Tuesday, 28 February 2012

The Bluecoat School, Wavetree, Liverpool

The Bluecoat school is the school my mothers family attended, her sisters and brother attended in the 1940's during it's evacuation to Anglesey during the latter part of WW2, and my mother continues to live within spitting distance of it.

The school was founded in 1708 by Mr Bryan Blundell and Rev Robert Styth as "a school for teaching poor children to read, write and cast accounts".

The original Blue Coat School expanded rapidly and a new building, the present Bluecoat Arts Centre, opened in 1718. At the start of the 20th century it was decided that the School needed to move from the polluted town centre to somewhere quieter, and the village of Wavertree was the site chosen. Wavetree had buildings and a community was thriving at the turn of the last century with the expansion of the village and "Wavetree Garden Village" incorporating Thingwall Road, Northway, Southway, Wavetree Nook Road and Waldgrave Road. I attended Northway school from 1970 - 1978 before moving to King David High School.

The architects chosen for the design of the new building were Briggs, Wolstenholme & Thornely, most notable for the design of the Port of Liverpool Building in the city centre.

In 1906 the school took possession of the building and was later designated a Grade II* listed building. Later additions include a clock tower and the Fenwick Memorial Chapel which is still used for assemblies by the school.

At 7pm on 25 August 1958 a fire broke out at the school, on the roof of the North Front. Although 170 boarding pupils were in the building at the time, nobody was hurt during the fire, though the building sustained some water and smoke damage.

In 2004, work commenced on a substantial redevelopment of the Wavertree site. The original buildings remained intact, but the southern wing of the school was converted into private accommodation and sold to part-fund the development. The school chapel, clock tower, board room, and former music room, together with administrative rooms and the formal entrance to the original building, were transferred to a new school foundation and made available to hire for weddings and other private functions.

A number of buildings that had been added to the northern side of the site during the second half of the twentieth century - including the swimming pool, sixth form centre, sports hall and squash courts - were demolished to make way for new facilities. The North Wing of the original school was renovated, and a new building extended the wing into the area previously known as the North Yard. New facilities within this redevlopment included modern laboratories, a new school entrance and administration block, music rooms, a recording studio, and dance studio, plus dining and sports halls.

The remainder of the former North Yard was upgraded to provide improved outdoor sports facilities.

The old dining hall, beneath the Shirley Hall in the centre of the original building, was converted into a new library, with a mezzanine ICT suite. The previous library space, itself a former dormitory, was refurbished as a sixth form facility.

Church of England status

The Department for Education and Skills is currently considering the school's legal status receiving notification from the Diocese of Liverpool that the Liverpool Blue Coat School is a Church of England school. The Diocese took action when it discovered that a 2000 agreement between the school and the Charity Commission had committed the school to teaching the doctrines of the Church of England, in line with its founders' intentions.

Church of England status would give the Diocese the right to conduct inspections. If these identified a problem, the school would be required to find a solution, although not necessarily the solution proposed by the Diocese. It is likely that the Church of England would find the appointment of a non-Christian headteacher to be such a problem.

The school authorities and the parent-teacher association have stated that they are opposed to Church of England status, arguing that the school has both a Christian and multicultural ethos, and that designated Church of England status would inevitably change its character. They point out that one recent headmaster was a notable Welsh Presbyterian. This is indeed a shame, as although i appreciate the school must change with the times, it is part of old Liverpool and it's older values. We dont make other schools conform... Indeed, when my aunts and uncles attended the Bluecoat, they had to be baptised before they went, and indeed, they were baptised in 1941 the very week they were sent.

The Diocese has stated that under the Education Act 1998, any school that teaches Anglican doctrines automatically receives Church of England status, so neither the Diocese nor the school has any choice in the matter. They claim that the Diocese's policies on selection and multiculturalism are essentially identical with the school's. They also point out that the Bishop of Liverpool and the Dean of Liverpool have ceremonial roles in the school's governing body, that the school has had an Anglican chaplain for at least 40 years, and that the school's Founders' Day service has long been held in the Church of England's Liverpool Cathedral.

The school celebrated its 300th birthday in 2008, making it the longest educating school in Liverpool. A number of celebrations took place, and to mark the occasion the school undertook to raise £1,000,000 to fund two new developments: to provide an all-weather playing surface on the present playing fields; and to convert part of the East Wing of the original building into a Year 13 study area.

The foundation trustees donated £100,000 the tricentenary appeal fund, and the school has organised a range of fund-raising activities, including annual summer fairs. As of September 2007 the total raised stood at £416,886.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

The brightest stars burn out the quickest... Lucy Loo January 2001 - November 2011

The Rainbow Bridge

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge. When an animal dies
that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.

There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm
and comfortable. All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health
and vigour; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again,
just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.

The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and
looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers.
Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs
carrying him faster and faster. You have been spotted, and when you and your
special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again.

The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head,
and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your
life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together

Monday, 17 October 2011

CFS My ME - Myalgic Encephalomyelitis

I have been diagnosed with ME since 2006, i actually feel on reflection that i have suffered with it for many years, but in the past, it was diagnosed as depression which has recurred since initially having post natal depression in 1994 after David was born.

The symptoms of CFS overlap with those of severe psychiatric disorders. Most of the depressed patients have substantial fatigue and for some others it is the most distressing part of the illness. But it is not clear about the role of psychiatric disorder in CFS. Patients who are affected psychologically is due to the physical illness but it does not shows the higher rates of psychiatric disorder found in CFS compare to that of other chronic illness.

The role of psychological problems in CFS is controversial as most of the people with CFS are diagnosed with depression and other psychological disorders comorbidly.

Some patients with CFS do not experience any psychological disorders before getting CFS. According to doctors, patients are becoming depressed or anxious because of the effect of the symptoms of their CFS and one of the recent study shows that depression was the result of the illness not the cause of the illness.

The psychological symptoms which can be found in patients are getting depressed, irritable, anxious, difficulty to sleep, lose interest in food, difficulty in concentrating or remembering things, extremely tired and getting headaches. These symptoms make the life intolerable and make it hard to carry out their usual activities, go and see their friends and to carry out their hobbies. Young people also will become mentally upset due to prolonged bed rest or by not working for a long time.

This idle life causes rapid muscle loss even in healthy people and these complications make the recovery more difficult. Adverse events in life also will develop acute fatigue and subsequently become chronic. Most patients are experiencing difficulties with various neuropsychological functions like memory, attention and concentration.

The mental strain can be felt by every member of the family. You have to provide time to nurse the sick person, and other family members feel as if they are being neglected.

Diagnosis of CFS is difficult because the in early stage the illness cannot be identified.


One of the most common self care remedies is to rest and learn to reduce and manage your stress levels. However, this is almost impossible to achieve in our busy lives today.

And all of us have to keep working to earn a living, so taking a year off from work to rest and recover is not really an option for most of us. Another strategy is to build up your strength and immunity levels by improving your diet and nutrition. But when you are feeling sick you do not feel like eating the huge amounts of fresh organic fruit and vegetables that this would require.

But do not worry, whatever may be your level of chronic fatigue, it has been observed that taking quality dietary supplements and use of chronic fatigue herbs can help to improve the health and energy levels of the sufferer. This is the simplest and fastest way to improve your health and start on your road to recovery and fully enjoying your life again.

You should learn more about natural chronic fatigue herbs and drinks including Herbal Aloe drink which is a marvelous blend of juice and herbs which seems to heal everything it touches.

Nutritional supplements and Herbal Teas can play an important role in your chronic fatigue recovery program. Chronic fatigue herbs can help stimulate a person's immune system, glands, and digestive tract, and they can help stabilize and relax your mood. Natural nutrition products will detoxify the body, rebuild the body’s ability to absorb nutrition and also give the nutrition needed for the body and can use at a cellular level to help your body heal itself of the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome health problems.

Having lived with ME for many years, i have found that afternoon naps help enormously, as well as lots of fruit, writing lists to prompt memory and keep organised and most importantly, getting up even when you do not want to is very ijmportant or you can, as i have many times, end up in your dressing gown all day which leads to more and more days being alienated and finding it more and more difficult to go out.

My ME comes and goes, at the moment, it is reasonably under control, though the pain in my muscles especially in my legs is acute most of the time.... i still have a reasonably fulfilling life despite it all....

Sunday, 16 October 2011

More Downton Abbey - who isnt hooked yet? episode 5 series 2

This week, i intended to watch episode four again as it was so good, but didnt get time - however, after another great weekend with Neil, the boys and the Kendalls, we finally sat down to watch episode 5 thanks to sky+ i just had time to tidy up the kitchen....

