Picture of the Day: Give Us a Kiss [2006]

The band was Dressed to Kill and so was I. Tribute acts were and are still a surprisingly popular thing. Indeed, I have a fondness for acts like the Kiss tribute act Dressed to Kill such as Polka Floyd, Beatallica, Iron Horse and Hayseed Dixie. In fact Zoe and I recently went to see Yes tribute act Yes Please in the centre of cultural excellence that is Witney.

Of course photos don’t really do the band’s talents justice and you don’t tend to go and see a band just for the visuals (Roger Waters aside). However, in 2006, camera phones were still a little bit of a novelty and, as much as I hate to be THAT PERSON these days, I stand guilty of taking terrible photographs of the band during their performance using my camera phone.

Why I couldn’t just stand there and enjoy the show without using my phone to spoil the view of those behind me I have no idea.

Picture of the Day: Aigburth Station – Liverpool [Year unknown]

Aigburth Station

Some years ago I was given a collection of photographs from my Aunt Joyce who died when I was about 11 or 12. They had come to me after her husband, my Uncle Harry, had died. 

I must have scanned some of them into my photo library today in 2012 for some reason. One of the pictures was a large format picture of Aigburth Station taken sometime in what seems to be the 1960s. I’ve no idea why Aunt Joyce had a picture of Aigburth Station or why it was passed on to me. 

Here is what it looks like today

© Alexandra Lanes

Picture of the Day – No longer standing, Green Lane, Liverpool L18 [2013]

Birch House – Liverpool L18

In my youth I regularly visited the gentleperson’s establishment of Bishop Eton Parish Centre, known locally as Birch House, a church club. At the time, it seemed like the centre of the universe. Cheap beer, cheap cigarettes, quirky vending machine in the entrance and two hi-reward fruit machines. It also boasted a friendly hostess and a bloody handy lock in.

Lock-ins, for those not in the know, are when an establishment continues to entertain selected patrons after the doors have closed and alcohol sales are required by law to cease due to the time of day or night. Of course, once the doors are closed and the curtains are drawn, there’s no telling what goes on in there. Drinking mostly. Occasionally until 4am.

As well as a patron, I was also a member of staff and frequently had to facilitate the lock-in despite having a job to go to in the morning. However, in those days the clock was weird and 4am was just a time on the clock while sleep was something that happened for six hours between eyes shut and 7am in the morning. Being a member of staff I was also fortunate enough to be able to monitor the usage of the fruit machines and determine when it would pay out, which it often did, in my favour.

The club was owned by the local parish church and used for functions and meetings of local groups including a group of professional males who followed a sinister type of catholic free-masonry, a Women’s Institute knock-off, a couple of local self-build groups, the youth club (complete with a local weirdo who liked to stare at the girls) and a weird and secretive “invite only” quiz league. It really was a happening place.

Sadly, land values around the area rose and the thought of a quick cash injection for the church became too much for the clergy. As a result, in the early noughties, the club closed its doors for the last time. The building, a graded listed building, was earmarked for “redevelopment to luxury accommodation”, which meant falling into disrepair, catching fire and it and the ground eventually being bulldozed and turned into a gated community of several houses.

Thankfully, the name, if not the memories, lives on in the street name – Birch House Close. Bless.

Sweets

Pownall’s didn’t look anything like this

When I was a kid and I walked to and from school (paedophilaphobia hadn’t been invented then and so it was perfectly safe to allow children to walk to school) I would pass a lovely little newsagents called Doreen Pownells. Mrs Pownells shop had a lovely smell of calor gas heaters, damp newspapers and icing sugar. The walls were lined on two sides with huge jars of sweets, the other with a small selection of magazines and household essentials. The window display consisted of little pocket money toys and advertisements for popular beverages of the time. The window of the door was bedecked with little adverts one might find in a small shop from people advertising tutoring, cars and cleaning services.

Ah. Mrs Pownells. I can still smell the foisty shop. I can still picture the little yellow tray within which she would vend penny sweets and chews to passing children. I can still picture the beautifully grand cash register. I can still recall the glee at finding half a penny on the floor and rushing in to buy an aniseed ball.

No wonder I have so many fillings.

If I was lucky I might have 10p to spend on my way home. Remember that 10p back then was a lot of money. It would buy you a bag of ten penny sweets or twenty half penny sweets. Penny sweets usually consisted of jazzies, fizzy cola bottles and jellies, Two pence sweets where a bit more adventurous and would mainly comprise of flumps, mojos and blackjacks. If one were lucky enough to have 20p to spend a whole world of luxury was open to you. For there were 5p sweets there too. 5p sweets usually consisted of Bazooka Jo chewing gums and the like. Further more, should one be fortuitous to manage to rustle up a whole pound coin for your sweet indulgences one would find themselves able to afford the 10p beheamoths that were Jawbreakers; a packet of 3 of the hardest gobstoppers you can imagine that actually changed flavour as you sucked them. Ah it is no wonder I have fillings. The amount of money I must have spent in passing would these day probably have fed a family of 6 a couple of soggy chips from the back of the deep fryer.

