Thursday, January 25, 2007


LIVERPOOL is hard-up for creative ideas and bankrupt of any influence in Westminster.
Those, we are afraid, are the only conclusions to be drawn from the Royal Mint's refusal to give Liverpool its own special coin to celebrate 2008.
The outright rejection has met with the usual plethora of puns from the Echo (the habit is catching, ed) along the lines of the city being short-changed, etc, etc.
The Daily Post has launched a Culture coin campaign, while the Echo's Joe Riley has weighed in (and that's a considerable amount, ed) with his own beef about the knock-back.
Before long the great and the good will be co-erced into lending (no pun intended, ed) their public support.
This is all part of the rich but predictable tapestry of so-called sophisticated media 'debate' in Liverpool.
But it shouldn't obscure anyone to the real facts about this Culture Company bid for a celebration coin.
First and foremost, it is a pretty shitty idea.
Are we really saying that this is what we want from government for 2008?
A few baubles and trinkets, such as a specially minted coin and a postage stamp?
And then we will all be happy if Gordon Brown gives in?
How pathetic and provincial we must appear in Whitehall.
And how easily diverted we are from the real purpose of 2008 which was, and should be, to use the year to ensure the genuine and inclusive regeneration of the city.
Let's not worry about the jobs which are not being created, the communities which continue to be ignored, the people who are denied hope and the generations which deserve a better future.
No, lets have a campaign about a coin instead.
Utterly ridiculous.
The Harbarrowboy is bleating in the pages of the Echo for the people of Liverpool to get behind his campaign for a coin. (Perhaps he could give a lead by giving the people of Liverpool some of the coins back from his £175,000 a year salary? ed)
At the same time, he is now claiming the credit for Manchester's Commonwealth Games coin, (so it's not even an original idea? ed)
His pathetic demand for Liverpool to have a coin as well, serves two useful purposes -
Firstly, it demonstrates the utter immaturity of the city's cultural leadership and its total bankruptcy of creative ideas.
Secondly, it focusses even more attention on the Harbarrowboy's distinct lack of credibility anywhere near where it matters.
What has he been up to these last three years? Counting his own money?
Twice he wrote to the Treasury, appealing for a culture coin, the first time as far back as June 2004.
Twice he has been routinely ignored by the mandarins at the Mint.
So much for Liverpool's campaign to win hearts and minds in government!
We won't make any comment on what his repeated failures say about the expensive Westminster lobbying services being provided by Jase's mates in the PR company, LLM (see previous posts).
Unbelievably, the Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown is now being asked to personally intervene to reverse this so-called 'snub'.
And before long there will be the entirely predictable whinging that Manchester got one for the Commonwealth Games, and Newcastle for its bridge, why can't we have one for Culture?
This is a fair question to the simpletons deciding the fish and chip paper editorial policy of our fair city's esteemed organs.
It makes for an easy story and a headline.
But it is utterly besides the point.
A two-bit coin from the Treasury is not what we need for the great city of Liverpool, Europe's Capital of Culture and celebrating its historic 800th birthday this year.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


SO Robbing Archer is deemed irreplaceable now, it seems.
That is one conclusion to be drawn after the decision not to appoint a replacement for Robbing as Artistic Director for 2008.
The truth, of course, is this: no-one of any note wanted the job.
Those who were credible and had been directly approached had the good sense to decline.
"Someone else can sup from your poison chalice" was their general consensus.
Then we were left with nonentities, has-beens and never will be's (what, you mean the Culture Company's Directors? ed) when the council's Appointments Committee met to, er, not make an appointment.
The interviewing panel found themselves in the slightly, ahem, embarrassing position of deciding that amongst the shortlisted candidates for Robbing's job, they could find precisely no-one to fill her rather wide shoes.
Which prompts the following questions:
Which firm of headhunters was responsible for shortlisting these unsatisfactory candidates?
How much did this lengthy process cost the council taxpayers of Liverpool?
What action has been taken as a result of the failure to appoint from those who were shortlisted by the headhunters?
And did members of the Appointments Committee claim expenses for turning up to, er, do nothing?
Council Leader, Warren Bradley, trying to put his best and very bravest face on yet another Culture Company cock-up, summoned up this elegant explanation: "No-one was identified who I thought could have fulfilled the role better than what we have got already.”
So exactly who is, 'what we have got already?'
Shurely not Jase?
Or the invisible man?
Not that American bullshitter Donaldson!?
Just exactly who is Warren's Cultural Colossus who will bestride LIverpool in 2008 bestowing their creative wares on a grateful populace?
Shurely not barmy Claire McColgan? Nor any of the distinctly unimpressive Creative Team (sic) who Robbing appointed before her unseemly and hasty departure?
Put us out of our misery, Warren. Who will the people of Liverpool be able to hold accountable for the triumph that will be 2008?

