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The Laz Word: Painting by numbers

After a culture year that successfully spoke for itself, it's onward and up to 09. So no need to mess with the figures, says Larry Neild

Published on January 7th 2009.

The Laz Word: Painting by numbers

SO it’s all over bar the shouting, 08 that is. Was December 31 the end, or merely the end of the beginning as we head into the unknown territory minus our cultural crown?

Liverpool’s year as European Capital of Culture has been a resounding success, exceeding even my expectations. I wore my 08 badge with pride. Of course, I could pick gaping holes in it and speculate on its failures and shortcomings.

I was told that sailing the ferry, even as a commuter, was deemed a cultural experience. What is that thing they tie up the ferry to? Bollards,
I think they call it

But all things considered, 08 did what it set out to do, reconfigure Liverpool in the eyes of the country. I sum up 08 as a year when the city welcomed two Beatles, a giant spider and a flock of strange looking lambs.

The thing about a culture year is it is what you make of it: It's an illusion, a show, a jamboree. It’s not like the Olympics or the World Cup which have concentrated focal points.

Culture year was successful enough without the need for the 08 spin doctors to massage the figures. Read their reports and they speak of the millions of cultural visits. Note that sleight of hand – visits, not visitors.

One of their reports mentioned 10m “cultural visits” and, just days later, civic big-wigs were using the expression 10m cultural visitors. For example they include in their “cultural visit” lists the 700,000 people who sailed on the Mersey Ferries. I was told that sailing the ferry, even as a commuter, was deemed a cultural experience. What is that thing they tie the ferry to? Bollards, I think they call it.I bet Scouse exiles living in their posh houses on Storeton Hill never imagined themselves as being cultural visitors as they headed to work on the ferry every morning. Were the bean counters down at the Pier Head ticking off all those disembarking and carrying laptop bags as well as buckets and spades?

We are supposed to have earned £800 million from culture year. Maybe Liverpool and not Gordon Brown could bail out the banks if that kind of dosh is flooding the city!

The problem with over-egging the income pudding is it distorts the economic health of the city. After all we started 08 with the highest unemployment rate in the North West and we were number one at the end of 08.

Working much of the week in Mathew Street (Long Live the Beatles) I see for myself the influx of overseas visitors as they pay homage to a group many local people feel should be dispatched to the history books. It confirms my view the Beatles were part of our past but they are part of our legacy.I wish a totally independent, unpaid, unsolicited research team would carry out an alternative assay, to counter what I know what will come in 09 when a worthy entry to the Booker Fiction Prize will hit the front pages of the papers.

CoC has been a success, and I hope it’s not spoiled by silly reports exaggerating things and force-feeding very iffy facts and distorted figures down our throats. To me that would be an unnecessary insult to what was a very good year for Liverpool. So what about our legacy from 09.....?

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63 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

DigJanuary 2nd 2009.

Sorry Liverpool Wag. I shall be more respectful and better behaved in future. Right that's me told. In my defence I never started it. Sir Sir Mathew Matic started it Sir. I've never noticed the daft rants always end up on Laz'z pages. Coincidence, honest. Now you mention it, that does appear to be the case though. Sorry Laz & Angie, if an apology is in order then there it is.

DigJanuary 2nd 2009.

As for this credit crunch, am I the only person who annoyed with the all the discounts suddenly available on EVERYTHING? Shows you how much we've been getting ripped off the rest of the time. If we hadn't been getting ripped off from from day dot we'd all have more money to spend and nobody would have heard of a credit cruch.

Professor ChucklebuttyJanuary 2nd 2009.

It needs a man like Larry to smash the cistern. He's is the number one man in my book but he may need some help and a good number two. if so he should be given a seat in the chamber and perhaps even a chain of office. Lift the lid on whats going on, produce a white paper and get to the bottom of things. Then if required, we can start again with a clean sheet.

Liverpool wagJanuary 2nd 2009.

Thank God it is over. Aren't we an ungrateful lot? Now that 08 publicity machine (the ones who haven't already got off to media city) are presumably back concentrating on the bins and broken paving stone stories in Municipal buildings, will we see similar massaging of the figures, or just the same egos?

BallbreakerJanuary 2nd 2009.