Sadly now Pownells has long closed. I believe it now sells hot tubs or is a poodle manicurists or something daft. I fear that this is mostly because children no longer walk home from school and no longer spend their hard begged pennies on rubbish like sweets. Woolton village had, at that time, a total of seven newsagents/sweetshops. This, I am sure you agree, is a phenomonal amount to have in such a small location, but all did a very good trade until the coming of the supermarkets and the arrival of paedophilaphobia. This once great selection has diminished to a poxy 2 sweet shops, one of which, Browns, is situated near a high school bus stop so will always do well, the other near the village chippy, a favorite haunt of lunchtime school evaders. Indeed, the village fete magazine which used be issued annually to all villagers for the princely sum of £1, did, in previous times, bulge with small advertisements from the local businesses. Sadly most of these shops, as I say, have gone. The Village Fete is a closed affair if it happens at all, and the village is now just a series of streets with estate agents selling luxury apartments linking the two major supermarkets that have sucked the soul out of the place.

Jazzies yesterday.

The rich diversity. The colourfulness, the SWEETS. All gone. I fear generations will rise not knowing what a jazzie is. I shudder at the thought of children completing highschool without ever tasting a fizzy cola bottle from a penny mix. Though, my fear may be misguided. I know there are online sweet shops that still stock gems like jazzies and cola bottles. I am well aware that you can nip down to Costco and get a box of WHAM bars. The difference is, buying them from a faceless cash and carry or online shop is no substitute for buying them from a crappy little dodgy newsagent using the 5p you’ve managed to forage from gutters and pavements and then running home clutching a grubby looking paper bag. Nor do you have to explain to your mum why you have no appetite for your dinner.

Kids today eh? They don’t know what they’re missing (Probably because they are allergic).


This post first appeared in 2009 on my Livejournal.

There and back again and there and back again Part 1

Picture if you will a pub in Liverpool about 4 weeks ago.

**wibbly visual effect used to signify reflection on past events**

 

Stegzy:- You’re on holiday next month. I’m on holiday next month…let’s go camping!

Nick:- Yes that sounds like fun.

Stegzy:- Look I’ve put it in my shiny new HTC FLYER on the CALENDAR. AUGUST. 20th

Nick:- Ace! Can’t wait.

**Cue calendar flipping sequence signifying moving forward through time**

So I’m set. Set for a walking and camping trip to North Wales. At the end of August.

Capture1

Blissful….

Capture2

However……

 

**Calendar flipping sequence ceases 24th July**

Stegzy:- Bloody hell. Nick’s a bit keen. He’s been texting me all week asking about what we will be doing during our holiday in August.

Zoefruitcake:- Maybe he is excited.

Stegzy:- Hmm…this text is worrying. It seems to hint that there may be an issue with the month…..

Capture3Capture4

Oh cocking hell!

So I called him. Was he winding me up? No. He wasn’t. While talking I made up a list of items to chuck into the car for an impromptu camping trip. Problem was…I didn’t have a tent anymore. Well I did. Just it was in Yorkshire. With the wife. Fortunately everything else, the table, the chair, the stoves, pans and ancillary camping equipment were safely in a pre-packed crate in Zoe’s Craft Hut. The tent….that was in Yorkshire.

As you can see from the screenshots, this was about half past six on the Sunday evening. A call to Clair received the thumbs up for a tent collection while Nick booked the camp site and prepared for a late night visit from me.

I sped up the M69 and M1 to Yorkshire and collected the tent then after a quick bite to eat and a catch-up, I sped along the M62 to Crosby near Liverpool arriving at an ungodly hour of 1am.

Liverpool

Having a weekend in Liverpool. It’s nice to catch up with peeps. Chew the fat. Make plans all parties know will never be fulfilled.

Smithdown Road has changed. Fast food shops everywhere. It is a shade of the place it was when I lived there above the fishing tackle shop. The vibrancy has gone. The cosmopolitanity eroded. I get the idea of how it should be. I can imagine how it could be. Fine dining. Interesting mix of food choices. But no. It’s kebab, burger or pizza? How about some nice fried “chicken”? Maybe you’d like some suspicious meats in sauces? Cheap, mass produced junk. Street food.

Sure, at the other end of Smithdown, along Allerton Road, the nouveux riche pretend that the teaspoon of over priced nouvelle cuisine they are nibbling at will burst their belts or somehow cause them to become unattractive to the casually smart shaven meat heads that they hope to drag, cavewoman like, back to their rabbit hutches. The longer I am away the more I notice changes for the worse. Progress, I’m told.

