Friday, 18 July 2008

Visiting Liverpool 08

Lesley and I had a lovely day out in Liverpool yesterday.

It might seem funny to visit your home town as a tourist but yesterday that's just what we did. I haven't lived in Liverpool for thirty odd years but when I'm asked where I'm from I'm always proud to say Liverpool. Not in any jingoistic sense, I'm not one of those daft buggars who looks back to their childhood with rose tinted glasses but growing up in the sixties in Liverpool was an exciting time. In those days the lunatic left wingers who later contributed as much to the demise of my home town as the evil Maggie Thatcher were still only a glint in their father's eye. The politics of the 1970's meant that Liverpool was gripped in a recessionary spiral that at times seemed to be out of control.

Unemployment and the emergence of Derek
Hatton and his hench men in the Town Hall spelt the death of enterprise and investment in our once proud city. And what didn't help in my humble opinion, were television programmes like Bread and Boys from the Blackstuff - controversial I know, but you only had to be a Liverpudlian in exile in London in those days to see how those programmes influenced people's view of the city. They thought, and weren't afraid to tell you that all scousers are a) on the dole b) live in terraced house with an outside lavvie c) would steal the wheels off your car if you parked outside their house etc etc... let's face it if it's on the tele it must be true. Well it wasn't true then and it isn't true now.

In any city there are areas that are poorer than others, in every city you will find a business district, commercial district and cultural district and Liverpool is no different. The difference in Liverpool is the pride of the local people in the investment and opportunities that are pouring into a city that for so long was neglected.

With the building of Europe's largest retail development Liverpool 1 nearing completion the city is changing so quickly I felt like a stranger in my own town. That I hasten to add is not a bad thing, in fact I felt very proud of what is happening to the place. The city centre was busy with not just locals but with huge numbers of tourists who were pouring over street maps trying to find their way around.

The Tall Ships Race sets off from Liverpool this weekend and the city is gearing up to receiving up to 1,000,000 visitors over the next three days. Yesterday the Albert Dock was a hive of activity with an army of people ensuring everything was in place for the event. We even met a friend of Lesley's who is working as a reporter for the Daily Post and Echo. She had just finished interviewing the crew from the Dutch Naval yacht who were berthed in the Albert Dock and was positively beaming when she told us about everything that was planned for the weekend, it's great to think that even the local press are so enthusiastic.

I hope that 2008 Capital of Culture, is the start of great things for Liverpool. For too long local politicians were allowed to hark back to the glory days of the city rather than being made to look forward. Maybe now Liverpool people will demand more from their elected officials, this is the 21st Century and Liverpool should show the rest of the country what it has to offer; with more than 2,500 listed buildings, more Georgian houses than Bath, a UNESCO heritage site, the first non-combustible dock warehouse in the world, the largest collection of Grade 1 listed buildings in Britain, the Anglican Cathedral has one of the largest organs in the world while the Catholic Cathedral has the largest panel of stained glass in the world, there are 6 theatres and the annual Liverpool Shakespeare Festival which takes place in the Anglican Cathedral, more galleries and museums in the country apart from London, there are three universities, two football clubs, a county cricket club, a professional basketball ball team, Aintree racecourse, Royal Liverpool Golf Club, oh and yes The Beatles.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Reading is the new Prozac

I love to read, always have done. From a tender age I would take myself off to the library and stand there like the proverbial kid in a candy store dithering over which books to choose. When I was little I read all the childrens' classics, Black Beauty, Little Women, Pollyanna etc. As a teenager I worked my way through authors, George Orwell, John Windham, H G Wells and various WW1 poets (what can I tell you- I was a calluos youth) But now I find that my reading tastes are far more eclectic.

I really enjoy Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett and Malcolm Price but I am just as excited to see that there is a new Reginald Hill or Ian Rankin on the bookshelves. My only criteria for reading a book these days is that it has to be in paper back and not too thick otherwise when it drops from my hands after I have fallen asleep reading it will wake the house up! You see my reasons for reading have changed somewhat over the years. Where as when I was younger I read for pleaure or enlightenment I now read to escape. It is the only way I know to switch off from the trails and tribulations of the day without resorting to Prozac, just as addictive though, I find that I just can't drop off unless I've read at least one chapter of my current novel.

At the moment I'm rereading Arms and the Women by Reginald Hill. I don't often read a book more than once due to the belief that there are so many books just waiting to be read and not enough years in a lifetime to read them all, but I was tidying one of the bookcases and realised that I couldn't remember the ending of this particular story so thought, why not give it another go. I now know why - poor old Reg must have been having some kind of writers mid life crisis when he wrote it.