The John Bates and the lovely Anna continue to drag things along, and old Catherine of Aragon - aka in this programme as the ex mrs Bates is a nasty piece of work who seems to stop at nothing - having taken all of Bates money from his inheritance from his recently dead mother, she has no scruples and decides to sell her story anyway....

I have to say, old Bates is getting on my nerves now - i understand that he is loyal - but to spend all his money on trying to keep his wife quiet???? - bloody stupid really - he should have gone to his master and got him to put her through a gagging order....

Poor Matthew and William get gravely injured in the war at Amiens - so at least we know what part of 1918 we are now in.... both come home. With a bit of luck, the ridiculous fiance will bow out gracefully - and just as it apears she is about to, the Mrs Vulture Bates scenario rears it's ugly head and Sir Richard shuts her up but also publishes his engagement to Lady Mary - she needs to really think hard as to whether she can actually live with him, he isnt a nice person either - and hasnt even asked Lady Mary's father for his daughters hand in marriage....

Daisy finally thought about William for once instead of just herself and her conscience, and did the right thing by marrying him on his death bed......................

I am not sure how many episodes are in this series.... but we must be half way through by now.... cant wait for next weeks....

Episode 4 series 2 the Bates and Anna Show - or Downton Abbey

There’s much to be happy about in episode four, we all love it on a Sunday evening, especially now the weather is getting colder.... no doubt it wont be long before problems arise in the series with Anna and Bates et al!

It’s now 1918 and the war continues on, the Crawley’s seem to be used to having their home taken over as a hospital. Life continues to go on. Things are testy between Isobel and Lady Grantham which I suspect much of which has happened off screen which leads to Isobel making a hasty exit to France - though good on Lady Grantham who actually develops a backbone and wont give in over "cousin Isobel" taking over her home - Isobel goes on about the American's divine right!! - haha - it's her bloody home! :)

Due to her exit – her staff are bored out of their minds and take upon helping wounded veterans who are starving in the streets. There’s quite a bit of character development for poor old Mosley. I’m really starting to worry about him and I suspect that one day we’re going to see him snap - he tried it on with Anna but she told him that it was only ever Bates for her - then gets ready to take over as Lord Grantham's valet only to find Bates steals in!!!! - Poor bugger....

Lots more development of the Lady Cybil and Branson storyline and I think it’s a really unhealthy relationship. Branson clearly loves her more than she’s interested in him. The fact there’s something going on starts to get around, rather embarrassingly..... though i do think Cybil is realising she does have feelings for him, but he is so arrogant i really dont want her to do it - and goodness knows what MAggie Smith will do!!

My biggest complaint about the series at the moment is how disjointed it is - it’s timeline i cant work out... two years have gone on in four episodes - so it's four years since the relationship wtih Mathew and Lady Mary - This episode simply states it takes place in 1918 – but WHEN in 1918? The war ends in 1918 – there’s a lot happening that year and it would be nice to be able to frame it in my own historical knowledge as i am so obsessed with history.....

Ethel gets herself into serious trouble but i dont particularly care as she is stupid and full of herself.... - another one for the orphanage i imagine... cant see the captain marrying her...

The biggest developments in this episode revolved around Bates and Anna which sees the return of Bates to Downton. But while everyone is happy that he’s back (except O’Brien and Thomas – who’s surprisingly more ambivalent), I suspect that we’re just being setup for more drama down the line involving Mrs. Bates and Mr. Carlisle’s Newspaper business.

Overall it was a very good episode and I think the Mary/Matthew storyline is starting to strengthen a bit. I just wish they’d straighten out the timeline of when things are happening - ie what month of 1918..... tonight is episode 5! :)

Monday, 3 October 2011

Episode 3 Downton Abbey Series 2

I have to say, i do love and look forward to watching Downton each Sunday evening, and we are now up to episode three of the long-awaited second series with the house now very nearly in full swing as a convalescence home for wounded soliders, though not without much difficulties between the Crawley's, Cora and Hugh and his arched eyebrows...

Yes, things are changing at Downton, as we are reminded by the characters in exactly those terms at least four times per episode, because once the war is over, the class system will definitely have evaporated completely, never to be seen again..... - really?? i still see a class system even when out at the shops - or watching Jeremy Kyle!

Things were also changing downstairs on tonight's episode, as Anna played around with the world's first hair straighteners/tongs - though i wasnt aware they had electrict downstairs? Whatever next??

The wonderful Maggie Smith is beginning to look like a caraciture of herself as the Dowager Countess, machine-gunning sparkling wordplay around the house with her infamously withering looks.....

I do wish they would just get on wtih it and Bates would just take Anna to be his wife - though i think it will be dragged out till Christmas! We need some of the feel good drama and tear jerkers with all the rubbish reported in the news...

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Quotes on Parenthood

You don't really understand human nature unless you know why a child on a merry-go-round will wave at his parents every time around - and why his parents will always wave back. ~William D. Tammeus

Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. ~Elizabeth Stone

Always kiss your children goodnight - even if they're already asleep. ~H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

When you have brought up kids, there are memories you store directly in your tear ducts. ~Robert Brault, www.robertbrault.com

Parenthood: That state of being better chaperoned than you were before marriage. ~Marcelene Cox

Before I got married I had six theories about bringing up children; now I have six children, and no theories. ~John Wilmot

It would seem that something which means poverty, disorder and violence every single day should be avoided entirely, but the desire to beget children is a natural urge. ~Phyllis Diller

To bring up a child in the way he should go, travel that way yourself once in a while. ~Josh Billings

Your children need your presence more than your presents. ~Jesse Jackson

It's not only children who grow. Parents do too. As much as we watch to see what our children do with their lives, they are watching us to see what we do with ours. I can't tell my children to reach for the sun. All I can do is reach for it, myself. ~Joyce Maynard

Don't worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you. ~Robert Fulghum

Parents often talk about the younger generation as if they didn't have anything to do with it. ~Haim Ginott

The trouble with learning to parent on the job is that your child is the teacher. ~Robert Brault, www.robertbrault.com

It behooves a father to be blameless if he expects his child to be. ~Homer

If you have never been hated by your child you have never been a parent. ~Bette Davis

It kills you to see them grow up. But I guess it would kill you quicker if they didn't. ~Barbara Kingsolver, Animal Dreams

Diogenes struck the father when the son swore. ~Robert Burton, "Anatomy of Melancholy," Democritus to the Reader, 1621

Children are a great comfort in your old age - and they help you reach it faster, too. ~Lionel Kauffman

Most of us become parents long before we have stopped being children. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic's Notebook, 1966

If you want children to keep their feet on the ground, put some responsibility on their shoulders. ~Abigail Van Buren

The quickest way for a parent to get a child's attention is to sit down and look comfortable. ~Lane Olinghouse

If there is anything that we wish to change in the child, we should first examine it and see whether it is not something that could better be changed in ourselves. ~C.G. Jung, Integration of the Personality, 1939

Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy. ~Robert A. Heinlein

Too often we give children answers to remember rather than problems to solve. ~Roger Lewin

Simply having children does not make mothers. ~John A. Shedd

Although there are many trial marriages... there is no such thing as a trial child. ~Gail Sheehy

Children have more need of models than of critics. ~Carolyn Coats, Things Your Dad Always Told You But You Didn't Want to Hear

The beauty of "spacing" children many years apart lies in the fact that parents have time to learn the mistakes that were made with the older ones - which permits them to make exactly the opposite mistakes with the younger ones. ~Sydney J. Harris

There are two lasting bequests we can give our children. One is roots. The other is wings. ~Hodding Carter, Jr.

