Archive – Brickbat

Apologies for the lack of updates this month but you know how it is… been busy, mainly with photography and how can one write about photography without making it sound boring? Besides, the whole point is for the picture to tell the story!

It’s not been the easiest month on a personal level so the photography has felt like a refuge and I have to admit, I’ve been getting some great shots. Keep an eye on our Instagram page as some goodies are on there and there’s a nice backlog of great shots as well to come.

Started the scriptwriting course under the auspices of Melanie Whitehead and the Electric Sunshine Project. I am enjoying it but have to admit, it is a lot more involved than I thought so am finding it very challenging but that’s a good thing as I like to be challenged… well… most of the time… yesterday being a case in point where challenges are not so welcome.

Yesterday was the 20th anniversary of when I left home and moved to Liverpool. I left there in July 2010 and I’d not been back since. In some ways this was a catch up and pilgrimage, revisiting my old haunts and seeing how Liverpool has progressed. It’s sure progressed but maybe I’m now getting a little too old since the never ending changes are – in my eyes and view – for the worse. I swear in the time I lived there, I had never seen it so busy as it was yesterday. I walked a few old routes… one of my aims was to get snapshots of the places that meant something to me and that was profoundly depressing. Eight venues I used to perform at no longer exist – either been shut down or turned into another eaterie or worse, a poseur coffee bar. One place that does remain is the Egg Cafe. That was surreal – it’s exactly the same as it ever was even down to several members of staff, but my long history and patronage of that establishment meant it was a bittersweet visit for as I sat there, a great many memories returned and it saddens me that the legendary Stan Ambrose aka “Stan the Harper” can never be heard and enjoyed in there again.

Much of the city centre was confusion central for me… an uneasy hodgepodge of the old and new, with a heavier slant on the new to the degree I walked down some streets and felt confused as the appearance of them have changed so much I was struggling to remember where I was. Being a heaving busy city centre also reminded me in an unwelcome manner of one of the reasons why I left and a mini rant is about to erupt.
My opinion of course, as I can only speak as I find based on my own experience…

The first three years I lived in Liverpool, the city centre was fine. Hung out there a lot but gradually it began to make me feel ill. I would feel lightheaded and my brain would feel scrambled which in turn escalated my stress levels. It got so bad I began avoiding the city centre as much as possible. It made me feel ill. To experience THAT feeling again yesterday was most unpleasant. What I couldn’t help but notice were ridiculous amounts of people glued to their MOBILE PHONES totally oblivious, like brain dead zombies and I was constantly having to step out the way to avoid being smacked in to. I’ve been ranting for the last TWENTY YEARS that mobile phones are evil. In 1998, mobile phone users were in the small minority, but by 2001/2002, I’d say 80% of the population owned one and just by pure coincidence (?) that was when basic shopping trips in the city centre began to feel overwhelming and brain destroying. I am convinced more than ever that they are seriously damaging our mental health. When you have so many thousands of people in one small space, the microwave effect phones create is not gonna be good for the brain. OK, maybe I’m more sensitive to it than most, but trust me, I seriously believe mobile phones are the silent overlooked culprit as to why so many kids now suffer depression as that was barely a problem or issue back in 1998. That’s not saying kids weren’t suffering then, but nothing like on the colossal scale they do now. Not that anything will ever be done about this – hey, mobile phones are a multi-billion pound industry – so the problem is gonna get worse and clueless “experts” will waste tons of money with idiotic theories on how to deal with the crisis… and none of them will dare mention or suggest mobile phones may be a big reason. Mobile phones are for me like MacDonald’s – junk for the brain and soul we don’t need and can live happily without. It’s galling being in a tiny minority who feels this way hence many of you can and will laugh and sneer at me, but mark my words…

End of rant, and on to something more positive about this day trip – the John and Yoko : Double Fantasy exhibition at the snazzy Liverpool Museum at the Pier Head. I make zero secret of my love and admiration of John Lennon as he, along with Syd Barrett remains my biggest inspiration on so many levels. Yoko also gets a lot of love and respect from me as well and I will always remember with nothing but fondness when she presented “My Mommy Was Beautiful” where for a month or two, Liverpool city centre was home to a couple of dozen large banners displaying photos of breasts and vaginas! I’d read and heard about this exhibition and knew I had to experience it. I’m glad I did as it was the undoubted highlight of the day and made it worth my time and energy.

The one exhibit I wanted to see most was the glass case containing a pair of John’s famous NHS granny spectacles he began wearing in late 1966 for the remainder of the 60’s along with a pair of Yoko’s sunglasses from the early 70’s. I’m not the sort of person to be THAT interested in static objects, no matter how historical they may be, but coming face to face with John’s spectacles was a moment I will never forget. It’s the closest I guess I could ever get to him on a physical level. I was transfixed and full of emotion, almost teary eyed looking at the most famous and iconic pair of glasses from the 1960’s. I know I’m far from alone in being affected on a deeper level seeing those. And you know… it may be almost 38 years since he was cruelly taken from us yet it STILL hurts. That was how important and influential John Lennon truly was… and it is heartening to see there is still endless interest in him, his extraordinary life and legacy.
He still inspires me to this day.

On Church Street I was alarmed by the absurd amount of buskers fighting for attention and cash. In one very short section there were three groups who seemed to be trying to outblast each other and a little further along were two bizarre solo buskers, one who was wailing away oblivious to the fact he couldn’t sing a note and some clown dressed in a loud outfit playing “Rock Band” instruments (that’s “Rock Band” in terms of those stupid computer games) making no sound at all. It was too much of a muchness – oversaturation. Toss in the obligatory geezer tossing off lame Beatles covers near the Lennon statue on Mathew Street… well, I was not at all impressed. I’m all for buskers but this was overkill and none of them were any good let alone entertaining. Noise pollution hell.

Liverpool has changed beyond recognition. Fair enough, it’s moved with the times but I feel they’ve placed way too much emphasis on tourists and students. The amount of newer student flats around is insane and where there’s students, there’s an unlimited number of bars. Maybe I’m getting OLD but I felt no warmth or fondness for the city that for a decade was called “home” and I have no intention of returning there, only if absolutely necessary. I have very mixed feelings about the place and they’re even less fond than ever now.

It was a relief to get back to Blackpool and escape the microwave madness of Liverpool. It’s funny… over the summer I’ve seen and been amongst huge crowds in Blackpool yet it’s no problem, I can enjoy it but give me one hour in Liverpool or Manchester city centre and it’s all too much.

So, September is coming to a close and in many ways it’s business as usual. Still having to remain tight-lipped about one or two things “in the works” but all is fine and well here in Blackpool.

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