Monday, April 30, 2007

A River Runs Through It

Liverpool's Pier Head landing stage has lain in the murky Mersey for some time now. Poor weather caused the entire structure to detach from its moorings in March of last year. Heavy rain & gale force conditions forced it into the water. That was unfortunate. What followed next was farcical. The Mersey Docks & Harbour Company, who are responsible for the Pier Head area as well as the wider waterfront, sat on their hands & left the landing stage in its watery state. Ferry crossings were affected with the boats using the same berth as that used by vessels bound for the Isle of Man. Last year the Liverpool Culture Company ( ) appealed to the MDHC to rescue & repair the structure in time for the annual Matthew Street Festival at the end of August. The blindingly obvious point was made not just by the LCC but anyone with half a brain & a civic consciousness that a submerged landing stage wouldn't look very good to the many tourists about to descend on the city for the annual Beatlefest. Given that there were to be two stages at the Pier Head itself, it seemed ludicrous to have such a well-known feature of the local waterfront under water. The MDHC displayed all their characteristic imagination & far-sightedness (remember their manufacture of the dockers' dispute in 1995) by saying, "Sorry, can't help".

Progress of a sort has now been made with a new base for the ferries ( ).

Well done, guys! What took you so long?

After all the shennanigans, posturings & cock-ups over 2008 it's nice to see more movement on developments at the Pier Head: .

The waterfront museum has been five years in the making, according to the report. Granted, the size & scope of the project has meant that it couldn't be a rush job. However, it still seems a little on the tardy side. Still, I suppose it fits in with the more sober & hard-headed attitude that 2008 should be a starting point, not an end in itself.

Historian Tristram Hunt, on the other hand, still felt pangs of yearning for a little too much nostalgia on the waterfront & in the city generally with this "Comment is Free" thread last week:,,2062851,00.html .

These four young men appeard to be enjoying themselves at the Pier Head, despite being some decades early for the Matthew Street Festival.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Born: January, 2006. Died: April, 2007.

By far the most compelling TV drama since "Our Friends In The North". I'll miss this series.

April 15th, 1989

An image which needs no comment from me.

In Memoriam

John Alfred Anderson (62)
Thomas Howard (39)
Colin Mark Ashcroft (19)
Thomas Anthony Howard (14)
James Gary Aspinall (18)
Eric George Hughes (42)
Kester Roger Marcus Ball (16)
Alan Johnston (29)
Gerrard Bernard Patrick Barron (67)
Christine Anne Jones (27)
Simon Bell (17)
Gary Philip Jones (18)
Barry Sidney Bennett (26)
Richard Jones (25)
David John Benson (22)
Nicholas Peter Joynes (27)
David William Birtle (22)
Anthony Peter Kelly (29)
Tony Bland (22)
Michael David Kelly (38)
Paul David Brady (21)
Carl David Lewis (18)
Andrew Mark Brooks (26)
David William Mather (19)
Carl Brown (18)
Brian Christopher Matthews (38)
David Steven Brown (25)
Francis Joseph McAllister (27)
Henry Thomas Burke (47)
John McBrien (18)
Peter Andrew Burkett (24)
Marion Hazel McCabe (21)
Paul William Carlile (19)
Joseph Daniel McCarthy (21)
Raymond Thomas Chapman (50)
Peter McDonnell (21)
Gary Christopher Church (19)
Alan McGlone (28)
Joseph Clark (29)
Keith McGrath (17)
Paul Clark (18)
Paul Brian Murray (14)
Gary Collins (22)
Lee Nicol (14)
Stephen Paul Copoc (20)
Stephen Francis O'Neill (17)
Tracey Elizabeth Cox (23)
Jonathon Owens (18)
James Philip Delaney (19)
William Roy Pemberton (23)
Christopher Barry Devonside (18)
Carl William Rimmer (21)
Christopher Edwards (29)
David George Rimmer (38)
Vincent Michael Fitzsimmons (34)
Graham John Roberts (24)
Thomas Steven Fox (21)
Steven Joseph Robinson (17)
Jon Paul Gilhooley (10)
Henry Charles Rogers (17)
Barry Glover (27)
Colin Andrew Hugh William Sefton (23)
Ian Thomas Glover (20)
Inger Shah (38)
Derrick George Godwin (24)
Paula Anne Smith (26)
Roy Harry Hamilton (34)
Adam Edward Spearitt (14)
Philip Hammond (14)
Philip John Steele (15)
Eric Hankin (33)
David Leonard Thomas (23)
Gary Harrison (27)
Patrik John Thompson (35)
Stephen Francis Harrison (31)
Peter Rueben Thompson (30)
Peter Andrew Harrison (15)
Stuart Paul William Thompson (17)
David Hawley (39)
Peter Francis Tootle (21)
James Robert Hennessy (29)
Christopher James Traynor (26)
Paul Anthony Hewitson (26)
Martin Kevin Traynor (16)
Carl Darren Hewitt (17)
Kevin Tyrrell (15)
Nicholas Michael Hewitt (16)
Colin Wafer (19)
Sarah Louise Hicks (19)
Ian David Whelan (19)
Victoria Jane Hicks (15)
Martin Kenneth Wild (29)
Gordon Rodney Horn (20)
Kevin Daniel Williams (15)
Arthur Horrocks (41)
Graham John Wright (17)