Your children tell you casually years later what it would have killed you with worry to know at the time. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic's Notebook, 1966

Do not ask that your kids live up to your expectations. Let your kids be who they are, and your expectations will be in breathless pursuit. ~Robert Brault, www.robertbrault.com

The thing that impresses me most about America is the way parents obey their children. ~Edward, Duke of Windsor, Look, 5 March 1957

The problem with children is that you have to put up with their parents. ~Charles DeLint

Sing out loud in the car even, or especially, if it embarrasses your children. ~Marilyn Penland

My mom used to say it doesn't matter how many kids you have... because one kid'll take up 100% of your time so more kids can't possibly take up more than 100% of your time. ~Karen Brown

A parent's love is whole no matter how many times divided. ~Robert Brault, www.robertbrault.com

Children aren't happy with nothing to ignore,
And that's what parents were created for.
~Ogden Nash, "The Parent," Happy Days, 1933

Each day of our lives we make deposits in the memory banks of our children. ~Charles R. Swindoll, The Strong Family

How pleasant it is for a father to sit at his child's board. It is like an aged man reclining under the shadow of an oak which he has planted. ~Walter Scott

You will always be your child's favorite toy. ~Vicki Lansky, Trouble-Free Travel with Children, 1991

What a child doesn't receive he can seldom later give. ~P.D. James, Time to Be in Earnest

There is a strong chance that siblings who turn out well were hassled by the same parents. ~Robert Brault, www.robertbrault.com

If your children spend most of their time in other people's houses, you're lucky; if they all congregate at your house, you're blessed. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic's Notebook, 1966

If you want your children to improve, let them overhear the nice things you say about them to others. ~Haim Ginott

Give me the life of the boy whose mother is nurse, seamstress, washerwoman, cook, teacher, angel, and saint, all in one, and whose father is guide, exemplar, and friend. No servants to come between. These are the boys who are born to the best fortune. ~Andrew Carnegie

Now the thing about having a baby - and I can't be the first person to have noticed this - is that thereafter you have it. ~Jean Kerr

Children begin by loving their parents; as they grow older they judge them; sometimes they forgive them. ~Oscar Wilde

There is only one pretty child in the world, and every mother has it. ~Chinese Proverb

Never raise your hand to your kids. It leaves your groin unprotected. ~Red Buttons

Smack your child every day. If you don't know why - he does. ~Joey Adams

Kids spell love T-I-M-E. ~John Crudele

There may be some doubt as to who are the best people to have charge of children, but there can be no doubt that parents are the worst. ~George Bernard Shaw

Because of their size, parents may be difficult to discipline properly. ~P.J. O'Rourke

A parent who has never apologized to his children is a monster. If he's always apologizing, his children are monsters. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic's Notebook, 1966

As parents, we guide by our unspoken example. It is only when we're talking to them that our kids aren't listening. ~Robert Brault, www.robertbrault.com

Mother Nature is wonderful. Children get too old for piggy-back rides just about the same time they get too heavy for them. ~Author Unknown

The guys who fear becoming fathers don't understand that fathering is not something perfect men do, but something that perfects the man. The end product of child raising is not the child but the parent. ~Frank Pittman, Man Enough

If nature had arranged that husbands and wives should have children alternatively, there would never be more than three in a family. ~Lawrence Housman

Parenthood is the passing of a baton, followed by a lifelong disagreement as to who dropped it. ~Robert Brault, www.robertbrault.com

I don't believe professional athletes should be role models. I believe parents should be role models.... It's not like it was when I was growing up. My mom and my grandmother told me how it was going to be. If I didn't like it, they said, "Don't let the door hit you in the ass on your way out." Parents have to take better control. ~Charles Barkley

Mother Nature, in her infinite wisdom, has instilled within each of us a powerful biological instinct to reproduce; this is her way of assuring that the human race, come what may, will never have any disposable income. ~Dave Barry

The child supplies the power but the parents have to do the steering. ~Benjamin Spock, Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care

Having babies is fun, but babies grow up into people. ~M*A*S*H, Colonel Potter, "The Price of Tomato Juice"

My mother protected me from the world and my father threatened me with it. ~Quentin Crisp, The Naked Civil Servant, 1968

When my kids become wild and unruly, I use a nice, safe playpen. When they're finished, I climb out. ~Erma Bombeck

I love to play hide and seek with my kid, but some days my goal is to find a hiding place where he can't find me until after high school. ~Author Unknown

The hardest part of raising a child is teaching them to ride bicycles. A shaky child on a bicycle for the first time needs both support and freedom. The realization that this is what the child will always need can hit hard. ~Sloan Wilson

You don't have to deserve your mother's love. You have to deserve your father's. He is more particular.... The father is always a Republican towards his son, and his mother's always a Democrat. ~Robert Frost

Labor Day is a glorious holiday because your child will be going back to school the next day. It would have been called Independence Day, but that name was already taken. ~Bill Dodds

If I had my child to raise all over again,
I'd build self-esteem first, and the house later.
I'd finger-paint more, and point the finger less.
I would do less correcting and more connecting.
I'd take my eyes off my watch, and watch with my eyes.
I'd take more hikes and fly more kites.
I'd stop playing serious, and seriously play.
I would run through more fields and gaze at more stars.
I'd do more hugging and less tugging.
~Diane Loomans, from "If I Had My Child To Raise Over Again"

Most American children suffer too much mother and too little father. ~Gloria Steinem, New York Times, 26 August 1971

Good, honest, hardheaded character is a function of the home. If the proper seed is sown there and properly nourished for a few years, it will not be easy for that plant to be uprooted. ~George A. Dorsey

Hot dogs always seem better out than at home; so do French-fried potatoes; so do your children. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic's Notebook, 1960

As a child my family's menu consisted of two choices: take it, or leave it. ~Buddy Hackett

Whenever I held my newborn baby in my arms, I used to think that what I said and did to him could have an influence not only on him but on all whom he met, not only for a day or a month or a year, but for all eternity - a very challenging and exciting thought for a mother. ~Rose Kennedy

Was there ever a grandparent, bushed after a day of minding noisy youngsters, who hasn't felt the Lord knew what He was doing when He gave little children to young people? ~Joe E. Wells

Ma-ma does everything for the baby, who responds by saying Da-da first. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic's Notebook, 1966

Insanity is hereditary - you get it from your kids. ~Sam Levenson

It is not a bad thing that children should occasionally, and politely, put parents in their place. ~Colette, My Mother's House, 1922

Humans are the only animals that have children on purpose with the exception of guppies, who like to eat theirs. ~P.J. O'Rourke

Likely as not, the child you can do the least with will do the most to make you proud. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic's Notebook, 1966

Conspicuously absent from the Ten Commandments is any obligation of parent to child. We must suppose that God felt it unnecessary to command by law what He had ensured by love. ~Robert Brault, www.robertbrault.com

The one thing children wear out faster than shoes is parents. ~John J. Plomp

You see much more of your children once they leave home. ~Lucille Ball

Raising children is like making biscuits: it is as easy to raise a big batch as one, while you have your hands in the dough. ~E.W. Howe

A young lady is a female child who has just done something dreadful. ~Judith Martin

Parenting is a stage of life's journey where the milestones come about every fifty feet. ~Robert Brault, www.robertbrault.com

Children are natural mimics who act like their parents despite every effort to teach them good manners. ~Author Unknown

The secret of dealing successfully with a child is not to be its parent. ~Mell Lazarus

No matter how calmly you try to referee, parenting will eventually produce bizarre behavior, and I'm not talking about the kids. ~Bill Cosby, Fatherhood, 1986

The ideal home: big enough for you to hear the children, but not very well. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic's Notebook, 1966

Parenthood is a lot easier to get into than out of. ~Bruce Lansky

Conscience is less an inner voice than the memory of a mother's glance. ~Robert Brault, www.robertbrault.com

Character is largely caught, and the father and the home should be the great sources of character infection. ~Frank H. Cheley

When you teach your son, you teach your son's son. ~The Talmud

A lot of parents pack up their troubles and send them off to summer camp. ~Raymond Duncan

Being a child at home alone in the summer is a high-risk occupation. If you call your mother at work thirteen times an hour, she can hurt you. ~Erma Bombeck

Always end the name of your child with a vowel, so that when you yell, the name will carry. ~Bill Cosby

There are no illegitimate children - only illegitimate parents. ~Leon R. Yankwich

Sometimes, in a moral struggle, we discover the right thing to do - just as, on some cold day long ago, we discovered mittens pinned to our coat sleeve. ~Robert Brault, www.robertbrault.com

Parents know best how to push our buttons because they installed them. ~Author Unknown

Instant availability without continuous presence is probably the best role a mother can play. ~Lotte Bailyn

If your parents didn't have any children, there's a good chance that you won't have any. ~Clarence Day

A child enters your home and for the next twenty years makes so much noise you can hardly stand it. The child departs, leaving the house so silent you think you are going mad. ~John Andrew Holmes

Setting a good example for your children takes all the fun out of middle age. ~William Feather, The Business of Life, 1949

Parents are not interested in justice; they are interested in quiet. ~Bill Cosby

Your responsibility as a parent is not as great as you might imagine. You need not supply the world with the next conqueror of disease or major motion-picture star. If your child simply grows up to be someone who does not use the word "collectible" as a noun, you can consider yourself an unqualified success. ~Fran Lebowitz, "Parental Guidance," Social Studies, 1981

A child, like your stomach, doesn't need all you can afford to give it. ~Frank A. Clark

Your children vividly remember every unkind thing you ever did to them, plus a few you really didn't. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic's Notebook, 1966

These are my daughters, I suppose.
But where in the world did the children vanish?
~Phyllis McGinley, "Ballad of Lost Objects," 1954

