just left behind and really did transport me to somewhere calm and tranquil.

 

Greeted by Saira I was shown through to the Hammam area which looked inviting although I was a little nervous as I didn’t know what to expect. She made me feel very comfortable and explained everything to me, I was to change and sit in the steam room until she came to get me in about 10 minutes…

Steam room in the Hammam - Exhale Therapy

Steam room in the Hammam – Exhale Therapy

The changing room is spacious and clean, there are lockers for personal bits and both robe and slippers were provided for me so, after getting into my bikini, I headed to the steam room.

Wow….

The steam room is quite spacious, big enough for four people to share and is just the business. With temperatures reaching 104 degrees in billows of steam I felt like I was in a tropical rainforest and could literally see the toxins breaking free from my neglected skin..It was really relaxing, if a little hot and I enjoyed sitting still for a few minutes (something I don’t do very often, with or without steam). Just as I was beginning to think that I had maybe had enough the door opened and Saira asked me to step out for the next part of the Hammam experience, The scrub.

Hammam at Exhale Therapy

Lying on the marble bed in the middle of the Hammam I felt warm, relaxed and totally chilled out. I was then treated to the whole shebang – my whole body was scrubbed and polished until I felt like I was literally glowing, then rinsed down with warm water, pure decadence:)

When I had composed myself I got dressed and went to have a hot stone massage and facial with Rebecca the beauty therapist.

Hot stone massage - Exhale Therapy

Hot stone massage – Exhale Therapy

Again, I had never had a hot stone massage but was keen to give it a whirl, I struggle with migraines and tension in my shoulders and was hopeful it would help.

Rebecca explained the whole process to me in detail and asked what kind of pressure I preferred etc. She was very thorough and really took on board what I said, quickly zoning in on the knots in my shoulders.

I had expressed a preference for a firm massage and that is exactly what I got. It was excellent. Rebecca is only tiny but boy is she strong. She really cracked my shoulders and the relief was instant – it still feels much better 3 days after my visit – well impressed.

When I had been sufficiently cracked, stretched and rubbed I turned over while Rebecca then did me a rescue facial.

As a smoker that is fast approaching the big 4.0. that likes to stay up late, my skin has been looking a little tired and in need of some serious TLC lately.

Treatment room at Exhale Therapy

Treatment room at Exhale Therapy

The rescue facial consists of various gorgeous smelling products being massaged into your face then removed and somewhere down the line there was also a facial steamer directed at me. It was wonderful and has left me looking all peachy, even diminishing a few fine lines and I will definitely be back for more when they reappear 😉

My spa day experience ended with Hayley the nail technician introducing me to the wonder known as Shellac 🙂

As a life-long nail-biter, one of my greatest achievements is stopping and finally growing decent set of nails. I have only had them for a few months and whilst they are quite long and sting, they are also full of ridges and old war wounds from my days of incessant picking and nibbling.

Hayley explained how Shellac works and how it would protect my nails while they are growing as well as not chipping at all – one of my major nail varnish irritations.

She helped me choose a colour ( I opted for the loud n proud ‘Hollywood Red’ ) and the results are amazing. The ridges are barely visible, it is amazingly neat and it looks sensational, she really is a very talented nail technician.

I left after three and a half hours of pure heaven and can’t wait to get back. My skin feels lovely and smooth, best it has felt in years. My shoulders feel much looser and I haven’t had a headache since Rebecca sorted me out. My face looks brighter and my nails are gorgeous, I can’t stop looking at them.

I can’t recommend Saira, Rebecca and Hayley enough, they are very knowledgable about the treatments they offer and couldn’t have made me feel any more comfortable and relaxed.

Lovely ladies. Sumptuous surroundings. Feeling fantastic 🙂

9S0A6404

Exhale Therapy – Simply Amazing

Please see the Exhale Therapy website for full treatment details and special promotions or you can tweet them @Exhale_Therapy 

All images and the Youtube video used are done so with the kind permission of the one and only Manchester Promotions – find them on Twitter @McrPromotions

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