Sunday, August 31, 2008

Three Years' On, The Big Easy Faces Another Storm

As the latest news concerning Hurricane Gustave continues to develop ( ), I'm reminded of the concert Allen Toussaint & the Preservation Hall Jazz Band gave at Liverpool's Philharmonic Hall in June of last year. During the concert Allen remarked that it was unusual for him to play live anywhere let alone outside the US. However, "booking agent Katrina", as he dryly put it made that a necessity. Let's hope that Gustave doesn't have any music management plans for itself. Stay safe, guys.

A Cultural Conductor

When two Scousers meet conversation normally revolves around football, leisure & family. At least it does when the two Scousers in question are from working class backgrounds. Their middle class counterparts, however, tend to be more stilted, more formal, less spontaneous. Such an encounter is to be dissected in today's Observer where Ed Vulliamy & Simon Rattle look ahead to the latter's two dates at Liverpool's Philharmonic Hall later this year, firstly with the Berlin Philharmonic, & then with the RLPO ( ).
There's a discernible element of nostalgia for the Liverpool of yesteryear as well as a shudder at the recent past when Rattle enthuses that "it's nice to see [Liverpool] in such a renaissance because there were some really tough times in Liverpool after the riots, the Derek Hatton years."
Vulliamy seizes on this cursory throwback to the 80s to revive his own well-documented antipathy to Militant:
"[Rattle] says this with solemn slowness, as though a dear friend had been abused by the years when Hatton and Margaret Thatcher picked over Liverpool's bones."
Ah, yes, Hatton & Thatcher, two sides of the same destructive coin that did for the city. That tired, discredited & contradictory theory; it's as risible as claiming that the city's slide was due to events in the 80s & nothing to do with the Port's decline decades earlier.
Vulliamy is on altogether firmer ground when he highlights the hitherto overlooked issue of musical education in schools with his observation that "a battle rages over music in British schools between people such as Rattle, Julian Lloyd Webber and Peter Maxwell Davies, who believe that deprived children have a right of access to great classical music, and those -- with their bastion in the north west as it happens -- who believe that music education should consist of what is regarded as 'relevant' to children and chosen by them, not 'bourgeois' and 'imposed' from the classical heritage. It's a situation which results in poor children studying rap music in class and never hearing a note of Beethoven."
Other than the term "bourgeois" (which I haven't heard used in cultural, political or economic discourse for a decade), Vulliamy is correct to identify this depressingly limiting phenomenon.
That said, however, the issue of class is again germane to such an issue. Rattle grew up in Aigburth, next to Sefton Park, in a home environment which was clearly comfortable. Therefore it was easier for him to persue & develop his musical ambitions in the city. Anyone of Rattle's generation growing up in the working class north end of Liverpool simply wouldn't have had such a supportive ethos in the home, the parents' help notwithstanding. That can be explained simply: lack of money. It's a situation which remains unchanged half a century later.
A postscript: it's heartening to see Rattle's role as something of a Renaissance figure referred to in the article.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Selecting A Stepford Wife

John McCain's decision to pick Alaska governor Sarah Palin as his running mate for the US Presidential race has set the blogosphere on fire across the pond. The Huffington Post has unearthed this video clip of Palin from late last year: .
Palin comes across as the sort of person who takes her world view from the cable news networks. Unlike her namesake, Michael, however, there's nothing intentionally comical about her views; she opposes abortion even when the woman has been raped & believes in "creationism" (ie., it really did all start with a snake, a spare rib & an apple). On this last point, one of the commenters to the video clip puts it perfectly:
"She believes in fossil fuels, but doesn't believe fossils are older than the bible...".

