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Not Strictly Confidential - 30/7/07

All quiet on the western front, The Wacker Man, 08 card and more stuff

Published on August 2nd 2007.

Not Strictly Confidential - 30/7/07

As if there hadn't been enough clouds this summer, news comes from across the Pond that Will Alsop's Cloud, aka the Fourth Grace, which long ago floated far, far away from the land of missed opportunity, could touch down on another waterfront: The shores of Lake Ontario, Toronto.

Toronto is Alsop's town and there are moves afoot to construct The Cloud there as part of a £250 million development.

Perhaps it will ease the homeboy's pique. The architect claims he was treated shabbily by Liverpool and its public agencies who sensationally quashed the fantastic structure on the grounds of “rising costs” of over £300 million. In the same breath, the council compared it to the Millennium Dome, and thus the death knell was sounded.

We shy away from the misplaced use of the word “iconic” so won't use it. The Cloud, whether you liked it or not, was, however, dazzling and bold, forming a major plank of Liverpool's Culture bid in 2003, something that rival bidders were quick to point out when Alsop's scheme went belly up.

Who knows if we will have another opportunity to create a single structure on such a grandiose scale. The nearest NW comparison is the 50-storey Beetham Tower in Manchester, a stick of Lego in terms of its aesthetics, but a snip at £150 million.

Time will tell if Toronto, famous for Niagara Falls, will one day be synonymous with this man-made wonder too.

Or, to misqote the song: “And if you wanted a tram scheme we've got one to spare......”

You thought that 08 was the magic number on everyone's minds, but not in certain quarters. The 08 loyalty card is suffering from that little discussed and embarrassing condition - premature expiration.

“Due to unforseen circumstances” several thousand “smart” cards have been sent out to Merseyside people with expiry dates of 06/07 or 07/07 – so by now you'll be needing a TARDIS to reap the benefits (such as BOGOF Merseyrail tickets on Thursday after 6pm).

But perhaps not. A spokesman for the card said: “People who find they have one of these cards should simply ignore the expiry date and carry on using it as normal.”

Saveaway ticket holders have been living by this code for generations.

Apart from The Cloud, what else isn't happening at the Pier Head anytime soon? The Mathew Street Festival, that's what.

It was solemnly announced last week that “famous names added to the festival bill over the past two years will not appear this year”.

To translate: The Pier Head stage, which has hosted the Proclaimers, the Lightning Seeds, Tony Christie et al, in the last couple of years, will not be going up on Liverpool's 800th birthday weekend.

Was this cancellation a sudden decision? Nope. No “big names” had ever been booked, and nobody was seriously thinking about staging a hooley above the hole that has been dug there for the canal.

Or, as one ear-to-the-ground observer put it: “It was known at the end of last year that there would be no main stage at the Pier Head in 2007 and there is nowhere else in Liverpool big enough to put one, because of the Big Dig.”

Some powers-that-be wanted Mathew Street to be cancelled all together this year, we were told, and others for it to be sited at Otterspool.

But, luckily, PR commonsense prevailed: “They knew they would have an angry mob on their hands.”

This realisation could only have come from someone who has never actually been to the Mathew Street Festival, an event where the liquor flows voluntarily, and then involuntarily, from dawn 'til dawn, and where Merseyside Police annually pray for heavy rain because, unfortunately, when the sun shines, “they know they will have an angry mob on their hands”.

The Mathew Street Festival will still go ahead (no it won't. See updated story, Ed), in pre-2005, traditional style, with Beatles and other cover acts of varying ability on smaller stages around town, compacted down to two days this time.

Among those disappointed that there will be no big stage are local band Amsterdam.

Guitarist Ian Prowse said: “'I know fans from as far afield as the USA have booked hotels, and it's only around the corner now.”

Happily, if they have booked through Flyglobespan, they may never leave JFK to hear the news (oh boy).

Who needs a big gig at the Pier Head, when you can enjoy a good knees up on your own bunting-festooned doorstep? Some 300 street parties are taking place around Liverpool to celebrate King John's 1207 charter on bank hol Monday.

But don't get too carried away. The real party is the next day. Tuesday.Now you may be back at work, but 28th August is, after all, technically the big birthday, so what better way to ease the vips into the working week than with a Wicker Man-style all-dayer, complete with Liverpool's own 15ft Liverpool Giant effigy? The Wacker Man (not really).

