Saturday, 31 May 2008

Friday, 30 May 2008

The big one

Along with 200,000 other slaves to shopping I went along to see the opening of Liverpool One yesterday.

For the uninitiated it's Liverpool's answer to the Trafford Centre meets a seven year city regeneration project. For scousers it's a big deal because it feels like the city has been missing a limb while the 42.5 acre site has been hidden away behind the hoardings.

Yesterday was just the first step, the whole complex won't be ready until September 30, still that didn't stop an impressive crowd gathering.

Developers Grovesnor were predictably dull, banging on about contractors and the like. Council leader Warren Bradley was much better, but obviously nervous. Unsurprising, when you think it'll probably be the only £920m project opening speech he'll ever give.

Acrobats then descended from the sky to give the proceedings some razzmatazz, with a high octane performance ending in a pyrotechnic puff, and the opening of the red curtains.

So, was it worth the wait? The crowds thought so, and why wouldn't they with free champers in shops, stilt walkers and models roaming around and an array of new ways to flout the credit crunch?

The design is sympathetic to the existing character of the city, and its chrome and glass architecture was shown off to its best in the sunshine.

It's not Norman Foster, and Liverpool should have had this kind of investment long ago - but that becomes irrelevant when you see how it joins the Albert Dock and the waterfront to the city centre. I think that's the real reason a there's such a sense of pride about the project, and rightly so.

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Snakes and ladders

I've been toying with the idea of becoming a home owner. In fact, I've gone and given my number to estate agents, always a mistake. I'm bracing myself for the barrage of calls as I type.

Initially it seemed a bit scary, then I realised that just about every two-bit "celebrity" appears to be a property tycoon.

Take Jordan for example: Her portfolio used to be made up of some lovely glamour shots, but times change, and now it boasts a £1m East Sussex mansion and a £1.75m holiday home in Cyprus.

Abi Titmus is at it as well, the 32-year-old has already bought four homes in the capital, worth at least £2m.

It's not just the girls either, Ziggy - the man whose very name screams "z-list!" - has been telling anyone who'll listen that he's "focusing on increasing his property portfolio". Laughable until you realise that he's actually already bought a half million pound pad in London.

Of course it's the Queen V they all emulate, Posh has seen to it that she and David have homes in the UK, France, Dubai, Spain and LA.

I see a pattern emerging: They have no actual talent between them. If I were Titmus I wouldn't be staking my pension hopes on a serious acting career either, and so I suppose it makes perfect sense to invest the photo shoot money quick-sharp before the surgery starts to sag and the gigs dry up.

It seems unlikely that the ex-spice and pals have been reading George Bernard Shaw, but this quote does make me wonder:
"Gambling promises the poor what property performs for the rich - something for nothing."

A thought for the day, I think.

Monday, 26 May 2008

Dancing in the streets

You know that Liverpool Culture '08 is in full swing when you venture into town for a spot of shopping only to be confronted by a dancing table and chair on Church St.

And some human sized seagulls, a host of angels, an Edwardian tea party and a drag act that bore more than a passing resemblance to Ming the Merciless.

In search of sanity we turned down Bold St - to find that a group of mime artists had taken up residence in practically every shop window along the street, bringing the place to a standstill.

We gave up on the shopping and watched Nanna and her three boys in their search for love. Think League of Gentlemen comes to Liverpool with Klezmer soundtrack and their own coffin and you'd be somewhere close. Hilarious.

In the pub we ran into friends from the Playhouse who'd spent all day merrily checking in and out the Elizabethan ladies, stilt walkers and gorillas. When the gorillas wanted to know where lunch was they had to tell them there had been a delay and that until it arrived there was only a bunch of bananas. A french dance troupe got lost in translation and the centre of Liverpool - scouse accents being too much for their grasp of English - cue a search party.

Saturday, 24 May 2008


Right now in Belgrade a frantic BBC runner is trying to source enough Irish whiskey to keep Wogan going for the evening, for tis Eurovision night!

I know, I know - it's all rigged and what chance do we stand with a bin man as our national hope up against the Balkan Block? - 150/1 since you ask.

