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The Laz Word...from Larry Neild

Doesn't time fly when you are having fun? Larry gives his half-time report on Capital of Culture year. Look away if you are nervous...

Published on July 3rd 2008.

The Laz Word...from Larry Neild

SO we’re half way through the most famous year in our history, being European Capital of Culture. Have you been wowed, overwhelmed, excited, moved? Or underwhelmed, unmoved and unexcited?

The biggest problem I have is that the Capital of Culture Co Unpopular Front is force-feeding every one of us that we WILL embrace Culture year, that we WILL enjoy it and that we WILL stop moaning and whingeing about the cost.

Half way through 08, my assessment: Culture year has provided us with an amazing opportunity, much of which we have wasted and squandered

OK, we had a reasonably good start with the opening ceremony, with one-song Ringo doing his impersonation of Cllr Eddie Clein on the roof of St George’s Hall, and, yes, the arena opening was something else. Then again the ceremony was largely the work of our very own Jayne Casey, proving Liverpool’s Got Talent (and therefore doesn’t need an army of occupation from overseas).

In September we are going to witness the spectacular of a giant ****** (sorry, don’t want to spoil it for everyone) being dragged through the city, organised by the same people who dragged a giant Indian elephant through London. It’s going to cost around £1.5m to stage this four-day extravaganza, courtesy of the money’s-no-problem (never has been, never will be, cos you poor sods pay) Culture Company.

That same company has already claimed brownie points for delivering to us Liverpool One (ah, gee, thanx Phil), the Grand National (too much, Phil), oh, and the arena itself. It’s the same company that didn’t ensure the Pier Head was finished in time for our big year, and that much of 2008 has seen the streets paved with traffic cones.

But as our Colonel-in-Chief, Big Brownie Warren Bradley says: “I always want to see cranes on our skyline”. Yes, Warren, but not in 2008 – it’s our special year, remember?

It was the same Culture Company

that brought us (skin of our teeth) the Macca concert at Anfield. OK, the dream of worldwide television ended up with an hour- long slot on BBC2, but beggars can’t be choosers.

It’s the same company that has hijacked the Mathew Street Festival (we’re all watching Phil!!!) and the Tall Ships Race.

Is it a success? Well look at the figures. Millions of visitors from everywhere, except most of the people who visit the museums and galleries, are local and come here anyway, and their accountants see triple or quadruple. Somebody who visits in the Maritime, World Museum, Conservation Centre and Walker are counted as four visitors.

Foreigners jetting into JLA are counted as cultural tourists to Liverpool, even though thousands of them are Polish workers manning the cranes that shouldn’t be here in 2008.

At the end of the year the hugely expensive Capital of Culture Co will produce a family album – free gold-trimmed hardback copies for the VIPs), cheapo softbacks (£29.99 from WHS) for the great unwashed, forcing us to remember what a jolly good time we have all had in 2008, allegedly.

The brains behind our success, the Squire of Frodsham, Prof Sir Philip Brookside-Hollyoaks, will insist the legacy of 2008 will catapult the city into greatness for generations to come. The culture people will hire “independent” assessors to prove to the doubters that the vast expense has been worth it.

Sir Phil has already told people through his weekly sermon on Old Hall Street that the legacy of 08 will be the memories. It won’t be the memories Phil, trust me. It will be the reminder in Council Tax bills, for years to come, that we all celebrated 2008 and will pay the cost.

Half way through 08, my assessment: Culture year provided us with an amazing opportunity, much of which we have wasted and squandered.

There are some dedicated and hard working people in the Culture Company, and I pay tribute to them, but I bet, secretly away from the office, they agree with a lot of what I have said.

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

Local Cultural CommentsJune 30th 2008.

Is the remander of our cocy, for the tourists or the locals, not enough local marketing is being done to engage the locals, most locals feel like they have been left out, especially with local grass roots culture. The cultural company and city council have been seen as one, and the city council is not liked. Why has the local youth been left out? It appears that most of the events are for corporate companies or tourists as most of the prices for larger events are very expensive, it should have been a peoples festival, what happens after December? as it apprears that the city council has no cultural strategy inplace.

Nero1June 30th 2008.

I agree about the opening event. It was good that somebody had the foresight to let Jane Casey organise it. But I haven't seen much since. Not unless you count a load of fun-sized superlambananas, which aren't much fun IMHO

DogJune 30th 2008.

To Dig: You've changed your tune, haven't you?

Jim McCabeJune 30th 2008.

Dig, either you're a CoC minion, or you need to take a reality check. The sobering reality is that this supposed year of culture has revealed a chronic reliance on the Fab Four.I only wish the city could stand on its own two feet & not fall back on the 60s (yawn), but that's not the case. Incidentally, why was the Macca gig at Anfield billed as Merseysound when, apart from Sir Thumbs Up himself, the only local act was The Zutons?

Pansy PotterJune 30th 2008.


William Brown-StreetJune 30th 2008.

I can't wait until it's all over and I can saunter around the Walker Art Gallery again to be able to view the paintings undisturbed by pushy, sweaty people wearing vests smirking at everything. In fact, during Capital of Culture year when we are trying to look our best, oughtn't there to be uniformed doormen enforcing a dress code to keep these smelly scruffs out of our beautiful temples of culture?

PollPotJune 30th 2008.

The council and the culture co WILL hire pollsters to determine the success of 08. That report WILL give a resounding YES in the same way that the old Communist regimes could surely publish election results in advance. The council taxpayers should demand nothing less than a wholly independent and arms length audit of the success. Perhaps we could get one of the outside (ie Manchester or Leeds) universities to do it as an academic exercise.

