The 2015 print edition of The Merseysider magazine (Issue 6) costs just £2.50 and UK purchasers can buy it directly from us post free by clicking HERE. Alternatively, the magazine is available from local retailers, including: Waterstones (Liverpool One and Birkenhead); the Liverpool Tate; News From Nowhere bookshop and Rennies art shop (both Bold St, Liverpool); Pritchards bookshop, Crosby; Literally bookshop, New Brighton; Linghams bookshop, Heswall. You can also now buy a complete set of back issues of The Merseysider – that’s 5 magazines and a heck of a lot of good reading – for just £7.50 including postage! We can post the magazines to any UK address for this specially discounted price. Click HERE to take advantage of this great offer.


BBC4 recently broadcast an interesting documentary about the artist Peter Blake. It included a lot about the creation of the Razzle Dazzle ferry. You can view the programme online by clicking HERE.


It was only a B-side to one of her singles, but for many of Cilla Black’s fans it was one of their favourite songs: you can watch a clip of her singing Liverpool Lullaby by clicking HERE.


The Hook (at the Everyman, Liverpool until 25 July) is an Arthur Miller play that’s never been staged before. Originally written as a screenplay in 1950, it was never filmed because Miller refused to bow to political pressure to change the script. It’s a powerful drama about a New York docker who challenges the mobsters who control his union. READ OUR REVIEW BY CLICKING HERE. 


Joyce’s War (published by The History Press) is the Second World War journal of Joyce Ffoulkes Parry, who was a Queen Alexandra Nurse, serving as a sister in France, on hospital ships and in hospitals in Egypt, India and the Far East. It records the authentic thoughts and experiences of a woman who for four extraordinary years in her life was a wartime nurse. The journal came to light after Joyce’s death in 1992, and it has been edited for publication by her daughter Rhiannon Evans, who lives on the Wirral. We shall be reviewing the book soon but there is an opportunity during the current Wirral Festival of Firsts to hear Rhiannon talk about the book, her mother and what the journal reveals about women’s roles during the war. The talk, which is free, is at West Kirby Library on Monday 6 July at 2.30pm. For more details visit the Festival of Firsts website by clicking HERE.   


Queens Of The Mersey JPEGTony Storey’s book Queens Of The Mersey chronicles Cunard’s association with Liverpool over the last 25 years, a period which began in 1990 with celebrations marking the 150th anniversary of Cunard’s founding – celebrations in many ways reminiscent of the recent spectacular ‘Three Queens’ event. Click HERE to read Lee Ruddin’s review of the book.


The spirit of Brazil will be taking over Liverpool again soon, with the annual Brazilica festival taking place on 17, 18 and 19 July. It’s the UK’s only Brazilian festival and samba carnival, and to get everyone in the mood there are several fringe events in the weeks leading up to the main carnival weekend. One that stands out is Marcos Valle’s appearance at the Kazimier on Wednesday 24 June. Valle’s a legendary Brazilian singer, instrumentalist, songwriter and record producer. As well as recording over 20 albums of his own, he’s also collaborated with such artists as Dizzy Gillespie, Sarah Vaughan, Roberto Carlos and Chicago. Another music event to look forward to is Nubiyan Twist and Afrosamba, at the Kazimier on Friday 10 July. Nubiyan Twist are a 12-piece British-based band, while 8-piece Afrosamba, led by singer songwriter and guitarist Pilo Adami, promise an exciting blend of Brazilian funk and samba. For information on tickets etc. visit www.thekazimier.co.uk or www.seetickets.com


Blood 1Blood, the crime film that was shot on the Wirral and in which Hilbre Island features prominently, is on BBC2 on Sunday 21 June (10pm). We reviewed it when it was first released and it’s worth catching. Cast includes Mark Strong, Brian Cox, Paul Bettany and Stephen Graham. Click HERE to read our review.


[UPDATE: Our Jam Butty Bonanza!! page now has photos, cartoons, poems and more.] Summer’s in full swing now and in the spirit of the great Ken Dodd we invite you to celebrate midsummer madness with a JAM BUTTY BONANZA!! Between now and the end of June send us photos of your own jam butties, or of people eating them – in fact anything jam butty related. For more info, and to read a new poem by PVC that will get you in the mood, click HERE.


As Liverpool FC’s owner John Henry famously noted in a speech, Boston and Liverpool are similar cities in many ways – from the distinctive accents of the natives to their historic maritime past. We explore these links in our in-depth feature, Boston: America’s Liverpool. The feature includes some great photos, plus Spanner’s cartoon of John Henry! You can read it by clicking HERE.


‘Terrific…has all the ingredients of a modern classic.’ For the first time ever, a Coen Brothers film has been adapted for the stage – and the results are tremendous. The 1994 film of The Hudsucker Proxy starred Paul Newman, Tim Robbins and Jennifer Jason Leigh in the tale of an ordinary guy who unexpectedly finds himself in charge of a huge American company and invents the hula hoop. The new stage version of the comedy has just opened at the Liverpool Playhouse, where performances continue until Saturday 27 June. READ OUR REVIEW OF THE HUDSUCKER PROXY BY CLICKING HERE.


Our Three Ships Photo Gallery now has more photos. Check them out by clicking HERE. 


The Three Ships weekend is now well underway with the arrival of the Queen Mary 2. It was a murky morning as she arrived in Liverpool but we’ve got some great early shots in our Three Ships Photo Gallery (click HERE). We’ll be adding more over the next couple of days as the event gets into full swing.


