'At odds with the socialist and peaceful values held by the council'
Plus: the latest Covid-19 data, our recommended reads and our Post picks
Good morning readers — welcome to the latest edition of The Post. You are going to be hearing more from us as we ramp up our operations over the next month — starting with weekly editions. Sometimes those will be briefing-style emails like today, and sometimes they will be long reads.
A warm welcome to all our new readers who joined last week. We are about to hit 2,500 readers on our mailing list, which shows how much enthusiasm there is for a different kind of journalism on Merseyside. If you have a friend who you think might enjoy what we do, please do forward them this newsletter and encourage them to sign up here.
If you’re a new reader, you might want to read some of our previous stories. We now have our own domain, livpost.co.uk, where you’ll find our journalism about abandoned tunnels, local artists, cholera riots and a house in the Georgian Quarter closely linked to Liverpool’s political scandal…
This weekend we had a great response to Robin Brown’s Smithdown Road piece, which you can read below if you haven’t yet. It’s great to have people like Robin writing for us, and in the past few days we’ve commissioned three more local writers to start work on fascinating stories. If you’re a writer or journalist and you would like to join our growing team of contributors, please email your ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This week’s weather
Case rates have been pretty flat locally since the start of August, as you can see in our graphic below. The case rate for Liverpool (new cases per 100,000 residents over a week) is currently 330.9, down 18% on the previous week, and the case rate across the city region is almost identical. Cases are highest in Halton and Knowsley, around 400, and lowest in St Helens and the Wirral, around the 300-mark — see a local breakdown here.
The latest hospital numbers show there were 34 Covid-19 patients in critical care across the city region in the week ending 24 August, up from 28 the previous week. The number of Covid-19 patients in hospital minus critical care was 281, up from 224. Updated figures should be shared soon by the city region mayor’s Twitter account.
Vaccinations: 69.7% of all adults in the city region have had two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine, but there is a gaping gap between the age groups. Just 42.9% of under 35s are double jabbed, compared to 81.9% of over 35s. St Helens and the Wirral have the highest proportion of residents doubled vaccinated — around 76% each — and Liverpool has the lowest, at 60%. See the graphic below for more detail.
Local news in brief
Pandemic planning | A pandemic institute to “prepare the world for future pandemics by identifying risks, to respond quicker and to recover more effectively” has been set up in Paddington Village in a new £10m development. Liverpool was described as “perfectly placed” for the research to go ahead, having hosted a mass-testing programme in November last year. Read more.
Up in arms | Thousands of protestors turned out over the weekend to protest an annual weapons fair which is being held at the council-owned Arena and Convention Centre in mid-October. Jeremy Corbyn was among those protesting and gave a speech calling for the event to be cancelled. Liverpool mayor Joanne Anderson also condemned the event, saying it’s “at odds with the socialist and peaceful values held by the council” but says she doesn’t have the powers to stop it. Read more.
Flood warning | Wirral Council is investigating drainage systems and flood risk response after heavy flooding in the Wirral affected roads and train lines. “The volume and intensity of this most recent rainfall massively exceeds the design standards of our current drainage systems,” it says. Read more.
Life expectancy | New data from Liverpool council shows that life expectancy has fallen since 2020. The average life expectancy is 76.4 years, compared to the national average of 81.52. Research from the council suggests deprived communities have been hit hardest, with life expectancy in the most deprived area at 73.5. Read more.
School attack | A police officer has been convicted of assault, fined £800 and ordered to pay £100 in compensation after CCTV footage revealed him threatening to kick an autistic boy lying on the floor and dragging him across the floor at a special ed school in Merseyside. A relative of the boy said: “So how is he coping? Because he’s not spoken about it, it’s all inside and it’s pent up frustration, so he’s going to explode at some point.” Read more.
Our favourite reads
We love this Telegraph review of the upcoming Walter Sickert exhibition in the Walker Art Gallery from Saturday, an artist whose obsession with female nudes, serial killers and melodrama earned him a reputation as an “enfant terrible” and sparked rumours that he and Jack the Ripper were one and the same. “Depressing? Or, perversely, thrilling? His ‘dirty’ realism challenged the academic, sentimental art of the 19th century: instead of creating something polite and polished enough to decorate a drawing room, Sickert headed, as it were, downstairs, to document the rougher, frumpier denizens of the scullery.”
In a long article for Liverpolitan, Paul Bryan argues that Liverpool’s leaders have become “obsessed” with business ethics and in particular an organisation called Blueprint For A Better Business — an approach he says will put off investors. Bryan writes: “Liverpool needs more investment like a vampire needs blood. It needs more of everything. More investment from the state, from the private sector, from overseas, from home-grown businesses. It needs more access to venture capital. It needs to diversify, and attack sectors in which it is currently losing out to others, rather than throwing up its hands in defeat and forever banging on about the ones where it is strong now.”