Getting down on all fours and imitating a rhinoceros stops babies from crying. (Put an empty cigarette pack on your nose for a horn and make loud "snort" noises.) I don't know why parents don't do this more often. Usually it makes the kid laugh. Sometimes it sends him into shock. Either way it quiets him down. If you're a parent, acting like a rhino has another advantage. Keep it up until the kid is a teenager and he definitely won't have his friends hanging around your house all the time. ~P.J. O'Rourke

In spite of the six thousand manuals on child raising in the bookstores, child raising is still a dark continent and no one really knows anything. You just need a lot of love and luck - and, of course, courage. ~Bill Cosby, Fatherhood, 1986

Ask your child what he wants for dinner only if he's buying. ~Fran Lebowitz, Social Studies

The trouble with being a parent is that by the time you are experienced, you are unemployed. ~Author Unknown

The trouble with having a stubbornness contest with your kids is that they have your stubbornness gene. ~Robert Brault, www.robertbrault.com

If your kids are giving you a headache, follow the directions on the aspirin bottle, especially the part that says "keep away from children." ~Susan Savannah

In spite of the seven thousand books of expert advice, the right way to discipline a child is still a mystery to most fathers and... mothers. Only your grandmother and Ghengis Khan know how to do it. ~Billy Cosby

In bringing up children, spend on them half as much money and twice as much time. ~Author Unknown

From the moment of birth, when the Stone-Age baby confronts the twentieth-century mother, the baby is subjected to these forces of violence called love, as its father and mother and their parents and their parents before them, have been. These forces are mainly concerned with destroying most of its potential. ~R.D. Laing

Human beings are the only creatures on earth that allow their children to come back home. ~Bill Cosby, Fatherhood, 1986

It is one thing to show your child the way, and a harder thing to then stand out of it. ~Robert Brault, www.robertbrault.com

What's done to children, they will do to society. ~Karl Menninger

If you must hold yourself up to your children as an object lesson, hold yourself up as a warning and not as an example. ~George Bernard Shaw

You have a lifetime to work, but children are only young once. ~Polish Proverb

The clash between child and adult is never so stubborn as when the child within us confronts the adult in our child. ~Robert Brault, www.robertbrault.com

Monday, 26 September 2011

Mr Bates - Downton Abbey

Played by Brendan Coyle, 47 (a veteran of TV dramas such as True Dare Kiss, North and South and Lark Rise to Candleford), Mr Bates has become an Unlikely Crush Object. That soft Irish burr. That limp, and most importantly, those twinkling eyes and smile.

The John Bates appreciation page on Facebook is seeing lots of traffic — with one fan declaring Coyle “a younger Russell Crowe, and a far better actor”.

In Julian Fellowes's costume drama, Bates returns wounded from the Boer War, where he served as batman to Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville). We know he wept silent tears over the leg iron he briefly wore. But he remains stoic — even when the Machiavellian gay butler and lady's maid try to frame him by planting stolen property in his room.

Not only does he treat upstairs and downstairs characters with equal fairness, Mr Bates understands women. The scene where he brought breakfast on a tray for head housemaid Anna (Joanne Froggatt) had British womanhood sighing with suppressed desire.... A modern man before his time....

Women love a strong man humbled. Think Darcy in Pride and Prejudice as he battles to win Lizzie Bennet, or Colonel Brandon in Sense and Sensibility, who has to watch a bounder steal Marianne before she comes to her senses. As proud mill owner John Thornton in North and South, actor Richard Armitage became a sex symbol.

Unlikely Crush Objects are never wimps. But they do go through the fire. Quite a few have a disability; it brings out our protective streak. And now we know that Bates once had a drink problem and was imprisoned for theft, even though this was not his crime, but his wifes.... Now that we know he and Anna cannot be together due to the return of the acrid wife aka Catherine of Aaragon, how can Bates and Anna move forward with their relationship?

Fellowes understands our yearning for a hero who will ravish us. But first he has to suffer. Remember Rochester is blinded and lamed before Jane Eyre can marry him. It's steadfastness and loyalty that wins the female heart in the end. Think of Far From the Madding Crowd, where Gabriel Oak wins over the flighty Bathsheba.

Like Bates, Coyle has working-class roots. Born in Corby, Northamptonshire, to an Irish father and Scottish mother, he is the great-nephew of legendary Manchester United football manager Sir Matt Busby.

His father was a butcher and he worked in his dad's shop after he left school, but hated it. “When my father died I became disillusioned and needed something in my life,” he says. “Although I'd never acted at school, I was impressed by seeing Richard III on stage while I was doing my O-levels. I got turned on by the thought of acting and heard about this aunt in Dublin who ran a theatre there. I rang her up and finished up at drama school.”

Later he received a scholarship to London's Mountview Theatre School. Roles on stage and TV followed and in 1999 he won an Olivier Award for his part as bartender Brendan in The Weir. And now he's the surprise sex symbol of Downton.

The Borgias

The Borgias had arrived from Spain, first in the ailing shape of Alfonso Borgia, who became Pope Callixtus III. Alfonso was an elderly, relatively benign former law professor, whose big achievement was the posthumous exoneration of Joan of Arc, and whose big mistake was to detect a glimmer of spirituality in his ambitious nephew Rodrigo.

By 1492, Rodrigo had bribed and schemed his way to the Papal Chair, after first studying law like his uncle, becoming Pope Alexander VI. Almost immediately, his enemies began disappearing - killed off. Indeed, Mario Puzo, author of The Godfather, sought a true-life figure to base the character of Don Corleone upon, he didn’t have to look much further than the world's first crime family of Italy.

The new pontiff came to the job with an impressive string of mistresses and at least five children. Celibacy, as Rodrigo saw it, meant not marrying. Forgoing sex was a different matter entirely. His appetite for it was reputedly insatiable, and it was under his direction that the infamous “Chestnut Orgy” took place in 1501.

According to contemporary accounts, handfuls of chestnuts were scattered on the marble floor of the papal apartments and 50 naked courtesans sent scrabbling after them. Then the male guests went after the courtesans. According to William Manchester in The Medieval Mind and the Renaissance: “Servants kept score of each man’s orgasms, for the Pope greatly admired virility and measured a man’s machismo by his ejaculative capacity.”

Most prominent among Rodrigo’s children were his son Cesare and daughter Lucrezia. Both appear to have inherited their father’s mixture of charm, self-discipline and licentiousness, but although the beauteous Lucrezia has gone down in history as the ultimate femme fatale, it was Cesare – hideously disfigured by syphilis, and rarely seen in public without a mask – who took care of the real villainy.

As the Borgias tightened their grip on the city, seizing wealth and eliminating rivals, the Venetian ambassador wrote in alarm to his superiors: “Every night four or five men are discovered assassinated. Bishops, prelates and others, so that all Rome trembles for fear of being murdered.”

Machiavelli, the Florentine courtier and maestro of political intrigue, was impressed by what he saw. His famous treatise, The Prince, is, in many ways, a handbook to the art of Borgias behaving badly. “Any man who tries to be good all the time,” wrote Machiavelli, “is bound to come to ruin among the great number who are not good. Hence, a prince who wants to keep his authority must learn how not to be good, and use that knowledge, or refrain from using it, as necessity requires.”

By the time of Rodrigo’s death in 1503, Borgia rule was weakening. The family’s enemies – those of them who survived – had learned their methods, and forged outside alliances to undermine the family’s rule. The new Pope, Julius III, had Cesare arrested, and although he escaped from prison, he was killed soon afterwards, aged 31. Lucrezia died painfully in childbirth 12 years later.

While all this makes for lively television, it does raise the question of whatever happened to what we quaintly used to call “costume drama” – a lush and soothing screenscape of stately homes, panting stallions and earnest chaps with beards saying: “His Lordship must be told.” It’s not certain that his Lordship would stand the shock of being told about the Borgias, and some viewers may be starting to feel the same way. Especially as the series follows the BBC’s The Tudors, starring Henry VIII as a sweat-bathed, codpiece-caressing sex maniac, who only emerges from his Hampton Court boudoir to dispatch people to the Tower. Or the Beeb’s equally sexed-up Rome, described as “I Claudius on Viagra”. Or Camelot, in which the real magic is how quickly the cast’s clothes disappear.

The Borgias is billed as being a qualitative cut above – and despite some carping from experts on the period, the series has been praised for its attention to detail. Giving his own penetrating historical analysis, Irons, 62, who plays Rodrigo, says: “Life was very different then, and very cheap. People wore swords and daggers and poison rings. It was tougher. It was a whole different ball game.”

And, of course, there was no political correctness, and you could happily slap those Renaissance ladies on the bustle without any fear of the Borgias’ Equality Monitoring Unit getting involved. Life, as Jeremy says, was very different.

