Radio 4’s Today programme turned 60 today and decided to hold a special programme of self-congratulation. Unfortunately they decided to invite Michael Gove on, and that’s where it all went wrong.
Asked to describe his previous experiences of being interviewed on the programme, Gove responded thus:
What is especially horrible is that fellow panellist Neil Kinnock chimed in with his own “joke”, and the studio audience responded with laughter and applause.
Gove has apologised, but this seems to be a problem with so many areas of public life right now. On an issue which has caused distress and affected the lives of many people, the men in suits can all yuck it up and treat it as a joke. To them, this is all just another game. It’s awful.
Today is 60 years old – so maybe it’s time for it to be retired?
I spent a couple of hours on Sunday afternoon in the Museum of Liverpool. It’s a wonderful place to visit, with galleries telling the story of Liverpool as a great world port, a centre of industry and commerce, and as the inspiration for art and culture the world over.
My specific reason for visiting was the new Tales from the City exhibition which opened last week. Celebrating 50 years since the Sexual Offences Act partially decriminalised homosexuality in England and Wales, the exhibition pulls together a variety of objects from the collections of National Museums Liverpool, to depict life in the city’s LGBT community over the past half-century or so.
Despite being a part of said community, my knowledge of the city’s LGBT history is superficial to say the least. This exhibition has come at the perfect time for me, because I know I am a Bad Gay and need to do better.
Continue reading “A tale of one city”
It’s fair to say the last few months have been a bit tough for me. I thought the end of Open University work would remove my main source of stress, but issues at work, worries over the clusterfuck that is Brexit, and various other issues have conspired to make me decidedly unhappy.
Yesterday I went for a long walk, all the way from my house in Aigburth into Liverpool city centre, a distance of about 7.5 km. I used to do this all the time before I got buried under the pressure of studying, so it was good to get back onto the riverside for the 90 minute stroll along Otterspool Promenade. Despite being October, the sun was shining and it was warm enough to not wear a coat. I breathed deeply, inhaling the fresh air.
My walk ended at the Albert Dock, where I stopped for a rest and a coffee. Rather than feeling tired, I actually felt invigorated. Walking through the dock complex, my ears detected a real mix of languages and accents: American, Polish, German, an Arabic dialect, as well as pure Scouse. All these people, visitors and locals alike, had one thing in common: they were enjoying all that the City of Liverpool has to offer. I couldn’t help but feel a twinge of pride.
For one afternoon, life’s problems took a back seat and I was able to focus on the enjoyment I was feeling in that moment. I got home later that afternoon feeling more cheerful than I had felt in a long time. The phrase “you need to get out more” has never been more accurate.
I loitered in the bus bay at Coventry railway station for an extended period of time. I had been promised a heritage bus service to the Electric Railway Museum, but the scheduled departure time came and went, and none was forthcoming. Eventually a clapped out minibus showed up, with an apologetic driver informing me and the other waiting trainspotters that the proper bus had broken down. With gearbox grinding, we set off down country lanes to the museum site, in a field next to Coventry Airport.
Electric trains are the bastard stepchild of the railway preservation world. You need electricity to run them, and since no heritage lines have a convenient third rail or overhead line available, that means the best you can hope for is for is a static display in a museum, or some awkward Frankenstein’s monster arrangement where the train gets lashed-up to a diesel locomotive and dragged around. All this means that preserved lines are reluctant to use up their valuable space with vehicles that can’t earn their keep. That’s a crying shame, because electric trains have played a vital role on the railway network for well over a century, and their history is not properly documented.
Continue reading “Sent to Coventry”
It’s time to write on the fascinating subject of buses – specifically, the local route that takes me into town.
No, wait! Come back! This is not a parochial moan, of interest to no-one outside south Liverpool, but hopefully an interesting story which shines some light on the state of bus services, and the problems bus users encounter.
Route 82 is one of Liverpool’s trunk routes, linking Speke, Garston, Aigburth and Dingle with the city centre. I’m not entirely sure how long it has existed for, but a 1960s Liverpool Corporation bus map shows it, so that’s at least half a century. It has survived the upheavals of deregulation and privatisation largely intact. Until last month, the main changes were a series of minor reroutings in the city centre as pedestrianisation and one-way systems were implemented.
Today, the route is shared between Stagecoach and Arriva, who operate a Quality Partnership agreement, with a co-ordinated timetable and acceptance of the other operator’s prepaid tickets. The introduction of the quality agreement has been beneficial to passengers, no longer subject to arbitrary changes at the whim of the operators. Or at least, that’s what we thought.
Continue reading “Eighty Poo”