UPDATE: READ OUR REVIEWS: CONSTELLATIONS (CLICK HERE) & BEATING BERLUSCONI! (CLICK HERE) Beating Berlusconi! and Constellations, two much acclaimed hit plays, are on their way to Liverpool’s Everyman and Playhouse theatres respectively. Beating Berlusconi! (written by John Graham Davies) is no stranger to Liverpool audiences, having premiered in the city seven years ago. Since then the comedy has been enjoyed by audiences across the country as well as abroad. It’s based on the true story of a Liverpool fan who travelled to Istanbul to watch the club play AC Milan in the 2005 Champions League final and found himself sitting next to Italian president Silvio Berlusconi. It’s an hilarious one-man show in which Paul Duckworth (above) plays no fewer than thirty characters. Beating Berlusconi is at the Everyman from Thursday 21 to Saturday 23 May. For more information, click HERE. Constellations has one more actor than the above, with Louise Brealey and Joe Armstrong starring in a play by Nick Payne which has had highly successful runs in the West End and on Broadway. It’s the story of a relationship, told in an unusually inventive way: in a succession of ‘what if’ scenes we’re shown how the smallest of things might have caused it to develop in different ways. Constellations is at the Playhouse from Tuesday 19 to Saturday 23 May. The run includes twilight and matinee as well as evening performances. For more information, click HERE. WATCH THIS SPACE FOR OUR REVIEWS! LIVERPOOL PUBSLocal historian Ken Pye‘s new book Liverpool Pubs (Amberley Publishing) tells the fascinating story of 25 of the city’s finest, from the Philharmonic and the Hole In The Wall to Ye Cracke and the Casa. Read our review by clicking HERE.


St George’s Hall’s resident orchestra, L’Orchestra dell’Arte, will give the second in their series of Mozart-related concerts on Sunday 17 May (3pm). Following on from March’s Mainly Mozart, this second performance is titled En Route to Mozart and highlights some of Mozart’s key influences, including pieces by Handel, Haydn and Vivaldi. The audience will also hear about the stories behind the music from the orchestra’s Director, Edward Peak. The concert takes place in St George’s Hall’s beautiful and historic Concert Room and tickets are just £10. For more information, click HERE


As the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Lusitania nears (see below) James Bracknell reviews another book about the famous ship. Lusitania: An Illustrated Biography is written by J. Kent Layton and you can read our review by clicking HERE.


The Liverpool String Quartet’s excellent season of concerts continues with a ‘Music from the Vineyards’ concert at the Bluecoat, Liverpool on Saturday 9 May at 7.30pm. They’ll be accompanied by guest guitarist Tony Crotty and will be playing music from four of the world’s great wine regions, namely Argentina, Italy, France and South Africa. Needless to say, some excellent wines will also be available! Tickets are £12. Book online at http://www.thebluecoat.org.uk/events/view/events/2498 or ring the ticket office on 0151 702 5324.


100 years ago, on May 7 2015, the Cunard liner the Lusitania was torpedoed by a German U-boat off the coast of Ireland, as it headed back to its home port of Liverpool. Twelve hundred people died, and several commemorative events are taking place in Liverpool to mark the centenary. A recently published book, The Lusitania Story (published by Pen & Sword Books), also looks back at the tragedy. You can read James Bracknell’s review of the book by clicking HERE.


The new ITV series Home Fires (which begins on Sunday 3 May) is based on the book Jambusters by the historian Julie Summers, who grew up on the Wirral. The book is about the experiences of women on the Home Front during the Second World War. In the latest edition (Issue 6) of The Merseysider magazine we have a feature on Jane’s grandfather, Philip Toosey, who was also from the Wirral. He was a Japanese prisoner of war and the famous war film The Bridge On The River Kwai was loosely based on his experiences. Julie’s other books include The Colonel of Tamarkan, a biography of her grandfather. In our article we talk to Julie about the book, Philip Toosey’s remarkable life and the television series Home Fires.


This year is the 74th anniversary of the 1941 May Blitz. Intensive bombing from 1 – 7 May devastated large areas of Liverpool, and Birkenhead and Wallasey also suffered. Many hundreds of people were killed. David Subacchi has written a new poem to commemorate the anniversary. Click HERE to read David’s poem ‘May Blitz’.


(UPDATE: YOUCAN NOW READ OUR REVIEW OF KING LEAR AT THE LIVERPOOL PLAYHOUSE BY CLICKING HERE.) There’s a veritable blizzard of intriguing Shakespeare productions heading Liverpool’s way over the next few weeks. At the Playhouse distinguished theatre and opera director Jonathan Miller is at the helm for a new Northern Broadsides production of King Lear, with the excellent Barrie Rutter (no stranger to the Playhouse stage, and seen above) in the title role. It’s touring the UK and is at the Playhouse from Tuesday 28 April to Saturday 2 May. For more information, visit the Playhouse’s website. And PurpleCoat Productions are staging no fewer than three Shakespeare classics in the atmospheric setting of Liverpool’s Bombed Out Church, St Luke’s at the top of Bold Street (see below). The trio comprises A Midsummer Night’s Dream (21 April and 19 May), Hamlet (30 April – 1 May) and Twelfth Night (20 – 22 May). The plays have previously had acclaimed, sell-out performances in Ireland, Liverpool’s Calderstones Park and elsewhere. PurpleCoat have a great local reputation for quality drama – for more information on tickets (priced just £7 and £5), click HERE. Watch this space for reviews soon!


The well-known local stage, radio and television personality Johnny Kennedy appears at Hoylake’s Melrose Hall on Saturday April 25 (7.30pm). He’s perhaps best known as an operatic tenor, having appeared at the London Palladium and in stage musicals including the hugely successful Liverpool Empire production Our Benny in 2009. He’s also a three times winner of the Whitbread Radio Personality of the Year award and currently broadcasts on Wirral Radio. His one-man show at the Melrose Hall, From The Privy To The Palladium, promises plenty of songs and laughter and tickets are just £5 (including tea and the usual excellent cake – or bring your own drink). For tickets and further information ring 632 2152 or 632 4548.


It was the 100th anniversary of the birth of singer Billie Holiday on 7 April 2015. Local writer Kevin Cowdall, known for his much praised World War Two novella Paper Gods and Iron Men, has written a special poem to mark the anniversary. You can read Lady Blue by clicking HERE.


