Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Brick Dislodged Amid Poltical Posturing

In a week which has seen two horrendous & depressing cases involving the death of young children hit the national headlines, Bob Wareing, embattled Labour MP for Liverpool West Derby, has decided to manufacture a cheap & tawdry story for the local media, while getting himself some easy, & uncritical, coverage as well.
The Daily Post reported last week on the fact that of the bricks in the Cavern wall on Matthew Street which have the names of all the acts that played at the club between 1957 & 1973, one had the name of Gary Glitter, once a glam-rock idol, now a rightly reviled pariah after his conviction for paedophilia in 2002. Bill Heckle, spokesman for both the club itself & the Cavern City Tours, made the sensible point (http://www.liverpooldailypost.co.uk/liverpool-news/regional-news/2008/11/13/cavern-club-gary-glitter-brick-stays-64375-22245605/ ): "We made a conscious decision to leave the Gary Glitter brick where it was as we see the wall as more like an historical document than a tourist attraction.
"When the Gary Glitter story broke we immediately removed all memorabilia and photos of him from the club without consulting anyone, as we felt this was the right thing to do.
"But he appeared at the Cavern with his Glitter band and we cannot change the past. Their performance is part of Liverpool and its history.
There is no way we condone anything he has done and leaving the brick in the wall does not support him in any way."
Actually, Bill, the wall has become something of a feature on the Matthew Street tourist trail, but I take your point about its intended role. Moreover, your point about Glitter's performance being part of the city's history is a little crass, wouldn't you say?
Be that as it may, Heckle's position was a reasonable one. Which was when the Hon. Member for Liverpool West Derby waded in with his high-heel glam-rock boots: "The brick should be removed from the wall and destroyed.
"It is causing an outrage.
"Glitter should not be honoured. His name no longer reminds people about music, only the terrible crimes he committed."
Wareing added for good measure: "The council should exercise their power to pass a motion to have it removed."
The following day saw a volte face by the Cavern when they decided to remove the brick from the wall (http://www.liverpooldailypost.co.uk/liverpool-news/regional-news/2008/11/14/disgraced-gary-glitter-written-out-of-cavern-club-history-64375-22254720/ ).
The club's directors made their decision after consulting a victim of child abuse. However, Dave Jones, one of the directors, posed the valid question, why now? The brick had been there since 1997. In fact, if there is to be any consistency on a moral matter such as this, why stop at Glitter? The Rolling Stones performed at the Cavern in the early 60s. Twenty years' later, bassist Bill Wyman openly had a relationship with a 14 year-old girl. Last time I checked, the brick for Mick, Keef & co. was still there.
Within a further 24 hours things had moved on. The Daily Post, with a misleading headline for its piece, reported that "a plaque bearing the names of [Glitter & similarly disgraced media figure Jonathan King] went up on a window ledge next to the wall, highlighting the fact they had their bricks removed." (http://www.liverpooldailypost.co.uk/liverpool-news/regional-news/2008/11/15/gary-glitter-s-name-back-on-wall-of-fame-plaque-64375-22262728/ ).
The whole unedifying episode was picked up by Simon h in his excellent No Rock and Roll Fun blog (http://xrrf.blogspot.com/2008/11/gary-glitter-another-brick-out-wall.html ):
"It is not to suggest that Glitter's behaviour is acceptable to leave his name in a historical roll-call; it's not as if he played the Cavern after his fall from grace, and Bob Wareing would presumably not feel comfortable if anyone went into [Picton] library on William Brown Street and removed any reference in back numbers of the Echo to the Glitter date. It doesn't help the victims, and it's unlikely to spare the misery of a single child in the future. The suspicion is that this is little more than a spot of easy news coverage for Wareing. I really thought he was better than that."
The depressingly prosaic reality is that Bob Wareing, hitherto seen (inaccurately, it should be said) as some sort of left-wing opponent of New Labour, battling attempts by the national party to have him deselected, spotted an opportunity to get his name in the local headlines, even though his rationale owed more to low political cunning than high-minded political priciple. I don't expect an MP to respond to every crime in his constituency, but it's striking that Wareing remained largely silent in the days & weeks following the murder of Rhys Jones. When the case was given national & international media coverage, the MP for the area concerned kept schtum. Wareing should take a long, hard look at himself.

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