THE MERSEYSIDER MAGAZINE
The print edition of The Merseysider magazine is usually published annually. Issue 2 is now sold out, but the remaining 5 back issues (including the most recent, Issue 6 [Spring 2015]) can be bought as a special offer pack for just £7.50 including postage, a saving of £5. Individual issues cost £2.50 including postage. Visit our BUY page by clicking HERE. Please note that there will not now be a 2016 print edition – apologies. We will though be continuing to add new material to this website.
SHIRLEY VALENTINE REVIEW
A brilliant revival of Willy Russell’s classic comedy Shirley Valentine is ‘both moving and hilarious’ – click HERE to read our review. The show’s at New Brighton’s Floral Pavilion until Saturday September 23.
ALL OR NOTHING
The acclaimed musical All Or Nothing is at the Storyhouse in Chester from Wednesday 27 September to Saturday 30 September. The show tells the story of Sixties mod band The Small Faces, whose years of heady success were also scarred by exploitation, betrayal and tragedy. The compelling storyline is punctuated by such timeless hits as Whatcha Gonna Do About It, Lazy Sunday, Itchycoo Park and of course All Or Nothing. Tickets are on sale now (click HERE to visit the Storyhouse website) and we’ll be reviewing the show when it opens.
Two new books from Amberley Publishing look back at Liverpool’s Sixties Merseybeat scene. The Beat Makers by Anthony Hogan is a fascinating examination of the careers of some of the period’s lesser known names (such as Kingsize Taylor, Johnny Guitar Byrne and Derry Wilkie), while The Beatles’ Landmarks In Liverpool identifies Merseyside locations with strong Beatles associations. Click HERE to read our reviews of these books.
[UPDATE: YOU CAN NOW READ OUR REVIEW OF SHIRLEY VALENTINE BY CLICKING HERE.] Willy Russell’s Educating Rita was a great success when revived at the Liverpool Playhouse a couple of years ago. Now another Russell classic, Shirley Valentine, can be seen at New Brighton’s Floral Pavilion from 18 – 23 September. The play about a disillusioned Liverpool housewife who has a life-changing holiday in Greece premiered at the Liverpool Everyman in 1986 and then took the world by storm, transferring to London and Broadway before being adapted for the big screen. For this new production Jodie Prenger stars in the role made famous by Pauline Collins. Watch this space for our review.
The Smithdown Litfest in Liverpool, which runs from Friday 29 September to Saturday 7 October, offers a wide variety of author talks and reader events. All events are FREE, but tickets should be booked in advance. Venues include Toxteth Library, Ullet Road Unitarian Church, Dovedale Towers and the Penny Lane Development Trust. Among the writers taking part are Jonathan Harvey (whose many works for stage and screen include Beautiful Thing and the sitcom Gimme Gimme Gimme); Phil Scraton (a legal adviser to the Hillsborough families and author of Hillsborough: The Truth); the novelist Jane Costello; and former Liverpool footballer Howard Gayle (the club’s first black first team player, who recently published his autobiography 61 Minutes In Munich). For more information, visit Smithdown Litfest’s website by clicking HERE.
CABARET FROM THE SHADOWS
Cabaret From The Shadows is a much acclaimed show which mixes theatre, dark comedy and live music. It’s already wowed audiences at the Brighton Fringe Festival, where it was chosen for a special repeat performance in Norway. You can see it at Liverpool’s Unity Theatre on Wednesday 20 September, as part of the Liverpool Comedy Festival. Other upcoming performances of the show, which boasts a multi-talented international cast of performers, include St Mary’s Creative Space, Chester (3 November); The Arts Centre, Edge Hill University, Ormskirk (29 November); and The Brindley, Runcorn (2 February).
FOOTLOOSE AT THE STORYHOUSE
[UPDATE: Check out our review of Footloose by clicking HERE.] Chester’s Storyhouse – the new £37m arts and leisure complex on the site of the old Odeon cinema, near the Town Hall – has been attracting lots of visitors over the summer. As well as housing Chester’s new central library there’s a theatre, a cinema, a restaurant and two bars. Highlights of the autumn season include comedians Stewart Lee and Rich Hall, folk singer Kate Rusby, dance company BalletBoyz and the Chester Literature Festival. September touring theatre productions are Footloose, Tales Of Offenbach (a pair of comic operas) and the mod musical All Or Nothing. First up is Footloose (5 – 9 September), a rock’n’roll stage musical based on the hit 1980s film – click HERE to read our review (it’s a great show!). For more information on the Storyhouse programme visit their website by clicking HERE. (Photo credit: Matt Martin)
Secret Southport, a new book by distinguished local historian Jack Smith, offers the reader a lavishly illustrated history of the local seaside town. You can read our review by clicking HERE.