The Passage Of Time

If the Revolutionary Left was as successful in elections as it is in relaunches, Liverpool would now be a workers' soviet & the Bank of England would be run as a genuine workers' co-operative. This thought came to mind when I learned of a meeting at Liverpool's Adelphi Hotel on Wednesday evening designed to inaugurate "the campaign for a new workers' party". By all accounts, many familiar faces were there, such as Peter Taafe, Dave Nellist, etc.
Rather perversely, the meeting got some free publicity in that night's Liverpool Echo, courtesy of columnist Paddy Shennan ( ).
Tributes were, of course, paid to Terry Fields, & it was this aspect of the evening which Shennan picked up on when he recalled the 80s in local politics:
"An era when politics was largely populated by passionate people, as opposed to being largely populated by cardboard cut-outs.
"An era when our two main political parties weren't fighting over the same middle ground in a desperate bid to impress the same Middle Englanders and Daily Mail readers.
"An era when more people seemed to have something to say --often something worth hearing. An era before spin totally took over."
Too true. However, I wonder if Paddy occasionally checks the Liverpool Echo's own archive. If not, I can assure him that the propaganda & bile which filled much of the Echo's pages during the 80s rivalled anything the Mail could throw up. The Echo was merely a local version of the national red-tops, constantly attacking & smearing the city council. It should also be remembered that the Echo gave its support to Thatcher on the eve of the 1983 election.
Time to go through those back copies, Paddy.

Friday, August 29, 2008

All The Subtlety Of Souza

"Bells & Whistles" is the phrase applied pejoratively to the US Presidential process. Anyone watching the final night of the Democrats' love-in at a Denver NFL stadium would have recognised its accuracy. US conventions are not conferences; they do not debate or decide policy. Instead it's all about spectacle & PR. There were the celebrities (Stevie Wonder, Sheryl Crowe, etc.) & the cheerleading, but anyone hoping for what passes for normal political debate would have been disappointed.
Having said that, Obama's speech was, by US standards, rather substantive. Details were sketched out on domestic & foreign policy & the liberal blogs lapped it up, particularly the Huffington Post ( ).
So, too, did maverick film-maker Michael Moore ( ), who declared for Obama earlier in the summer.
However, the headlong dash to acclaim The Candidate at what right-wing blogs wittily dubbed "Barackopolis" (were they Doric or Ionic columns?) attracted a dissenting voice in the form of Ralph Nader. Talking to the Guardian ( ), Nader fired off a couple of verbal bullets which clearly found their target:
"Obama 'keeps talking about change', Nader told 'But when you look at his he for change when he wants a larger military budget?
"Is he for change when he doesn't challenge the hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies for corporations?'"
This was a point taken up by a blogger for the Firedoglake blog ( ) on a guardian video piece by Oliver Burkeman ( ).

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Stricken With Auntie

A nasty bout of gastric flu has sidelined me over the last 24 hours or so (insert your own pithy quip about bloggers here) so I've listened to daytime Radio 4 ( ) almost all day. Ranging from the essential (Today) to the bloody awful (The Archers), it's been an instructive experience, yet one which reminds me of the compelling case for the licence fee.
My metabolism duly altered, I'm currently watching botoxed 50-something presenters on CNN pontificating about Obama's speech in Denver, Colorado (of which more tomorrow hopefully).

