Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A Bibliophile Writes

Recommended reading: a blogpost by local writer Cath Bore last week which reminded local book buyers of News From Nowhere's merits ( ):
"Workers at the shop are either voluntary or on a minimum wage and provide a top notch service; they're extremely knowledgeable and passionate about what they do."

Where's My Stetson?

I suspect the nodding of heads may have reached headache-inducing proportions on Oldham Hall Street the other day when Richard Wallace, editor of the Daily Mirror, gave The Leveson Inquiry his considered view of bloggers ( ):
"The out and out cowboys -- I don't see in the long term they can survive...people want information that is competent and true."
That said, the nodding heads would have been stilled by the bleakly candid assessment given by their boss Sly Bailey of the situation regarding Trinity Mirror's local titles ( ).
Now if you'll excuse me, I need to saddle up.

Cast Aside

If you took the Oldham Echo as your sole source of information, you would be forgiven for thinking that Liverpool has somehow escaped the worst effects of the double-dip recession & the ConDem cuts (
In fact, you might well see the city as an untouched oasis of economic prosperity while most of the UK suffers under a government which blithely displays its warped sense of priorities ( ).
Today's unemployment figures would both sharply disabuse you of such illusions & starkly emphasise the fact that Merseyside isn't immune ( ).
Amelia Gentleman highlighted the situation on a Kirkdale estate a few days back for the Guardian ( ):
"The high numbers of workless households on this estate help explain startling figures produced by the GMB last week revealing that nearly one in three households in Liverpool have no one in work. It is the legacy of historic industrial decline in this area, suddenly worsened by the recent round of public sector redundancies and a new, downturn-related disappearance of retail and manufacturing jobs."
With the rate of youth unemployment nationally standing at 22%, an all-time high, the rate for Merseyside will be significantly higher. The lost generation is well & truly with us & will remain bereft of opportunities, openings & hope.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Someone's Knocking At The Door

It takes a certain degree of vanity & self-delusion to convince yourself that in the midst of another £50m worth of cuts to the city, your own disastrous legacy of creating war zones ( in the very city you used to lead might be forgotten.
How else to account for the Phoenix-like ascent of Warren "War Zones" Bradley. How else to explain a dogged determination (to use a cliche he himself might employ) to return to the stage (
As David Bartlett notes, Bradley has printed & distributed  election leaflets, declaring his candidacy for the Wavertree ward (the recycling bins in L15 will be busy, I suspect).
All nice & jolly, to be sure. However, there's a snag. Well, there's quite a few, actually, but let's focus on the most pressing one for the friend of a convicted felon ( You see, Warren isn't a Fib Dem candidate. He hasn't been selected. He has, however, been "selected" as an Independent candidate. I know, strange, isn't it? Then again, it's of a piece with Bradley's occasional connection to political reality. Even David Bartlett, a veritable Mr Sobersides, can't disguise his surprise:
"It is likely to get him expelled from the Liberal Democrats, as it's against party rules to stand against an official candidate, once the police investigation is over.
"The only curious element about his latest leaflet is how an independent candidate can be 'selected' to stand as a candidate."
How indeed.
Perhaps he was "selected" by his partner, the disgraced Facebooking ex-Fib Dem councillor Sharon Green, who jumped ship as it took on another few hundred gallons of water last May (
Be that as it may, Warren's undaunted. Oh yes, he is, delaring on his leaflet, "Beware of smears". He elaborates thus:
"Local residents should be aware that other political parties have in the past engaged in smearing individuals. Warren Bradley is well aware of this and pledges not to engage in such practice, sadly we believe others won't be as honest."
So it seems that when the city of Liverpool told Warren to sling his hook & not come back (  he mistook a city's jeers for cheers.
Has any one got the heart to tell him?