Sunday, January 21, 2007



---- Original Message -----

Sent: Tuesday, January 16, 2007 11:55 AM

For Immediate Release Tuesday, January 16 2006


Landmark locations and businesses in Liverpool are being urged to fly the flag for the city’s 800th Birthday.

Distributed free of charge, businesses with flag poles are being invited throughout this January to parade a special Liverpool 800 flag.

And at 10.30am on Wednesday (January 17) the city’s official number one residence – Liverpool Town Hall – will set an example with a civic unfurling of its flag, witnessed by Lord Mayor Councillor Joan Lang and Leader of Liverpool City Council Councillor Warren Bradley.

The Liverpool Culture Company is encouraging businesses across Merseyside to support the 800th birthday year and help promote the commerce of the city in the run up to the city being European Capital of Culture in 2008.

Businesses with flag poles can request a flag, which come in two sizes - 4yard and 4ftby2ft - by e-mailing

All members of the 2008 business forum – 08businessconnect – are also being invited to display a free desktop version in their receptions, meeting rooms and on their company vehicles. Non-members can join 08 businessconnect for free to ensure they too receive a free flag, which can be picked up at the 08 place in Whitechapel from Monday 22 January.

Councillor Warren Bradley, Leader of Liverpool City Council and Business Champion for the city, said: ‘’We want businesses to lead the way and publicly set the tone for celebrating our 800th. Businesses have played a major role in making the city world famous, from Meccano to Littlewoods, and through 08businessconnect they have a unique opportunity to make a name for themselves and the city once again.’’

Lord Mayor Councillor Joan Lang, said: ''One of Liverpool’s defining characteristics is the pride people have in the city – and looking back on 800 years of dramatic history there is a huge amount to be proud of. This flag is little way of celebrating that fact. Hopefully the sight of them on our streets and in offices will stir people's spirits and remind them we have a big future too.''


PHOTO-CALL: Liverpool’s Lord Mayor and Council Leader attend civic unfurling of special 800 flag.
LOCATION: Liverpool Town Hall, High Street
DATE: Wednesday, January 17

08businessconnect will stage 13 events in 2007 offering vital opportunities for businesses of all sizes to network with key buyers and suppliers wishing to work in Liverpool in lead up to 08 and beyond. For more details log on to

For further information please call Mike Doran at the Liverpool Culture Company on 0151 233 6761 or 0780 145 3918. For the latest news from Liverpool, European Capital 2008, visit

Friday, January 12, 2007


We are pleased to announce the winner of the first ever 'I'm Tony Parrish' Award, 2006.
It goes to the person who has stood up in the last year for truth, justice and democracy and against the forces of the evil cabal.
The judges final decision, amongst a host of high quality entries from Edge Lane to Anfield, from Dale Street to Dingle and from Smithdown to Speke (this was a late entry), was unanimous.
It has been awarded in grateful recognition of all the support, help and encouragement we have received during the last campaigning year.
The winner of the first ever 'I'm Tony Parrish' Award is........
We couldn't have done it otherwise...

