In a Quiet Corner: Getting Going

No apologies for not having written anything on this blog for nearly two weeks now, I’ve been busy. After months of looking forward I’ve started university . And it’s making me so happy I thought I’d write a bit about it, in a quiet way.

Much of my life is fairly quiet at the moment in fact. In quiet corners of this great big library in between Myrtle Street and Abercromby Square. In Abercromby Square itself, having a peaceful lunch from the very good (non-corporate) lunch shop on Oxford Street near the Sports Centre. And in lectures listening carefully to, well, more about them in a bit.

I’ve been thinking mostly. Continue reading “In a Quiet Corner: Getting Going”

Afternoon Tea at George Henry Lee: Ed’s Place

 A Story of a Fold in Time

Every now and then in the place where you are, if you’re paying close attention, you’ll notice there’s been a fold in time. Where the place is still as much itself as it always was, but more so. Like its colour balance has been adjusted, and in the adjusting a different time has leaked through. This happened today in Ed’s Place when, for a couple of hours, it became the department store George Henry Lee again and we all had Afternoon Tea together.

All week and for the past couple of weeks Ed’s Place has resounded to the sounds and debates of design and the future. Talk of what we the people might and could do to create talking spaces and breathing spaces, in a greener and pleasanter city centre neighbourhood for ourselves and our children’s futures as far as we can imagine them. It’s been great and will be for another week or so.

But this afternoon the future had a couple of hours off and through the fold in time I told you about, some special guests arrived. The staff of George Henry Lee’s. Continue reading “Afternoon Tea at George Henry Lee: Ed’s Place”

Walking to Make Liverpool

Nowadays I’m regularly walking along the Dock Road to Make Liverpool, where I’ve long been kind of involved and I’m now a board member. I love their whole idea and what they do and some time soon, being a board member there, I’ll write a lot more about a place I’m increasingly thinking of as ‘us’ not ‘them.’

But as well as all that I simply love walking there, since I no longer drive and because it’s such a great walk. I love it so much I’ve already done one blog post about the walk. That was just a few weeks ago and was called ‘Walking Through Time.’ So think of this one as a companion piece, where I’ve varied the views I’ll show you by the devastatingly creative technique of walking on the opposite side of the Dock Road to last time! Yes.

Let’s go then, beginning in front of the Cunard Building.

It’s a seriously beautiful day, sunny and not too hot for us northern types. Continue reading “Walking to Make Liverpool”

John and Yoko: Double Fantasy

I am sat on a little purple stool at the John and Yoko ‘Double Fantasy’ Exhibition. I am not quite crying.

I’ve been round the exhibition for the last half hour or so and I think it’s very beautiful. I think so. Though it was quite crowded. I would see it better on a quieter day, so I could come back. I won’t though.

This has been like a memorial service and you don’t go to them twice.

Well done Yoko. This was beautiful. Continue reading “John and Yoko: Double Fantasy”

Happy Days: Games in the 1960s

It’s been a while since me and my boyhood friend Barry Ward jointly penned one of our rambling stories of growing up in the 1960s. But some of those, particularly the ones about food and especially ice cream continue to be read every day and are some of the most popular ever featured on here.

So, knowing we might be writing for an audience of thousands, please clear away the tea dishes, fold up the tablecloth and clear the space for “Games in the 1960s!”

Over to you Barry.

‘Noticing your recent post about Dusty Springfield I see that you incorporated a mention of my sister Hilary getting a copy of ‘With The Beatles’ for Christmas 1963 (which I soon appropriated after she turned her attentions to the Dave Clark 5).
However do you remember my Christmas present that year?  It was a game of ‘Blow Football’ possibly the most useless football based game ever invented.
The box promised great things inside….a picture of a real football match with an excited crowd.  However the game consisted of 2 plastic goals, 2 plastic straws and a ball about the size of a malteser. Even so, many happy hours were spent dribbling over my mum and dad’s dining room table, and not always  in a football sense.

Continue reading “Happy Days: Games in the 1960s”

Scottie Press: A Liverpool Institution

Celebrating 47 years and counting of independent local news and opinions

Yesterday morning I spent  a couple of hugely enjoyable hours in the office of, arguably, Liverpool’s most opinionated newspaper, talking about?

