Michael Taylor is an events producer and writer. He used to write about sport, music, fashion, design and culture – but that was in Australia in 1989. He came home and became a moderately successful business journalist. In 2012 he gave up Blackburn Rovers, alcohol, carbs and a job. He’s now started his own events company and dabbles in business and politics. He lives in a village called Marple – sort of where Manchester meets the Peaks – and is married with five kids. In 2012 he published Northern Monkeys by William Routledge and since Bill has done us a fave five, it feels only right that we balance things out by pestering Michael for his too.
I had a Barbour waxed jacket made into a bag and I love it. I was pretty pleased with a classic Barbour waxed coat when I picked it up from a special vintage Oxfam shop on Oldham Street in Manchester last year. I scour some of the vintage shops in the Northern Quarter for rare pieces and enjoy unearthing the occasional thing of beauty. But, much as I liked it’s rustic functionality, my wife Rachel was right when she said it aged me by about five years. Needing a decent bag for carting around the things of life – mags, books, iPad, etc, and one that’s a bit roomier than a knapsack. I cannot recommend Rich from Bags of Flavor enough. He’s got a terrific little shop on Tib Street with some vintage pieces – Adidas trainers, denim shirts, plaid, Fila coats, a magnificent 70s Belstaff that suddenly looks very contemporary – but his craft is making DJ bags, hence the name of his enterprise. He’s done a cracking job with the bag: working original Barbour plaid lining and the waterproof waxed outer shell, he’s embedded the label, reworked the collar clip and used the pocket as a handy front section as a bit of nifty custom detail.
When one of my five sons was diagnosed as having high functioning autism and I studied what that meant it included short term obsessions and repeated behavior. I’m like that. At various times I’ve been obsessed by a band, an album or even just a song. I don’t even know what triggers it, but for all my different diversions I keep coming back to a band I discovered late in life – Joy Division and the track New Dawn Fades.
A pal of mine, Keith Seeley, is a serious art collector and he invited me to his house in Lancashire for a buyer’s day in September 2000 with a few big hitters, like the collector Frank Cohen. Exhibiting there that day was an artist called Liam Spencer, a really nice lad from Rossendale. I could have bought one of his originals “Watching Pingu” for a couple of hundred quid. I’ve kicked myself ever since that I didn’t, because since then he’s gone stratospheric, even designing the tickets and the artwork for the 2008 UEFA Cup Final in Manchester (when Rangers fans pissed in every corner of the city). Anyway, I have a print of it now, along with two more of his pieces in my house – my favourite being “Jumping Off Rocks at St Ives” which I bought the day I bumped into him and his son (who’s featured in “Watching Pingu”) in St Ives.
I’ve yet to read the epoch defining chronicle of the last lost decade – and the devilry of 2008’s financial crisis. But the sociological brilliance of Layer Cake is my favourite of this type. The film was good too, the presence of Michael Gambon lifts it to higher level than Lock Stock and the rest, even better I’d argue than Long Good Friday. But the dialogue and the calculating madness he portrays of the British underworld is something else. His follow up Viva la Madness had a touch of the Elmore Leonard about it, but he is a special writer. JJ Connolly should teach Layer Cake economics in a business school.
As well as writing and publishing, I work in the events world. I host conferences for businesses and brands – and encourage people to open their minds through debate and dialogue. I love debate and discourse. One side articulating a view, the other responding. But I also like the whole TED concept of sharing new ideas in an open forum and trying to inspire people. One of the best debaters I’ve seen is Tristram Hunt, now the Labour MP for Stoke, but a brilliant popular historian who’s written on Engels and the English Civil War. But the best lecturer and speaker I’ve ever sat and gawped at is Malcolm Gladwell. He was absolutely spellbinding. I’ve seen him twice, the first was the best where he delivered a long talk about one of his core ideas – that in order to be brilliant at something you have to do it for 10,000 hours. He drew in The Beatles, Fleetwood Mac, Bill Gates and Robert Oppenheimer.