0151omskiJune 30th 2008.

Highlight of CoC so far has to be something that wasn't officially sanctioned and had very little advertising - Africa Exprez. What a night of quality music coming out of a crap sound system.

Stanley StreetJune 30th 2008.

As Poll Pot says, it'll be like that expensive, full-colour City Council magazine they shove through our letterboxes. A work of (barely literate) fantasy, like Mugabe's 'elections', I was particularly enraged by it poll about street traders on Church Street. Despite three curiously-worded alternatives to mislead and confuse respondents (rather than a straight 'yes' or 'no' about getting rid of the eyesore market stalls) the public vote was overwhelmingly in favour of kicking these ugly disgraces off Church Street, but the Lib-Dem Council dismissed the poll, saying that they had to carry out further polls with “hard-to-reach” people! In other words it wasn’t the answer they wanted and they were playing for time to think up some other dodge to avoid giving the marching orders to the rag-tag retailers whose so-called “shop steward” just happened to be a Lib Dem Councillor!What it must be like to know the right people, eh!

Sir Thomas StreetJune 30th 2008.

What no-one seems to have mentioned so far is that all the hundred-plus, bought-in from anywhere-but-Liverpool dilettantes at the Liverpool Culture Company are employees of Liverpool City Council who will be entitled to redeployment within the Council (on the same astronomical salaries as they are getting now) when their contracts come to an end. What effect will that have on Council Tax and the standard of services?

Eleanor RigsbyJune 30th 2008.

Welcome back Laz Word. Glad to see you still have some spirit in your pen. I thought I was the only one having some doubts and was too afraid to say so. Now I know I'm not alone.Can hardly wait for the ****** parade, seeing as we're paying.

Andy MeliaJune 30th 2008.

'Culture' is not just about an entertainment act coming in to titillate the punters (although I saw the Sultan's elephant in London and I was as excited as an 8 year old. I'm 54), it's also about going to see things - art galleries etc. The Klimt is great (when you actually get to it) and The Walker just gets better. Proudly showed some old friends from outside the area last Saturday. A great day was had by all, starting with a trip on the ferry to see the noo Liverpool skyline. HOWEVER...ended up in a jam-packed Walker Art Gallery at 4pm, looking forward to happily finishing off our dose of culture. Naturally, many visitors were from outside the area, and there was absolute bewilderment followed by anger, when the staff aggressively emptied the place at 4.50 pm when the gallery (and cafe) was doing a roaring trade. Hello?? Capital of Culture year. A Saturday, and the gaff closes at FIVE O'CLOCK?. Huge mistake. It's not even worth writing to complain because they'd probably drag out some farty. insincere, health and safety ruse...

Kulture KreatureJune 30th 2008.

The Echo should give its rapidly diminishing army of readers a free tin of Tate & Lyle's syrup with every edition whilst it continues to crow about how wonderful 08 is for all of us. What planet are they on at the Echo, cos it surely ain't Planet Liverpool.

Desperate danJune 30th 2008.

Has there been some cultural event going on in Liverpool that I have missed?

AnonymousJune 30th 2008.

Hear hear. Both Larry and Local Cultural Comments.

Paul PaulsJune 30th 2008.

If the minions at the culture co actually went out and spoke to the people in Liverpool and found out how completely clueless most of them are about this year, they would be speechless. It means **** all to the population of this city, except for a few crap superlambanas about the place and wheeling out the two surviving pensioner beatles who have now got back to where they now belong. And don't go on about teaching people how to ballroom dance in Kensington or a crap battle of the bands either. Culture? My arse.

dugJune 30th 2008.

Dig is talking bollocks. What exactly has brought us 'kicking and screaming into the 21st century?' Phil Redmond? Robbing Archer? Jase? And what have these dolts produced? Macca at Anfield? - Macca produced that. Klimt at the Tate? - the Tate produced that. Ringo on the roof? - ok, they produced that. ButdDid that drag us kicking and screaming into the 21st century? I don't think so. They have done **** all except spend a load of our dosh wasting a once in a lifetime opportunity for the city of the Liverpool. And giant elephants are'nt going to do the job either.Unless they sit on Kris Donaldson's head.

AnonymousJune 30th 2008.

We have to think about the future.

Professor Y. ChucklebuttyJune 30th 2008.

By Jove, Mr Neild I am doing my best to promote all that is finest in 2008 and I found this piece and the comments so far to be littered with cynicism. Whilst through my own guide to the year I try to give every support to the beleagured Custard Company for all their hard work and professionalism in making 2008 a triumph of strong financial management and organisation, I am saddened by the mocking tone contained within this feature. I must also say that I was appalled by the negativity. fancy casting Onslow as Gabriel.By the way, since you have more or less given the game away in the section about the sultans Elephant spectacle, I may as well confirm that I have seen the creation that will parade through the city. a 90 foot high Council Tax demand.

DigJune 30th 2008.

We may not approve of some of what some of the money has been spent on but the majority of it has brought Liverpool kicking and screaming into the 21st century and put us on the global tourism map. Beatles who? Liverpool can now stand on it own 2 feet, not on the shoulders of The Fab Four any more.

Mrs MertonJune 30th 2008.

The Capitla of Culture machine gave a load of money to Afica Express and the millionaire Damon Albarn once they realised it was coming here anyway!!!

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