Downton Abbey Episode 2 Series 2

I sat down to watch Downton Abbey late last night - after the first episode where things are moving forward 2 years, things seemed real dark and sinister this week – like the gravity of what’s going on in the world around is finally catching up with Downton and they have to change with the times though Maggie Smith is not keen.

Poor Lady Mary as she has yet another pompous bore arrive at Downton Abbey as a prospective husband. This one is a newspaper magnate, Sir Richard Carlisle played expertly by Iain Glen. He’s an interesting character but there’s something ever so slightly shifty about him, particularly when he appears to have a previous relationship with Lavinia Swire, Matthew’s fiance..... we know and can guess well enough that it will all come out and Maggie Smith will say something acutely acidic and Mathew and Mary will eventually get it together, but it grips you all the same!

Noticeably absent from this episode is Mr Bates, it was too optimistic to hope that that plot thread would be continued this week but as is typical with drama, they’re going to keep us guessing until next week by keeping it unresovled. Everyone misses Bates though.

Thomas is back and most people aren’t happy about that either as he’s still a sinister arsehole, and William bless him is off to war.....

Friday, 23 September 2011

Cathy Kelly - Homecoming

Just finished reading Cathy Kelly “Homecoming” – what a lovely book – full of characters that I felt I identified with; it cut to the middle of women’s lives of all ages. She writes compelling stories with great characters, and you feel as if you are going on their journey with them…

I am an avid bookworm, and I love her stories – very like Maeve Binchley as an author, modern times can be so difficult and so fast moving, that it is wonderful to lose yourself in one of these books.

A month or two ago I read “Once in a lifetime – also by Cathy Kelly and again was mesmerised and back in Dublin with her.

I have only been to Dublin once, in 1998 with Neil and the boys when they were very young – I found it a city alive with people’s stories, a warm place… it reminded me of Liverpool where I grew up and a lot of the people and families were from Ireland so it felt like home.

The characters I Homecoming were wonderful – from Eleanor, who is 84 and has lost her husband from a stroke and taken the journey to Ireland to find her homeland which she left when she was 11 years old, to Megan, an actress in hiding with her Aunt Nora and her mad mongrels…. Connie who is approaching 40 and seems to feel she is going to remain a spinster forever, these characters attach themselves to you and you take them to your heart…

A great read….

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

The Return of Downton Abbey...

I have been waiting for this for ages..... Sunday nights are never the same without a wonderful period drama, and since Lark Rise finished, there hasnt been much on to tempt me.....I can tune into sky of course, and watch Agatha Christie's but i have seen so many of them....

Back to Downton.... there is a gap of a couple of years since the end of the first series, and now the first world war is properly under way. Over in the Somme, Matthew is up to his neck in muck and bulletts as my dad used to say. It's like Glastonbury, only even worse. Thomas the footman is there too, being a coward, though it took guts even to be a coward back then. He holds his lit lighter in the air (see what I mean about Glastonbury though it's mobile phones now, I know), above the parapet … Bang, got him, first time, good shot, sir. Or Toller Schoss mein Herr. Stretcher bearers! Now Thomas can scurry back to Blighty, to cause trouble and spread ill will.

The war is affecting life back at home too of course. "Sometimes it feels as if all the men I've ever danced with are dead," moans Lady Sybil, on hearing more bad news from the front. Very tiresome. But then Tom, the radical Irish chauffeur, who is also from Lark Rise, has a pop at her. Well, why not, there's a war on, the usual rules don't apply.

Mary's still in love with Matthew. It's mutual, they're just too pig-headed and proud to admit it. Matthew's sorted too, with Lavinia, who appears to be middle class, and nowhere near as plain as the dowager countess says. "I suppose looks aren't everything," she says, witheringly. The dowager countess – Maggie Smith – wafts about magnificently, stealing a scene with just a line or a haughty look. It must be both inspirational and a little galling for the others. - she really makes the series!!!

Downstairs, Mr Bates returns and gets re-cosy with Anna. There are plans, for a small hotel, children; in Anna's whole life she never thought she could be as happy as she is … Enter Mrs Bates, like one of those shells over in France, to wreck everything. Blackmail. She knows about the business with the Turkish diplomat, and does she plan to keep it to herself if Bates doesn't come back to her? Oh dear.... more drama to enfold next week!

Friday, 16 September 2011

Cesare Borgia

Cesare Borgia has gripped the nation by storm with the lovely Jeremy Irons who i have admired since watching Brideshead in the very early 1980's... The drama currently showing on SKY is in the same vein as the Tudors with the last heart throb, Jonathon Rhys Myers.

Cesaren was born on 13 September 1475 and died on 12 March 1507), He became the Duke of Valentinois,

He was the son of Pope Alexander VI and his long-term mistress Vannozza dei Cattanei. She remained his mistress until he became Pope. He was the brother of Lucrezia Borgia; Giovanni Borgia (Juan), Duke of Gandia; and Gioffre Borgia (Jofré in Valencian), Prince of Squillace.

He was also half-brother to Don Pedro Luis de Borja (1460–1488) and Girolama de Borja, children of unknown mothers but this is not shown in the tv dramatisation.

The Borgia family originally came from the Kingdom of Valencia, and rose to prominence during the mid-15th century; Cesare's great-uncle Alonso Borgia (1378–1458), bishop of Valencia, was elected Pope Callixtus III in 1455.

Cesare's father, Pope Alexander VI, was the first pope who was openly recognized to have children with a lover.

Stefano Infessura writes that Cardinal Borgia falsely claimed Cesare to be the legitimate son of another man—Domenico d'Arignano, the nominal husband of Vannozza de' Cattanei. More likely, Pope Sixtus IV granted Cesare a release from the necessity of proving his birth in a papal bull of October 1, 1480.

Cesare was initially groomed for a career in the Church. He was made Bishop of Pamplona at the age of 15. Following school in Perugia and Pisa where Cesare studied law, along with his father's elevation to Pope, Cesare was made Cardinal at the age of 18.

Alexander VI staked the hopes of the Borgia family in Cesare's brother Giovanni, who was made captain general of the military forces of the papacy. Giovanni was assassinated in 1497 in mysterious circumstances: with several contemporaries suggesting that Cesare might be his killer, Giovanni's disappearing could finally open him a long-awaited military career; as well as jealousy over Sancha of Aragon, wife of Cesare's other brother Gioffre, and mistress of both Cesare and Giovanni. Cesare's role in the act, however, has never been clear.

On August 17, 1498, Cesare became the first person in history to resign the cardinalate. On the same day the French King Louis XII named Cesare Duke of Valentinois, and this title, along with his former position as Cardinal of Valencia, explains the nickname "Valentino".

Cesare's career was founded upon his father's ability to distribute patronage, along with his alliance with France (reinforced by his marriage with Charlotte d'Albret, sister of John III of Navarre), in the course of the Italian Wars. Louis XII invaded Italy in 1499: after Gian Giacomo Trivulzio had ousted its duke Ludovico Sforza, Cesare accompanied the king in his entrance in Milan.

At this point Alexander decided to profit from the favourable situation and carve out for Cesare a state of his own in northern Italy. To this end, he declared that all his vicars in Romagna and Marche were deposed. Though in theory subject directly to the pope, these rulers had been practically independent or dependent on other states for generations. From the view of the citizens, these vicars were cruel and petty. When Cesare eventually took power, he was viewed by the citizens as a great improvement.

Cesare was appointed commander of the papal armies with a number of Italian mercenaries, supported by 300 cavalry and 4,000 Swiss infantry sent by the King of France. His first victim was Caterina Sforza (mother of the Medici condottiero Giovanni dalle Bande Nere), ruler of Imola and Forlì. Despite being deprived of his French troops after the conquest of those two cities, Borgia returned to Rome to celebrate a triumph and to receive the title of Papal Gonfalonier from his father. In 1500 the creation of twelve new cardinals granted Alexander enough money for Cesare to hire the condottieri, Vitellozzo Vitelli, Gian Paolo Baglioni, Giulio and Paolo Orsini, and Oliverotto da Fermo, who resumed his campaign in Romagna.

Giovanni Sforza, first husband of Cesare's sister Lucrezia (the marriage was annulled), was soon ousted from Pesaro; Pandolfo Malatesta lost Rimini; Faenza surrendered, its young lord Astorre III Manfredi being later drowned in the Tiber river by Cesare's order. In May 1501 the latter was created duke of Romagna. Hired by Florence, Cesare subsequently added the lordship of Piombino to his new lands.

