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”

Kitty’s Launderette: For Anfield, For Everton, For Liverpool

Kitty’s Launderette’s Kickstarter campaign has now passed £8,500 worth of pledges from over 150 people. Really good going as we all get behind seeing it all the way to its target of £14,000.

Less than £5,500 now needed to reach the target. So if you haven’t pledged yet…?

A few weeks ago I started telling you the story of a new idea, the story of Kitty’s Launderette. An affordable and ecological laundrette in the community of Anfield and Everton. A warm and welcoming place for arts, social activities and doing the washing.

Help Kickstart Kitty’s Launderette. Kitty’s Kickstarter open for pledges here.

Well now a new chapter in the story of Kitty’s is well underway and your help is needed.

A building has been found and bought for the launderette, and in a great place too. Just off Oakfield and Thirlmere Roads, if you know where I’m talking about. Local people came for a visit and a good look round a few weeks ago and it’s all looking good for making the empty ex-builder’s yard look like this: Continue reading “Kitty’s Launderette: For Anfield, For Everton, For Liverpool”

Squash: Food for Real on Windsor Street

On a beautiful morning in the finally here springtime of the year Squash opened today on Windsor Street.

The café and shop were busy all of the morning I was here and it was great. A beautiful building full of the spirits of the community who have created it. And all of us visitors.

There’s a story behind it all which is theirs to tell and for you to join in with when you visit. Which I think you should.

Here’s what it’s like.

Continue reading “Squash: Food for Real on Windsor Street”

Kitty’s Launderette: Opening soon in North Liverpool

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Help Kickstart Kitty’s Launderette. Kitty’s Kickstarter open for pledges and going well here.

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”

Announcing: The Mystery Literary Festival

We’re piecing it together now, The Mystery Literary Festival I wrote about on here a few weeks ago. A group of us have met and a couple of us in the group have then gone about talking to people. So we know when it will be now and soon we’ll be able to tell you other things, like where it will take place, what it might be about and how you can join in.

In the meantime we’re sorting out the sort of details you need when setting up something like this, its own presence if you like.

So soon The Mystery Literary Festival will have its own website. But in the meantime I’ll be adding information to this page, now and soon. Continue reading “Announcing: The Mystery Literary Festival”

What I’m Doing Now

Grateful for all of the contacts and attention from Aditya Chakrabortty’s piece in The Guardian recently about what we’ve all been doing in Granby these past few years, here’s what I’m doing and interested in doing now.

I’m sat writing this in a café near to where I live. It’s ‘the third cafe’ on Greenbank Road, near its corner with Smithdown Road. Newly opened by Carole Fleck, who used to run Greendays off Lark Lane, and already somewhere that makes me happy.

I’m sat here sorting out my website so it says what I want about what I’ve done recently and what I’m interested in doing next. Writing in the brightening year, with the sense of renewed energy that always brings,  about things I might do.

Things like? Continue reading “What I’m Doing Now”

The Story of Coming Home: So far

For some time now I’ve been thinking of writing something on here about Coming Home. For many reasons, some of which I’ll explain, the time’s never seemed quite right. But stories need telling, otherwise how do they become stories? So here goes, the Story of Coming Home:

Chapter 1

Photograph by Jane MacNeil

Whatever kind of maker you are, a maker of things, tools, songs, stories, poems or paintings, the most difficult thing to do is to get going. So many of us are full of the big even beautiful ideas, aren’t we? But how many of them ever amount to something you can show or use or put in a story, let alone live in?

I’ve been thinking about this, this getting going, as some friends and I from The Beautiful Ideas Co have been talking about what Coming Home does next. And as I’ve also been reading a novel by Colm Toíbín called ‘The South.’ I love Colm Toíbín’s writing. He’s a near contemporary and I often find valuable thoughts about life and the living of it from reading his books.

In ‘The South’ I’ve found a particularly relevant gem. It’s in his afterword, where he writes about how hard he’d had to search for the answer to how to get this, his first novel, going.

Being a story he’d wanted to move around Ireland and Catalonia, abstractedly painting their emotional and historical landscapes he talked to an Irish artist, Barrie Cooke, about how he did beginnings:

“You make a mark” he said, as he gestured the making of an almost random mark with an imaginary paint-brush.

Well at Coming Home we’ve definitely made a mark. Continue reading “The Story of Coming Home: So far”

What kind of society do you want to grow up in?

Explaining social housing and the economy to young people. Many comments on this now in. See the evolving discussion with young people here.

For a long time I’ve thought and no doubt even said that if you really know your stuff, whatever that ‘stuff’ might be, you should be able to explain it clearly to anyone. Just this year, for example, I’ve been driven to so much distraction by some verbose inhabitants of the ‘social investment sector’ (their description of themselves) that I’ve had to publicly berate them for telling a room of people who actually do things that we need to ‘learn their language’ if we want them to consider investing in us.

Photo by Jane MacNeil

I’m saying this because this very week some of my own ‘stuff’ has been put to the test when The Economist asked me if I’d have a go at answering some questions. They run something called The Burnet News Club that’s specifically about involving both primary and secondary school children in discussions about the economy.

 

 

So they sent me five questions young people had submitted, generally around the subject of social housing, and today they’ve published my answers. Continue reading “What kind of society do you want to grow up in?”

The Stranger in Skelmersdale

Yesterday I was ‘The Stranger in Skelmersdale.’ One day, 200 years after my precious book, of being taken on a walk round a nearby town that I hardly know at all.

“The Stranger in Liverpool” – my precious 1820 guide for visitors.

I remember the moment I was introduced to Skelmersdale.

It’s a summer evening in 1965 and we’ve come out for a drive after our tea in the brand new family car, a dark blue Ford Cortina, ELV 397C. We’ve travelled out from North Liverpool into the Lancashire countryside. All winding lanes and old churches, where the most modern thing in the landscape is us in our car, until we arrive at what I remember as the crest of a hill where we are looking down into the huge bowl of a building site landscape:

“What’s that Dad?”
“It’s a new town they’re building down there. It’s going to be called Skelmersdale.”

After that my memories are few. Of riding through the brand new place most days on a Ribble bus, on my way to Wigan Tech, as the 1970s begin. A few years later some friends lose their home in Melling as the M58 is finally, and more than a bit late, built through there to Skelmersdale. Then in more recent years some contacts and one visit through my work with the School for Social Entrepreneurs. So, not much and definitely not enough to claim to know the place.

Which is how come I turn up here, late November in 2017, as The Stranger in Skelmersdale. Continue reading “The Stranger in Skelmersdale”

A True Story: Having the time of your life?

On top of a hill in Yorkshire. Some time in the late 1990s.

Recently on here I’ve been writing about being self-employed and the kinds of work I do. About how much I like variety in the work I take on and the stress it caused me recently when I found myself doing too much of one thing.

So when I read this article by Owen Jones in The Guardian, suggesting that a four day working week could be good for our economy, our society and our health, I remembered.

I remembered that ever since I began leaving my day job in the mid-1990s and becoming self-employed one of my objectives in doing so has been to work less. Not that I don’t enjoy the work I do. I do, and one of the big things I’ve always gone on about is finding and doing the work you love. And I have, mostly. But a core part of living the life I’ve had over this last 22 years has been to have more time than I used to have for me.

To do what? Well, we’ll get on to that. Continue reading “A True Story: Having the time of your life?”