Monday, January 31, 2011

On The Ball?

It's transfer deadline day. Cue hysteria & hype from most of the media & football websites. For those who have both the time & the inclination, the Guardian's running an irreverent & spiky live blog on what does & doesn't transpire before the 11pm deadline ( ).
So, too, is the Oldham Echo & the quality of their effort can, perhaps, be summed up in the question posed by their hack, Neil Macdonald ( ):
"Will Liverpool hold on to Fernando Torres or sign someone else?"
About the tooth fairy & Santa Claus, I've got some bad news for you, Neil.

Joe Anderson Tries To Face Both Ways

It must have been a case of Orwellian doublethink that drove Joe "tea & sympathy" Anderson to join a demonstration against the ConDem cuts in the city centre on Saturday. Alas, Joe's attempt to show he was on the side of those he'll soon make jobless didn't succeed ( ).
As the BBC's video clip shows, Joe was challenged by one marcher to account for his pusillanimity in the face of cuts far greater than those the city faced in the 80s. Far from accepting that his presence on the march was Janus-faced, Anderson resorted to defensive bluster:
"People are angry because jobs are being shed, services are being reduced. From my point of view it's quite simple -- somebody's got to manage the council and that's what I intend to do," he declared, adding he had no choice but to make 1,500 staff redundant.
Confirming his status as a fully paid-up member of the Labour lieutenants of Capital club, Anderson brazenly claimed:
"I'm a trade unionist. I'm a socialist. I've been one all my life and as far as I'm concerned, I share people's pain and I share their anger."
Well, Joe, as a trade unionist & a socialist, consider the stance you've taken. You're now the local representative of the ConDem cuts ("Professor" Phil Redmond is sulking somewhere in a corner). The city's voters have every right to dismiss your claim to be a political alternative to the Tories when you do their dirty work for them.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Joe Anderson Implements Tory Cuts

Even though the ConDem cuts were anticipated by many in Liverpool, it doesn't lessen the shock felt by Liverpool City Council staff at today's news that 1,500 jobs will be axed ( ).
Helen Carter's report in the Guardian states:
"The council's 9,000-strong workforce arrived at work to find a three-page message from council leader Joe Anderson warning that one in six council jobs are at risk due to the coalition government's cuts."
However, not every member of the council's staff received Anderson's message this morning; many are now tweeting that they heard the news via the local radio stations.
Not only is Joe "tea & sympathy" Anderson pathetic in his bleatings as he fails to show any backbone in resisting the cuts, he is also grossly cavalier in the way he lets council staff receive the news that they could be heading for the dole.
It is both a scandal & a farce that, to paraphrase New Labour's founder Neil Kinnock, you have the grotesque chaos of a Labour council -- a Labour council! -- meekly accepting the ConDem cuts while keeping a substantial number of its staff in the dark about their fate.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Goals & Gender

For Richard Keys & Andy Gray: .

Through The Echo's Kaleidoscope Eyes

Something makes me suspect that the water coolers on Oldham Hall Street may contain more than good old H2O. Picture the scene. An editorial meeting of the two papers' finest, erm, minds is accompanied by the consumption of copious quantities of, well, water, yes, that's true, but perhaps something else, too. Pretty soon, Big Al, Minion Mark et al start to countenance weird & wonderful visions of the city they claim to speak for; the "tangerine trees and marmalade skies" that Lennon lysergically locked his gaze upon may or may not have figured in their visions, but it sure looks like a lot else besides has entered the groupthink consciousness on Liverpool's own Street of Shame. How else to account for yesterday's editorial in the Oldham Echo ( )?
The piece opens with all the sober restraint of a punter in Concert Square on a Friday night:
"These are exciting times for our wonderful waterfront, with major developments coming to fruition at Mann Island."
Sentences like that make you wonder why there isn't a media equivalent of an ASBO.
The Oldham Echo's editorial hails the monstosity that is the new museum & its gaudy siblings as "head-turners". I presume many a head has been turned...away from the destruction wrought upon the city's waterfront & then shaken in sadness at what has been lost from an area still laughingly seen as a World Heritage Site (perhaps the watercoolers at UNESCO have been similarly affected).
The piece also refers to the names apparently given to the two residential areas within the black slugs, Latitude & Longitude. Whoever came up with those appellations had obviously lost their bearings & wouldn't have been let anywhere near a ship's navigation equipment during the port's heyday. Latitude & Logitude, continues the Echo's sychophantic missive, "have proved a hit with investors and flat-hunters."
No evidence is cited by the Echo for its claim. Indeed, it's highly unlikely, given the state of the property market.
You see, the world according to Oldham Hall Street is a largely strange place where the global market is benign to the local economy whilst wreaking havoc elsewhere. It's a world in which every single retrograde development in the city is viewed as an exciting opportunity. It's a world in which other cities cast envious glances to the city's civic leadership & "business" scene, secretly & not so secretly coveting the giants of Liverpool's local government that are Mike "tell us another" Storey, Warren "War Zones" Bradley & Joe "tea & sympathy" Anderson. It's a world in which every other region of the UK yearns for Frank McKenna to set up a Down & Out In Town Liverpool in their neck of the woods.
Truly it is El Dorado by the Mersey.
Perusing the penultimate & final paragraphs of the Echo's piece strengthens one's suspicion that the watercooler should be inspected &, if necessary, replaced:
"Built by Neptune Developments and partners Countryside Properties, their design has upset many -- but it might be worth remembering that the neighbouring Royal Liver Building was initially derided by many locals.
"We look forward to the new Museum of Liverpool becoming an integral part of Merseyside's thriving cultural scene -- and we hope the Neptune development can win over its many detractors and generally come to be viewed as a vital and popular part of the local landscape."
I suppose it's something when the Echo admits that the design "has upset many" & has "many detractors". However, the paper's sudden ray of glasnost is soon blocked out by its customary grasp of Pravda-esque propaganda & delusion. Moreover, likening the controversy caused by this carnage on the waterfront to the impact of the Liver Building in the early 20th century is laughable & insulting in equal measure.
Wayne again spelt out the scandal on Liverpool's waterfront, & just some of the issues it throws up, earlier this month ( ).
The Echo editorial, by contrast, is suffused with a sense of surrealism worthy of Sgt. Pepper ( ).