Hickling also says: "For the majority of the population, the most significant event of 2008 was neither a concert nor an exhibition, but the unveiling of the £1bn Liverpool One development". I assume the Culture Company spinners will issue him with a severe bollocking for saying that...

FreakyJanuary 2nd 2009.

hahaha I am loving the cynicism.

AdamantJanuary 2nd 2009.

and we can all be flushed with pride!

Alma TomatoJanuary 2nd 2009.

Of course Professor Chucklebutty is genuine and above reproach.

TonyJanuary 2nd 2009.

You would think all these scoundrels and wasters wouild be able to do something useful, wouldn't you Dig? Maybe they could start their own blogs?

privateparzJanuary 2nd 2009.

Make the scousescamcheats go to work. Stop whining how great it was to starve in victorian garrets 100 years ago and how funny scousers are (not).Accept Liverpool is a bankrupt and ugly sprawl occupied by cheats,druggies and hooded gangsters with guns.Better still, move to Manchester and live in the 21st century in a real european city with a vibrant culture.

JobhunterJanuary 2nd 2009.

Please don't make the typical hysterical media mistake of taking extreme examples of 'benefit scroungers' and assuming everyone on benefits sits within that category. Such publicity fuels the general opinion that all manner of help is out there and that is total ****e. By playing the 'wicked scrounger' game we are playing into the hands of government and officials wanting an excuse to do eff all to help people desperate to work.

Liverpool WagJanuary 2nd 2009.

And as for your theory on the credit crunch, you are talking bollocks.

silvertiaraJanuary 2nd 2009.

oooh Redmand not a reall professor!!lmao!maybe someone should tell him as he insists on being called 'professsor redmond'!

JobhunterJanuary 2nd 2009.

Seems Laz has opened a can of worms, as ever. So to cure Liverpool's unemployment and find work for the 100,000 Merseysiders currently in receipt of diability benefits all we need to do is build around 20 car plants as big as the Jaguar factory. Easy-peasy isn't it. Now why didn't the government think of it. Capital of Culture did allow Liverpool the chance to strut its feathers on the world stage. But keeping up that momentum will need more than chucking a measly four million quid at the arts in 2009. Look how much has been spent on 08 and the b uild up to it. I think it was around £120m. It's easier turning water into a whine.

Tickled!January 2nd 2009.

ha ha ha ha ha ha!

DigJanuary 2nd 2009.

You didn't realise that whole rant was entirely sarcastic? Hmmm, I thought it was pretty blatant. Never mind.

MoaningMinnieJanuary 2nd 2009.

I've been reading all of this and, as I'm the shy type, I like to stay on the sidelines. But for pity's sake we can't just sit back and yet the city boss people wallow in their glory. They are p*ss pot poor and the only way they can convince us they are great is by publishing fiction that only the Echo, and seemingly the Guardian (I'm cancelling mine tomorrow) will publish without scrutiny. I hate the way I see that bus advert from Price saying stop the whingeing. We, the council tax payers, are forking out £125m and we are more than entitled to question these people. If they have to conince us how good things are by distorting the figures we should be doing far more than whingeing. Anyhow Im going back to my shell. The trouble with this guy Laz is he makes us think. Maybe we shouldn;t be encouraged to do so - don't they say ignorance is bliss.

privateparzJanuary 2nd 2009.

The answer is obvious. Interview all long term scroungers in Liverpool. Give them sixty days to find any kind of full time job. Reduce the benefits by ten per cent per week until they find work.Watch them work when their lager and cigarettes are too expensive to con out of illegal benefits.These dole scum in Liverpool need to be taught the American lesson that you have to look for work or starve.

Fat GitJanuary 2nd 2009.

I strongly object to this. I have been on incapacity benefit for 16 years and I have been out on the bimble nearly every day, and on the rank. I also used to work as a roadie but the humping got too much for me in the end.

mrs shillingJanuary 2nd 2009.

hear! hear!

Margot LeadbuttonsJanuary 2nd 2009.

Dig, don't make the mistake that all of the unemployed people are on benefits. Particularly those involved in gang culture and drugs. They don't need benefits or anyone telling them what to do or trying to make them apply for a job. So the threat of cutting or stopping benefits will do nothing to solve that problem. I suspect there are a lot of people who get by without working legitimately or claiming benefits. From my work a few years ago I met many people who had never worked and were quite proud of never having claimed benefits. I could guess how they managed to live and they were seldom short of money for long. How you tackle that is a big problem. They have no interest in anything that wider society could offer and it is far removed from Del-Boy and Rodney duckin' n divin'. Although I hate the term "underclass" many are are living their own version of the "Good Life" but with crack rather than pea pod wine.Again this is not specific to Liverpool it is in every major city but it is growing as the general economic crisis intensify and become more frequent.

