Friday, September 21, 2007

A Transfer Too Far?

Chris Bascombe, dedicated correspondent on all things pertaining to Liverpool Football Club for the Liverpool Echo, has caused a stir recently, as highlighted this week by Roy Greenslade on his Media Guardian blog: .
Bascombe's decision to leave his job at the Echo & join the News of the World has provoked a lot of criticism, some of it disturbingly threatening. Bascombe's "crime", in the eyes of some, is that by joining the MOTW, Bascombe is pallying up to its sister rag, the Sun, whose obscenity after Hillsborough is known to many on Merseyside.
Greenslade rightly condemns the threats made against Bascombe. However, he mistakenly suggests at the end of his piece:
"But I wonder if this is the appropriate moment to ask whether they are also wrong to continue to ostracise The Sun? Is that boycott justified any longer? It is almost 18 years since the lies, headlined as 'The Truth', were published. None of the journalists directly involved in putting together the disgusting front page --accusing fans of being responsible for the tragedy and for hampering rescue operations-- now work on The Sun's staff."
Greenslade, however, does contradict his own point when he concedes that Kelvin MacKenzie, then Sun editor, is now employed as a columnist on the paper.
For this reason, though there are a few others, in my book, it is only right that the boycott continues.
I also recall the badges worn by many on Merseyside in the aftermath of the disaster, calling for a boycott of ALL News International titles.
I realise that Bascombe, an ostensibly unassuming, personable hack, is entitled to work for whoever he wishes. However, his air of wounded innocence at even the milder posts of criticism on the messageboards & blogs suggests that he is pretty naive not to expect at least some flak for his decision to work for a Murdoch paper.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Taking Over The Reins

In the wake of the Matthew Street fiasco, it was inevitable that some changes, however cosmetic, would take place at the Culture Company.
Yet the brief handed to Phil Redmond (,,2167770,00.html ) seems to be a case of Harborrow et al throwing in the towel last week. The Guardian related that Redmond "hoped to give the programme more of a 'Liverpool-Scouse edge' by examining the city's Irish heritage and providing a 'cultural clearing project', where arts groups who made submissions for 2008 and felt they were ignored can resubmit their ideas. He also spoke of the open culture initiative, which will encourage people to engage in activities: 'I want people to know they don't have to have culture done to them--they can take part.'"
Redmond's words are welcome, but they come at the eleventh hour. Whatever takes shape in less than three months, the damage will have been done. The top-down approach of the Culture Company, though understandable in some respects [assigning as much importance to the RLPO as pop acts], was never going to enthuse those for whom 2008 could have formed part of a cultural & artistic learning curve.
[It's the sort of notion which usually draws snorts of derision, but there shouldn't be any barriers to a kid in Norris Green persuing an interest and/or career in classical music.]
In addition to Redmond's appointment, the board of the Liverpool Culture Company has been reduced in number from 25 to 6, a move which confirms the widespread suspicion that those nominally in charge under the Harborrow regime had the life of Riley.
Some of Redmond's suggestions are a little fanciful at this late stage (a "Liverpool song" to rival "Maggie May", "In My Liverpool Home", etc. in the city's affections & act as a contemporary anthem).
In a damning critique of the old regime, Redmond added, "The existing board system was bureaucratic, unwieldy and slow and it is time to move forward with a new slimmer board. It will mean I can pick up a telephone and we can make instant decisions rather than waiting for board meetings. We have gone from debating to delivering the programme.'"
That final sentence should make Harborrow, Bradley et al cringe in embarrassment.
There was also a nod to the city's outskirts, hitherto excluded from the 2008 events; Redmond made a point of mentioning Croxteth & Norris Green in this context, its significance in the wake of Rhys Jones' murder clear to all.
Drummond Bone, effectively ousted as Chairman of the Culture Company, put out a suitably sugared piece of PR bullshit, expressing support for Redmond & even agreeing with the reduction in the board's size. He said that "an appropriate structure" is needed for next year. Bit late with that one, mate!
Most of the programme already unveiled for 2008 does the job for the city, a mix of popular & "high" culture striking a fair balance.
Sticking out like a Sun reader on the Kop, however, is the WAG's fashion show in June,2008. Culture? My arse!
It may seem that I think Redmond is the ideal man for the job. I don't endorse the guy. Nor, however, do I dismiss him. After the farce of the last two months, a change was badly needed. Moreover, Redmond's track record in TV drama demonstrates his creative as well as administrative abilities; "Brookside" was never my sort of thing, but it was successfully produced, & it was popular.