In fact, if you fancied a flutter you could do a lot worse than the Icelandic entry "Euroband". They've studied the form and have conscientiously ticked all boxes: Thumping europop track? Check. Bonkers goth punk body popping backing dancers? Check. Terrible, terrible lyrics? Check. Permatan and sparkly eurotrash smile? Check.
At 12/1 they're not the favourites, but could pay back a pretty penny - especially if The Viking Empire votes go their way.

Anyway, you don't want to take my word for it - to make a truly informed decision you need an expert, cue the improbably named Euro academic: Dr Derek Gatherer. Read his study and you'll never wonder about the collusive voting significant ever again -no wonder Wogan needs the odd tot.

Friday, 23 May 2008

Ormskirk observations

A distinct lack of any scandal in Ormskirk yesterday - presumably because most of it happens after dark in Rainsford - see previous post. Anyway, dutifully trundled around the usual trainee hotspots; library, community centre, market, pub.

Came across a 1960s school reunion, got excited thinking that had to be an easy page lead, called the organiser to find the professionals are already on the case. Consoled myself with the old 'great minds' chesnut and then bought a dress. (Grey and dusk pink tea dress with muted frills, just on the right side of twee.)

I have a handbag full of flyers to look through this afternoon, but my first call is to 'Philosophy in Pubs' - surely a feature and few pints in that?

Thursday, 22 May 2008

Ormskirk expedition

Preparing for new role as trainee reporter on the Ormskirk Advertiser I thought I'd best do some research. Visiting the place for the first time in my life seems like a good way to start, and so I'm off there this afternoon. Until this morning I was working on the assumption that it is a sleepy market town 15 miles north of Liverpool.

Never assume anything - that's what google taught me today:

The old people of Ormskirk are adventurous:

So are the young people:

In fact, everyone in Ormskirk is adventurous: A link to an article about swinging in the area on the Ormskirk Advertiser website.

I'll deliver my verdict on the new patch upon my return.

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

A little drama

Sadly I no-longer live in London or can claim to be a student, so this is wasted on me. I know there are plenty of MA types who probably tick both those boxes though.

£5 tickets for SMALL CHANGE tonight!
A number of tickets have just been released for tonight's performance (Wednesday 21 May at 7.30pm) of SMALL CHANGE at The Donmar Warehouse.
We have set up an exclusive £5 Student Offer on best available seats (usual price £26 - £15) for tonight only!
Just call the Box Office on 0870 060 6624 and quote '£5 offer'

Lindsey Coulson and Sue Johnson
SMALL CHANGE £5 offer21 May
Set on the east side of Cardiff in the 1950s, Peter Gill’s intoxicating and evocative masterpiece recalls the friendship between two boys and the relationship with their mothers, and the tragedy of the things that go unsaid and are forever unresolved.
'The acting is impeccable. Highly recommended' Telegraph
'Unforgettably touching' Independent on Sunday
5 STARS Critics' Choice 'It's a gem' Time Out

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Not so secret squirrel

Well, it's been a while. I once forsook the (Sq)wirral for the bright lights of London town, and for five years I was seduced by the Big Smoke, but now I've come to my senses and returned to the motherland- sorry- peninsula.

So this is the point at which I should reveal an astonishingly exciting and scurrilous secret about life on The Squirrel. Sadly the cupboard of scandal is bare this evening, on account of only taking up residence at the weekend.

So perhaps instead I can educate the uninitiated in the ways of The Squirrel?

The first point to note is that you are never "in Squirrel" or "on Squirrel" but "in The Squirrel" or "on The Squirrel." This is owing to the peninsula geography of The Squirrel. Let me explain: A peninsula is a finger of land surrounded on three of four sides by water. In the case of The Squirrel it is a land mass which huddles between North Wales and Liverpool, bathed in the waters of the rivers Dee and Mersey and hangs onto Cheshire for dear life. Hence it is "The Squirrel Peninsula", or "The Squirrel" for short.

Part WAGS playground (Caldy), part chavs paradise (the north end) it's a strange little almost-island which over the years has spawned Paul O'Grady, John Peel and Nelson's bit of crumpet.

On that glamorous note I'll bring the first entry to a close.