‘The power of local news in communities and the role Scottie Press has in the regeneration of north Liverpool’

Well so the paper’s newish editor later summed up our rambling conversation, which roamed all over the place, from my own time of first working in the area during the paper’s early days, to his own ideas about north Liverpool’s future and the potential importance of Scottie Press in helping to create it.

We had a great time and I came away with a role for me in the paper’s future, which I’ll tell you about in a bit.

But first back to the start of it all in 1971. Continue reading “Scottie Press: A Liverpool Institution”

From Pitt Street to Granby

Liverpool is a city full of stories and next Tuesday evening I’ll be going to the launch of a new book that tells a few more. I can’t tell you any of the stories here because I don’t know what they are. But I do know that hearing them will deepen and change my own sense of this place, this Liverpool. So I wondered if you might like to come and hear them too?

From Pitt Street to Granby – Book Launch with Professor Mike Boyle, Tony Wailey and Madeline Heneghan

Venue: Toxteth Library, Windsor Street, Liverpool, L8 1XF
Time: 6.30pm (Doors 6pm)
Tickets: £4/£2

Here’s how they describe what their new book is about: Continue reading “From Pitt Street to Granby”

Kitty’s Launderette: Opening soon in North Liverpool


Kitty’s Kickstarter now done and well done, thanks to all who helped reach above and beyond the targets.

I want to tell you about Kitty’s Launderette, which is being opened by some friends later in the summer in North Liverpool and is one of the most interesting ideas I’ve heard in a long while.

But first, I need to tell you about Kitty Wilkinson.

In the Gardens below the Anglican Cathedral in Liverpool you can find this gravestone. It’s the grave of one Catherine Wilkinson who died in 1860, long before the Cathedral was built, at the age of 73. Even though she died so long ago the grave is rarely without a small bunch of flowers, in tribute to the woman buried here. Her inscription reads:

‘Indefatigable and self-denying , she was the widow’s friend; the support of the orphan, the fearless and unwearied nurse of the sick; the originator of baths and wash houses for the poor.’

In a time of disease and poverty Kitty Wilkinson did indeed invent the wash house, what we’d now call a launderette, making life better and healthier for thousands. She’s remembered in this stained glass window in the Cathedral and continues to be an inspiration to people doing good things to this day, as we’re about to find out. Continue reading “Kitty’s Launderette: Opening soon in North Liverpool”

Remembering Munich: Manchester United 1958

This is one of my earliest memories from when I’m, just, four years old.

It’s a Friday morning, 7th February 1958, when I come down our stairs in Liverpool thinking I’m the only one up this early. Not this time though. As I open the door my Dad’s already sat at the breakfast table. Not upright and cheerful, which is his usual way. But slumped, and for the first time I’ve ever seen, crying with the paper open in front of him.

‘They’re dead, nearly all of them. All the team. I think Bobby Charlton’s alive and they don’t know about Duncan Edwards but the rest of them, nearly all dead.’

Then he sits me on his knee and tells me about the Munich Air disaster. Continue reading “Remembering Munich: Manchester United 1958”

Walking Round Port Sunlight

Early in 2018 I was asked to circulate an advert from the University of Liverpool, for a PhD they’d set up involving a study of time, places and particularly Port Sunlight. Having cheerfully done this I was asked if I might consider applying for it myself?  “No” was my immediate and instinctive answer. I’d often though I might do ‘something academic, later in my life’ but surely it wasn’t later yet?

Turned out it was. And after much thought, conversations, a nervous application and an even more nervous interview I was offered the place.

But first of all, just after I’d said “No” Sarah and I did what we always do when we need to think about somewhere, we went and nosed around the place for a day.

‘On a dark and winter’s day walking round Port Sunlight
Half factory, half village, all about us in the gentle rain
A day of talking quietly, unfolding curiosity
Together like our early days, out finding a sense of place.’

‘Together on my birthday, out finding a sense of place.’

Continue reading “Walking Round Port Sunlight”