Diddy DavidJanuary 2nd 2009.

Professor Chucklebutty is a real professor

DigJanuary 2nd 2009.

More of what Oliver? I can vouch for the authenticity of Professor Chucklebutty being a genuine professor. I'm a trusted aide and employee. That stapler and pencil sharpener is safe with me boss! You can have them back when I'm back from touring with my Saw Orchestra of Seftonshire.

Frank HovisJanuary 2nd 2009.

Great news indeed! I can only say that you are greatly undervalued, Miss Halfpenny, particularly as you are having to correspond 'in lieu' of him!

NumberCruncherJanuary 2nd 2009.

I read Monday's Guardian G2 and it suddenly clicked how the Culture Company has spun things like there is no tomorrow, or rather no 2009. In the article Follow that Spider writer Alfred Hickling is billed as giving his verdict on whether Liverpool's year of culture was a success. Except there was no 'verdict' or at least none I could see. Instead Mr Hickling appears to have fallen into the usual spider's web, ie nabbing all journalists and filling them with 'facts' so they go away convinced CoC was a world success. Mr Hickling quoted (though did not challenge) Phil Redmond, who said: "I predicted 10million visitors and we actually got 15 million. We spent £125m and made an £800m impact on the economy."As Laz said in his piece, they counted the 700,000 Mersey Ferry passengers as 'cultural visits'. What they did to reach the 15m was to actually count attendees at the RLPO, the theatres, the 08 Place, the museums and galleries, etc. So is a family of 4 came for a day out to Liverpool and headed to the 08 Place, then the World Museum, maybe the Beatles Story and the Tate, and perhaps the Maritime and then went on a ferry they would cussendly become 24 visitors, when there were only four of them.It gets worse though. Each 'visitor' spends an amount of money based on some cock and bull formula, so that amount per head will be multiplied by 24 and suddenly our family of four from Bolton or whereever would have spent hundreds of pounds on their day out. In reality they would have spent a few bob down at McDonalds and then headed home.Because there is no mainstream media challenge to the spun fact and figures we will have earned almost a billion and had 15m 'visitors' Who wrote that phrase, statistics, statistics and damned lies.....????Thank God we are in 2009.

Miss HalfpennyJanuary 2nd 2009.

Mr N is a gentleman who likes to mind his own business. But when he does look into his matter he is sure somebody will want to stand up in the chamber and pass a motion.

princess parkJanuary 2nd 2009.

can i ask why the spider looks like it has a huge pair of sunglasses on?

DigJanuary 2nd 2009.

I haven't made that mistake. I'm sure the majority of people who aren't working are claiming benefits. As the figures would suggest. They should target long term benefit claimants. Clearly people that been on the dole for a long time aren't looking for work and they should be. Not enough is being done to get these people into work. I know a bloke in his 50's who hasn't worked a day in his life, claimed benefits since he left school and, so he says, never been chased by anybody to make him go back to work. He's happy to pick up his dole and other benefits and subsidise that being a bit of a Del Boy. He's proud to tell you that too. They're the people that need to be targeted initially.

Laughing!January 2nd 2009.

Hi Privatepartz, have you run out of tissues already today?

DigJanuary 2nd 2009.

Go into any job centre and look on the computers. Look on the internet on all the job sites. There's lots of jobs across a wide variety of sectors across the whole country. Well done Liverpool Wag on your constuctive, intelligent and counter argument analysis on ONE of my annoyances of the credit crunch. You should be a politician. I'm not blind to all the other factors involved in creating the current economic climate but I think it's a disgrace that suddenly now we're all a bit poorer everybody can slash prices massively and still make profits. Fuel companies and supermarkets have been the biggest criminals of the lot.

DigJanuary 2nd 2009.

I actually meant to say 'I'm NOT sure we're talking about the same thing'. Of course there are genuine jobhunters on income support or jobseekers allowance. I have been in that category before. All I was saying is that the long term scroungers need to be targeted as they are abusing the system that is in place to aid genuine jobhunters.

privateparzJanuary 2nd 2009.