Cynthia Lennon, John Lennon’s first wife, died at her home in Majorca on 1 April, 2015. The latest edition of The Merseysider magazine, published just a couple of weeks ago, includes a very nice letter from Jackie Hall, who remembered their years growing up together as close childhood friends in Hoylake. You can read it by clicking HERE. (The photograph above shows John and Cynthia Lennon outside Liverpool College of Art, 1960, with Jon Hague (kneeling) and Tony Carricker. It appears in Tune In by Mark Lewisohn, published by Little, Brown. ©Tony Carricker)


(UPDATE: You can now read our review by clicking HERE.) It’s holiday time and Liverpool’s Epstein Theatre are again proving that pantomimes aren’t just for Christmas with their Easter production of Beauty And The Beast, which runs from Thursday 2 April to Sunday 12 April. The family show is from the same team (LHK Productions) as several other successful Epstein pantomimes, including most recently Jack And The Beanstalk, a record-breaking triumph at Christmas. The frontman this time is Ritchie Neville from the Nineties pop act 5ive. He’s supported by Alison Crawford, who was the princess in Jack And The Beanstalk, and veteran Michael Chapman, the sharp-tongued pantomime dame who’s been a hit with audiences in many Epstein shows. For information on tickets etc. visit the Epstein’s website by clicking HERE.


This year’s Solid Silver 60s tour has no fewer than three local acts, all big stars during the Merseybeat era. Headlining is Billy J Kramer, who lives in America now and very rarely visits the UK. Mike Pender was an original member of the Searchers and the lead singer on such classics as Needles & Pins and When You Walk In The Room. Finally there’s The Merseybeats, known for superb singles like Sorrow and I Stand Accused. Apart from the Liverpool contingent, the strong line-up also includes Chris Farlowe, often described as Britain’s greatest white blues singer, and P P Arnold, another soulful singer whose memorable recordings include The First Cut Is The Deepest and Angel Of The Morning. It should be a great show and there are two chances to see it on Merseyside: Southport Theatre (Friday 27 March – click HERE for details) and Liverpool Philharmonic Hall (Friday 3 April – click HERE)  


On a recent episode of BBC1’s Big Painting Challenge, five amateur artists were given a series of tasks in which they had to depict various aspects of Liverpool, including (as shown above) the view of the city’s waterfront from New Brighton. You can watch the programme on BBC iPlayer by clicking HERE.


New Brighton’s Literally… bookshop have their monthly book fair at New Brighton’s Floral Pavilion on Saturday 14 March. Loads of interesting books plus a chance to buy the new issue of The Mersysider magazine – which coincidentally has a major feature on New Brighton past and present…


There’ll be worldwide celebrations of St Patrick’s Day on Sunday 15 March. Closer to home there’ll be a special service at St Francis De Sales Church in Hale Road, Walton, Liverpool L4 at 10.30am. Afterwards the Deputy Lord Mayor, Tony Concepcion, will present the shamrock before refreshments and buffet at the Campfield in Heyworth Street, L5.


(Our review of Twopence To Cross The Mersey is now online: click HERE to read it.) Helen Forrester’s Twopence To Cross The Mersey is very well known as both an autobiographical book and, later, a stage musical which over a period of five years (beginning in 2004) had four very successful runs at the Liverpool Empire. Now it’s back in another format, as a straight stage play. Twopence To Cross The Mersey tells the true story of a young girl (Helen) and her wealthy family who experience financial calamity during the Depression of the 1930s. They move from the West Country to Liverpool, where they encounter the harsh realities of life in the city’s slums. The new play’s cast includes several familiar faces, such as Christopher Jordan, Emma Dears and Eithne Brown. It will be performed at several Merseyside theatres: Epstein Theatre, Liverpool (10 – 28 March), Southport Theatre (9 – 11 April), St Helens Theatre Royal (14 – 16 April), Floral Pavilion, New Brighton (19 – 23 April). Read our review: click HERE.


In a recent BBC Radio 4 programme Liverpool actor David Morrisey celebrated the theatre director, broadcaster and nightclub entrepreneur Roger Hill – the man who helped inspire Morrisey to become an actor. Hill’s period as director at the Everyman Youth Theatre coincided with the emergence of such talent as Ian Hart, Cathy Tyson and Stephen McGann. In the programme Morrisey reminisces with Roger Hill (known for years as ‘the man with the Mohican’) and speaks to some of those whose careers he helped to shape. You can listen to Man With The Mohican on BBC iPlayer by clicking HERE.


David Charters’ play A Dream of Wilfred Owen returns to Liverpool’s St George’s Hall on Friday 13 March (7.30pm), following its successful first performance in October 2014. A Dream of Wilfred Owen tells the poet’s story from the perspective of his ghost, who recalls real and imagined episodes from his life, including growing up in Birkenhead and serving in the First World War. David Charters himself plays the ghost, accompanied on stage by narrator John Gorman (the well-known local arts champion and member of Scaffold) and Wirral singer Lucy Mayhew. For more information, visit the St George’s Hall website. [Our competition for two free tickets to the play has now been won. In case you were wondering, the answer was that all three of Wilfred Owen’s childhood homes in Birkenhead survive.] (If you haven’t yet read it, click HERE for our article on Wilfred Owen’s Birkenhead years.)


The 1808 glasshouse

The 1808 glasshouse

Liverpool’s Botanic Gardens have a fascinating history, dating back more than 200 years to a meeting held in the Liverpool Dispensary on Church Street in 1800. Steve Lyus’s article gives a detailed account of the Gardens’ history – you can read it by clicking HERE


Anthony Hogan’s Merseyside At War (Amberley Publishing) looks at the part that Merseysiders played in both world wars, and also at life on the home front during these periods. You can read Lee Ruddin’s detailed review by clicking HERE.


Welcome back to Liverpool’s Simon Rattle, who’ll be returning to England in 2017 to be music director of the London Symphony Orchestra, after what will be 15 years in Germany as principal conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. You can read about Simon’s favourite choices of music in our feature on Merseysiders who’ve appeared on Desert Island Discs (click HERE), which also has some great caricatures by Spanner, including Simon (above), George Melly, John Bishop and more. Maybe Simon will find the time to do some guest conducting for the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, which celebrates its 175th anniversary this year. To mark the anniversary, Classic FM has a day of radio programmes broadcast live from Liverpool on Thursday 12 March.