PORTRAYING A NATION (TATE LIVERPOOL)
Just opened at the Tate Liverpool is a new exhibition focusing on German artworks from the tumultuous interwar years of the Weimar Republic. Portraying A Nation: Germany 1919 – 1933 (which runs until 15 October 2017) features drawings and paintings by Otto Dix and photographs by August Sander. The exhibition has had glowing reviews in the national press and on Radio Four, and you can read our own review by clicking HERE. (Above: Otto Dix, Reclining Woman on a Leopard Skin, 1927. ©DACS 2017. Collection of the Herbert Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University.)
[UPDATE: ‘A vibrant, visceral production…’ You can now read our review by clicking HERE.] The final production of the Liverpool Everyman’s highly successful repertory company season is Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. The company will be giving the classic tragedy a modern edge: the rival families become knife-wielding gangs, and Juliet becomes Julius, engaged in a dangerous gay relationship with Romeo. The play is on at the Everyman until Wednesday 7 June, with additional performances later in the month, when there’ll also be another chance to see the repertory company’s earlier productions. (Photo: Gary Calton)
LOCAL HISTORY READS
Just published are two more books of interest to local history buffs: Ken Pye’s A-Z Of Liverpool and Peter Jackson-Lee’s The Mersey Road Tunnels. Ken Pye’s book explores some lesser known aspects of Liverpool history, while The Mersey Tunnels has numerous rare photographs. Click HERE to read our reviews.
A new book tells the story of Dinky Toys, the model cars that captivated generations of British schoolboys. Frank Hornby made the toys at his Meccano factory in Binns Road, Liverpool, employing thousands of local people. Click HERE to read our review of Dinky Toys by David Busfield.
POETRY AND POP!
There’s a very promising music event lined up for this Sunday (7 May) at Peter Kavanagh’s pub in Liverpool (Egerton St). Mike Evans from the bands Liverpool Scene and Deaf School will be reading some of his poetry and spinning a selection of his favourite discs. Noted special guests are due to join in, with everything getting underway at 1pm. The organisers say it’s a celebration of Liverpool bohemia, and it ties in nicely with the 50th anniversary of the publication of the legendary Penguin Modern Poets collection ‘The Mersey Sound’.
The first production from the Liverpool Everyman’s new repertory company, Fiddler On The Roof, was a deserved hit, and it’s now followed by another revival. The Conquest Of The South Pole by German playwright Manfred Karge may not be as well known but it was widely praised when first performed in the early 1980s. It’s a dark comedy about a group of young unemployed friends who decide to inject some meaning into their lives by recreating Roald Amundsen’s expedition to the South Pole in the unlikely surroundings of an attic. The play is at the Everyman until Saturday 8 April and you can read our review by clicking HERE. (Photo: Gary Calton)
LIVERPOOL CITY CENTRE HISTORY TOUR
Liverpool City Centre History Tour (Amberley Publishing) is a new book by local historian and author Ian Collard. It’s a guided walk around central Liverpool, focusing on nearly fifty sites and buildings of historical interest. You can read our review by clicking HERE.
FIDDLER ON THE ROOF
The Liverpool Everyman’s first big production of 2017 is a revival of the smash hit Sixties musical Fiddler On The Roof. It’s on at the theatre until Saturday 11 March. CLICK HERE TO READ OUR REVIEW. (Photo: Stephen Vaughan)
SHOW ME THE WAY TO ARMADILLO
Jack Mason enjoys his food and drink, and luckily for us he also enjoys writing about it. You can read his review of Tranmere’s Armadillo Restaurant & Café by clicking HERE. You can also read more of Jack on his entertaining and informative food blog: Jack Mason Food and Drink.
A POEM FOR MIDWINTER
As everyone recovers from the Christmas frenzy and gears up for the exertions of New Year, here’s a beautifully calming poem by Kevin Cowdall: The Settling Snow. You can read it by clicking HERE. Kevin, who’s featured on our website before, is a noted local writer known not only for his poetry but also for his acclaimed novella, Paper Gods And Iron Men. He’s currently working on a new poetry collection, Natural Inclinations, which will comprise poems with a common theme of the natural world and other elements of nature. The Settling Snow will feature in the collection and we’re delighted to publish it here.
