“Brief Lives” & two perfect paragraphs

I’m not sure if you’re supposed to do this really. Include whole paragraphs as quotations on a blog post about a particular book. But they’re such a perfect bookends to everything in between them that I’m going to go ahead and do just that anyway.

Since Kate Rodenhurst and I wrote our joint piece, about a different Anita Brookner novel in this ‘books’ corner of the blog I’ve been having trouble settling into novels by anyone else. Hence picking up her ‘Brief Lives’ before setting out on my Sunday walk this week. Yet another book having been abandoned in disinterest the day before.

I don’t entirely blame the authors of this failed sequence. In recent weeks I’ve been doing a lot of reading, but of academic books, so perhaps that’s put me off my fictional stride? Maybe so but either way I was happy and confident to set off early in the afternoon with an Anita Brookner in my bag, on a grey and quiet Sunday that  would have suited so many of her characters and their situations.

I walked in the opposite direction to my more usual city routes. Knowing there would be giant puppets and their attendant crowds towards the city centre and a Liverpool FC and Manchester City game further north I walked up Mossley Hill and down the other side, along mostly empty streets.

Reaching Sefton Park at the Aigburth end I bought some coffee from the café by the lake, sat down to read and by page 16 I’d found this perfect paragraph about a Sunday afternoon in the main character’s childhood. Continue reading ““Brief Lives” & two perfect paragraphs”

The Mystery Literary Festival 2018: How it was

Days one and two photographs now included.

First days start quietly when you’ve not done it before
Will this work, will that work, will anybody come?
But then and if you’re lucky and you never can be sure
It just works, it just does and soon the first day’s done.

Well done all, here’s how it looked through one pair of eyes.


Ready for everyone to arrive… Continue reading “The Mystery Literary Festival 2018: How it was”

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”

In Liverpool: Walking, Rotating, Debating

This was one of my favourite kind of days, the variety kind. A good amount of walking, sunny but not too hot, chance meetings with friends, time alone in quiet corners, Liverpool looking mostly gorgeous, some sorting stuff with other friends, before two events to top off the day.

This was my yesterday. Mostly in photos, with the occasional explanation.

Squash in Windsor Street is open again on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, so I walked to breakfast there, Continue reading “In Liverpool: Walking, Rotating, Debating”

It’s nearly time: The Mystery Literary Festival

Coming up this weekend!
Much more information, including the programme for the weekend, here at The Mystery Literary Festival.

Once upon a time, when none of the things I’m about to tell you had even been dreamed of, a small boy in Liverpool swapped his treasured Beatles ‘Twist and Shout’ EP for an old book a friend at school was offering me. The book was called ‘Tales of Mystery and Imagination’ and as time was to prove, this was one of the starts of something that quite a lot of people are about to be involved in…

Tickets are free, and can be booked through the Eventbrite page.

First there are the facts

On 22 and 23 September, this weekend in fact, the first Mystery Literary Festival will take place in Wavertree’s Holy Trinity Church. The two-day event will celebrate mystery literature from across the spectrum and will bring families and the local community together in a celebration of mysterious books, film, music, performance, and more.


Then there is a story

It all began one day last autumn when a group of people, including my friend Lucy and I, were gathered in a church hall in Wavertree talking about ideas for things we might do in and around the local park, known to all of us as The Mystery (for reasons that are a whole other story).

“Well,” said one of the group, “The Mystery? It sounds like it could be a literary festival. One all about mystery stories, doesn’t it?” And so, an idea was born, and its story is about to come true.

Continue reading “It’s nearly time: The Mystery Literary Festival”

Breathing Spaces: Walking and Talking at Ed’s Place

Still lots of Ed’s Place things going on at the moment. General Information and bookings here.

Including another of these ‘Breathing Spaces’ walks this coming Sunday 23rd. Book here.

Looking back at the first of three ‘Breathing Spaces’ walks then, another coming up this Sunday.

I love doing this. A two hour walk around the centre of Liverpool talking about breathing spaces and how they are essential for making our city centre work for more than just shopping. Those places, sometimes public squares and sometimes just places in between others, where we can sit a while, breathe, reflect, watch people go by, check our phones, talk to friends or maybe even eat the lunch we’ve brought with us. And all for free.

The places where we can be citizens of our place, quietly, sociably and for the love of being here. They’re precious places and most of the ones we have here could be better, for all kinds of reasons.

I’m not going to write all the possible reasons down here though. Because this walk was only the first of two I’m doing, and I’ll be interested to hear what you think too, if you’d like to come on the second one? That’ll be on Thursday 13th September, also from Ed’s Place.

Anyway, during this first one on Sunday just gone fifteen of us talked… Continue reading “Breathing Spaces: Walking and Talking at Ed’s Place”

Humanscapes: St John’s Market

After John and Yoko’s brilliant ‘Double Fantasy’ in the week it’s another holiday for me and I’m having a day out in town looking for Kiara Mohamed and her IndyBiennial18 exhibition ‘Humanscapes.’ Finding Kiara is going to take a little time, so on the way let’s have a look around the Lime Street/St John’s Market end of town. I’m on holiday after all, so I’ve got loads of time.

Continue reading “Humanscapes: St John’s Market”

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”