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Manchester is a busy city. In fact, you can't go anywhere in Manchester without some sort of bar, club or restaurant having sprung up since you last noticed. To help you make the decision where to eat, drink and be seen is 'City Life', Manchester's premier guide to what's happening in the area. A glossy magazine not too dissimilar to Time Out, it costs £1.60 from all good newsagents. Not bad value for money (you do get around 90 pages or so each issue), but the price has slowly been creeping up over the years. Oh yes, and it comes out every fortnight... The strong point of the magazine is its organisation. The middle section of the magazine is the 'what's on' guide, although this flouts every law in the 'what's on guide' guidebook by not being detachable. This is no doubt a good thing, as the supplements are always the first bits to be thrown away in our house... This guide is split into various sections. These are: cinema, pop, folk & roots, jazz & blues, clubbing, lesbian & gay, visual arts, classical & opera, theatre & dance, comedy, literature, sport, days out, mind & body, kids and meetings. Phew... Each individual section, which is usually is one or two pages, lists all the events happening in Manchester in the following fortnight. This can be the next Man Utd game, the times for the latest blockbuster at the Odeon or talks about how to discover your higher dimensions with Lyn Shea in Altrincham. No, I didn't actually make that last one up... These guides really are comprehensive, and every angle of Manchester life is covered. The club guides are detailed, as are the cinema listings, which are much more convenient to look at the the C4 Teletext flicks guide. In addition to this, there are various short articles in the 'what's on' guide, about a highlighted event. This can be an interview with a comedian who's in town, or about a local sport
s club. These are usually informative and to the point, and do alert you to things that you would probably brush over otherwise. The rest of the magazine consists of articles about Manchester life and other arts features. David Beckham is often mentioned, and even controversially won the annual 'City Life Mancunian of the Year' award in 2001, despite being born in Essex and not playing for City. There were many angry people when that decision was made... These articles are well written, and often have twists of humour in them, which makes a refreshing change from the dry guides that other publications tend to produce. I also think that the balance of Manchester-related articles and more general points of interest is absolutely spot-on. Also worth a mention is the photography, which is superb. The mag is full of pictures, and these are eye-catchingly different from other lifestyle magazines that I've come across. The featured writers include Danny Moran, who writes a regular column in the magazine, venting his spleen about something or other. This is accompanied by a list of what's hot and what's not, again with a Mancunian tilt within it. Recent features include a large spread on '24 Hour Party People', the Steve Coogan film exploring the Manchester club scene in the 80's. There is, of course, the obligatory letters page as well. This is of a much better standard than the letters shown in the Manchester Evening News (i.e. it doesn't feature the omnipresent letter from 'aged 76 of Longsight' about how the youth of today are bad and have no respect for their elders. Instead, it's mostly feedback from topics raised previous issues. The back of the magazine has reviews of the albums and singles released that fortnight, as well as a closer look at one of the restaurants in the region. These are usually objective and are full of information. Releases from
local bands are also given precedence, which makes a change from more mainstream publications, where the same 5 albums are reviewed by all. 'City Life' is definitely worth a look for anyone in Manchester or visiting it. Perhaps the only thing that it might be lacking is a map of the area, which may come in handy for people new to the city or just passing through. After all, how else are you going to find out how to higher your dimensions in Altrincham?!