As well as the usual Daziel and Pascoe romp he has also included Ellie Pascoe's tentative attempts at writing second novel - think Troy set in mid Yorkshire - in the middle of the plot. Ok I can see where he is going with this, I don't like it but what the hell it's his book but what is really starting to rankle is the feeling that he is patronising me with the use of words that I have to look up in a dictionary to find out their meaning. For example he uses the following sentence to describe how the 'baddie' from MI5 reviews Ellie's draft novel - Occasionally as he read, his lips pursed in distate at some jarring anachronism or sciolistic inaccuracy. Is the joke on me? Does he mean when using sciolistic in this context to mock the character's vocabulory or mine? I don't know, and at 11.30pm I don't care

Is it wrong to lie about your age?

How silly is it to prentend that you are younger or for that matter older than you look? In these days of anti-age discrimination legislation why would you bother? Why shouldn't we she ask a woman her age with out occurring the wrath of a she god? Why, because it does matter how old you are, it matters to other people, it changes the way they react to you, interact with you and even treat you.

Let me give you an example - Imagine that you work with a small group of people. You would go out occasionally for a drink together, you tell each other the kind of jokes that only friends tell each other and if you fall out it is generally over work rather than anything personal. You'll sit together in the staff canteen and bitch about him/her indoors but only to make them laugh or occasionally to elicit sympathy - that's because you're mates, work colleagues, friends. But then what happens when you find out that one of these friends is old enough to be your Mum? It isn't as if she has ever lied about her age, she just hasn't felt the need to share that with you.

How do you feel about her now? The same a before? Nothing has changed?

Now be honest, will you still send her that risqué email? Will you invite her to your 30th birthday party - the one in the club in town not the drinks in the pub after work do. When she talks about her kids now do you think, Oh my God her son is older than me? Remember you've got to be honest......

So yes age does matter because other people's perception of you changes if they find out that you are younger or older than they thought - it's shite but true and all the anti-discrimination legislation in the world won't change that.

So I'm going to carry on putting on the slap, having hi-lights to cover up the grey hair and dressing the way that I want to not the way that a woman of my age should - and if you ask me my age I won't lie to you but I will have to kill you afterwards.

Friday, 11 July 2008

Girl of 15 goes on £2,000 spree after bank gave her a card

I'm sorry but I couldn't resist this headline from the Daily Mail

Girl of 15 goes on £2,000 spree after bank gave her a card

The girl's mother was shocked that her 15 year old daughter was given a debit card by Lloyds Bank. Now maybe it's me but why would you put over £2000 in a current account for a child when you don't trust them not to spend it? Why didn't they just stick it in a building society account in their own names? They don't trust their daughter to manage her own money, OK so don't give her any, easy!

But the icing on the cake for me was this comment from the mother:- 'We are astonished that, given the current economic climate and the credit crunch, this has been allowed to happen.' - with that kind of financial savvy it's no wonder the kid doesn't have a clue. Is she implying that her daughter's wreckless spending is solely responsible for the 'current economic climate'? It really does beggar belief that the Mother can blame the banks when in fact it is her that is to blame. She is responsible for her daughter's actions, no one else, not the banks, not even the government (remember this was in the Daily Mail)

With this total lack of sympathy you can imagine my reaction when I saw the following article about a boy who had been given a debit card by his bank:-

One father reportedly complained to the bank, claiming that his 15-year-old son bought cheap cigarettes, Viagra and a fake adult ID on the internet using one of Lloyd's cards.

The fags and ID I can understand but why the hell does a 15 year old boy need Viagra? I would have thought that most boys that age have more problems keeping in down rather than problems getting it up!

Buying a Puppy

There was a news item on the BBC this morning saying that the RSPCA are trying to crack down on the importation of puppies from Ireland. Apparently they are being sold in this country with all sorts of health problems. The advice from the RSPCA is to go to a reputable dealer, see the puppy with it's mother and don't buy from adverts in the paper or from the Internet.

Well we did all that when we bought Bella and Murphy but they still had problems. Bella is frightened of her own shadow and seems to be prone to skin infections while poor old Murphy has developed a really bad problem with his hips. We did everything right and still the pups have problems so god help anyone who bought one of the 'dodgy' pups.

Murphy's problems are so severe that even if he was a candidate for surgery there is no guarantee that the operations would work. We have decided that we won't subject him to the surgery and are trying instead to alleviate his suffering under the supervision of our vet, by reducing his weight and giving him strong anti inflammatory drugs. The next couple of weeks are critical and we are hoping that we can give him the best life we can for as long as we can.

(ps after this picture was taken Murphy tried to climb through the cat flat and broke it - it was the third one he has demolished in as many weeks!)