While his condottieri took over the siege of Piombino (which ended in 1502), Cesare commanded the French troops in the sieges of Naples and Capua, defended by Prospero and Fabrizio Colonna. On June 24, 1501 his troops stormed the latter, causing the collapse of Aragonese power in southern Italy.

In June 1502 he set out for Marche, where he was able to capture Urbino and Camerino by treason. The next step would be Bologna, but his condottieri, most notably Vitellozzo Vitelli and the Orsini brothers, fearing Cesare's cruelty, set up a plot against him. Guidobaldo da Montefeltro and Giovanni Maria da Varano returned to Urbino and Camerino, and Fossombrone revolted. The fact that his subjects had enjoyed his rule thus far meant that his opponents had to work much harder than they would have liked. He eventually recalled his loyal generals to Imola, where he waited for his opponents' loose alliance to collapse. Cesare called for a reconciliation, but imprisoned his condottieri in Senigallia, a feat described as a "wonderful deceiving" by Paolo Giovio, and had them executed.

Although he was an immensely capable general and statesman, Cesare would have trouble maintaining his domain without continued Papal patronage. Niccolò Machiavelli cites Cesare's dependence on the good will of the Papacy, under the control of his father, to be the principal weakness of his rule, arguing that, had Cesare been able to win the favor of the new Pope, he would have been a very successful ruler. The news of his father's death (1503) arrived when Cesare was planning the conquest of Tuscany. While he was convalescing in Castel Sant'Angelo, his troops controlled the conclave. The new pope, Pius III, arrested him, he then broke out, and the accession of the Borgias' deadly enemy Julius II caused his final ruin.

While moving to Romagna to quell a revolt, he was seized and imprisoned by Gian Paolo Baglioni near Perugia. All his lands were acquired by the Papal States. Exiled to Spain in 1504, he was imprisoned in the Castle of La Mota, Medina del Campo, from which he escaped and joined his brother-in-law, King John III of Navarre. He was killed in 1507 while fighting for the Navarrese king in the city of Viana, Spain.

I ponder at the antics of this family, and wonder if we will be given several series as we did in the Tudors.... - even Alex is interested - mostly due to the computer game which featured them!

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Beware Wolves in Sheep's Clothing....

Wolves in Sheep’s clothing….

This last week and a half has been pretty horrendous on the finance front as well as on the DWP front…

My pension will be in my account in a few more days, and things should start to settle down again…

Silly me decided to make overpayments on my mortgage straight away after having it insitu from June, and I have found that I simply can’t do it!

It still grates me no end to think that I had to part with nearly £80k to get rid of Onslow when I had paid the mortgage and bills on this house from buying it in 2002 whilst he did zilch to contribute…

Still, it is a blunder I will not ever make again…. One thing that Onslow taught me is not to trust wolves in sheep’s clothing…

What has made things worse I think, is the car that Alex needed to be replaced – Neil paid half, the added insurance as it’s a 1600 engine, and finishing off the decking which were all necessities in the bigger scheme of things as I can’t cut the grass due to my ME, and the hill was so slippery – I have fallen on it many times….

Now that the boys are back from the long summer off, things are more in a routine, though it is only the first week… David had been off for nearly 5 months due to the revision leave for his sixth form exams, and Alex had been off since early June – it’s a long time for them to do nothing and have no routine or structure, - of course, they could have with hindsight found themselves jobs, but it appears that both of them are not inclined to support themselves, they are more inclined to be supported by bank of mum and dad…. Ho hum….

Unfortunately, bank of mum and dad is under severe financial ruin of late – Neil has taken an enormous mortgage to buy out the troll, and I have had to buy out Onslow….. financially this is the first time in many years I have had to really scrape together money and it will be some time before things get back to near normal – I have pensions coming in at different dates in the month, and unfortunately £1k per month all going out within 2 days which I was not aware of, but certainly am now!! – Another hard lesson for moi!

Luckily, one pension is coming in on Saturday, so only two more days until I am affluent again! The trouble is, I will be affluent and then it will be Christmas  …. Not so good…. Seriously wondering about becoming a Jehovah ’s Witness….

To make things completely shoddier than they are already financially, my tax credits and council tax are being reviewed, as Onslow has not bothered to tell the job centre in Chelmsford where he STILL signs on….. despite not even living in Essex, that he has changed his address. I have text him, emailed him, but unfortunately, he is not responding. Until he re register’s his claim for job seekers allowance, I cannot prove he no longer lives here which is ridiculous! The stupid thing is that he is not available to work in the Chelmsford area anyway, so why sign on in Chelmsford – he is living as far as I am aware, at his friend Chris’s in Mill Hill and his other friend Dave in Hertford…. – both of these old friends of his are also living off the tax payer so it should not involve rocket science for the DWP to find out exactly where…. But – does the DWP employ said rocket scientists? No doubt he is not officially there anyway…. He spends so much time in Manchester, Liverpool and now Newcastle where I hear he may be buying somewhere to be near his daughter and sister in law – so facebook says…. How that fits in with Suemo’s (yes, I know I have spelt it wrong, but I prefer to call her suemo than suemoo as she is not exactly Miss Liverpool, and wouldn’t you be bitter if your ex husband who couldn’t get an erection for years left you for someone nearly 30 years younger than him??)plans I have no idea….. he always did hold his cards close to his chest….

This morning, the wonderful Ronnie next door faxed loads of information from his fax machine at work (who uses fax machines anymore? Why can’t email do??) to the tax credits office in Liverpool for me, and I am waiting now on a telephone call from them at 10am to discuss things further…

On the positive side, I have inordinate great friends and family around me – Neil, Nikki and Dave have been heaven sent! - Poor Neil has squirrels in his loft – he is lucky – if he lived in Heybridge, they would be rats!!!!! – Nikki is also struggling with the lovely teenage brigade as am I with David, but we need to make time for ourselves so we don’t go under….

Tonight is the Jam night at Hatfield Peveral, Kenny is the guest guitarist and so it’s going to be a great night even if I can only afford one diet coke!!!!

More later…

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

My Grandfather's Clock

My grandfather's clock
Was too large for the shelf,
So it stood ninety years on the floor;
It was taller by half
Than the old man himself,
Though it weighed not a pennyweight more.
It was bought on the morn
Of the day that he was born,
And was always his treasure and pride;
But it stopped short
Never to go again,
When the old man died.

Ninety years without slumbering,
Tick, tock, tick, tock,
His life seconds numbering,
Tick, tock, tick, tock,
It stopped short
Never to go again,
When the old man died.

In watching its pendulum
Swing to and fro,
Many hours had he spent while a boy;
And in childhood and manhood
The clock seemed to know,
And to share both his grief and his joy.
For it struck twenty-four
When he entered at the door,
With a blooming and beautiful bride;
But it stopped short
Never to go again,
When the old man died.

My grandfather said
That of those he could hire,
Not a servant so faithful he found;
For it wasted no time,
And had but one desire,
At the close of each week to be wound.
And it kept in its place,
Not a frown upon its face,
And its hand never hung by its side.
But it stopped short
Never to go again,
When the old man died.

It rang an alarm
In the dead of the night,
An alarm that for years had been dumb;
And we knew that his spirit
Was pluming for flight,
That his hour of departure had come.
Still the clock kept the time,
With a soft and muffled chime,
As we silently stood by his side.
But it stopped short
Never to go again,
When the old man died.

The Return of Albert

You've 'eard 'ow young Albert Ramsbottom, In the Zoo up at Blackpool one year,
With a stick with an 'orse's 'ead 'andle, Gave a lion a poke in the ear.
The name of the lion was Wallace, The poke in the ear made 'im wild ;
And before you could say " Bob's your Uncle," 'E'd up and 'e'd swallered the child.

'E were sorry the moment 'e'd done it, With children 'e'd always been chums,
And besides, 'e'd no teeth in 'is noddle, And 'e couldn't chew Albert on t' gums.
'E could feel the lad moving inside 'im, As 'e lay on 'is bed of dried ferns,
And it might 'ave been little lad's birthday, 'E wished 'im such 'appy returns.

But Albert kept kicking and fighting, Till Wallace arose feeling bad,
And felt it were time that 'e started to stage A come-back for the lad.
So with 'is 'ead down in a corner, On 'is front paws 'e started to walk,
And 'e coughed and 'e sneezed and 'e gargled, Till Albert shot out like a cork.

Old Wallace felt better direc'ly, And 'is figure once more became lean,
But the only difference with Albert Was 'is face and 'is 'ands were quite clean.
Meanwhile Mister and Missus Ramsbottom 'Ad gone 'ome to tea feeling blue ;
Ma says " I feel down in the mouth like," Pa says " Aye! I bet Albert does too."

