Including Wanksy, Magic Bus Lady, Ray Boddington and that bloke with the two rabbits...
Joy France AKA The Rapping Granny
If you’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting and talking to Joy, then you’ll know just how much of an absolute legend she is. Her story is a long and rather interesting one, but if there’s only two things that you need to know about her right now – here they are…
First of all she runs a small ‘creative space’ up on the top deck of Afflecks – a room full of an unfathomable number of hand-written messages, drawings, trinkets and stories, and a place where people can go for free – for whatever purpose they want.
Secondly, she’s a poet and a battle rapper! Yep, Joy attends some of the world’s biggest battle rapping contests, going up against (primarily) men who are young enough to be her grand children. She’s fucking brilliant at it too! Read Joy’s full story right here:
Nobody likes a pot hole. If you’re a cyclist, you end up in them around every 3 minutes – ripping your arsehole to shreds and ensuring that the chances of chipping a tooth are always moderate to high. If you’re a driver you have to either swerve them or go over them, ensuring you make driving that little bit more dangerous for everyone or risk severely fucking up your suspension.
Step up this true Manchester legend – Wanksy. As most people in the world know – drawing a penis is one of the most satisfying things imaginable, especially if it’s in public, in a book or on a steamed up window on the bus – it’s great. So Wanksy set about tackling the shoddy Council efforts and now draws willies on pot holes – putting a firework up the arses of Council bods to fix them. Good lad – keep it up I say!
Magic Bus Lady
So there’s a whole host of names dedicated to this lady, someone who regularly travelled up and down Wilmslow Road on corporation transport, sometimes quietly, sometimes not so much. She pretty much established herself as a true Manchester character by carrying her bags and handing out flyers which to most look like unintelligible scribblings.
Well, this particular lady is Jagkanchana Singh (or Jag) and as a regular sight in the student areas of the city she was known to engage regularly with people about all manner of subjects. I actually had a conversation with her on the 142 around 8 years ago about blenders – I’d just bought one to make smoothies with and she certainly made my journey feel quicker. There’s even a hip-hop tribute made about her – let’s hope she’s getting the help she needs eh.
Everyone has seen the picture. It went all around the world in the space of a few hours and basically exposed a night out around the Printworks to be exactly what we all knew it was – an absolute shit show of an affair. In case you don’t know what I’m referring to – look up.
Now, who is the bloke lying down? An absolute Manchester legend that’s who! Mike Deveney from Newton Heath had been out for the night in Mambo’s cocktail bar (which I didn’t even know existed until this exact second) and I think it’s safe to say he got pretty hammered – it was New Year’s Eve after all. Coming out of Mambo’s – with a bottle of lager in his hand (my hero) – he was milling around when a random bloke started getting shirty and subsequently started getting accosted by the bizzies.
In the scuffle Mike was knocked over and the exact second he hit the ground a photographer (Joel Goodman) took a bloody picture. Mike in all of his hazy madness didn’t even realise he was world-famous until a couple of days later. What a lad.
Danny the Dancer
A proper Manchester legend, ‘Danny the Dancer’ can be spied at a variety of huge events in and around Manchester, bopping away to whatever tune happens to be on. Personally I’ve seen him countless times at the Manchester Pride Parade, on Market Street and even at the May Day celebrations in Knutsford a couple of years back – Danny sure does like to travel.
Born in Salford, Danny Henry has been the dancing top-dog on the Manchester club scene ever since the 70’s – inspiring people on the dancefloors of Pips, Rafters and even the fantastic electro-funk nights held at Legend with Colin Curtis and Greg Wilson. Since then he’s continued his dancing with the Manchester School of Samba and even entered Britain’s Got Talent in 2007. He’s a true legend and a gentleman.
The Market Street ‘Model’
It seems nowadays nobody seems to remember the Market Street ‘Model’, which is a shame really because he was a joy to watch walk up and down the street endlessly on a Saturday. I first noticed him during my visits to the city from Oldham while at college around 2002 – a 6-foot-tall bloke with an orange tan and double denim certainly was hard to miss.
Unfortunately, there’s very little information on who he was and what he was doing but I’ll always remember him fondly. I’ve heard elsewhere on the internet that the reason he did this every week was because he heard that a famous model had been first spotted on Market Street and shot to stardom, so in an effort to become the next big thing he’d walk up and down ALL DAY! That probably isn’t true but it’s all I’ve got really.
I did once belong to a Facebook group about him before Zuckerberg made his billions but even that’s gone. If you’re out there mate – get in touch!
That Fella with the Rabbits
As I’m sure many of you reading this will confirm, there’s nothing more alarming than being sat on a Magic Bus and witnessing a grown man walk on, topless in the height of winter with a large white rabbit under his arm. Sounding like something out of a twisted fairy tale, the whole situation is indeed an odd one, especially when he starting lugging two of the bloody furry things around with him and carrying an umbrella.
There’s talk of this guy getting arrested for stealing stuff from Ann Summers, as well as a load of other random (probably untrue) stories knocking about. I think he just had a couple of rabbits and didn’t like wearing clothes and wanted to get the bus. That’s it really. Hopefully he’s alright and the rabbits are okay.
Who’s Ian Gerrard?! Well, you might not know him by name but you’ll certainly be aware of his conquests. He’s the winner of the most Northern thing in the world – the World Pie Eating Championships.
Held last year at Harry’s Bar in Wigan, Ian saw off 5 time champion Martin Appleton Clare to win, but it was close – with only one second in it. His favourite is Meat & Potato so if you see him out and about – take him to Gregg’s and sort him out.
It seems everyone has heard of Purple Aki – a bloke famed throughout the North West for his fondness for squeezing people’s muscles. He’s gained notoriety in recent years on social media, with loads of pages dedicated to him, endless tweets about him and even flags turning up at some pretty major events and festivals proclaiming to ‘Have been squeezed’ by him.
Now, there’s a lot of controversy around this bloke, Akinwale Arobieke, revolving not just around his muscle squeezing but the fact that he’s a convicted criminal and the public’s treatment of him which has been constituted by many to be racist. I’m not going to get involved, but he’s certainly a character around the North West and would you believe it – someone’s even made a BBC documentary about him.
A true Manchester legend and certainly a character around the city centre, Ray Boddington was a singer and performer with the World Famous Piccadilly Rats, performing many of the songs alongside Gaz Stanley and entrancing many with his dance moves.
Sadly, Ray passed away earlier last year, but before then we were lucky enough to spend some time with the Rats in their build up to their performance on the main stage at Parklife Festival. Ray truly was a character, someone who was an integral part of what makes Manchester so special. He’ll be missed not just by his family but also the thousands of people who walked past the Rats on a Saturday – he truly was a legend and a Manchester institution.
Boom Box Bike Man
I actually saw this geezer last week – he rode past me on his bike on Oldham Street and he put a big bloody grin on my face. His name is Danny Smickel and he made his custom bike all himself, featuring some huge speakers, battery and CD player – and has been riding his bike around the streets of Manchester for over 10 years now.
To say that his music is infectious is a bit of an understatement – wherever he goes people look up and smile and if you ask me there’s nothing wrong with that at all! Why he does it I don’t know – perhaps he just wants to put a bit of music into people’s lives – getting those smiles on their faces. Whatever the reason I hope he keeps going – Manchester would be a little bit shitter without him.