The Wirral History and Heritage Fair takes place on Saturday 7 March (10am – 4pm) at Birkenhead Town Hall, Hamilton Square. This is a great FREE event: books, magazines, memorabilia, local history societies and more!


Any new series from our own Jimmy McGovern is a must-see television event. His latest, Banished - which he considers the best thing he’s ever written – starts on BBC2 on Thursday 5 March (9pm). He’s known of course for his hard-hitting treatment of contemporary issues, but Banished intriguingly takes us back more than 200 years to Australia’s very first penal colony. The 7-part series begins in 1788, soon after the arrival of the First Fleet – the eleven ships that transported more than a thousand convicts from Britain. The cast includes Myanna Buring, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Russell Tovey (seen left to right above). Jimmy spoke about the series this week on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row (click HERE to listen to it on i-Player). The next print edition of The Merseysider magazine will include an in-depth interview with Jimmy McGovern, in which he talks about Liverpool, politics, his long writing career and more!


The Liverpool String Quartet’s very successful 2014/15 concert series continues with ‘A Musical Timeline’ at the Bluecoat on Friday 6 March (7.30pm). The evening will show how music has evolved over the centuries with an amazingly varied selection of pieces taking the audience from 900AD through to the 21st century – medieval, renaissance, baroque, romantic, contemporary and more! Tickets are just £10 (£5 for under-18s and students). Book online by clicking HERE or ring the ticket office on 0151 702 5324.


On Wednesday 4 March (7.30pm) there’s an ‘In Conversation’ event with Ricky Tomlinson at St George’s Hall. These are always interesting events, in which questions from host Mike Neary are combined with live performances of some of the guest’s favourite pieces of music (we reported on Michael Heseltine’s appearance last year). For the Ricky Tomlinson event, music will be provided by five acts: country singer Charlie Landsborough, soprano Rachael Russell, ukulele duo The Mersey Belles, singer songwriter Sam Westhead and the 20-strong Formby Brass Band. The interview will be accompanied by stills and clips from Ricky’s long and varied career, which has included appearing in local clubs in his younger days as country act Hobo Rick, acting roles in The Royle Family, Brookside and Cracker, and during his time as a trade union activist serving a controversial prison sentence for picketing. A lot to talk about! For more information about the event, click HERE.


It’s Global Scouse Day on Saturday 28 February – a perfect time to try out The Merseysider’s revolutionary MEAT FREE (but still extremely tasty) Scouse recipe – click HERE to read more!


Veteran actor Jack Shepherd (known for Wycliffe and much more) stars in Classic Ghosts, a double bill of chilling ghost story stage adaptations at New Brighton’s Floral Pavilion. Charles Dickens’s The Signalman and M R James’s Oh, Whistle And I’ll Come To You, My Lad are both classics of the genre which have previously been adapted for BBC TV productions. The plays are on from Tuesday 24 to Saturday 28 February. READ OUR REVIEW.


Port Sunlight’s Lady Lever Art Gallery celebrates the Chinese New Year with a host of free events and activities from Thursday 19 to Saturday 21 February. Developed with the help of the Wirral Chinese Association, the programme includes colourful lion and dragon dances, Chinese storytelling and calligraphy demonstrations. Every day from 1 – 4pm there are drop-in craft workshops for families, giving children the chance to make masks, collages and Chinese zodiac animals. Chinese New Year events are also taking place at other Merseyside museums – visit the Liverpool Museums website for details.


Iain Hume’s a Tranmere Rovers player with an interesting history. Born in Scotland, he’s played over 40 games for Canada and after spells with clubs including Leicester and Preston North End he played in the Indian Super League, where he was named player of the tournament. Now he’s back at Tranmere, where he began his professional career in 1999. In a Guardian feature on Iain Hume that you can read on the newspaper’s website he speaks about his career to Paul Wilson.  


It’s 35 years since Willy Russell’s Educating Rita wowed audiences in Liverpool and London. Now it’s back at the Playhouse, and you can read our review by clicking HERE.


This is an event for anyone with an interest in outdoor adventure. The Banff Mountain Film Festival is a two and a half hour programme of films from the global mountain sports community, featuring such activities as climbing, skiing, mountain biking and kayaking. The Festival takes place every year in the Canadian Rockies, and a selection of the best films then goes on a world tour (this is the sixth). From January to June the Festival is touring the UK, arriving in Liverpool on 20 February, when the films will be shown at the Plaza cinema, Crosby. In all the Festival will be visiting 45 different countries, and it’s estimated the films will be seen by more than 300,000 people worldwide. For more details, visit the Banff Mountain Film Festival website.


Only In England is an exhibition at the Walker Gallery (from 13 February to 7 June) featuring the work of two internationally renowned photographers: Tony Ray-Jones (who died in 1972) and Martin Parr. There are over 100 images by Ray-Jones, taken between 1966 and 1969 and illustrating his humorous yet melancholic approach to English customs and identity. His photographs recorded ordinary English life and were a radical departure from anything else being produced at the time. Parr (who’s also known for his photographs of New Brighton) is represented by images from The Non-Conformists, a series of black and white photographs taken in the 1970s in Hebden Bridge in Yorkshire and the surrounding Calder Valley. The exhibition has previously been at London’s Science Museum. For more information, visit the Walker Gallery website. (Photo: Blackpool, 1968 by Tony Ray-Jones. Copyright National Media Museum)


The Atkinson, Southport’s new arts centre, is continuing to grow and late last year saw the opening of the new Egyptology Gallery. The final part of the museum opened on 13 February: a permanent exhibition titled Between Land and Sea – 10,000 Years of Sefton’s Coast. This explores the rich and varied history of the Sefton area and its coastline. There are exhibits relating to numerous people and events associated with Sefton’s history, including Frank Hornby (who invented Meccano, Dinky toys and Hornby model trains), cartoonist Frank Hampson (creator of Dan Dare), the Bootle blitz of 1941 and the Stone Age mother and child who left their footprints on Formby sands. For more details, visit the Atkinson website.