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Rotten Borough

With the spotlight on Liverpool during Capital of Culture year, it's understandable if events in the neighbouring boroughs go unnoticed. To its credit, however, the Liverpool Times, a blog which has its roots in Kirkby, despite its name, last week highlighted what it alleges as corruption & fraud in Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council (MBC); .
The LT notes that David Henshaw was chief executive of Knowsley MBC before taking up the same job in Liverpool. Henshaw's role in Liverpool in the run-up to 2008 has, of course, been brilliantly exposed by Tony Parrish on the Liverpool Subculture blog ( ).
LT states that Henshaw & Jim Keight, Knowsley council leader throughout the 90s, "were given carte blanche by New Labour that ensured political and local government corruption/malpractices flourished without fear of reprisal."
It goes on assert that Knowsley's "press and media office" under Henshaw & Keight received almost five times the amount of funding than its counterpart in Liverpool, despite the fact that Knowsley's population was less than one-third of Liverpool's. Significantly (& unsurprisingly, given its track record), "The Liverpool Echo were drip fed a permanent diet [of] 'good news stories' and their journalists 'encouraged' to stay away from council meetings.
"Having instead to rely on the Council handing down sanitised versions of anything that might be of public interest. Everything else was buried in the secret labyrinth of committees Henshaw set up to push through the £75,000 unsecured loan to a councillor: the variety of questionable land deals: and the covering up of payola to his eventual deputy: and the arranged burying of any trace of the £75,000 unsecured loan to Cllr Edward Grannell, a Kirkby bag carrier for Council leader James Keight JP!"
It's explosive stuff, of course, & the sort of allegations which journalists would be expected to persue with alacrity. However, the Liverpool Times' piece draws attention to the local media's supine coverage of the Borough's affairs. It concludes, "If the Liverpool based media covered the shenanigans of the Council's [sic] and if the Council's Chief Executives upheld standards, would there be any need for the Liverpool Times?"
Maybe not, fellas, but don't dwell on that, you're doing a brilliant job.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Exhuming The Corpse Of Merseybeat Again

This is the time of the year when the amount of bullshit churned out by the Liverpool Echo increases exponentially. The Matthew Street festival is upon us. "Tribute" bands from Valparaiso to Vladivostok put on their suits & wigs before launching into songs we've heard a thousand times previously. Doubtless, the Liverpool Echo will next week hail the weekend as "the best ever", just as they have every year over the last decade or so (2007 notwithstanding, of course).
To tie in with this annual orgy of pointless nostalgia the Echo throws in a series of cheerleader pieces tonight. Perhaps the most risible is one which contends that 2008 has "improved the mental well-being of local people and created a new sense of community ( ), according to researchers at the University of Liverpool, who clearly seem to have too much spare time on their hands.
Helen West, one of the researchers, is quoted as trilling, "Issues such as low esteem and lack of motivation can result from inequalities within a community, which we found to have a negative impact on mental well-being.
"By using culture as a tool to connect different parts of the community, people felt more valued and encouraged to share their goals."
Quite how the community in the Gillmoss area of Croxteth have been connected & encouraged to share their goals by this year of culture is, at the very least, a moot point. Compare the inanity of that piece with the reality that plans to rebuild the Gillmoss area are abandoned, largely because of the credit crunch ( ).
As the city centre begins to rake in the yens, dollars & euros from tourists who probably won't be told that the original Cavern club is now beneath an electricity sub-station, areas like Gillmoss are left to decline & fester ever further.
Without sounding unduly dismissive or flippant, perhaps the best thing to do this weekend is to give the city centre as wide a berth as poosible, & if you really want to see how many drunken, aggressive "scallies" get into scrapes with the law, there's always the Matthew Street webcam to keep you amused ( ).

Earlier this year I commented on the 1959 documentary, "Morning in the Streets", set in the Everton district of the city, when it was first put on the BBC's iPlayer. The documentary got a welcome airing on BBC 4 last night as part of the "Liverpool on the Box" series of programmes ( ).