What do u call a scouser in a suit; 15, shot dead and awaiting cremation!

A. CronymJanuary 2nd 2009.

and an O.A.F.

EleanorRigsbyJanuary 2nd 2009.

SleepySam you are such a cynic. I was at St George's Hall to see Uncle Richard on the roof and the rich and famous all coming out of containers with big happy smiles on their faces.What impressed me was the tenacity of the rich and famous. They seemed to support everything because whenever there was a big 'do' they took the trouble to turn out. Good for them, I say.

London RoadJanuary 2nd 2009.

I absolutely agree Eddie. As for the great white hope that shops will save us, two of the businesses in Liverpool One, which opened just weeks ago, are now about to close forever, Zavvi and Adams. Has there been a word about this in the newspaper of record, The Liverpool Echo? Of course not!

DigJanuary 2nd 2009.

It's not just Liverpool that is suffering from the current financial issues. The whole world is. To make out it's just a Liverpool issue is very narrow minded. In 2008 Liverpool made a small net gain on businesses in the city. If there was more optimists in the world and less Sids & Eddies the world might not be in such a mess. The recession or credit crunch will only be temporary. Liverpool will be here and evolve regardless. As for my reading The Echo you can see my opinion on that in another Confidential article.

LazJanuary 2nd 2009.

Come to think of it I can't remember what my column was about either. So many rants to read, so little time.

Margaret ThatcherJanuary 2nd 2009.

Oh Dig fruit of my loins. You brought a tear to my eye bless you xxx

Norman TebbittJanuary 2nd 2009.

Dig! Will you sell me a bike that I can get on?

Liverpool WagJanuary 2nd 2009.

Is that a bit of a saw point then? Dig, I can't believe you fell for it. Now stop being so sensitive!

DigJanuary 2nd 2009.

He has an O.B.E & a C.B.E. doesn't he? I'm not sure how he got them. Probably got them in Christmas cracker or in a Kinder Surprise.

AnonymousJanuary 2nd 2009.

Jobhunter is correct. It's a long time since I've seen this sort of discussion, and there was no internet to do it on last time, but I suppose it will become more commonplace. Meanwhile, Tony needs to get a life.

PurpleHeartJanuary 2nd 2009.

Eddie goes large will be considered a traitor to Scouseville for all of that negativity. It is tantamount to insurrection. Trouble is Eddie is absolutely correct in his analysis and the even bigger trouble is nobody, apart from LC, poses a challenge to the real and true situation in this city. The Council and its Mandarins will pour out goody gumshoe news, and the media will swallow it (as per usual). Hasn't anybody got the b*llocks to stand up and say what's what. That's Eddie for giving is some food for thought.

DigJanuary 2nd 2009.

The word professor just means an expert in an art or science. Professor Redmond has talking rubbish and sounding like Ringo in the 60's down to a fine art. I salute you and your art Professor Redmond.

Liverpool WagJanuary 2nd 2009.

Dig, who told you that there are enough low skill jobs available to solve the problem? Exactly in what sector?

Julian OrchardJanuary 2nd 2009.

Don't be blaming Professor Matthew Matic!

Proper Professor ChucklebuttyJanuary 2nd 2009.

It is entirely Harry Nield's fault that his columns end up with these kind of rants. He is an agent profiterole, a rabbit rouser and knows just the right literary buttons to press to get people ranting. I don't believe he was really going around the city sticking an electric whisk in people ears looking for mobile phone radiation or climbing up the masts to see if he could fry an egg on his head. He is just trying to scare us. If you look on Bookface there are now several fundamentalist groups who are convinced he is the Antifreeze. Dig, I apologise for letting the cat out of the bag over your musical saw orchestra, I admit it was me, I was jealous. I sent my Yodelling Spoons Ensemble demo to Nice Phil and he sent the Police round with a dogs and tasers. By the way, I am glad to see people have at last got on to these phoney professors. Genuine academics like myself and Prof Matt Matic - who incidentaly, is the world authority on ancient oriental equation theories and calculated the first chinese take-away thus disproving Holland's Pye theories -are fed up of these frauds. By the way what was Larry's column about anyway?

nellieJanuary 2nd 2009.