He may still be waiting for his deserved knighthood or peerage, but Ken Dodd’s just been named Oldie of the Year by the popular Oldie magazine. He’s on the cover of the latest issue and there’s a nice article inside by Craig Brown. (Hope everyone caught our interview with Ken in the 2014 edition of The Merseysider…)


The Lantern Theatre in Liverpool’s Blundell Street often stages excellent, high quality drama (we reviewed their fine production of The Caretaker last year), and on Thursday 12 February (7.30pm) there’s the chance to see the world premiere of an intriguing new play, Winona by acclaimed Welsh writer Christopher T Harris. A brother and sister are living quietly in a cottage in the Welsh valleys, but their rural tranquillity is disrupted when they see a stranger outside raise a gun to his head. Director Natalie Evans describes it as ‘a very exciting piece of drama’, featuring ‘three young, passionate actors’ (Andy Evans, Lesley-Staum Lewis and Ally Goodman – seen above). The play is only on at the Lantern for one night, before embarking on a tour that takes in Cardiff, Cheltenham and Aberystwyth. [UPDATE: YOU CAN NOW READ OUR REVIEW OF WINONA]


Mark Davies Markham, who’s from Liverpool, has written extensively for television, radio and stage. His most recent success is Taboo, a hit London musical about the life of Boy George. BBC Radio 4 Extra recently repeated Absent, his play about a Liverpool electrician who’s unaware that his wife of 11 years has had enough of him. To hear it on BBC iPlayer, click HERE.


An exhibition by Wirral school students is at the Lady Lever Art Gallery, Port Sunlight from 8 February to 19 April. Fresh Perspectives: Art From Wirral Schools includes paintings, photography and textiles, and features work by GCSE and A level students from several schools. The exhibition is a biennial event and this is the second time it’s been held at the gallery. For more information, visit www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/freshperspectives


On Friday 13 February (7.30pm) at Liverpool’s Bluecoat there’s an evening of romantic strings and poetry hosted by the Liverpool String Quartet. There’ll be prosecco wine, canapés and classical guitar (played by Tony Crotty) on arrival, followed by the main concert at 8pm. The evening is billed as for anyone with a romantic soul (not just couples!). Tickets are £20 and you can book online at http://www.thebluecoat.org.uk/events/view/events/2495 or ring the ticket office on 0151 702 5324.


Fans of Merseybeat have a treat in store on Saturday 28 February at Liverpool’s Epstein Theatre. A special concert is taking place to support the campaign to raise funds for the creation of a statue of Brian Epstein. The Statue4Eppy show will be hosted by Billy Butler and among the 60s performers appearing are Cy Tucker, Faron, Beryl Marsden (above), Ray Ennis, Karl Terry, Billy Kinsley and Tony Crane. Their segment of the show is titled The Spirit of the Cavern, while another segment called The Legacy of the Cavern will feature more contemporary artists, including Ian Prowse, the Mona Lisa Twins and Millie Courtney. For more information, click HERE


LEAF in Liverpool’s Bold Street hosts a FREE screening of the documentary film Liverpool: Beyond The Beatles on Sunday 8 February at 7.30pm. The film explores the city’s contemporary music scene, with performance footage and interviews with music industry figures and music journalists. Among those featured are Kevin McManus, Paul Du Noyer and Craig Pennington. For more details, click HERE.


Tony Blades, one of our contributors, is trying to rally opposition to proposed construction work in Rock Ferry, including the demolition of the Grade 2 listed Ravenswood House. To read his letter of protest, click HERE.


Lizzie Nunnery’s Take Me To Hope Street is an atmospheric ghost story recently broadcast on BBC Radio 4. You can still hear it on BBC i-Player (click HERE).


Ray McFall, who owned the Cavern club during its Sixties heyday, has died aged 88. He’s shown on the right above with Cavern DJ Bob Wooler. You can read the Daily Telegraph’s detailed obituary by clicking HERE.


20-year old Adam Woods’s father suffered from dementia before he died, and that has motivated Adam to raise money for the charity Dementia UK. He’s organising a Take That Tribute night at the Floral Pavilion (New Brighton) on Friday 23 January, with special guests including James Smith (a Britain’s Got Talent finalist last year). Danielle McMahon from a recent Big Brother series will be the show’s host and Wirral’s Mayor will be attending to lend his support. Adam’s last such event raised three thousand pounds for Dementia UK. You can find out more about the January concert by clicking HERE.


Last year’s hit seasonal adult comedy Dreaming Of A Barry White Christmas is back, and can be seen at the Echo Arena Auditorium until 3 January 2015. It features a Scrooge-like central character, played by Andrew Schofield (above). Click HERE to read our review. 


Lee Ruddin recently reviewed for us Stephen McGreal’s Wirral In The Great War (you can read the review by clicking HERE). Now he gives us his view of a recently published companion volume by the same author, Liverpool In The Great War, a study of the Liverpool home front during the First World War. Click HERE to read this latest review. 


Check out our Books Round-Up 2014 - an overview of Merseyside-related books published in the last year, focusing specifically on Local History, Sport and Fiction. If you’re looking to buy someone a gift, or want to treat yourself, you might get some ideas. Click HERE.


With two reality TV stars heading the cast, our reviewer was a bit sceptical ahead of seeing Jack And The Beanstalk at Liverpool’s Epstein Theatre. But did the show win them over? Find out by clicking HERE.


‘…deserves to be a spectacular hit.’ Our reviewer loved Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at the Floral Pavilion, New Brighton – find out why by clicking HERE.


With almost everywhere else staging pantomimes, the Liverpool Playhouse is aiming at the grown-ups with Sex and the Three Day Week, a Stephen Sharkey comedy that’s adapted from a classic French farce. With Ken Dodd providing the voice of a mynah bird, the production’s already guaranteed a place in show business history! Read our review by clicking HERE.