RORY STORM AND THE HURRICANES
Rory Storm and the Hurricanes were one of the very first Merseybeat groups. Ringo Starr was their drummer for three years, and they were bigger locally than the Beatles for a while, but national success eluded them and Rory tragically died aged just 34. His story is told in From A Storm To A Hurricane by Anthony Hogan (published by Amberley Publishing). Check out our review by clicking HERE.
100 YEARS OF THE CUNARD BUILDING
2016 marks the centenary of the opening of the Cunard Building, one of the Liverpool waterfront’s much celebrated Three Graces. The history of the building is charted in a new book, The Passenger’s Palace – 100 Years Of The Cunard Building Liverpool by Michael Gallagher and Tony Storey. Read Lee Ruddin’s review by clicking HERE.
THE HILLSBOROUGH DISASTER: IN THEIR OWN WORDS
‘It is hard to imagine there will ever be a more definitive account than this.’ Click HERE to read our review of Mike Nicholson’s The Hillsborough Disaster: In Their Own Words (Amberley Publishing). The author interviewed for the book many survivors of the tragedy, and others who were affected by or involved in it. It has a foreword by Margaret Aspinall of the Hillsborough Family Support Group, and Mike Nicholson will be donating his royalties to the Alder Hey Children’s Hospital.
LIVERPOOL WAR MUSEUM
The Merseyside Maritime Museum’s Battle of the Atlantic gallery, which tells the story of one of the most important aspects of World War Two, has deservedly been visited by thousands of locals and visitors to Liverpool. Lee Ruddin admires it as well, but he also strongly recommends a visit to the atmospheric Liverpool War Museum on Rumford Street, which acted as the Combined Headquarters for the North Atlantic operations of the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force. Read Lee’s article on a fascinating gateway into Liverpool’s past by clicking HERE. (Photo: Lee Ruddin)
THE WIRRAL BLITZ
The many events, articles and radio and television programmes commemorating the 75th anniversary of the World War Two Merseyside blitz have understandably focused on Liverpool, where most of the casualties occurred. This was true for instance of ‘Merseyside Blitz: An Unconquered People’, the memorial event staged at the Anglican Cathedral by BBC Radio Merseyside on Tuesday 3 May. But did this event also illustrate a tendency to overlook the bombs dropped on Wirral, where hundreds of people were killed and thousands of homes destroyed or damaged? Lee Ruddin considers this question in his informative and thought-provoking article Wirral Blitz: An Unnoticed People (click HERE to read it). We have previously published other excellent articles by Lee on the Merseyside blitz – for details see further down this page.
We were very sorry to hear of the death of the former Beatles’ press officer Tony Barrow. He coined the phrase ‘the Fab Four’ and was a key member of Brian Epstein’s management team. Tony and his wife Corinne were regular readers of The Merseysider and his support for the magazine was much appreciated. With characteristic generosity he described our feature on him as the most accurate account of his career he’d ever read. The article, based on a lengthy interview with Tony, tells a fascinating story. His involvement in the music industry began as a Crosby schoolboy, when he secured a part-time job reviewing records for the Liverpool Echo (on visits to the Echo’s offices he would hide his school cap in his pocket). You can read the article by clicking HERE. Our sincere condolences to Tony’s family. (Photo: The Tony Barrow Collection)
As we’ve previously noted (see below), 2016 is the 75th anniversary of the May Blitz, seven nights of dreadful bombing raids on Merseyside during World War Two. Many families in the region will have particular reasons for thinking of those events, recalling relatives who were killed, their own experiences during the raids or stories they have been told by older family members. Lee Ruddin’s article Best Blitz Books (click HERE) recommends three books about the bombing of Merseyside, including Merseyside Blitzed by Neil Holmes (shown above). And if you missed The May Blitz: Seven Days That Rocked Liverpool, a BBC1 programme (broadcast on 6 May) that included interviews with several survivors of the May 1941 bombing raids, it should be available soon on BBC i-Player (click HERE).
2016 marks the 75th anniversary of the May Blitz, the seven nights at the beginning of May 1941 when the bombing of Merseyside reached its peak. It was the most intense series of air raids experienced by any British city region outside of London during the war, and more than 1,700 people were killed. Lee Ruddin’s absorbing article Blitz (Di)spirit investigates how Merseysiders reacted to the attacks and to previous bombing raids. Lee’s researches reveal that the standard account of cheerful defiance in the face of adversity doesn’t quite tell the whole story. You can read his article by clicking HERE. (You can also still read on our site David Subacchi’s poem ‘May Blitz’ – click HERE.)