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Mersey Memories

Earlier this year I accosted one of the producers at BBC Radio Merseyside in the Philharmonic pub on Hope Street. What, I enquired, was the BBC's remit during Liverpool's year as Capital of Culture.
She delivered little more than a paean of praise for the station's more parochial presenters & their egos.
No, no, no, I interjected, I meant the BBC as a whole, you know, BBC Radio 4, BBC 4, etc.
She looked at me as if I'd just asked her about Jonathan Ross' salary.
Don't really know, she stammered, that's not "our patch".
I hope she watched BBC 4 yesterday evening. Its programmes under the heading "Liverpool on the box" were inspired.
First to be broadcast was an intriguing look at Liverpool photographer Edward Chambre Hardman. The programme was a repeat from a couple of years ago, but it was nice to see it a second time. Narrated by Merseyside's own John Peel shortly before his ridiculously early death, the programme looked at the images caught by Hardman. As well as portrait photography for Merseyside's middle classes, there were startling images of Liverpool throughout the 30s, 40s & 50s.
This was followed by Passport to Liverpool, a look at the port, its role & development & its myths. It also featured the city's people, ranging from the Scousers who are sometimes overlooked (a woman proud to be an Afro Scouser), the "Mary Ellens" (elderly women who sum up much of the city's matriarchal culture), to the cliched stereotypes (the characters who'll crack a corny gag while extolling the virtues of Scousedom).
It made for a diffuse & rounded picture of the city, refreshingly honest about a troubled past & current ills.
Rounding off the evening was a gem of a curio from 1968. Ken Loach worked for the BBC before becoming one of the greatest film producers in European cinema. It was as a producer at the Beeb that he worked on a docu-drama as part of the then Wednesday Play slot.
"The Golden Vision" (a nickname given to Everton footballer Alex Young) looked at the lives of a group of fanatical Everton supporters. I must admit that even as a Liverpool fan I found it totally absorbing. It also served as a remarkable social document. Filming took place on the Goodison terraces (this was 20 years before Hillsborough brought terrace culture to an end) & in back to back terraced houses, many of which have long been bulldozed into history. There were also stark reminders that even in the late 60s large parts of the city still showed the damage of the Luftwaffe in World War Two.
Shot in black & white (normal filming conventions or Loachian realism?), the city seemed to be bathed in sepia & fog, the horizon never quite distinct. It may have been the 60s, but most of the mores, manners & conventions (a visit from the local Catholic priest to enquire about non-attendance at Mass) firmly belonged to previous decades.
Loach being Loach, the wider social questions were only a dialogue away; an elderly Evertonian reminisced about previous players & hunger marches from Liverpool in the 30s as if to connect the seemingly disparate themes in the context of working class culture.
Scandalously, only the Passport to Liverpool programme is available to watch again on the BBC's iPlayer ( ).
Come on, guys, give us full value for our licence fee & add the other two programmes.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Surprise, Surprise!

Say what you like about Boris Johnson (oh, go on, please do!), but at least the guy showed his wretched countenance, albeit at the behest of his then boss Michael Howard, in 2004 after that Spectator editorial in the wake of Ken Bigley's murder.
Sad to say, (Nice But Dim) Tim Leunig has gone back on his (conditional) pledge to visit Liverpool ( ).
The Post quotes the Lib Dems' greatest asset: "I've had threats of physical violence on emails -- they're quite aggressive, to be honest. One has accused me of being a paedophile. Another has said I'm lower than vermin, quoting (Nye) Bevan."
It's always a shame when a few idiots use emails merely for puerile & juvenile name-calling, of course. However, the good doctor doesn't say where the apparent abusive emailers live (remember, he did write off the entire north of England).
I always suspected that Leunig would refuse to leave his ivory tower & sully himself with a trip to "the provinces".
One aspect of the Post's report puzzles me. Its reporter Ben Schofield notes, "A Liverpool newspaper printed his [Leunig's] email address on Tuesday."
The "Liverpool newspaper" in question was the Liverpool Echo, sister paper of the Liverpool Daily Post. Why be so coy about this information? Is it some sort of bizarre intra-competitive environment on Old Hall Street (the Post & Echo's HQ)?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Leunig's Liberal Links

A comment in response to my previous post prompted me to do a little bit of cyberdigging. Geoffrey Crayon pointed out that Tim Leunig has links to the Lib Dems. The photograph above shows Dr Leunig alonside Ed Davey, Liberal Democrat MP for Kingston during a local transport campaign.
I then stumbled across Jonathan Calder's Liberal England blog, in particular, a post on the blog yesterday evening:
Calder notes that "the report's lead author Tim Leunig is a Liberal Democrat. Indeed, during my days on the party's federal policy committee he was something of a fixture on that committee's working parties.
"Earlier this evening, debating the report with John Prescott on Channel 4 News, Tim said he was not a member of the Conservative or Labour parties -- and said no more. He may be an academic, but he is not unworldly."
I saw the debate Calder refers to & it's true that Leunig made that comment, deliberately omitting to mention his Lib Dem affiliations:
[The debate begins after a report on the issue, 9 minutes, 15 seconds into the clip on the Channel 4 video player.]
All of which raises an interesting question: All the local politicians who responded to Leunig's report yesterday appeared to come from the Labour Party. I could be wrong, & I'm happy to be corrected if wrong, but that's how it seemed. Conspicuous by his absence from the list of politicians willing to add their soundbites was Warren Bradley, leader of Liverpool City Council. Councillor Bradley is, of course, a Liberal Democrat. Strange, eh?
So, Warren, what gives? Cat got your tongue? Do tell.