The Liverpool String Quartet’s recent ‘Classic Beatles’ concert at the Nordic Church (see below) was a sell-out success! Their special Christmas Concert at the Bluecoat, Liverpool on Friday 12 December (7.30pm) is likely to be just as popular. The programme will include Prokoviev’s ‘Peter And The Wolf’, Howard Blake’s ‘The Snowman’ and Christmas carols sung by Matt Lammin and Friends. Sounds like the perfect way to get you in the Christmas mood. Tickets are £10 (£5 for under-18s and students). You can buy them from the Bluecoat reception or from the violin workshop in the Bluecoat garden. They’re also available online or by phone (0151 702 5324). For more information, click HERE.


Having decamped for three years to the Liverpool Playhouse, the Everyman’s legendary rock’n’roll pantomime has returned to its old home with Little Red Riding Hood. And it looks like the Everyman has another hit on its hands. For our review, and more pictures, click HERE. (Photo: Brian Roberts)


Holly & The IvyThe Holly And The Ivy, a vintage Christmas play by Wynyard Browne, is at the Floral Pavilion, New Brighton for a short run beginning on Thursday 27 November. A family gathering at the home of an elderly vicar is the cue for some unpleasant skeletons to emerge from the family cupboard. There are evening performances (7.30pm) on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, with additional matinee performances (2.30pm) on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. For more information, click HERE to visit the Floral Pavilion website. (‘Darker than you might expect…an intelligent and absorbing play.’ Click HERE to read our review of The Holly And The Ivy.)


The Christmas Bazaar at the Nordic Church on Liverpool’s Park Lane on Saturday November 22nd was a great success. Click HERE to see some photos of the event.


Good luck to Fara Williams, who’ll be playing against Germany for the England women’s football team at Wembley on Sunday 23 November. Fara plays for the Everton women’s team and has 130 England caps. She told her remarkable story recently in a lengthy interview for the Guardian newspaper. Originally from London, she was actually homeless, moving from hostel to hostel, during her early years playing for England. Fara says her salvation was moving to Liverpool and the support she received from Everton. You can read the interview by clicking HERE.  


There have been many highlights in Ken Dodd’s long career, some of which featured in our interview with him for Issue 5 of The Merseysider magazine. But here’s a first: he’ll be the voice of Tom, a mynah bird, in Sex and the Three Day Week at the Liverpool Playhouse. The comedy is on from Friday 5 December to Saturday 10 January. For more information, click HERE.


New Brighton’s Floral Pavilion will be hosting major shows from a couple of big-name local acts. Liverpool legends Deaf School are at the venue on Sunday 23 November. The show will be recorded and some of the tracks will feature on a new album from the band next year. Southport’s Marc Almond will be opening his 2015 tour at the theatre on Thursday 16 April. For more details, click HERE.


There are three solid hours of Liverpool comedy on Radio 4 Extra on Saturday November 22nd, hosted by Paul O’Grady - archive material from Arthur Askey, Rob Wilton, Tommy Handley, Ken Dodd, Alexei Sayle and more. For more details, click HERE.


Continuing our focus on books in the run-up to Christmas, here’s one for lovers of romantic fiction: Bramblewell Star, by local author Victoria Somerled. Click HERE to read our review.


The Liverpool String Quartet’s 2014/15 season has featured here before (see below) and it continues on Friday 28th November (7.30pm) with Classical Beatles, a concert which will see Beatles songs given original String Quartet arrangements – a chance to hear familiar favourites given a new classical twist. The venue this time is one of Liverpool’s most atmospheric churches, the beautiful Nordic Church on Park Lane, Liverpool 1. Tickets are £10 (£5 students and under-18s) and can be booked online (click HERE) or at the Violin Workshop in the Bluecoat Garden. Incidentally, Michael from the Violin Workshop is on Linda McDermott’s Radio Merseyside show on Friday 14 November (10pm) with Oscar winning American composer James Horner, plus sister and brother violin/cello duo Mari and Hakon Samuelson from Norway. James Horner’s music has graced a host of famous films, including Titanic, Aliens, Braveheart, Apollo 13, Casper, The Grinch and Spiderman.


You can now read on our website Tony Blades’s short story Charlotte Solves The Case, a Victorian mystery in the Sherlock Holmes tradition. Click HERE.


In the months leading up to Christmas we’ll be reviewing and recommending some books that might be of interest to Merseyside readers. First up is Wirral In The Great War by Stephen McGreal, which looks at a somewhat neglected aspect of local history: the part played in the First World War by our Home Front, specifically civilians on the Wirral. You can read Lee Ruddin’s review by clicking HERE.


The annual Art Exhibition at the Melrose Hall, Hoylake takes place on Saturday 15 November (10am – 4pm, free admission; refreshments available). It’s a great opportunity to see quality art by local artists, much of which will be for sale at very reasonable prices. It’s one of the many interesting and entertaining events that Melrose Hall continues to host. On Saturday 8 November (7.30pm) for instance Lormac Productions present a concert titled Hoylake Remembers – an evening of wartime memories. Tickets are £5, which includes a cup of tea and a slice of delicious cake. Or if you’re in a party mood and fancy something stronger, you can bring your own alcohol! Telephone 632 2152 or 632 4548 for tickets, or call in at the HELP shop on Market Street, Hoylake.


New books are appearing at a phenomenal rate in the run-up to Christmas, and Waterstone’s Liverpool One has several interesting author events in the coming weeks. On Wednesday 22 October (6.30pm, tickets £4/£3 for Loyalty Card holders) acclaimed novelist Linda Grant – whose previous books include the Booker shortlisted Still Here – will be back in her native city to talk about Upstairs At The Party, her new novel about a young Liverpool girl’s experiences at a Yorkshire university in the 1970s. The following week (Wednesday 29 October, 6.30pm, tickets £3/£2), Frank Cottrell Boyce will be speaking to actor Chris Dowd (IT Crowd, Bridesmaids) and screenwriter Nick V Murphy about Moone Boy: The Blunder Years, their novel for younger readers based on the award-winning Sky television series ‘Moone Boy’. Then on Thursday 30 October (6.30pm, tickets £3/£2) historian (and Labour Shadow Minister for Education) Tristram Hunt will be discussing his book Ten Cities That Made An Empire, which examines ten world cities of crucial importance to the British Empire – including, of course, Liverpool. For more information on all these events, ring 0151 709 9820. There are also plenty of free in-store signings coming up, including several with a sporting theme. Anfield legend David Fairclough will be signing copies of Arnie Baldursson’s Liverpool – The Complete Record on Saturday 25 October (11am). Another Liverpool FC signing session sees Jegsy Dodd, whose diary of last season On The Road With The Redmen has just been published, at the store on Saturday 15 November (11.30am). And on Tuesday 11 November (12pm) wrestler and metal rocker Chris Jericho will be signing copies of his comic memoir The Best In The World: At What I Have No Idea.  