NUMBER CRUNCHER!!! SPOT ON!!!!!Phil Redmond shouldve been sacked ages ago! and his professorship taken off him! i mean anyone who DEMANDS to be called PROFESSOR REDMOND is obviously believing their OWN publicity! sad git!

SidJanuary 2nd 2009.

Dig is off his rocker. The same record unemployment as before - whatever happened to the 14,000 new jobs that were promised?The world will know Liverpool for the Beatles, the footie and the crime. Simple as.Not for a here today, gone tomorrow giant spider or expensive exhibition. 2008 did not propel the city forward, rather it stopped the city sinking further back.With the recession worsening, it would be a bold man who endorsed Dig's rosy forecast.

scousekrautJanuary 2nd 2009.

When I was young there was a strong tendency to put the city down - when in it - but to defend it like hell in front of people darn sarf, when out of it. There was a lot of negativity and a tendency to blame others for the problems rather than to focus on solutions and just get on with it. It is much better today but still there is this lingering negativity. As Ghandi said: "Be the change you want to see in the world". Complaining and moaning is a waste of time and energy.There seem to have been a lot more positives and negatives from where I am sitting (in Germany) and the city has has some good write ups here. Events like 08 do not change the monetary system, that enslaves everybody in debt and causes the booms and busts. It gives people in a particular city or town to show themselves off to the world and enjoy themselves. It is marketing.

Leggy EggyJanuary 2nd 2009.

Who's complaining Scousekraut? Laz is not, by the look of it. I'm certainly not. And anyway, you like the place so much that you fecked off to Germany!

Miss HalfpennyJanuary 2nd 2009.

As Mr N's personal assistant (part-time, unpaid) I can inform Mr Hovis my esteemed scibe already has the story of Liverpool's inconveniences in his sights. He is already working on a number of leaks pertaining to this topic.

Oliver TwistJanuary 2nd 2009.

Please Mr. Dig sir, can I have some more?

DigJanuary 2nd 2009.

I quite enjoy a bimble. Although I'm sure we're both talking about the same thing.

DigJanuary 2nd 2009.

Yawn. Don't these Scouse baiters ever get bored? Then again, small things.....

AnonymousJanuary 2nd 2009.

private parts has hit on something here. what if work dodgers were penalised by denying benefits? It is surely worth trying to make these shiftless scousers join the real world.

SleepySamJanuary 2nd 2009.

2008 was cultural year for Liverpool was it Laz. Do yet know wot, I hadn't noticed. Must have slept all the way through. Good was it? None of me pals in Speke and Norris Green noticed it either. I reckon it was o ne of those private parties for the hob-nobs. Anyway is it safe to wake up now?

DigJanuary 2nd 2009.

I can't remember what Larry's column was about now. Something to do with kids colouring in books I think.

DigJanuary 2nd 2009.

The majority of unemployment is solvable. There are enough minimum and low skill jobs available in Liverpool and the UK to get the majority of the unemployed employed. Unfortunately there are too many people who don't want to work. Benefits should be cut and then ended within a specific timeframe to force people back to work. That would solve so many of the nations problems in one fell swoop.

Liverpool WagJanuary 2nd 2009.

There are repossessions everywhere and businesses closing so that's a bogus argument, Sid and Edie. However, If CoC does not completely transform the city's fortunes, Mr Redmond will point to that as the reason, so quite honestly we will never know. What I really do not like is this Cultural Collective that the Frodsham one is heading up. If that's the only legacy then God help us. A bunch of local government suits running a sh1ttily-titled arts clique which, I assume, your face will have to fit into if you want to get on and do any creating (to be renamed "Cultural Offering" in this once-free-thinking city.

EddieJanuary 2nd 2009.

Indeed Sid, you only have to look at the closures of business, reposessions and the development projects that our either in doubt, delayed long term-which means the cost will treble- or the projects that will now be cancelled. And look at the tram nonsense that they are trying to resurrect. The Airport connection is the only feasible line and yet they persist with the Kirkby lunacy. I think, despite what he says, our mate Dig, has been reading the Echo too much.

Alumini-UmJanuary 2nd 2009.

We Know Prof C is a REAL professor, don't we D.

Liverpool WagJanuary 2nd 2009.

Why do Larry's columns always end up with rants like this? Tell me Dig? Making a mockery, that's what it is!

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