Thursday, January 06, 2011

The Beatle Bulldozer

Ever since the voice of Thomas the Tank Engine waltzed onto the Jonathan Ross Show, days after his stay in Liverpool for the start of culture year's "celebrations" (a stay which, thanks to Cameron's mate Phil Redmond, cost the city's taxpayers £90,000), his name's been mud with most people.
Which is a shame, as the continuing animosity towards Starr has obscured the issue of the street, & the house, where he was born, Madryn Street, in the Dingle.
Those who feel the headless topiary at John Lennon airport reflects the true feelings of most Scousers will have had their convictions buttressed by today's Oldham Echo in an editorial of saloon-bar subtlety ( ). The fact that the Fabs' drummer was born there is "a red herring", opines the Echo, & that the issue should be judged on wider housing concerns. Displaying its contradictory & crudely populist aspects, however, the Echo goes on to base its stance on Starr himself & his Jonathan Ross appearance.
It may well be that those of us who feel the Welsh Streets in the Dingle should be preserved & renovated are currently in a minority, thanks to such rants. As Wayne noted yesterday ( ), wider housing issues have to be considered. On that basis, it beggars belief that demolition is accepted as the only option when the toxicity of housing as a political issue intensifies by the week.
It's unsurprising that the Tories should seize on this story in a pathetic attempt to talk up their Big Society. Grant Shapps, Tory housing minister, wasted little time in dashing off a statement which cleverly included the Fabs & Tory ideology in the same paragraph ( ). Penned by Matthew Taylor, the Guardian piece said that Madryn Street "could be saved from demolition after the intervention of a government minister."
Oh really? Here's what Shapps said:
"Any regeneration project will generate strong feelings. But when what many people consider to be a culturally important building, such as the birthplace of the drummer in the world's most famous band, is at risk then feelings are going to be even stronger. That is why, before a single bulldozer rumbles along Madryn Street, I want to ensure every option has been considered. In particular, I want local community groups to have the opportunity to put forward viable proposals to preserve this historic house."
Read between the lines in the penultimate & final sentence of Shapps' statement; it proclaims, "Embrace our Big (do it yerself) Society!"
It's a point noted by Simon on his No Rock And Rll Fun blog a few days back ( ):
"Of course, he's going to do bugger all to actually save the building -- he's a Tory, and we know how close they are to a pound note these days --but, hey, if the Big Society wants to do something, he's happy to issue a couple of press releases and sign a couple of letters.
"You might wonder if Shapps' time might be better spent writing to Liverpool City Council about the scandalous neglect of the areas around Anfield, where people live, but maybe that wouldn't make it into all the papers."
Aside from the notion that a Tory minister would write to the city council to complain about inner-city deprivation & neglect (a notion which, with all due respect to Simon, belongs to the realm of Beatle-esque surrealism), that is the nub of the matter.
John Harris touched on the city's historically schizophrenic attitude to the Fabs on the Guardian's Comment is Free pages earlier this week. As an aside from his central concern about the Beatles' musical legacy, he wrote ( ):
"In Liverpool, meanwhile, delusions of post-industrialism have reached their apogee in the idea that Beatledom can be a substitute for a lost mercantile past. It's all there: John Lennon international airport, the Hard Day's Night Hotel, the 'Magical Mystery Tour' that wends around the city, even a Fabs-themed Starbucks -- though judging by the forlorn atmosphere of too many of the surrounding streets, Beatles-driven regeneration really isn't working. Funny, that."
Harris also notes that before the mid-90s the city's Beatle legacy was relatively muted: "There was a Beatles tourist trail, of sorts -- but it usually involved squinting at car parks or boarded-up shops, and trying to divine whatever spectral magic they had left behind."
The most obvious example of this, of course, was that of the Cavern itself. Countless tourists photograph the "new" Cavern entrance; they snap & film away in blissful ignorance of the fact that the original site was razed & filled in to make way for a car park. It is now an electricity sub-station. Perhaps it's an oblique reference to George Harrison's brief teenage electrical apprenticeship.
Be that as it may, there's an undeniable truth in another post Simon published today ( ) with his remark that "Liverpool City Council has a habit of pissing on its chips and then saying 'nobody will eat these, they smell of piss'. "
This serves as a case study in how a crucial social, economic & political issue has been buried under the bulldozer of Beatle celebrity; a comment casually thrown into a TV chat show exchange & seized upon by Oldham Hall Street now forms the basis for what is deemed to be the only option for the Welsh Streets. All the while, the Tories chuckle before making platitudinous statements in which they eagerly plug their Big Society dogma.