Inbox Full

According to the Liverpool Echo, Dr (Nice But Dim) Tim Leunig has agreed to visit Liverpool....when he's got the time ( ).
The Echo quotes "Brains" thus:
"I've been bombarded with emails...they've criticised my hair, my glasses and one just called me a wanker...they said I should get a refund on my glasses".
You know, I'm actually starting to feel sorry for the poor lamb.
By way of public service, this blog re-publishes the good doctor's email address: .
Don't expect a reply soon, though, there may be a bit of a backlog to get through.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Nice,But Dim Tim

18.00 BST Update:
Tim Leunig's main points have been summarised for a piece on the Guardian's "Comment is Free" page ( ).
The response? Put it this way, if it were a boxing match, the referee would have stepped in long ago. Dim Tim was interviewed on the Phillips Phone-In on BBC Radio Merseyside earlier. He sounds just like the sheltered, immature upper class prat I immediately suspected him to be.

Squalid Suppression

The decision to award the 2008 Olympics to Beijing said everything there was to say about the corrupt, secretive & unaccountable International Olympic Committee. Broken pledges on the Chinese government's side about unfettered web access for foreign correspondents during the Games were depressing, but unsurprising.
The autocratic regime's response to Tibet protestors & the media today sums up their moral & intellectual bankruptcy:
(The video footage on the Guardian link is highly revealing.)

The Tories' Policy On Liverpool: Close It

You know you're well & truly into the silly season when "academics" propose the wholesale abandonment of northern towns & cities.
That's precisely what is put forward in a report by the Policy Exchange thinktank ( ), entitled "Cities Unlimited", which asserts that northern towns & cities, including Liverpool,have "failed" ( ).
The report suggests that people in the north should be paid to move south.
This seems like a twenty first century version of Norman Tebbit's infamous "on yer bike" speech at the Tories' 1981 conference & Geoffrey Howe's "managed decline" comment on Merseyside around the same time.
The Tories' "minister for Merseyside" (ha!), Chris Grayling, has attempted to distance the party from the report. However, as Nicholas Watt notes in the Guardian piece, Policy Exchange "enjoys strong links with the Tory leadership".
It is also commonly acknowledged that the role of such thinktanks, particularly those on the right, is to say things which the party would rather not voice at this stage (the sale of council houses & Thatcher's privatisation programmes first saw the light of day as thinktank suggestions). Therefore a significant Tory input into the Policy Exchange report is inevitable.
So where should we northerners go (assuming we can just up sticks, move our entire families & communities, etc. & move to similarly paid jobs in southern England)?
The answer: Oxford, Cambridge & London.
Yes, London.
Of course, everyone knows that the UK's capital city has enough space to spare...don't they?
As for Oxford & Cambridge, can you imagine the level & scale of infrastructure required for these two cities as they prepare to welcome the northern hordes?
To be fair (& believe me, it's bloody difficult being fair to this report's Pythonesque premise), the Guardian article does quote two paragraphs from the thinktank's report which have to be acknowledged by us northerners:
"Many of Britain's towns and cities have failed --and been failed by policy makers for far too long. It is better to tell uncomfortable truths than to continue to claim that if we carry on as we are then things will turn out well. Just as we can't buck the market, so we can't buck economic geography either. Places that enjoyed the conditions for creating wealth in the coal-powered 19th century often do not do so today.
"Coastal cities, whether large like Liverpool and Hull, or small like Scunthorpe and Blackpool, are most vulnerable...They are almost always at the end of the line. They have lost their raison d'etre [as ports] and it is hard to imagine them prospering at their current sizes."
The Liverpool Echo gets its teeth into Dr Tim Leunig, one of the report's co-authors, who helps to dig his own hole with a few garbled & ignorant comments over the phone to the Echo's reporter ( ):
"[Liverpool] is poorly connected to the road network, the rail network and air links.
"And it is a long, long way away from markets in Europe.
"People are doing their best without a doubt. But the city still suffers the problem of not being near London or Heathrow."
The comments about the city's transport links may be valid but his other points make him sound like a remedial pupil who's just got the hang of basic geography (so Liverpool's 200 miles from London? Oooh, I didn't realise that before!).
The Echo notes that Dr Leunig lectures in economic history at the London School of Economics. Economic history does indeed make the point that the Port of Liverpool enjoyed its heyday in the mid to late 19th century. However, it is not the role or purpose of economic history to extrapolate future prospects from the study of the past.
Mischievously, the Echo publishes Dr Leunig's email address: .
However, let's leave the final word to Dr Leunig himself. According to the Guardian story, he acknowledges that his ideas will be seen as "unworkable, unreasonable and perhaps plain barmy".
You said it, Tim!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Entrenched Attitudes

