Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Standing Up For A Third Class Idea

Shame, really. He was doing so well, wasn't he? Nice But Dim Tim Leunig last week demonstrated a less than enviable ability to take one step forward, two steps back when engaging with the world outside his ivory tower. 
It appeared a Damascene moment of sanity had descended upon academia's accident-prone guy just a couple of months ago when he penned a piece for the Guardian's Comment is Free page on the ConDem's "welfare reforms" (http://condensedthoughts.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/dim-tim-finally-gets-it.html ). Great, we thought, all those ivory tower shibbloeths have been dumped & Tim can really engage with the rest of us.
Alas, alas, alas, 'twas not to be.
Tim returned to the Comment is Free site last week with what he clearly thought was a great idea in response to the latest rise in rail fares: standing-only carriages. Yep, read it & weep (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/aug/20/train-fare-rises-standing-only-carriages ):
"A low-cost commuter network would have carriages designed for standing room only. People take up a lot less space if they stand up. Call it third class if you like. If enough people are willing to stand, we need fewer carriages, and less power to haul the train."
What happened, Tim? Oh well, hope you've still got that Liverpool mug.

Monday, August 20, 2012

A Boom Town Without A Boom

Almost completely overlooked, or possibly ignored, over the last month has been an article by Ed Platt in the New Statesman (http://www.newstatesman.com/2012/07/liverpool-recession-spirit-scouse ).
Platt delivers a brief historical guide to the city, from the growth of the port in the 19th century to the present day. However, his assessment of Joe "Tea & Sympathy" Anderson's vision for the waterfront is distinctly cool:
"Anderson claims that the expanse of derelict docks and warehouses stretching between Pier Head and Seaforth has the same potential as Canary Wharf, yet it is hard to see where the shops and businesses to fill the development will come from. It seemed to me that Peel was proposing a boom town without a boom, hoping to inspire economic revival by constructing offices and shops for which there is no demand."
The final sentence in that quote is pretty damning, isn't it?
A regular refrain from those who hail the arrival of Grosvenorpool & other retrograde developments in the city centre is that such cases prove that the city is heading in the right direction. That particularly bogus contention is met head-on in Platt's piece by Professor Sam Davies of Liverpool John Moores University: " 'The centre of town is the focus for everything and everywhere else has suffered,' says Professor Davies. 'Some parts of the north end of Liverpool, around Anfield and Everton, are worse than ever: there's no work; a lot of housing has been demolished and not replaced...There are parts of Liverpool where, if you don't know the area, you would be foolish to walk into a pub.' "
There will doubtless be some who will take offence at Professor Davies' final remark; the sour & sobering reality, however, is that it's true.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Parish Notice

Fancy having a stab at this writing business? Not blogging necessarily, but trying your hand at fiction (no Oldham Echo jokes, please), perhaps. Well, the people at Writing on the Wall are looking for a writer in residence (http://us4.campaign-archive2.com/?u=e3d1202a9c3b33a74182d0f28&id=51d34a39a3 ).
Email: info@writngonthewall.org.uk or phone 0151 703 0020 if you're interested.

Macca Shows His Loyalty To Liverpool

First, Ringo reminded everyone how sad & irrelevant he was with his lame efforts to explain his quip on Jonathan Ross, & how he still loved his birthplace. Now, Sir Thumbs-Up himself is happy to pose with a Sun scribe. It'll be interesting to see how McCartney's people spin this one out. The Echo's kept schtum about this photograph, despite the fact that it first appeared last week (no surprise when you think about it, McCartney is still viewed as good copy on Oldham Hall Street & his appearances in the city are treated like the Second Coming). 

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Not Such A Court Jester

An intriguing political aspect of the London Olympics has been the supposed popularity of the city's mayor Boris Johnson. His bumbling buffoon persona has been judged by some observers to be a vote-winner not just in London, but perhaps nationally, too. Here on Merseyside, however, we view Johnson a little differently. Back in 2004, as well as being a backbench Tory MP, he was editor of the Spectator magazine. He approved an editorial, penned by Tory right-winger Simon Heffer, about Liverpool which rehashed all the old stereotypes about the city. The then Tory leader Michael Howard tried to minimise the fall-out by telling Johnson to visit the city & apologise (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/3749548.stm ).
Johnson being Johnson, his utterances only made matters worse for Howard.
They say you're judged by the company you keep, so it's telling that Johnson is now receiving the support of Rupert Murdoch as a possible Tory leader (http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2012/aug/02/rupert-murdoch-boris-johnson-prime-minister ). 
The fact that Johnson would have to be elected as a Tory MP again is evidently seen as a minor & irritable detail.
Against this somewhat surreal backdrop, a well-timed article appears on the Guardian's Comment is Free pages (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/aug/05/sonia-purnell-boris-johnson-not-prime-minister-material ).
Far from being the haphazard character he appears to be, Johnson is as cunning & calculated as Cameron.