Said Ma " It just goes for to show yer That the future is never revealed,
If I thought we was going to lose 'im I'd 'ave not 'ad 'is boots soled and 'eeled."
" Let's look on the bright side," said Father, " What can't be 'elped must be endured,
Every cloud 'as a silvery lining, And we did 'ave young Albert insured."

A knock at the door came that moment As Father these kind words did speak,
'Twas the man from t' Prudential, E'd called for their " tuppence per person per week."
When Father saw who 'ad been knocking, 'E laughed and 'e kept laughing so,
That the young man said " What's there to laugh at ?" Pa said " You'll laugh an' all when you know."

" Excuse 'im for laughing," said Mother, " But really things 'appen so strange,
Our Albert's been ate by a lion, You've got to pay us for a change."
Said the young feller from the Prudential, " Now, come come, let's understand this,
You don't mean to say that you've lost'im?" Ma says " Oh, no ! we know where 'e is."

Whentheyoung man 'ad 'eard all the details, A bag from 'is pocket he drew,
And 'e paid them, with int'rest and bonus, The sum of nine pounds four and two.
Pa 'ad scarce got 'is 'and on the money When a face at the window they see,
And Mother says " Eeh ! look, it's Albert," And Father says " Aye, it would be."

Young Albert came in all excited, And started 'is story to give,
And Pa says " I'll never trust lions again, Not as long as I live."
The young feller from the Prudential To pick up the money began,
And Father says " Eeh ! just a moment, Don't be in a hurry, young man."

Then giving young Albert a shilling, He said " Pop off back to the Zoo.
'Ere's yer stick with the 'orse's 'ead 'andle, Go and see what the Tigers can do ! "

Albert and the Lion - mum used to recite this to me - has to be read in a northern Lancashire accent:)

There's a famous seaside place called Blackpool, That's noted for fresh air and fun,
And Mr. and Mrs. Ramsbottom , Went there with young Albert, their son.
A grand little lad was young Albert, All dressed in his best;quite a swell,
With a stick with an 'orse's 'ead 'andle, The finest that Woolworth's could sell.

They didn't think much to the Ocean: The waves, they was fiddlin' and small,
There was no wrecks and nobody drownded, Fact, nothing to laugh at at all.
So, seeking for further amusement, They paid and went into the Zoo,
Where they'd Lions and Tigers and Camels, And old ale and sandwiches too.

There were one great big Lion called Wallace; His nose were all covered with scars,
He lay in a somnolent posture, With the side of his face on the bars.
Now Albert had heard about Lions, How they was ferocious and wild,
To see Wallace lying so peaceful, Well, it didn't seem right to the child.

So straightway the brave little feller, Not showing a morsel of fear,
Took his stick with its 'orses 'ead 'andle And pushed it in Wallace's ear.
You could see that the Lion didn't like it, For giving a kind of a roll,
He pulled Albert inside the cage with 'im, And swallowed the little lad 'ole.

Then Pa, who had seen the occurrence, And didn't know what to do next,
Said " Mother! Yon Lion's 'et Albert," And Mother said " Well, I am vexed!"
Then Mr. and Mrs. Rarnsbottom, Quite rightly, when all's said and done,
Complained to the Animal Keeper, That the Lion had eaten their son.

The keeper was quite nice about it; He said " What a nasty mishap.
Are you sure that it's your boy he's eaten ? " Pa said "Am I sure ? There's his cap! "
The manager had to be sent for. He came and he said " What's to do ? "
Pa said " Yon Lion's 'et Albert, And 'im in his Sunday clothes, too."

Then Mother said, " Right's right, young feller; I think it's a shame and a sin,
For a lion to go and eat Albert, And after we've paid to come in."
Then off they went to the Police Station, In front of the Magistrate chap;
They told 'im what happened to Albert, And proved it by showing his cap.

The manager wanted no trouble, He took out his purse right away,
Saying " How much to settle the matter ? " And Pa said " What do you usually pay?"
But Mother had turned a bit awkward, When she thought where her Albert had gone.
She said " No ! someone's got to be summonsed", So that was decided upon.

The Magistrate gave his opinion That no one was really to blame,
And he said that he hoped the Ramsbottoms , Would have further sons to their name.
At that Mother got proper blazing, " And thank you, sir, kindly," said she.
" What, waste all our lives raising children, To feed ruddy Lions? Not me!"

Friday, 19 August 2011

Teaming down with rain Thursday, better Friday......

Well, it's been threatening rain for days and Thursday it simply poured down - great for ducks and the garden, but not for us trying to knock down a wall with inept tools....
Thursday night was better - despite being very careful with money over the last few days, i could not stand anymore, and went shopping last night for gammon steaks and eggs as well as afew other bits - Neil cooked dinner which was wonderful! He cooks more than Onslow ever did!!
Nikki, Louis and Bryony stayed over again and it was nice to have another adult for company in the house (not that Alex isnt an adult - but a girl who i can talk with!)
Later we fannied about with Neil's paperwork and meant to head up to bed, though suddenly, Top of the Pops came on from 1976, so we were suddenly wide awake!! Finally went to bed at 2am!
Today has been better weather wise, and i have been busy with stripping beds, washing, ironing, planting, and generally pottering around....
All good so far - Neil is on holiday from this afternoon, so we intend to spend some quality time over the next few days - maybe get the pond walls finished.... watch this space!

Thursday, 24 February 2011

First Day of Recovery 24th Feb 2011

Brilliant evening on Wednesday, very cathartic with the current domestic climate as it is, lovely Nikki stayed over which was wonderful - we stayed up chatting until 2am like the olden days when we were all much younger!
This morning i woke early, and for the first time all year, the sun was out and it was much milder outside....
Nikki pottered off to the hair dressers, and i did have every intention of going back to bed with my latest novel, as i have not had much enthusiasm of late, but decided to do some digging around for valuations on our home....
For some months, things have not been great, well, reflecting back, i would say for the last 15 months they have not been great, and the last three months they have been horrid, the last month has been unbearable.....
As a family, we should have all pulled together, unfortunately, through nobody's fault, we all pulled in opposite directions and caused subsidence and heave....
This resulted in David leaving home and my mother nearly driving me to insanity...
With such a change and mum eventually going back to Liverpool, we were left as mere shadows wandering around in a daze.... things went from bad to worse and have ended up with us all at loggerheads....
Today was day 1 of my new life.... i was constructive and contated estate agents and valuers, financial advisors, and had an invigorating shower, went to get a new hairstyle, ate TWO cadbury's cream eggs as a treat, and tonight am going to see my Boysie Alex play at the jam night...
The old addage, "when in doubt do nought" is often a good motto, but in the end, you have to affect change and be a change agent to start to smile and see the sun again....
I havent changed the world in one day, but i have changed how i look at the world today and that in itself may affect change ....

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

My paternal Grandmother, Harriet Eliza Gillespie 1886 - 1956

By the time i was born in 1966, my grandmother had been dead some 10 years - i was not lucky enough to know either set of grandparents, but with such an interest in ancestry, and from badgering other members of the extended family, i have been able to track down her notable life events.

This is one of only two photographs i have with my grandmother in. She is the dark haired stout lady with a fur coat on at the wedding of my Uncle Charlie in 1946. Unfortunately, for the last 15 years, (since my father died in 1996), i have asked my first cousin, Bob Reed and his wife Dorothy if i can have copies of the large photographs they have of my grandparents and even great grandparents, but so far, i have not recieved copies. Hopefully one day soon i will recieve them.

Harriet Eliza Gillespie was born on 9th Juy 1885 (same date as my mother) at 44 Brisbane Street, Kirkdale, Liverpool, Lancaster, England.

She was the daughter of William Henry Gillespie from Bridgewater in Somerset who was working as an iron moulder, and Emily Jane Collard also from Bridgewater.
She was the second child born of an eventual 15 live births with 10 surviving children to the family.

Harriet's birth was soon after the family had moved from Birkenhead to Kirkdale as her older brother, also called William (known as Dickie) was born in Birkenhead.

The first public record of Harriet - apart from her birth, is the 1891 census where she is living with her parents at 26 Creaklock Street, Kirkdale age 6. The family have taken on two lodgers presumably to help pay the rent - a family called Sloane are living with them. William is working as an iron foundary manager.

In 1901, Harriet is 16 years old and is living with her parents still but now at 25 Sessions Road, Kirkdale. She is working as a grocers assistant, and her older brother William is working alongside their father William as an iron moulder.

The next public record of my grandmother is 5th June 1910 when she is 24 years old and is her marriage to James Blackburn (his history noted in the previous post). Harriet's address at that time is 24 Sharp Street, Kirkdale, West Derby, Liverpool, and James's address is 7 Kirkstall Street, Kirkdale. Harriet was married in the Parish Church of St Mary's, Kirkdale, Lancaster. Witnesses to the marriage are Annie Gillespie (Harriet's younger sister) and John Reynolds who is a cousin on the Blackburn side.

