Record Store Day

As you can tell from the title, the idea of having a day in the year when we celebrate our, erm, record stores, has come to us from the USA. Though no one, not one single person here in Britain would call a record shop a ‘record store’ in my experience. OK?

Dig Vinyl. In the basement of Soho's, Bold Street.

Dig Vinyl. In the basement of Soho’s, Bold Street.

Having made that clear the day, whatever it’s called, is this Saturday, 19th April. And a joyous day it should prove to be too. Here’s how it describes itself:

“This is the one day that all of the independently owned record stores come together with artists to celebrate the art of music. Special vinyl and CD releases and various promotional products are made exclusively for the day and hundreds of artists across the globe make special appearances and performances. Festivities include performances, meet & greets with artists, DJ’s, in store quizzes and many other events.”

Well, spare me the quizzes, but for me this last year has been one where record shops have returned to my life in a big way. Since rediscovering the joys of vinyl last summer I’m back on familiar record flicking terms with all the best record shops and market stalls within a 30 mile radius of home. Peacefully searching through their LPs for old favourites and new gems. Continue reading

I remember: 25 years ago

It’s about a quarter to four on 15th April 1989. I’m on my own in the place where I was living then. A Saturday afternoon, working on songs, doing my music while everyone else is out. But my mind is not entirely on my music because I know that Liverpool, Liverpool Football Club, are playing in the semi-final of the FA Cup, against Nottingham Forest, at Hillsborough, in Sheffield. So, around half-time I turn the radio on to hear how they are doing.


For some years now I’ve been telling myself I don’t particularly care how they are doing. That football’s not that important to me. That, in fact, in these difficult 1980s where all Liverpool’s had going for it has been the successes of Liverpool and Everton, football has become an ‘opiate of the masses.’ But, despite this Marxist thinking, I always know how they’re doing. I always know where they are and who they’re playing. And I always know what time they’re kicking off. I’m from Liverpool, you just do.

Which is why I turn on BBC Radio Merseyside at a quarter to four on 15th April 1989. To hear how they’re doing at half time. Continue reading

Wildflowers and pirates: Our day on the Wirral

If you’ve been around here for a while you’ll recall the practical help offered by ‘The Wirral: A guide for Liverpool people.’ That provided useful instructions on how to get to a place where many Liverpool people have simply never been. And then some handy hints about what to do when you get there. View this as Part 2. More information about the delights of the Wirral. And further handy hints about what Liverpool people can get up to over there.

The imposing sea wall at Harrison Drive on the Wirral. Like a Mark Rothko painting.

The imposing sea wall at Harrison Drive on the Wirral. Like a Mark Rothko painting.

All of this guidance put together by us two Liverpool people in one day, yesterday. Sarah has a brief gap in her funeral work and I, as ever, am always keen on walking about rather than working. Continue reading

Talking about the Libraries

Like everywhere, we’re now having to look at closing libraries here in Liverpool.

The time has come, as we’ve long known it would, to talk about the Libraries.

Allerton Library.

Allerton Library. My local and most frequently visited library.

So this post will not be a political rant. Long time readers will know that I don’t support or even believe in the need for such a wealthy country to impose ‘austerity’ measures on its people. But impose them the Government have. And with what reads like a heavy heart Liverpool City Council are now circulating a Consultation Questionnaire to ask for our thoughts on how they could save a quarter of their total Libraries budget of £10m per year. This is out of total required savings of £156m over the next 3 years.

I picked up my copy of the Questionnaire in Liverpool Central Library today. But no doubt it’s in all of our libraries. You can also complete the Questionnaire on the City Council’s website. If you live in Liverpool, please do. It’s important that we’re all involved in this.

Liverpool Central Library.

Liverpool Central Library, where I went today.

Currently Liverpool is running 18 local libraries as well as the Central Library. There is also a Home Library Service for people who have difficult getting to a library.

And the library service has already been cut back by ‘austerity’ Continue reading

The Spirit of Shankly

You have to read this book. This book about Bill. Bill Shankly, the manager of Liverpool Football Club. The manager of Liverpool Football Club from 1959 to 1974. All of the book is Bill. Bill is every line of the book. ‘Red or Dead’ it’s called and it all happens in Bill’s head. Through Bill’s eyes. Bill Shankly, the manager of Liverpool Football Club.

Red or Dead


David Peace wrote it and he calls it a novel but it’s pure Bill. Bill laughing, Bill running, Bill playing football. Bill playing football with the players. The players of Liverpool Football Club.

The same author wrote ‘The Damned United’ about Brian Clough. About when Brian Clough was trying to be the manager of Leeds United Football Club. Bill tried to sign Brian Clough when he was a player. Tried to sign him for Liverpool Football Club. But the Directors of Liverpool Football Club wouldn’t give Bill the money. Not for Brian Clough. Not for Jack Charlton. Not for Gordon Banks. The Directors of Liverpool Football club gave Bill the money to buy Trevor Storton from Tranmere Rovers but not Gordon Banks from Leicester City. The Directors of Liverpool Football Club wouldn’t let Bill buy the best goalkeeper in the world for £60,000.

Bill meets Brian Clough in this book, often. At the side of the pitch at Anfield. The home of Liverpool Football Club. And at the side of the pitch at the Baseball Ground. Bill meets Brian Clough when he is managing Derby County Football Club. Bill likes Brian and Brian likes Bill. They are both socialists.


But Bill particularly likes Matt Busby, Continue reading

In Granby on Saturday

Updated: With pictures from the April Street Market.

Having visited 2 of Liverpool’s street markets a week or so back I’m glad to let you know that the Granby 4 Streets Market is back on the first Saturday of every month, from now to September. 10:30 ’til 3:00 in Cairns Street, Liverpool 8.

If you’ve been around this blog for any amount of time then you’ll know I have a lot of time for the people who live in the four remaining original streets of Granby, here in Liverpool. Streets where the majority of houses are empty and have been for years.

Naturally the people have been working and campaigning for years to get this sorted and ‘being sorted’ could, I understand, become true some day soon now. But while waiting for this joyous day to finally arrive, the people of Granby 4 Streets have taken their place into their own hands in two significant ways. For several years now they’ve been guerrilla gardening, planting up their streets. And they’ve been running street markets. This Saturday the Street Markets resume for this spring and summer, and I think your life would be brighter and more fulfilled if you were to come to it.

The Street Market, Cairns Street, Liverpool 8.

The Street Market, Cairns Street, Liverpool 8.

Planting up the streets began as a deliberate way of making the place look special and cared for and a pleasure to live in, when all of the tinned up properties might suggest that none of those things were true. Continue reading

Far above the city streets

While I was on top of Liverpool Cathedral yesterday taking my photographs for Liverpool 8, I did of course face the opposite way for some of the time, looking at the river and the city centre. Here’s how it all looked.

Looking across the Dingle.

Looking across the Dingle.

Down to the South Docks.

Down to the South Docks.

Visibility getting better as I turn away from the sun.

Close to the Cathedral, the church of St James in the City.

Close to the Cathedral, the church of St James in the City.

Just to the right of the church there, and in the next picture, you can just see what appears to be a railway tunnel. In fact this is the disused station of St James. Continue reading