Welcome

The 2014 print edition of The Merseysider magazine costs just £2.50. You can buy it from us post free, or from many local retailers. For more information on what’s in the magazine, and how to buy it, click HERE.

DREAMING OF A BARRY WHITE CHRISTMAS

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. 

LIVERPOOL IN THE GREAT WAR

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. 

BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS

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.

JACK AND THE BEANSTALK

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.

SNOW WHITE & THE SEVEN DWARFS

‘…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.

SEX AND THE THREE DAY WEEKKen Dodd WEB

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.

CHRISTMAS MUSIC AT THE BLUECOAT

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.

 LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD (LIVERPOOL EVERYMAN)

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)

THE HOLLY AND THE IVY

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.)

A NORDIC EXPERIENCE

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.

 A FOOTBALLER’S TALE

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.  

MAJOR COO FOR THE PLAYHOUSE

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 ROCKS

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.

 LIVERPOOL LAUGHS

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.

BRAMBLEWELL STAR

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.

CLASSICAL BEATLES

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.

 CHARLOTTE SOLVES THE CASE

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.

WIRRAL’S GREAT WAR

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.

MELROSE ART EXHIBITION

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.

BOOKS GALORE

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.  

TV HEAVEN

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.) 

IRISH, BLUES & SOUL AT THE ATKINSON

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.

HILLSBOROUGH REVISITED

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.

 APRIL IN PARIS

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.

JOHN MOORES PAINTING PRIZE – THE WINNER!

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.

THE BEAUTIFUL GAME

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.)

ZOO NEWS

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!

A DIP IN THE LAKE

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.

LOOKING FOR THE TOFFEES

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).

SEA CHANGE AT THE ATKINSON

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.

TUNE IN!

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].

TWELFTH NIGHT AT CALDERSTONES PARK

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.

WAR MEMORIAL: A POEM BY KEVIN COWDALL

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).  

VIKING MANIA!

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

BEHIND THE PICTURE

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.

WIRRAL FESTIVAL OF FIRSTS LOOKS AHEAD

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

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)

THE VIKINGS ARE HERE!

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.

RETURN OF THE GIANTS

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

‘UNCLE THEO TAUGHT ME CHESS’

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.