Early Morning in the Library

I love these early mornings here in the university library. Getting the bus before the into work and school rush and squash begins. Then into here before it begins filling up for the day. Knowing I’m part of that filling up. Yet still, early on like now, the place feeling like mine. Like I’ve come to inhabit it. An essential moment in your time with any great library. When it becomes your place.

The moment you know roughly how it works. Continue reading “Early Morning in the Library”

The Sociological Imagination

Nearly four weeks into my University of Liverpool Sociology and History studies now, and for the first time sending out a brief blog post from inside the library where I’m spending much of my time.

I’m here in the library mid-afternoon on a Tuesday, having been in and around the university since early this morning, mostly reading generally and otherwise getting ready for the next few day’s lectures. And mostly done now, giving me plenty of time to carry on with reading the last lot of stuff for this Thursday’s ‘Philosophy of Social Science’  titled ‘The Sociological Imagination’ and about the works of C. Wright Mills and Howard Becker.

Suggested chapters by and about both of these have been suggested by this week’s lecturer, who’s also suggested we might, now or sometime soon, like to read the whole of ‘The Sociological Imagination’ by C. Wright Mills as ‘It’s a wonderful text.’


Thus encouraged I started reading it yesterday and it is – wonderful, readable, clear and opinionated. What’s more, involved in it as I am, this is the first day in my nearly four weeks that I haven’t brought a novel in with me as well, for my occasional relief-reading. This being good enough on its own to read like a ‘proper’ book!

I think I might be starting to feel at home here? Continue reading “The Sociological Imagination”

“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”

A Global Sense of Place

September 7th, 2018

Things are getting real now with starting my MA/PhD at the University of Liverpool.

This week, having paused at least for now on much else that I’m doing, I’ve been spending more time around the university. Not that there are many other students around, I’ve just been getting myself acclimatised to the place again. Forty years after I last spent very much time here.

I’ve been reading mostly. Things my two academic supervisors in Sociology and History have recommended.  And it was while sat in this coffee shop reading ‘A Global Sense of Place’ by Doreen Massey I noticed an email float across my screen from the university. Not one of the general ‘Welcome to Liverpool’ messages I’ve been getting lately, but a very specific one from the administrator of the department I’ll be joining the week after next. Containing details and times like “1pm on Tuesday 18.” And a list of modules to pick from. This MA I’m needing to do being partly a taught thing, compared with the the PhD that will follow.

So it’s all getting real now, which is good.

Anyway, back to the reading.

Continue reading “A Global Sense of Place”

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”

Living, Thinking, Looking: A day to myself

In Granby Street by now
The gazebos will be rising
Like smiles to meet the day

I’m up and out early looking forward to a day to myself, a day with no appointments of any kind to do exactly and only what I feel like. Mostly walking and reading then, but also calling in on my friends at the Street Market.

The market’s already getting busy, just after 10. Continue reading “Living, Thinking, Looking: A day to myself”

Look At Me: Reading Anita Brookner

‘Once a thing is known it can never be unknown. It can only be forgotten.’

My friend Kate Rodenhurst and I both read Anita Brookner’s ‘Look At Me’ in the same month, in the same city, long after it had been published and independently of each other. Having discovered this coincidence and both been strongly affected by the book, we decided to think about doing this writing together. To help others discover the beauty of a piece of work that had so long eluded both of us.

I’m starting the writing then to get this written version of our long conversation going. And Kate will reflect and respond where she likes along the way. Reflecting our actual conversation round at Kate’s house. One that was no more a review or a detailed critique than this is likely to be, but more an appreciation of what so fascinated us both. Here goes. Continue reading “Look At Me: Reading Anita Brookner”

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”