OUT NOW: Transference (Love + Hate in Rain City) by John Bowie

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Manchester, I love you. And I’ve loved returning; to the place, ideas and memories.

It was such an important time (the 90s) and place for me — the music, clubs, city… I had to get it down. This was emotionally hard in parts, but cathartic. And in other parts… well, it was the purest joy.

I’ve held back on the tropes: Gunchester and Madchester. And tried to use the atmosphere, words and narrative do the talking. And after all, at the time these titles belonged more to The Sun, NME and Melody Maker than those that were there.

It is bleak, violent and stark. But there’s poetry down those harsh rain-soaked alleyways too. I worked hard to capture it all. Again (as with Untethered), both memories and fiction have been fused.

Now, as the authors proof is close to sign off, its become reality. Like 90s Manchester: a concept made real.

John Bowie


Manchester was an idea; a concept.

An ideal in people’s heads crafted together by bands, labels, agents and the smoky piss and wind blowing around the city that fuelled them all. It was both false memory and real; a state of mind bred-out in the attitude of the clubs, music, weather, buildings, beer and water. It had a background hum; a noise that wouldn’t quieten. The waterways, roads, industry (dead and dying), cars and pedestrians omitted a vibration that added to the cacophony of it — all in a constant state change, jostling, jarring…

The club was at the centre of all of this.

A loudspeaker to channel the minds and souls. David Coulter, the painter, summed it up well. Impressionistic blurs of light, water, vibrancy and most of all the noise — you can’t stop the noise. If he was painting water lilies his pieces could easily be confused with Monet. But because it was Manchester and Salford, there was a gritty realism for the eyes that Monet wasn’t alive to play with on canvas. So the bands, Lowry and Coulter played with it and made the ideas, past the rain and smog, for real.

We walked through this beautiful noise.

The one girl that lasted, there until the end…she was on a similar frequency; in harmony with his shifts, ebbs and flows of emotion. He saw her inner beauty. His hurt was mirrored back at him pooling in her black eyes. And she felt it too; saw the same in him.

A sexual aesthetic arose in both their mutual pains. They both admired and fed on it. It belonged only to them, it was their own sort of love. They started easy; reading Ballard’s ‘Crash’. Then, ‘American Psycho’. Shortly after they read Roland Barthes’ ‘Mythologies’. ‘Labyrinths’ by Borges followed and then they started dipping into the artworks of Giger and the architecture by Lebbeus Woods. And with this…came eventual true deconstruction…of the self.

By the time there was a group of them reading ‘Cities of the Red Night’ by William S. Burroughs — it was a communal thing in the block of flats and their paths had become fixed in a definite direction: a thirst for pleasure, pain and all that’s in between.


I took loads of recce photos, this (below) is possibly my favourite.

I took it walking down Whitworth Street O’ Sheas Irish bar, to where The Haçienda once stood. A route took many a time back then.

When my now wife and I were in manchester together last. We went to O’ Sheas. I’d insisted as we were walking back from the Heaton Park gig.

An Irish band did a Stone Roses cover. Words aren’t enough to say how both, so wrong and so very right that was.

Transference by John Bowie - Reccy photo
Transference by John Bowie

About the book


As clubbers in Manchester’s most notorious club partied hard in the 90s, a girl collapsed, falling from the stage after a bad pill. Few noticed. Those that did, didn’t care — lost in a hedonistic haze. John Black, an ex-SAS soldier, who was working security that night, carried her out in his arms.

Now on witness protection for exposing the city’s underworld after the girl’s death, he returns to the city that disowned him. Helping a troubled mother search for answers to her son’s suicide, as eerie recordings tell of increased sexual depravity in the block of flats he jumped from.

Confronting the orchestrator of his pains, he works to solve the case, have vengeance…and reclaim his lost identity.

TRANSFERENCE is available to buy now:



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