Liverpool String QuartetThe acclaimed Liverpool String Quartet perform their first concert of the 2014/15 season on Friday 17 October at the Bluecoat (School Lane, Liverpool). Entitled TV Heaven, the concert will be a celebration of the best themes and melodies to be found in the world of television, from advertisements to period dramas. The Liverpool String Quartet, founded in 2010, is made up of four outstanding musicians, all of whom are members of, or collaborate regularly with, the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. They’ve had several international tours and their local concerts have included performances at St George’s Hall and the Anglican Cathedral. Their 2014/15 season offers the opportunity to see them in a more intimate setting at the Bluecoat. Tickets are £10 (£5 concessions, including under-18s and students) and can be booked online (click HERE), by telephone (0151 702 5324) or from the Bluecoat reception or the violin workshop in the Bluecoat garden. For more information about the Liverpool String Quartet, visit their website by clicking HERE. (The season’s sponsor is Liverpool One’s award winning Spanish restaurant Lunya, just a minute’s walk away at 18-20 College Lane [www.lunya.co.uk Tel. 0151 706 9770]. They’re offering concert goers a pre and post concert special, which includes patatas bravas with spicy tomato sauce and allioli and drink for £5 on production of a concert ticket.) 


Photo: Dave Turley

Photo: Dave Turley

There’s some great music coming up soon at the Atkinson arts centre in Southport.  On Friday (October 10) there’s a chance to see Lunasa, Ireland’s leading traditional instrumental band (Mojo magazine has called them ‘the new gods of Irish music’). Then on Saturday (October 11) legendary Liverpool group The Christians (above) play at the venue. And the following weekend (Sunday October 19) Sixties soul great Steve Cropper (below) tops the bill at the first Southport Blues Festival. As a member of the Stax Records house band guitarist Steve Cropper backed artists such as Otis Redding, Sam & Dave and Eddie Floyd. He also co-wrote numerous hits, including Sitting On The Dock Of The Bay, In The Midnight Hour and Knock On Wood. The Atkinson continues to host many other quality cultural events, including Sea Change, an exhibition of art inspired by the north west coast, which we’ve mentioned before (see below – this exhibition ends on 9 November). For more information on what’s happening at the Atkinson click HERE.  JUNO AND THE PAYCOCK

With the Liverpool Irish Festival coming later in the month, it’s a good time for the Playhouse to be staging Sean O’Casey’s classic play Juno and the Paycock, starring Niamh Cusack and Des McAleer. Click HERE to read our review.


As the Hillsborough inquests jury continues to hear evidence, you can now read on our website David Subacchi’s powerful poem ‘Hillsborough Revisited’, written in response to the inquests. David’s a well known local poet and his poem ‘A Cathedral Still’ appeared in Issue 2 of The Merseysider magazine. To read ‘Hillsborough Revisited’ and to find out more about David and his work, click HERE.


John Godber’s comedy April In Paris – starring Joe McGann and Shobna Gulati – is at the Floral Pavilion, New Brighton for a short run that ends on Saturday 27 September. Read our review by clicking HERE.


Congratulations to Rose Wylie, winner of the 2014 John Moores Painting Prize. Rose is first left above, with two of the other shortlisted artists and Alexei Sayle, whose BBC4 programme about the prize was broadcast on 21 September. You can see more of our photos from the prizewinner’s  event by clicking HERE. You can also still read our feature on all five shortlisted artists and their paintings by clicking HERE. And you can still see all 50 paintings selected for exhibition at the Walker Art Gallery until 30 November.


2014 is proving to be a great year for football books. We’ve already mentioned Brian Viner’s Everton book Looking For The Toffees (see below), and now there are two more cracking reads, both published by deCoubertin Books.Make Us Dream WEB Make Us Dream is an account of Liverpool’s unforgettable 2013/14 season, from the perspective of two diehard fans, Neil Atkinson and John Gibbons (hosts of the well-known award-winning radio show The Anfield Wrap). We travel through the season with them as they reflect on each game and on the unpredictable twists and turns that characterised last year’s title race. Other fans chip in with their observations as well, and the book is further enriched by digressions on all manner of football-related topics and by entertaining insights into what Atkinson and Gibbons get up to before and after each match. It’s a highly original football book that’s astute, gripping and frequently hilarious. Neil Atkinson and John Gibbons will be signing copies of their book at Waterstones Liverpool One on Saturday 13 September at 1pm.Hickson_Cover_jpeg__32515_1406727250_230_230 The Cannonball Kid is a book about the legendary 1950s Everton centre forward Dave Hickson. It’s a collaboration between football writer James Corbett (author of the Everton Encyclopedia, which has been described as ‘the best book ever written about Everton’) and Hickson himself, who was working with Corbett on the book when he died aged 83 in 2013. Dave Hickson grew up in Ellesmere Port and his playing career included spells with Liverpool and Tranmere Rovers – but he’s most remembered for his glorious Everton career, which saw him score 111 goals in 243 games. The book tells the compelling story of a genuine local hero, who played football in an era when many aspects of the game were completely different to today. Bill Kenwright has written the Foreword, and clearly speaks for many Evertonians when he says, ‘he will always be the greatest of them all for me.’ (Hickson had wanted causes he was associated with to benefit from the book’s publication, and royalties are to be shared between the Everton Former Players’ Foundation and the Lily Centre, a breast cancer support group.)


