I clocked him before he reached our table gliding serenely, lighter than air, across the polished exposed floorboards.

‘Strumming my pain with his finger…,’ Lauryn Hill purred from the PA system. I stared at his tray, my eyes popping out my skull at the sight of the oreo cookie garnishing the glass. Pathetically grateful and desperate for sugar.

The sweet creamy milk laced with woody chocolate cookies, diffused with flecks of ice: the sugar instantly absorbed, the ice soothing my throbbing head.

‘…and so I came to see and listen for a while.’ sang Lauryn. It was a perfect moment. Serene.  After a slurp I pressed the glass to my temples, one at a time, and prayed the staff wouldn’t judge me.

Despite questioning in a previous post if Manchester’s bar and club scene was becoming a little  samey,  I have to admit I like Trof’s latest offering, Gorilla, on Whitworth Street.

Not sure how I’ll feel about another Black Dog Ballroom, mind. The night before we’d been past it as we stumbled through the Northern Quater on our way to Stevenson Square, a long line of Printworks refugees tailed around the corner.

But Gorilla I like. It’s got a dinner feel to it with these angular aluminium tiles above the bar, and there’s a gin parlour upstairs that, thankfully, is not open at 11am on a Saturday morning, which is when I tend to stumble in, pick something off the breakfast menu and slump on the table waiting for someone to bring me liquids.

Last time, I chose the waffles, bacon and maple syrup, which was possibly a mistake. Kristian went nuts for it, figuring there’s nothing not to like about a dish that contains salty, sweet and bready elements. But I’m someone who likes savoury and pudding to be clearly signposted and the bacon just seemed out of place to me. Good coffee though.

This time round there was no messing about. I was dying and there was no room for error. I plumped for the vegetarian breakfast, knowing that my stomach couldn’t handle a plateful of pork.

I asked for extra veggie black pudding, our server told me that I was making a wise choice. I felt comforted by his assurances.

The Mediterranean vegetables that it came with were glossy with olive oil and herbs de provence. The homemade hash brown, that came separately, was like tasting a hash brown for the first time, as it should be. Pure and good. The egg, perfect and fresh.

And our server had been no false prophet; while the veggie black pudding lacked the depth of its blood-filled counterpart, it was crumbly and unctuous.

I work close by and I’ve popped  in once or twice on my way home. They have a deal going on cocktails and wines between five and eight, but if I’m drinking on a school night it’s because I want something specific and Augustiner Helles comes in at around £4.50, which while not far off the going rate for a decent beverage can still come as a bit of a shock.

I was pretty enthusiastic when the waiter politely asked if we’d enjoyed our meal.  I said it was          amazing and maybe that was a bit much, but it seemed, with the sugary milkshake working on my hangover, that anything was possible now.

I could go into town, watch a film, get out of the city, catch a train to the coast, I could do it all again if I wanted to. It was all there for the taking now that I’d steeled myself with grease and milk.

(I ended up in Bury.)

Not so long ago we posted an article that attracted a critical response. The article was seemingly innocuous enough, and despite not really agreeing with the commentator’s thrust I felt  the essence of the comment was fair enough, if unpleasantly expressed. After all, you can’t please everyone all the time, and if you have an opinion you can bet your life someone else will have a contrasting point of view.

But it didn’t stop there. Next came emails, and sinister ones at that. Soon it became obvious that the person concerned had gone to a fair bit of trouble; setting up a separate email address under an alias and tracking down where we might be at a certain time. We both felt strongly that this person was a coward and would lack the balls to actually come down and present their grievances face to face.

Turned out we were right.

And in the grand scheme of thing this was a relatively mild experience. Just a bit of trolling really. Other people we know who write blogs have had similar experiences. I sincerely hope I’ll never have to receive anything similar to Guardian writer, Suzanne More.

But this experience did get me thinking about how easy it is for people to behave a certain way online and the role of comments pages in facilitating  debate. Are they useful? Do they really add anything meaningful to the reading experience? Should moderator standards be more stringent? Should the IP addresses of people who send threatening emails be passed on to the police?

It’s an interesting debate, one that I can see both sides of. On the one hand, it can be argued that a bit of stick every now and then is the price that you pay for having a platform. However, bulling in any profession or walk of life should be unacceptable.

@zephyrtron presented some interesting points in his post over at Write Now. If comments were locked into social media platforms (which in turn are locked into a person’s offline life) then we would most likely see people begin to comment with a bit more thought. He also presents an interesting point about free speech being built on personal responsibility.

I agree with much of what is said in his post, although I would be sad to see the end of comments completely.

Often comments on certain articles can add another angle to the story or contribute information that’s relevant to the topic being discussed. But it really gets my goat when people comment on Mariella Frostrup or Pamela Connolly pieces just to say  something along the lines of  “once again Mariella/Pamela has given some rubbish advice.” You can almost see them rolling their eyes derivatively while they type, filled with a false sense of superiority.

Perhaps it is time we began to apply the rules of what we consider acceptable publicly to the way we behave online.

Follow the conversation on Twitter: #killcomments


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