We were initially confused by news reports about the proposed high speed rail line. It’s not going direct to Liverpool, but the reports said journey times to London would be reduced to 96 minutes because there was a ‘link’ line to Crewe. It turns out this means you’d have to catch a standard train at Lime Street, then change to a faster train at Crewe. So the Manchester to London journey time will be significantly quicker (68 minutes), plus for Liverpool there will be the added disadvantage of having to change trains. Sounds like a raw deal for the city. Also it’s incredible that it’s going to take 20 years to build – would the Victorians have accepted that?!
There’s an interesting feature on the actor David McCallum (of NCIS and Man From Uncle fame) in the new Radio Times (out today). I was staggered to learn he’s now 79! In Issue 4 of The Merseysider we’ve got an article on old Liverpool films, including the cult hit Violent Playground, where he played a James Dean-style hoodlum. Great that he’s still going strong (and earning $75,000 per episode for NCIS – that’s 24 episodes per series!)
Sad to see the collapse of HMV after 90 years, the last big music retailer after the disappearance of Virgin, Our Price and all the others (anyone remember Harlequin?). The range of music they sell has narrowed a fair bit in recent years – though their Fopp stores are pretty good if you’re lucky enough to live in a city that has one – but it’s still a pity they’re in trouble. Let’s hope at least some of the stores survive, even if it’s under a different name. Maybe though there’s a silver lining for independent record shops? For many music fans there’s still nothing like browsing racks of CDs or vinyl, and shops that can offer that might still have a future.
Switching channels last night I happened to catch most of an old Minder on ITV4, featuring Liverpool actor Paul Barber – probably best known for his role as Denzil in Only Fools And Horses – as a boxer under pressure to throw a fight. Also in the cast was the late Alfred Marks, an interesting comedian/comic actor who never seems to get mentioned these days. We interviewed Paul Barber for the very first issue of The Merseysider, and the interview’s on our website: click here. He was great to talk to and has had a very interesting life – orphaned as a child, he had some tough times in Liverpool care homes but deservedly made it as an actor. His autobiography, Foster Kid, is well worth reading. He’s had a lot of interesting acting roles (including a great part in the 2006 Liverpool-set film Dead Man’s Cards), and recently has been in Sky’s Sinbad.
Been adding lots of extra stuff to the website. An example is The Alabama Story, which got a lot of positive feedback when it appeared in an early issue of the magazine. It’s the true story of the CSS Alabama, a Confederate warship which wreaked havoc on the high seas during the American Civil War. The ship was secretly planned in Liverpool, built at the Cammell Laird shipyard in Birkenhead and crewed by Scousers! The article gives a detailed account of its history – an incredible but true tale.
Great news about the Hillsborough single becoming this year’s Christmas No.1. Congratulations to all those who worked on the project and helped to make it a success. Many people are obviously buying it not just because they like the record and the artists on it, but also because they recognise that it’s in a good cause. It’s heartening to see the fight for justice receiving such national support.
Enjoyed appearing on Billy Butler’s show on Saturday morning. Billy’s a great supporter of the magazine and I’ve been on when other issues have come out. He thinks Issue 4 is the best one yet, which is nice to hear. We talked about several of the topics in the magazine, including old Liverpool films, the interview with the Real Thing’s Eddie Amoo and the feature on It All Came Tumbling Down, the fascinating book by Freddie O’Connor and his brother Frankie about Liverpool’s lost streets and buildings. Also had an interesting chat with Ali Ingle, who was on the show as well. He recently won the award for Best Male Artist at the Liverpool Music Awards. He told me about his influences and favourite artists – everyone from George Formby to Van Morrison. He’s a singer songwriter with a strong Dylanish voice and clever, interesting lyrics – I’ll definitely try to see him live soon.
The sports journalist Guillem Balague, who writes for the Times and appears regularly on Sky Sports, is known for A Season On The Brink, an insider’s account of the year Liverpool won the Champions League under Rafael Benitez. His latest book (published by Orion) is Pep Guardiola: Another Way Of Winning, a biography of the phenomenally successful former manager of Barcelona.
Guillem Balague spoke about his book in November at a sell-out event organised by Waterstones, Liverpool Bold St. Such was the success of the evening that Guillem is returning to the city for another Waterstones event at LEAF, Water St on January 18 (7pm). For more details ring 0151 708 6861.
COMPETITION Courtesy of Waterstones, you can win a free pair of tickets for this event by answering the following question. As a Barcelona player, Pep Guardiola was a member of the ‘dream team’ which won the club’s first European Cup in 1992. Who managed the club at this time? Email your answers to email@example.com, or post to The Merseysider, PO Box 211, Prenton