I make no apology for returning to the killing of Michael Causer last month in a homophobic attack.
Today's Guardian takes the case further on ( ), looking at the level of homophobia in Liverpool & the attacks which have occured as a consequence. There are some hard-hitting points made which the Culture Company would rather play down, & which the Liverpool Echo is loath to highlight:
"Whether or not the attack on Michael was a hate crime, the case has heightened concerns about homophobia in Merseyside. 'There is an appalling level of endemic homophobia in Liverpool,' said Steve Radford, a city councillor of 29 years standing, who is gay."
If that isn't incendiary enough, the report goes on to throw in a theory held by Gary Everett, artistic director of the Homotopia gay theatre festival, which would surely light the blue touch paper if the local media had the guts to address it: Liverpool is "shackled" by Catholicism.
"A disproportionate number (55%) of children in Merseyside attend faith schools. Some of these, Everett said, were reluctant to improve their teaching on LGBT [Lesbian, gay, bisexual & transgender] issues despite Section 28, the controversial law which stopped schools 'promoting' homosexuality, having been repealed in 2000 in Scotland and 2003 in England."
Is that correct? Yes & no.
Homophobia is to be found everywhere, alas, & among people who could be described as irreligious. There are also equally medieval attitudes to lesbians & gays in other Christian religions, Judaism & Islam.
However, rightly or wrongly, Liverpool has been depicted as a Catholic city since the influx of Irish refugees from the Famine in the 1840s. The truth is, of course, more nuanced, but the perception has taken hold.
Given that a Vatican official recently described homosexuality as "an abomination", it shouldn't be surprising that the city's Catholic pupils leave school regarding lesbians & gays with at best, suspicion, & at worst, open hostility. There's a word for this phenomenon: brainwashing. And it's repugnant.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Subculture Sniffs Out A Story

Continuing his excellent investigating, Tony Parrish unearths a tale of chicanery, plots & journalistic naivety ( ) involving Warren Bradley, Mike Storey, Bradley's predecessor, Jason Harborrow & Joe Riley, aka Mr Bumble, self-appointed cultural commentator for the Liverpool Echo.
Keep it up, Tony!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

This Search Engine Doesn't Look Far

The much vaunted new kid on the block in the search engine world, cuil ( ), was initially hailed as a challenger to Google. Some big names who had cut their teeth at Google are apparently involved in cuil. However, to say that its search results are haphazard would be an understatement. Tech journos & bloggers have already drawn attention to cuil's shortcomings. If cuil really sees itself as a potential player in the search engine world, they should first go back to the drawing board. In the meantime, Google, Yahoo, etc., can rest easy.
One final point to make. Some web users mistakenly typed "culi" when searching for the site, only to find that the misspelling actually took them through to an Italian hard core porn site. Cue adolescent jokes about powerful search engines & logging on.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Fat ISN'T Just A Feminist Issue