Wednesday, January 10, 2007


WASN'T that an utterly spectacular and fantastic start to Liverpool's 800th birthday celebrations?
The way that the Culture Company engaged all of the people of Liverpool right from the beginning of the year was immensely impressive.
Community engagement, genuine partnership working and a real creative impetus combined to give the anniversary year of 2007 a magnificent start.
No one on Merseyside can have failed to be impressed by what was on offer to celebrate this historic year.
It literally had everything.
And we are sure that further afield, in the corridors of power in Whitehall and amongst Britain's great cultural institutions, there was a pleasing recognition that Liverpool had made a huge contribution to world culture right at the start of this very special year for the city.
Such an impressive launch to 2007 certainly bodes exceedingly well for the rest of the year.
And its definitely one in the eye for all those nasty and prejudiced Jeremiahs who, with those typical Scouse whinges, had moaned and groaned about the Culture Company's plans for this year.
It was great to see the city council and the Culture Company so actively involved in providing civic leadership, putting into action a new political vision for Liverpool and finally helping to bring hope to some of the city's most deprived communities.
And after all, dear readers, that's what we are all about, isn't it?
We had to wipe away a tear from our eyes as we gratefully realised that we have been fundamentally wrong all along and these two great, powerful institutions are determined to make a real difference and to make Liverpool a force to be reckoned with once again in this, our anniversary year, with a truly world-beating offer of culture and heritage.

And to make such a brilliant start even more memorable, the planning and foresight that was shown in forseeing every eventuality shows how far the city has really come since it was last forced to cancel the traditional New Year's Eve firework display.
We really have learnt some tremendous lessons since those dark days haven't we?
Well done to everyone involved in kicking off 2007, Liverpools 800th birthday year in such spectacular fashion.
We are sure you will all wish to echo these words of gratitude.
We take back every word of utterly unfounded critiscism that we have ever uttered against the Culture Company, in particular, and the city council, which now can take its rightful place as one of the country's great municipal marvels.
We cannot apologise enough to Colin 'Cover up',(Colin Hilton, ed) The Harbarrowboy Boy (Jason Harbrow, ed) and to all of those moderately rewarded Directors and senior executives who were involved in this special launch for a very special year.
They should all be truly proud of the magnificent contribution they have already made to making 2007, Liverpool's 800th birthday, a really unforgettable year.
(Have I missed something, somewhere? ed)
(BFIA - Blog Friends International Award, ed)

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Liverpool's cultural plans for 2008 - "everything bar throwing up on a Saturday night"?

Below is an article by Michael Henderson from the Daily Torygraph about Liverpool's Capital of Culture programme. Although some of us struggled with the first part of the article, it is well worth persevering to the half-way mark (which we have helpfully marked) when it really gets into its stride about our beloved Culture Company's plans for 2008. We make no apology for belatedly reproducing the article in full, (even if it is from the Torygraph, ed) Dandy Pat

'It is lack of confidence, more than anything else, that kills a civilisation," wrote Kenneth Clark, who devoted much of his life to a famous study of the subject. "We can destroy ourselves by cynicism and disillusion, just as effectively as by bombs." Or, he might have said, by wilful neglect of what our civilisation has given us, which is a form of cynicism; the most deadly form of all.

Clark's observation came to mind this week as I sat in Amsterdam's Concertgebouw, and heard Bernard Haitink conduct the superb orchestra that takes its name from that hall in a pair of Mahler symphonies, to celebrate his 50-year association with them. It was a grand night, not least because Dutch television carried the concert live (well, almost: it was a delayed transmission) and generally made a fuss of Haitink. He is one of the great musicians of our age, and nobody doubted that his "golden anniversary" was a significant cultural event. There's confidence for you.

As everybody in the hall showered the conductor with love (without a trace of the sentimentality one sometimes sees on these occasions), the question arose: how would we have marked such an important anniversary in this country? It didn't take long to get an unequivocal answer. Next February sees the centenary of the birth of one of our greatest poets, Wystan Auden, and the BBC confessed this week that it had made no plans to honour him.


Auden was not some jobbing scribbler. He was, and remains, a towering literary figure, in a way that this year's centenary boy, John Betjeman, despite his many virtues, never was. The world (and Auden, though English, belonged to the wider world: he lived in New York for three decades, spent his summers in Ischia, and was buried in Austria) understands that distinction, even if it is lost on the team of "creative directors" at White City who pick up whacking salaries for telling one another how "innovative" and "cutting edge" they all are.