Acknowledgements to the Liverpoop Football Club website for the names of the 96 who died at Hillsborough on this date 18 years' ago.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Enlightenment & Etiquette

Where to begin? Chronologically, I suppose.
Mulling over an anguished piece of intellectual handwringing last month (,,2036618,00.html ), I was tempted to go along with the author's premise that each age should produce its own crop of writers & thinkers who not just articulate the tenor of the times, but outline a vision of the way forward for society.
Then I checked myself. Yes, there are writers & thinkers out there (Amis, McEwan, Dawkins, Self, etc.), but they're addressing issues which no longer relate to changing society itself; the most progressive of the current crop, Dawkins, seems intent on repeating his points about religion & Darwin without linking these points to a wider debate about the body politic.

The gap in posting doesn't mean that I've been inert on the web. Far from it, I've been earnestly blogging away on the Guardian's "Comment is Free" website. Still, it was alarming to see a piece which claimed that blogging is already declining:,,2043775,00.html .

Being on the CiF website is sometimes similar to engaging in a lager fuelled argument in the pub. It is no place for sensitive souls who view their carefully crafted prose as inviolate. Responses to posts, as well as the original articles, are often bracing. At their best, they can be scabrously witty & informative. At their worst, however, they sink to the level of juvenile name-calling. It therefore comes as no surprise that figures in cyberspace like Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, have felt moved to act:,,2053569,00.html .
Inevitably, responses have been swift &, well, to the point. Critics have accused Wales & others of trying to introduce censorship. There isn't a shred of evidence with which to back up this claim. In fact, to use terminology which these particular bloggers would recognise, it's bollocks with bells on.

Pete Best is the "forgotten Beatle". People are more aware of Stuart Sutcliffe because of his sudden death before fame & fortune beckoned. [Sutcliffe, moreover, couldn't play a note, & was in the group merely because of his close friendship with Lennon.]
It certainly wasn't easy for Best after he was kicked out of the group to make way for Ringo. By the time the Beatles were recording Sgt. Pepper, Best was reported by the Liverpool Echo as working in a local bakery. He also attempted to commit suicide in the late 60s.
In the 70s he found work in the civil service (my mother worked with him for a few years). Unsurprisingly, he wouldn't be drawn on his role in the history of the world's most famous band.
Over the last decade Best has been a regular at the Matthew Street Festival, that tacky & increasingly Disneyfied distortion of the Beatles' legacy. With his own band, modestly named "Pete Best's Beatles", he's made a living playing the early rock 'n' roll numbers which the band played in the Cavern. He also reportedly made £1m from the success of the Beatles Anthology releases a decade ago.
Now, it seems, Best is willing to meet up with McCartney: .
Quite what they'd have to talk about after a gap of 45 years is anyone's guess. However, if I were McCartney, I'd feel safer in the company of Mark Chapman & Heather Mills than in a room with Best.

The anniversary of Hillsborough will be marked on Sunday. It's never easy to deal with, particularly for those of us who were on the Leppings Lane terrace that day. Gerry Ormonde, the driving force behind the irrepressible Kopblog ( ) recently posted a message/statement from Anne Williams, whose son Kevin was among those who lost their lives. It's a fairly lengthy piece & to select particular passages of it for quotation purposes would, I feel, dilute its impact.
To summarise, Anne Williams details the long campaign to achieve justice for Kevin & the other 95 victims. Go to Gerry's blog & read it (it's from his entry for 23/03/07).
The email addresses for the campaign are: & .