Popular local writer Kevin Cowdall has just released his second e-book, Assorted Bric-a-brac, on Amazon Kindle. Kevin is known for his much praised World War Two novella Paper Gods and Iron Men, as well as for his poems, which have appeared in numerous magazines, anthologies and websites (including The Merseysider). His poems have also featured on BBC local radio stations. Assorted Bric-a-brac is an anthology of fifty poems, including some drawn from previous collections and some that are newly published. To find out more about Kevin and his work, visit his website: www.kevincowdall.com
On The Waterfront is an exhibition (running until 19 June 2016) at the Merseyside Maritime Museum. It marks the 300th anniversary of Liverpool’s Old Dock and aims to show how the waterfront has changed and developed in the years since, including the impact it has had on the city and the lives of local people. Lee Ruddin has visited the exhibition and you can read his interesting and informative review by clicking HERE. (Photo: Liverpool Landing Stage, 1937. Stewart Bale Collection, ©National Museums Liverpool)
LIFE ON HOPE STREET
Think of Hope Street and you probably think of public buildings such as the cathedrals at either end, the Philharmonic Hall (and the Philharmonic pub of course), the Everyman Theatre and so on. But Hope Street has always also been a place to live, and in his fascinating article Life On Hope Street, Niall McChesney looks at the history of one of Liverpool’s most famous roads from a residential perspective, focusing on who lived there during the 19th and early 20th centuries. The article includes detailed information about the individuals and families who have lived at particular addresses, providing a revealing insight into Liverpool’s past. To read Life On Hope Street, click HERE.
MIKE BADGER: THE RHYTHM & THE TIDE
Mike Badger founded The La’s but his fascinating new book The Rhythm & The Tide: Liverpool, The La’s And Ever After is about much more than that, with reflections on Liverpool and its cultural scene, and memories of meeting everyone from Adrian Henri to Captain Beefheart. You can read our review by clicking HERE.
AMERICANS IN LIVERPOOL DURING WORLD WAR II - PART 3
The third and final part of Lee Ruddin’s excellent investigative series Americans In Liverpool During The Second World War is now on our website. It’s sub-titled The Ugly, and like the rest of the series is an honest appraisal, avoiding the usual romanticised assumptions and questioning how GIs have been portrayed in films such as Saving Private Ryan and the Elvis vehicle GI Blues. But he also recognises that there was much that was good (and enduring) about America’s ‘friendly invasion’ of Liverpool. It’s another informative, surprising read – click HERE to see it.
AMERICANS IN LIVERPOOL DURING WORLD WAR II – PART 2
Part 2 of Lee Ruddin’s absorbing series on Americans In Liverpool During The Second World War, sub-titled ‘The Bar’, looks at the experiences of the black American GIs who spent time in the city. Sadly, the discrimination they faced in the United States was to a considerable extent replicated here, though there were some honourable exceptions among local residents and businesses. It’s a riveting, eye-opening read and you can access it by clicking HERE.
THE PLASTIC TREE IN PRENTON
Let’s hope the new law requiring stores to charge customers for bags means sights such as that above become less common. A few years ago PVC, whose poems have occasionally appeared in The Merseysider, wrote The Plastic Tree In Prenton – a poem that now seems very timely. You can read it by clicking HERE.
AMERICANS IN LIVERPOOL DURING WORLD WAR II
As Britain’s most important transatlantic port, Liverpool has had a unique, longstanding relationship with the United States. The link was especially strong during the Second World War, when Liverpool’s crucial role in the war effort was reflected in the many Americans (politicians, GIs, military top brass) who came to the city. Lee Ruddin has now chronicled this period in his study Americans In Liverpool During The Second World War, which we’ll be publishing on The Merseysider website. Relationships between GIs and the local community, visits by American VIPs (including Eleanor Roosevelt), how friendships made during the war continued long after it was over – all this and more is covered in Lee’s fascinating account. He explains that the so-called ‘friendly invasion’ was not all sweetness and light, offering a refreshingly balanced, objective view of an important aspect of Liverpool’s history. You can read ‘The Good’, Part 1 of Americans In Liverpool During The Second World War, by clicking HERE. Parts 2 and 3 will follow soon.