Donning The Tory Uniform

It breaks his heart, it really does, you know. When he isn't calling protesters "scum" (, Joe "Tea & Sympathy" Anderson never tires of telling friends about his sleepless nights over the Tory cuts he's making. Last week saw further developments which, if Cllr Anderson's claim of insomnia is to be taken seriously, will have him reaching for the sleeping pills ( & ).
David Bartlett's piece reported:
"Cutting the school uniform grant means parents on low incomes will no longer receive £20 to help buy a uniform for primary school children or £40 for secondary school pupils.
"Stopping free school milk was included in the list of today's cuts but will no longer be axed."
Not for the first time (&, sadly, not the last), we have, to paraphrase Neil Kinnock, the grotesque chaos of a Labour council (a Labour council!) kicking those it's supposed to represent in the teeth whilst trying to persuade those on the receiving end of such treatment that the Tories have made them do it.
As for the free school milk, it might well be asked what's stopping Joe & his apologetic axemen from going ahead with this measure; in the week when Meryl Streep tried her thespian best to convince us that Thatcher was a truly heroic figure (the Americans have got their Oscars prepared, I'm sure), it would have been fitting to emulate the original Milk Snatcher.
It would be nice if Cllr Anderson realised that Kier Hardie didn't form what became the Labour Party simply to implement Tory cuts. However, it's impossible for an invertebrate to develop a spine.
Lurking around the edges of this civic circus is the Fib Dem group leader, Paula Keaveney. You might think she'd keep schtum out of embarrassment at the role her Westminster colleagues have played in the ConDem coalition, the political fluffers for Cameron, Osborne, et al. Sadly, she hasn't, bleating pathetically:
"Surely something less harmful than removing school uniform grants could have been found instead of this particular saving."
Such Janus-faced hypocrisy is, in its own distorted & twisted way, quite remarkable.             

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Liverpool FC Takes Its Eyes Off The Ball

August 1987: I travel to Arsenal's old Highbury stadium to watch Liverpool's first fixture of that season. During the game a banana is thrown onto the pitch not far from the feet of John Barnes, who is making his debut in a Liverpool shirt.
The banana is thrown from the section of the Clock End terracing reserved for Liverpool supporters.
That memory has come back to me as I've read the contorted syntax & lurid pledges of defiance on messageboards & comment sections from too many of the club's supporters over the Suarez/Evra affair.
The controversy has been well-documented elsewhere & I've viewed it with a mixture of dismay & anger as the club's handling of the situation has been crass & cack-handed; accepting the FA's eight-game ban for Suarez while muttering about unreleased information & hidden agendas is, if nothing else, lousy PR ( ).
It suggests that Liverpool FC don't get it; it suggests to a wider audience that the club doesn't take the issue of racism in football as seriously as it should.
Moreover, at the risk of inducing a couple of coronaries on Oldham Hall Street, Paddy Shennan (yes, hello, Paddy!) was correct to question the team's highly dubious t-shirt stunt in support of Suarez ( ).
He got a lot of flak for his article, many indulging in juvenile & puerile "banter" about his support for Everton & other equally irrelevant concerns.
The view from Liverpool's more discerning & less hyperbolic supporters is that the affair has damaged the club. Badly. As Stuart James pointed out in the Guardian (, the begrudging & curmudgeonly nature of Liverpool's response invokes disdain from those who rightly see bigotry as a more pressing matter than team spirit. Indeed, coming, as it did, on the same day as the verdict in the Stephen Lawrence case, the club's petulant stance is staggeringly insensitive & ill-judged.
Amongst his many quotes, one particular observation from Bill Shankly seems pertinent:
"The socialism I believe in is not really politics. It is a way of living. It is humanity. I believe the only way to live and to be truly successful is by collective effort, with everyone working for each other, everyone helping each other, and everyone having a share of the rewards at the end of the day."
Such noble sentiments stand in stark contrast to the current stance of the club he managed.

A Scrutiny Of Spin

It's easy to overlook items & events which occur in the run-up to Christmas. However, it's worth noting (& watching) a video of a talk given by Michael Marshall of the Merseyside Skeptics Society at the Head of Steam bar on Lime Street a few weeks ago (
The video is almost an hour-and-a-half long, but it's worth staying with if you have the time.
Marshall cites numerous instances of PR masquerading as news in the national press. Sadly, he doesn't mention Oldham Hall Street's own unique contribution to the phenomenon. However, any one familiar with the ways of the Daily Ghost (requiem in pace) & the Oldham Echo will appreciate the parallels.