When I was a child anyone with a weight problem was viewed in the school playground with a mixture of sympathy & mockery. I'm not for a moment condoning the attitudes of yesteryear, but the time is overdue for some straight talking to parents whose children have weight problems.
The decision by the Department of Health to send letters to parents informing them their offspring need to lose weight is a step in the right direction ( ).
However, the department will not be using the term "obese" in the letters. Instead, the words "very overweight" will be used:
"Dr Will Cavendish, director of health and wellbeing at the Department of Health, said it was important parents received information that was useful and which helped them take action.
" 'We have not banned (the word obese) but we have chosen not to use it,' he said.
" 'There is no point giving them a letter that doesn't have any impact on their behaviour' ".
This is neither the issue nor the time for mandarins' euphemisms. If children are fat (there, I've said the unsayable), the parents need to be told that. No equivocating, no gingerly tip-toeing around the subject. Spell it out to those parents, or they'll continue to see a trip to McDonalds as a treat.
The clinching argument is provided in the article's final paragraph:
"Two thirds of adults and a third of children are either overweight or obese in the UK. The figure is predicted to rise to almost nine in ten adults and two thirds of children by 2050, which could cost the economy £50bn due to obesity-related ill-health."

Civic Chaos Re-Lived

After Jason Harborow poured his heart out to the Echo last week (the usual shallow, pathetic, self-pitying drivel about how he feels like a scapegoat --ha!-- ) it was the turn of city council leader Warren Bradley over the weekend ( ).

Paddy Shennan gave Bradley the kid-glove treatment as he gently coaxed the city council leader to re-live his self-styled ordeal. Amidst the torrent of supposed wounded pride, slander & intrigue came this curious claim (& semi-mea culpa ) about last year's Matthew Street fiasco:

"The press releases that came out ofthe Culture Company and the authority were probably not the best, so there was a big lesson learned there.

"They never actually said the outdoor stages wouldn't be taking place. It was 'The Matthew Street festival is cancelled',which wasn't correct at the time, as we know, because the indoor stages were a big success last year."

Actually, Warren, by any objective criterion, "success" is a term which doesn't belong in the context of last year's farce. The handful of overseas visitors who came to the city regardless were bemused to find no outdoor stages whilst being assured that there was still a festival taking place; it's just that all the indoor venues were already filled to capacity, so access to the "festival" wasn't possible to many.

Bradley goes on to say he doesn't look for excuses. So why were Lee Forde & Chris Green, Culture Company Events Manager & Operations Director respectively, hung out to dry in the report on the fiasco last November?

If you're reading this, Warren (I believe you're a big fan of the Liverpool Subculture blog by the way), do let me know.

Standing Up To Ignorance

The main slogan for Liverpool's year of culture has been "the world in one city". It's a snappy, popular phrase tripped off many a tongue, sometimes genuinely, sometimes glibly & sometimes disingenuously. It's impossible to really mean it when or if you express racist sentiments. So, too, with homophobia. However, unlike racism, verbal examples of homophobia are still tolerated.
In this context it's heartening to see the reaction to the homophobic killing of 18 year old Michael Causer in Whiston ( ).
Three teenagers have been arrested in connection with the killing. Without wishing to pre-judge whatever the investigation unearths, it's a fair bet that the bigotry & ignorance which led to Michael's death were passed on from the miscreants' parents & friends.
Acknowledging the crucial role of education to this issue, Steve Radford, Independent Liberal councillor for Tuebrook, has highlighted research which shows the level of homophobic attacks in Liverpool ( ).
It's a clearly urgent task; the level of stupidity & base hostility was reflected in a court case last week ( ).