If the BBC is dismayed to receive another pounding from this quarter, then hard cheese. Its negligence in this matter, as in so many others, shames a national broadcasting organisation that is supposedly committed to making programmes of high quality. What does Alan Yentob, the head honcho in the arts department and a chap who seems to have filled every post at the corporation except chief bottle-washer, actually do for his money? Perhaps he should fetch from the library a tape of Robert Robinson's tribute to Auden that went out in September 1983, on the 10th anniversary of the poet's death, to see the sort of thing that established the BBC's reputation as an educator as well as a provider of popular entertainment.

Turn on BBC2 at 7.30pm tonight, and you will see how far we have slipped, and how little confidence we have in our inheritance: that is, in a culture that owes nothing to the fashions of the day. The ill-conceived Culture Show, one of those noisy playgrounds for trendy metropolitans who like to mooch around in leather jackets and adopt bogus proletarian accents, will announce a shortlist of candidates ("voted by you, the public!") for the honour of being the "greatest living British cultural icon".


Culture, as in the very best of human endeavour, has precious little to do with it. You will look in vain for Harold Pinter or V. S. Naipaul, Nobel laureates both, and there will be no trace of a painter such as Frank Auerbach, though Simon Rattle might be trotted out, as he usually is, to show that "we're not scared of high art". As for "icon", a word used as frequently, and erroneously, as "legend", there is no more foolproof indicator of vulgarity. Expect the list to include Kate Moss, David Beckham, a pop star or two, and a ropey comedian: in other words, the members of the usual freak show.


Alas, it gets worse. This was also the week when Liverpool, the designated European City of Culture for 2008, unveiled some of the events that visitors can expect to enjoy. There will be street festivals throughout the year (aren't there street festivals every year?), an exhibition devoted to local pop history and a celebration of black music. There is also (no word of a lie) a footballers' wives "fashion show". Are they determined to make themselves a laughing-stock, these tribunes of the people, or do they really know no better?

Silly question. Culture, a spokesman admitted during preparations for the European bid, means anything "bar throwing up on a Saturday night".

Ah, that famous Scouse humour! How much poorer our lives would be without it. As if on cue, a chap from the Tate piped up that the Gustav Klimt exhibition at the heart of the year's roistering would be about "bling, because Liverpool is very bling, and Klimt is very bling", a statement so preposterous that it deserves a prize for buffoonery beyond the call of duty.

For the benefit of those who are unfamiliar with the term, and there must be a few, bling is the ostentatious display of jewellery by the kind of aggressive young men and women whom most sensible folk would cross the road to avoid. It is intended to denote spending power and status, and radiate that least appealing of modern traits, "attitude'", which may be translated as "behaving like a twerp". Yet, in the eyes of Liverpool's cultural ambassadors, the decorative painter of Viennese jugendstil offers a lifestyle accessory for the feckless crackheads of Merseyside, and we should all have a jolly good laff because isn't that what life is all about, our kid, having a laff?

How depressing it all is. Consider how much this country has given to European civilisation, and how greatly European civilisation has enriched the world, and then consider how so many people, in positions of trust and influence, trivialise it, apologise for it, and often hold it in contempt.

The Auden insult, the BBC's youth-obsessed iconography and Liverpool's all-too-predictable inability to organise a cultural event that has any real meaning flow from the same source, the lack of confidence that Lord Clark identified as a form of corruption. No wonder that some people, who come here from different cultures, observe how little use the modern British appear to have for the institutions and values that made this country great, and conclude that they are not obliged to play their part in civic life because there is not much that is worth celebrating, or even preserving.

If you undermine the people whose achievements have helped to shape our history (in the case of Auden, a writer who helped to add a glorious chapter to English literature, which is this country's greatest gift to the world), and if instead you exalt the here-and-now because it is easier to digest, and because — in that horrible modern phrase — it "ticks all the right boxes", then in effect you disinherit every generation that follows. And, as another great poet wrote, that path leads towards oblivion: "Our children will not know it is a different country. All we can hope to leave them now is money."

How the council use Ripa to spy on you....

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