Lee Forde's Departure

First things first, a look back at Lee Forde's departure from the Liverpool Culture Company.
According to Liverpool Confidential, in an interview with Forde at the end of last month ( ), Forde is persuing a claim of constructive dismissal against the Culture Company. It continues, "Mr Forde, who handed in his notice three months before [LC's italics] the Matthew Street Festival fiasco, says months of frustration, caused by a lack of resources and decision making from bosses at the beleaguered Liverpool Culture Company, left him with no option but to quit."
Forde also claims that there was no increase in budget or personnel for 2007 and 2008 despite an increase in workload.
If those aren't grounds for a constructive dismissal case to be heard in court, I don't know what are.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Time To Turn The Tables

Normal cyberspace access appears to have returned (thanks, Branson, now about your shameless decision to release "Tubular Bells"...).
Meanwhile, deeep down in the subterranean swamp which is the abode of "family" campaigners (stoutly praised by moralistic MPs over the years who have been so keen on families themselves that they've had two or three), a loathesome stirring is afoot.
As Hugh Muir relates in today's Guardian diary (,,2168854,00.html ), "Yesterday activists from the Life League stepped up their anti-abortion campaigning by publishing on their website and circulating by email the addresses and private telephone numbers of the directors of Amnesty International. The charity's crime has been to change its neutral stance, in favour to supporting access to abortion for women in cases of rape, incest or violence, or where the pregnancy jeopardises a mother's life or health. Campaigners are urged to 'contact' the directors to 'politely tell them what you think regarding the recent decision'."
As Muir goes on to point out, the views of the Life League (love the alliteration, must have been after a weekend's brainstorming) warrant a little more attention. Keen to show that theirs is post-Millennial thinking (think 1000 AD, though, not the Y2K razzamatazz of seven years back), contraception degrades western society, homosexuality is deviant, sex education is a no-no & state schools encourage children to be sexually aggressive libertines, indulging in competitive copulation, the like of which is sure to keep Durex in business for years to come (I paraphrase).
Muir takes his cue from the Life League's apparent enthusiasm for open & honest communication:
"You may agree or disagree with any of these positions, and in keeping with the spirit of the times resolve to 'politely' share your views with the Life League. 'Contact' them at Trafalgar House, 11 Waterloo Place, Piccadilly, London, SW1Y 4AU. The published telephone number is 0870 240 3158. The mobile is 07977 195577."
Declared interest time: I'm a member of Amnesty, as well as an atheist who rejected Catholic strictures at the age of 17. Since when I've lived a life of left-wing, atheistic, sexually deviant (still single, no kids) debauchery, & I don't take kindly to a rag-bag of sexually repressed, tunnel-visioned, cripplingly bigoted Christian Taliban cretins trying to harass & intimidate the leaders of an organisation which I support.
Go on, do the decent thing: drop 'em a line, "politely", of course, to let them know what you think of their organisation. I'll certainly be giving them a polite call.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

An Enforced Break From Cyberspace

There's a lot to deal with, including the welcome return of the Liverpool Subculture blog & the recent civic shennanigans as 2008 starts to go down as the most wasted opportunity on Merseyside since the post-war redevelopment of the region. All those & more will be highlighted soon.
But first, a bollocking for my ISP, Virgin Media, for delivering a substandard internet service over the last fortnight. Not just that, they kept me waiting on a premium rate line (25p per minute, plus a 10p connection charge) on at least eight occasions over that period. Initially, I assumed it was a slow connection issue affecting the network. Then I realised that a local area cable had been unplugged. Getting Virgin Media to acknowledge this & reimburse me for the cost of the phone calls has been both exasperating & enraging. Great work, Branson, another fuck-up by your motley set-up & I'll be decamping to BT. OK?