This long read in Atavist Magazine is a whistlestop tour through war-torn Somalia, Kosovo, Sierra Leone, and finally, Liverpool, the last big appearance by Bill Brookman, a professional clown who had “a deep interest in war” and a compulsive need to entertain. “As Brookman played, the audience—including his soon-to-be-wife, to whom he blew a kiss—cheered and clapped in time to the music. Two of the judges stood up from their chairs to dance. Ultimately, they would vote him on to the next round but eliminate him soon after. ‘You are exactly the kind of British eccentric we love,’ one said.”
And we enjoyed The TLS’s story of Alfred Russel Wallace and Henry Walter Bates, who journeyed from Liverpool in 1848 to explore the Amazon River and the flora and fauna of Brazil, armed with some knowledge of Darwin and the company of an eccentric moss collector. “Living in the provinces, and both of modest background, the two men had little access to leading naturalists or to London-based scientific societies, but travel accounts aroused their interest in South America.”
Shakespeare | There’s a new production of Richard II at St Luke’s Bombed Out Church on Tuesday and Wednesday next week, with a fresh take on the generational divides, strange power dynamics and fragile peace of one of Shakespeare’s classics. Book here.
Jazz | If you’re in need of a jazz fix, Melodic Bar on Sunday nights is the spot. This week they’re hosting jazz trio MD3, promising a charming blend where “Acid Jazz meets Free Improv”. Entry is free, but we recommend booking a spot.
Concert | Cameroonian singer-songwriter Blick Bassy is performing at the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic's Music Room on Sunday night. He has been described by The Guardian as “one of Africa’s most inventive and distinctive singer-songwriters”. Book here.
Art | There’s an exhibition at The Bluecoat delving into a century of artists creating and innovating in the old school building, and the creative legacy they left behind —with some lovely photos of messy art studios and gorgeous artwork being created. More info here.
Talk | Bella Freud will be at the Lucian Freud show at Tate Liverpool tomorrow discussing her father’s work and his deeply private life. The exhibition guide says: “Freud was a distant father to Bella and her sister Esther, as well as his other acknowledged children, preferring to get involved once they were old enough to hold a conversation and pose for him.” Book here.
Food | The very popular pizza restaurant chain Rudy’s is opening a new restaurant on Bold Street later this month, alongside their original premises in Castle Street. 2,500 free pizzas are on offer to visitors when they open, on a first-come, first-served basis. You can register your interest here.
Review: Our Lady of Blundellsands
One of our new writers, the former Daily Post staffer Vicky Anderson, wrote a review of Our Lady of Blundellsands in March last year, just before its run was cut short by the pandemic. It returns to the Everyman tomorrow, so we thought we would include an excerpt from Vicky’s piece on her great site onstageinliverpool.com to whet your appetite.
Effervescent Sylvie lives with sensible older sister Garnet in a time-warp house on the coast. As the family gather for Garnet’s 65th birthday, truths that nobody wants to face are about to come bubbling to the surface. In that regard, Our Lady of Blundellsands is hardly breaking new dramatic ground. But it’s Harvey’s brilliant human touch and ear for dialogue, together with some superb performances, that elevate the piece. Lawrence’s Sylvie brings many shades of Blanche DuBois to Blundellsands; a Sefton Streetcar all her own. Her co-dependent relationship with self-sacrificing sister Garnet harks of Lennie and George in Of Mice and Men. The soundtrack of David Soul and Boney-M is evocative of an era, but hardly hip; there’s lots of wackiness in this play, but it is affectionately knowing, with the warmth that has made Harvey’s work on Coronation Street so appealing over the years.
Our Lady of Blundellsands is back on at the Everyman from tomorrow until Saturday 9 October. Book here.
Vicky is writing something for us on the improv scene in Liverpool. If you have something to add to that, or you’ve seen a great act recently, please drop us a line.
Here are a few stories we are working on at the moment — if you have some expertise or insight to offer, please hit reply to this newsletter or email email@example.com:
The fight to save and find new uses for abandoned and empty churches across Merseyside. If you know of a local one, please get in touch.
The history of Liverpool John Lennon Airport and how it has increasingly lost out to Manchester Airport.
How local sixth formers are feeling about their future and how the pandemic has changed their lives. Mollie (firstname.lastname@example.org) is doing this one.
Liverpool’s links to slavery, and the difficulty of getting documents from private collections. If you know something about this, please drop us a line.
Or if you have a story you think we should know about, please email us. We are happy to speak to you off-the-record if you prefer.
Post from the past
Laurence Westgaph, a local historian who has written extensively about Liverpool’s slaving links, posted this old newspaper cutting on Facebook a few days ago. It’s from Williamson's Liverpool Advertiser, 12 September 1766. Westgaph wrote: “255 years ago today, the largest slave sale to be advertised in the Liverpool press took place, when 'eleven negroes' were sold at the Exchange Coffee House in Water Street.”