And yet the underlying theme this weekend is middle class job insecurities. The lack of work and prospects. The realisation that society thinks that late thirties is past it. It seems that my friends and I have all realised, we are not where we should be. We’ve found that Ten years have got behind us. No one told us when to run. We’ve missed the starting gun. Exactly as Uncle Roger told warned us.

Hot off the press

Call to restrict Scouse scenes

An anti-scouse group in Manchester is calling for all movies and television shows with scousers in scenes to be given an 18 certificate or banned.
ScouseFree Liverpool told BBC’s Radio 5 Live it wanted to see the change and the government said the idea was “rather well thought out”.

The push – backed by Manchester city council – comes amid research showing young people pick up bad habits from watching films containing Scousers.

One city official said Manchester may even act alone to restrict film access.

Colin Scarborough, the city’s head of public protection and chair of ScouseFree Liverpool, said an adult rating on movies that depict scousers will reduce the number of young people signing on.

“The international evidence…is that one in two children between 11 and 18 who witness scousers in movies actually experiment with – and therefore start – signing on themselves,” Mr Scarborough said of recent research.

Liverpool already carries the unenviable title of Scouse capital of England, with some of the highest scouser rates in the UK.

Mr Scarborough said Manchester wants the British Board of Film Classification to act.

But a spokeswoman for the film board said scenes with Scousers in are already taken into consideration when a film is rated and a blanket 18 certificate for all scouse scenes is “a really good idea”.
“I know of one child that went on to steal wheel trims and car radios, another entered into a life of crime after watching an episode of Brookside” the spokeswoman said, adding an extensive public consultation has already examined the issue to come up with existing guidelines.

For example, if a character popular with children such as Harry Potter was somehow from Liverpool or seen talking to Scousers, the film would be rated accordingly, she said.

“We would take that very seriously,” she added.

Dr Stacey Anderson, of the UK Centre for Scouser Control Studies, said the evidence of Scouser’s influence on young people is very clear.

“The more scousers a child views in films and television, the more likely they are to take up signing on or shifty behaviour,” she said of the scientific evidence gathered in the United States and elsewhere.

Dr Anderson said characters do not even have to be scouse for there to be an adverse influence, just the sight of the Liver Buildings or St Johns Tower has an effect on youth attitude.

She said if part of the role of the film board is to protect young people from potential harm, then being scouse should be included in those considerations.

Mr Scarborough said if the BBFC is not prepared to adopt an 18 certificate then the city of Manchester will consider using licensing laws to bring in its own stricter ratings for films screened locally.

Holiday pt 5: conclusion

My god! Will it never end!

The car all packed

Where was I? Oh yeah…Conway.
So we did Conway. The weather there was stonkingly splendid but our return to Anglesey brought disheartening thoughts. For over the Menai Straits sat a big nasty black cloud. It was raining. Still. The winds hadn’t abated much. The promise of further bad weather on the Sunday just made us more miserable. Never the less after a slap up meal in the “Steak House” (They did one type of steak, mine was ok but jimrock sent his back for a refund because it was over done). The Maelog Hotel was pap.

The next morning we bade farewell to Sarah and Steve and journeyed out to the mainland once more. This time to observe the old people in Llandudno. jimrock sat and listened to the Grand Prix in the car was feeling a bit off colour so chose to stay in his car. Llandudno, despite how much praise billzy piles on the place, is like waiting room for death row. The place is littered with charity shops and residential hotels. A good deal of Liverpool’s elderly population go there to die. And rightly so. It’s a nice place to die. Much nicer than Rhyl or Talacre. Or Rhos-on-Sea.

Give it 10 years and it’ll be exactly like Rhyl and Talacre 😉

Anyway…utterly depressed Becky and jimrock decided that the risk of further bad weather was too much and that the comfort of home was too tempting. So they, and Ricky & Ashley, chose to depart on the Monday.

Monday came. Glorious weather. Thus further fishing adventures were called for. Mrs Gnomepants caught a further 5 mackerel, jimrock just caught the sun and the sea. After what seemed like half an hour but what was infact several hours, we returned to the beach for a quick dip before heading back to camp to say farewell after a delicious mackerel dinner. Mrs Gnomepants and I, Big Steve & Rach elected to stay. And so our relaxed Tuesday morning was spent cleaning up the camp, packing up and heading back to Liverpool.

After camp party

That afternoon I popped into CSD at the University where I used to work (which is where billzy now works) met up with billzy and everybody else. It was delightful seeing everybody. I just wish I had longer to stick around and catch up with everybody’s gossip. That evening we headed out to Chez jimrock where copious drinks and chilli was had for the last time in their little flat in Lark Lane.

Our return to Yorkshire on the Wednesday was accompanied by a visit from Scott; back from the ships briefly.The rest of the holiday? Well I squandered that playing internet games and loafing about. But I tell you what, I had a bloody good time doing so!

The M1 home!