Chester Zoo was founded in the 1930s, and there’s an interesting looking drama series about its origins on BBC1, starting on 3 September (9pm). Our Zoo, which stars Lee Ingleby as zoo founder George Mottershead, was filmed in Liverpool. Hope it’s as good as our feature on the zoo that you can read by clicking HERE!


It was a chilly start for the 2014 Wirral Triathlon at West Kirby, where entrants began their race against the clock with a swim around the Marine Lake. Click HERE to see our photos of the event.


Brian Viner’s one of Britain’s leading journalists, having written about sport and many other topics for several national newspapers. He’s also a diehard Everton fan, and in his new book Looking For The Toffees (published by Simon & Schuster) he goes in search of his boyhood heroes, seeking out in particular players from the team of 1978: Bob Latchford, Dave Thomas, goalkeeper George Wood and others. He finds out what’s become of them, recalls his years as a teenage fan and reflects on how the world of football has changed since the Seventies. It’s a great read, evoking a time when Latchford had a shop in Formby (‘Bob Latchford Menswear’), and an astonished Brian Viner looked out of his classroom window and saw George Wood mowing the school’s lawn. Brian Viner will be signing copies of Looking For The Toffees at Waterstones, Liverpool One on Saturday 30 August (2pm).


Above is the earliest known painting of Birkenhead and the Mersey, dating back to 1767 and looking from Holt Hill, Tranmere over Tranmere Pool and Birkenhead Priory.  It’s included in a fascinating exhibition that’s just opened at the Atkinson (Lord Street, Southport). Sea Change: The Art of England’s North West Coast, which runs until 9 November, looks at how artists have been inspired by the local coastline over the centuries. Exhibits include one of L.S. Lowry’s most celebrated works, ‘July, The Seaside’. As well as paintings there’s poetry, sculpture, film and works by several prominent photographers. These include Chambre Hardman’s classic ‘The Birth of the Ark Royal’ (showing the ship at Cammell Laird’s), Picture Post photographer Bert Hardy’s iconic 1951 Blackpool Belles shot (showing two girls sitting on railings on Blackpool’s beachfront) and two exhibits from Martin Parr’s famous collection ‘The Last Resort’, portraying New Brighton in the 1980s. For more information on this great exhibition click HERE.


It’s another Beatles weekend in Liverpool (August 22 – 25) and here’s an original portrait of the Fab Four for you to enjoy! In the current edition of The Merseysider magazine Mark Lewisohn talks about Tune In, the recently published first volume in his definitive history of the group. You can also read online our interview with Crosby’s Tony Barrow, the Beatles’ press officer during their Sixties heyday (he coined the aforementioned ‘Fab Four’ catchphrase) [click HERE]. Or checkout our feature The Beatles: 50 Fabulous Facts, which focuses on 1962, the year everything changed for the band [click HERE].


Purple Coat, one of Liverpool’s most impressive theatre production companies, are staging Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night at Calderstones mansion, Calderstones Park, Liverpool on Friday 5 September (7pm). It’s the only Liverpool performance of the play in a UK tour which is taking in several other cities, including London, Dublin and Stratford. The performance of Shakespeare’s comedy will be outdoors, in the picturesque setting of Calderstones Park, which will become a Nineties Benidorm-esque seaside resort for the evening. Purple Coat were established six years ago, and their superb, innovative productions have gained them the support of many big names in the world of theatre, including Stephen Fry, Ian McKellen and the Royal Shakespeare Company. Earlier this year their Liverpool production of Harold Pinter’s The Caretaker received tremendous reviews (including from us – click HERE). For more information on Twelfth Night at Calderstones Park, click HERE.


Kevin Cowdall’s a local writer who’s featured on this website before (you can read our feature on his novella Paper Gods and Iron Men by clicking HERE). Now you can read Kevin’s moving poem War Memorial, which has a timely theme considering the World war One centenary, not to mention current international conflicts (click HERE).  


The memorable stay on Merseyside of the Draken Harald Harfagre (the world’s largest reconstructed Viking warship) has sadly come to an end, but we’ve added loads more photos to our feature on the ship – taken while it was here, and as it left Wallasey’s West Float and entered the Mersey to begin its return voyage to Norway. To see Spanner’s photos, click HERE


A while ago, we ran a feature on the five shortlisted artists in the running for 2014’s John Moores Painting Prize (to read it, click HERE). Now there’s a series of free events at the Walker Gallery, Liverpool in which each artist will talk about their shortlisted painting. It starts on Tuesday 12 August (1pm), when Rae Hicks talks about his picture Sometimes I Forget That You’re Gone (above). There are many other free events associated with the prize, including talks, tours and workshops for all ages. Click HERE to find out more.


2014’s Wirral Festival of Firsts was attended by more people than ever before, and raised a record amount for the Claire House charity. The event organisers are already looking ahead to next year, and hold their Annual General Meeting at the Holiday Inn Express, Hoylake on Tuesday 2 September (7.30pm). The Festival is run entirely by volunteers, and anyone looking to get involved in planning and running next year’s event is invited to go along. The Festival programme for 2014 included competitions in art, poetry, music, photography and radio script writing and this year’s winners were recently announced. To visit the Festival website, click HERE.


Wilfred Owen, generally recognised as Britain’s greatest First World War poet, spent much of his childhood living with his family in Birkenhead. As the centenary of the beginning of the war is commemorated, you can read our detailed exploration of Owen’s Birkenhead years by clicking HERE. (Original portrait above by Spanner)


Rowed by a hundred fearsome Viking warriors, with a colossal mast towering towards the heavens and carrying a huge billowing sail, ships such as the Draken Harald Harfagre must have been a terrifying sight when you saw them coming over the horizon. This is a reconstruction, but it’s the largest ever built and the attention to detail in its construction is extraordinary. The ship has just made its first international voyage from Norway, its destination…Wallasey! To find out more about the Draken Harald Harfagre and how you can see it – and to enjoy more of our photos – click HERE.


Liverpool’s giants are back! Click HERE to see our photos of the event.


Click HERE to read this new short story by Tony Blades. Uncle Theo Taught Me Chess is a must-read for chess enthusiasts, but anyone who likes a well-written short story should enjoy Tony’s tale.