A civic procession will begin at 11am, followed by a costumed pageant of 800 people starting at St George's Hall, with frolics until going-home time. Curiously, there will be sack races down Old Hall Street (sack races, not sacking races). The Liverpool Giant will be presented to visiting dignitaries and it will all culminate in the ceremonial burning of millions of fireworks at dusk, with, perhaps, even a bit of Britt-Ekland-style cavorting from an executive council member on the way.

Councillor Mike Storey, a teacher, who is off anyway, said: "We want as many people as possible to take part in the festivities.”

Far be it for us to suggest throwing a sickie, but can you risk missing that 15ft effigy leading the pageant? For according to the blurb, "it will be accompanied by other model companions including two big heads based on local personalities”.

We couldn't possibly speculate on who they might be thinking of here. But we bet you could.

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

JOHN JAYJuly 31st 2007.

Ref: Lead story - "4th Grace" - The Cloud - 6th Para.Who says Toronto is "Famous for Niagara Falls"...??? It's not all that far away, maybe. But it's right across the lake and Buffalo, NY, is a closer... And, hey...! - only Niagara Falls is famous for Niagara Falls, anyway...!!!

Christoper LeeJuly 31st 2007.

Undead actually

A. E. ScousemanJuly 31st 2007.

According to the Echo web site we're getting a two-week, C.A.M.R.A.-organised beer festival on our 800th birthday!Unfortunately as we're not cronies of the Culture Company shower, we'll have to pay for our own.It'll be somewhere to go and drown our sorrows after we've watched Storey & Co. make yet another show of us on 28th August and the suposed "V.I.P.s" swilling champagne at our expense.

AnonymousJuly 31st 2007.

Looks like Fat Git isn't playing anymore then...

Phil McCrackenJuly 31st 2007.

One thing's for sure if an effigy of Frank is burning I can't see Warren - the firebobby- Bradley rushing to put it out. Are they allowed to do this what with the smoking ban, or can you only not set fire to Frank in a pub?

Self-pity Kitty, Council Tax PayerJuly 31st 2007.

Who selected these 800 people? Who are they? Why have they all got the day off from the Council? Why weren't locals invited to take part? It's a disgrace, and WE'LL be paying for it!

Fat gitJuly 31st 2007.

I've been on incapacity benefit for 20 years now so I'll be able to enjoy my 08 card all day every day and I'm looking forward to the big procession with the wicker man because I can, and I'll hold some of my money back from Monday when we're playing a gig in Mathew street.

AnonymousJuly 31st 2007.

I love this place!

Victor MeldrewJuly 31st 2007.

So do I. But what a council,eh. The Cloud slips through their hands and now will be built in Canada so we can all say "it could have been us." And the big 800 party is on a workday. Maybe I'll get to see the fireworks through the cloudy haze. Bah!

Peter CushingJuly 31st 2007.

I love the thought of Christopher Lee leading the celebrations on August 28. Do you think they could still get him or is he dead?

AnonymousJuly 31st 2007.

"it will be accompanied by other model companions including two big heads based on local personalities”?Yes. Frank McKenna definitely. Ha, ha!!

saucypiesJuly 31st 2007.

Ooooh! Do tell!

AnonymousJuly 31st 2007.


A. E. ScousemanJuly 31st 2007.

Presumably the wicker man represents Mike 'horror' Storey - it has his scruffy hair 'style'.You'd think with all he money being spent by the Culture Company they could spare 50p to buy him a comb so he would be less of an embarrassment at big events?

SaucypiesJuly 31st 2007.

Are the fireworks still on though. I heard that they were off. Just as well I won't be here to be disapponited

A. E. ScousemanJuly 31st 2007.

My friend checked with CAMRA. There is no beer festival.And I always believed that everything in the Echo must be TRUE!

Stanley StreetJuly 31st 2007.

And we actually pay these blithering incompetents' wages?Can't we sack the lot and employ some normal people?

MathewJuly 31st 2007.

Mathew Street Festival cancelled.

GordoJuly 31st 2007.

Leave poor Frank alone I like him.

Phil McCrackenJuly 31st 2007.

Are the firefighters from the 2008 World Firefighters games going to race to put the Wicker man out? Who will be the big heads? Frank McKenna surely must be one?

Dicky SamJuly 31st 2007.

Oh, something about the falsification of election expenses in 1997 to the tune of £10,000 and being found out by an internal Labour Party audit.I couldn't possibly comment myself.

Dicky SamJuly 31st 2007.

I see that Frank McKenna features in an unflattering light in the latest edtion of 'Private Eye'.

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