Mary C. Brown and the Liverpool Food & Drink Festival

DSC07241Long ago when I was almost grown one of my favourite songwriters was from New Jersey and was called Dory Previn. One of her very greatest songs concerned (the true story of) Mary Cecilia Brown and her doomed attempts to get enough ‘exposure’ (we’ll be coming back to that word) to make it in the vicious depression-era Hollywood studio system. (The apparent passport of the times to the land of wealth and privilege, much like the football, talent shows and never ending ‘festivals’ and ‘awards shows’ of today.) Eventually giving up, Dory takes Mary for a ride. And to the backing of a lightly anyday kind of tune:

“Mary Cecilia Brown rode to town on the Malibu bus,
She climbed to the top of the Hollywood sign and with the smallest possible fuss
Jumped off the letter ‘H’ ’cause she did not become a star,
She died in less than a minute and a half, she looked a bit like Hedy Lamarr.”

Dory1So far, so sad. But we’re in the hands of Dory Previn here and when she gets to the chorus, as a great songwriter will, she makes Mary’s story universal by turning the song round and bringing in the voice of Hollywood itself. Eating up the lives of Mary and the likes of the rest of us to feed its relentless hunger for profits and power:

“Give me your poor,
Your maladjusted,
Your sick and your beat,
Your sad and your busted.
Give me your has-beens,
Give me your twisted,
Your loners, your losers;
Give me your black-listed.”

DSC07242Which brings me to the Liverpool Food and Drink Festival. I’ve complained about this before, at this time last year. Continue reading

On Scotland Road

St Anthonys01I love it round here. Maybe because it’s the place where I feel I really first came alive, where I had my first proper job in the Benledi Street Housing office. Singing my way happily up the hill some days on my way to our sub-office in Netherfield Heights.

It’s all changed since then. Both housing offices are long gone, as is Netherfield Heights and most of the other tower blocks I used to thread my way between in those early 1970s days. Much of the hill is now parkland and Scotland Road is now more or less the motorway that leads to both Mersey Tunnels. But one thing that hasn’t changed is the warmth and the welcome from the people of the place. As we’re about to find out.

Scotland Road when I worked here. Woodstock Gardens and St Anthony's church.

Scotland Road soon after I worked here. Woodstock Gardens in its late days and St Anthony’s church.

But before we go through to Scotland Road, time for a quick look at Greatie. Continue reading

Wallasey: A Tale of Two Libraries

Having been keeping a very careful eye on Liverpool’s libraries over the past few months, I decided I go and see how our neighbours are getting on with their’s over the water in Wallasey.Wallasey24I don’t know Wallasey very well at all. I know New Brighton, which is part of it, and was last there a few weeks ago, but to get to know as much of the rest as I reasonably can in an afternoon I decide to walk around, almost aimlessly, other than knowing I’ll try and find a couple of libraries in the course of my wandering.

I think walking is the only way to really get to know a place. To see it and feel it and work out how it fits together and how it’s doing. So let’s go.

But I can't walk on water, so have to walk through town first.

But I can’t walk on water, so have to walk through town first.

Then get on a bus, the 437.

Then get on a bus, the 437.

And through the tunnel to Wallasey.

And go through the tunnel to Wallasey.

Continue reading

The Gift

Today I want to show you something exquisite. A gift to us, the people of Liverpool, from early in the 20th Century.

A mock Tudor building.

A mock Tudor building.

From 1911.

From 1911.

Resplendent today in the gentle September sunshine.

Resplendent today in the gentle September sunshine.

Continue reading

Independence? Yes

Well, this has all been the best thing that’s happened to democracy & politics on this island for 300 years and if I were living in Scotland I would be sorely tempted to vote ‘Yes’ for independence, however many English Council leaders have been brandishing Saltires to try and persuade me otherwise.Joe and SaltireI hear the doubts and threats being issued from the English press about the currency and economy and I would never confuse myself with being an isolated Nationalist, but I still think it’s time, time for Scotland to be fully itself. And currently half of the people in Scotland seem to feel the same way. Continue reading

The Soft South

Naturally this blog focuses almost entirely on the north of England, as that is where we live. However, it turns out the country does have a southern part. And though much of it tends to vote the wrong way Sarah has selflessly been down there to see what it’s like. Here’s her special report ‘The Soft South’.

And a secret gate into the bowling green area.

“As much as I love my work as a funeral celebrant, I do find that time out is very important. And also time away, on my own. This year I have discovered a great organisation called Walking Women, who provide a range of holidays for women that involves, well, walking. Yes, walking, and also meandering and cafés and opportunities for mooching. I particularly enjoyed my trip with them to Northumberland in March – see the post here – and last weekend I was off down south.

I’d decided I would be ready for a break around the end of August so had booked this ‘Kennet and Avon’ holiday a few weeks back. Where’s that then? No, I didn’t know either – somewhere ‘down south’ and somewhere I’d never been before. Continue reading

Bikes in The Park

Tour of Britain16I’m no bike rider. Last time I was on one was a rented one without brakes in Amsterdam. Got the wheels stuck in tram rails with a tram coming up behind me. Not good. Time before that was when I was a temporary postman, Christmas 1971. Given those credentials I hereby present my report on the first stage of this year’s Tour of Britain, today in Liverpool.

I hadn’t come to see the bikes at all. Though regular blog reader Stan Cotter had told me about the race my interest in the sport is less than zero, so in the end I come upon it all by accident. Continue reading