On 21st July 1911 at the age of 26, Harriet is living at 25 Kearsley Street, Kirkdale as listed on the bith certificate of my Aunt Peggy - named Margaret Emily Blackburn.

By 1914, the family of Harriet's parents (Emily and William) had moved to 66 Harebell Street which is just about still standing - it was a large house incorporating a shop on Stanley Road - known as "the Stanley" and the children - Harriet and James included had moved in with them presumably for financial reasons.

For instance, in 1914, Emily Gillepie who was Harriet's sister had married John Blackburn, James's brother - there was some mystery to this relationship and some falling out over a shop in Stanley road (from cousin Geoff Blackburn's reflection)

On 29th October 1915 when Harriet was 30 years old, their second child was born - Uncle Jimmy also known as "gentleman James" - the address of Harriet and James at that time is 66 Harebell Street, Kirkdale Liverpool, Lancashire.

In 1919, age 34, Harriet - also known as "Hetty"'s brother Richard is discharged from the army to 66 Harebell Street, Kirkdale Liverpool, Lancashire. Richard and Harriet's parents - Emily and William are now living at number 50 Harebell Street.

On 7th June 1923, my father was born at 66 Harebell Street.

From my cousin's recollections from his mother (Aunty Peggy), my grandfather, James Blackburn could not stand the amount of work that Harriet was doing for her mother, and one afternoon had enough. He found a cheap house to rent on Commercial Road and moved his wife and four children down the road to the house where they would remain for ther rest of their lives.

Harriet was 39 years old in 1924 when her husband James moved them to 194 Commercial Road, Kirkdale, Liverpool, Lancashire - again family memories are that James had enough of Hetty skivvying after her mother Emily Collard and used his cart to move the family of 6 that day to commercial road. He was a quiet man and Peggy felt it odd for him to blow up in this way but he had enough!

On 28th December 1924, Harriet's last child was born - Henrietta. The family were now in residence at 194 Commercial Road as cited on Henrietta's birth certicate.

Birth record - Quarter 1, 1925, West Derby, volume 8b, page 860

On 23rd February 1927, age 2 years and 2 months, Henrietta died at 194 Commercial Road, Kirkdale, Liverpool, Lancashire

Quarter 2, 1927, West Derby, 8b, page 707 of bronchial pneumonia.

Her burial was at Anfield Cemetry, Anfield, Liverpool, Lancashire. She was buried buried in public grave CH15, 887, internement number 190588 presumably there was not enough money to bury her in her own plot.

Harriet never forgave her husband James for bringing her to live in a damp house and blamed him for Henrietta's death. There are many stories heard about this baby - one i heard from my cousin, daughter in law of Peggy that Henrietta had a fit when a spark came out of the fire and caught her on the neck and she never recovered, however from the death record, it states bronchial pneumonia. I imagine that the little girl with blond curly hair was so ill that her mother had laid her down beside the fire to keep warm and she had died of her infection - these were the days before M and B and general anti biotics.

My father Harry remained with his parents until their death,though went to war at age 18 in 1941 and served with the 8th army in North Africa under Montgomery. Harriet found this terrible as all three of her son's had gone to war.

Once her children had grown, she went back to work at the Tobacco (British and American Tobacco Factory/Warehouse) in Husskinson Dock opposite their home. She was loved by all who knew her, and they would all come to her home for their tea and toast during their break times even after she retired.

James died in 1950 leaving her a widow, but she contniued to look after my father - probably disenabeling him really as he didnt marry until he was 41 as he had it too good at home with his mother!

My mother told me that the house was broken into one night when my father was out, and that Harriet never felt comfortable again in the house.

On 11th April 1956 when Harriet was 70 years old, at the Homoeopathic Hospital, Liverpool South, Liverpool, Merseyside, England, Harriet died from coronary thrombosis, miocardial degenration (heart faliure) cholecystitis - gallstones and inflamation of the gallblader. Record - quarter 2 1956 volume 10d page 1956 - registred by James Blackburn of 59 Renville Road (Uncle Jimmy)

Harriet Eliza Blackburn nee Gillespie was buried on 14 Apr 1956, Anfield Cemetry, Anfield, Liverpool, Lancashire

o Harriet Eliza Blackburn CH6 page 787 internment number 161075 - buried in same grave as husband James Blackburn internment number 175256

History of Kirkdale where my father and his parents were brought up and the Blackburn notable census returns for my great grandfather James Blackburn

Chirchedale, Domesday; Kirkedale, 1185; Kierkedale, 1200.

Origins: from kirk - (village with a) church, and dale - valley; therefore the name would refer to a village with a church, located in a valley.

The Landscape

Kirkdale occupies an area of flat land on the banks of the Mersey, formerly consisting of sandhills, for which this part of the Sefton coast is still well known. It is one of the oldest coastal settlements, predating Liverpool itself, and containing evidence for centuries of human occupation. Morley Street was the original centre of the village, lying at the foot of the hill to Everton, on the north west side of the Liverpool-Walton road. The land rises to 150 feet towards Walton (in 1823 Springfield Mill stood near Spellow near Walton Road).
To the north of the village a brook once rose running down the slope to the river by Bank Hall (a mill is marked on this stream on Sherriff's map of 1823). To the north was Kirkdale Marsh.

Beacon Gutter, a small stream running to the south of Blackfield House, formed the southerly boundary with Liverpool.

Kirkdale was one of the earliest suburbs to be incorporated into Liverpool, which happened in 1835.


The main roads through the village went to Sandhills (Latham Street and Sandhills Lane) and Bootle (Field Lane, later Bootle Lane and now known as Westmister Road). The principal road through the village was that from Liverpool to Walton and on to Ormskirk.

The Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway line from Liverpool to Preston passed through Kirkdale, with stations at Sandhills and Kirkdale. The Southport track branched at Sandhills, and passed through a station at Bank Hall. Smaller branch lines served the docklands, and the London and North West branch ran from Edge Hill to Canada Dock Station. Cheshire Lines Railway stopped at Huskisson Dock Station, and the Liverpool Overhead Railway had several stops in Kirkdale. The Liverpool tram system also had a number of routes taking dockworkers and labourers to work each day. The docks themselves were full of sidings, warehouses and stations.


As Kirkdale was so close to the centre of Liverpool, by the turn of the 20th Century the area was already a mass of buildings, predominantly small cottages for the working class, along with factories, warehouses, the railway, and small shops. At the height of Liverpool's industrial strength, a large proportion of the city's Irish and Welsh and particularly Scottish population lived in Kirkdale.

Both sets of my father's grandparents moved to Kirkdale in the 1860's - although my father's mother's family were from Bridgewater in Somerset, my great grandfather, William Gillespie moved from Bridgewater to Birkenhead where he married Emily Collard who had moved from Bridgewater with him, and in 1886 my grandmother, Harriet Eliza Gillespie was born in Kirkdale, they had strong roots stil in Somerset, and the next daughter to be born was born in Bridgewater, though the next was back in Kirkdale again. The link was so strong that one of my grandmothers brothers, William (Dickie) Gillespie joined the Somerset regiment when he served in the first world war. My father's father's parents on the Blackburn side of the family were from the district of Ormskirk and were farmers.

His name was James Blackburn, born on 23rd September 1842 in Rainford, Lancashire - it was not compulsary at that time to register a birth, and it goes unrecorded in the main BMD index's of the time. He is however, easy to track through parish records and census returns unlike my mother's family! :)

In the 1851 census return, James was living at 10 Johnsons Brow, Rainford, Lancashire, England age 9 along with his parents, Ralph Blackburn and Ann Blackburn nee Swift.

By 1861, James was age 19 living in Pimbo, Upholland which is now part of the bigger new town of Skelmersdale. He is working and listed as a servant, but he is working as a teasman for a farmer of 60 acres in the area.

In December 1865, his address is Earlestown in Lancaster at the time of the bans being read for his marriage on the 1st Jan 1866, and his wife's address is Bickerstaff near his parents home.

For some reason, they married in Warrington in Cheshire, (three miles away but in the next county) though on the certificate it states county of Lancaster, quarter one, volume 8c page 123.

By 1871, he was living with is wife Margaret Blackburn (nee Boyes) and his oldest son John age 2 who is the oldest of their eventual 7 children. His address at that time is Henby Street, Woolton, Liverpool which is a pretty village on the outskirts of Childwall. Interestinly, my mother moved there in 1999. His brother John Blackburn is also boarding with the family.

In 1872, James's father Ralph died - he had been a widower for some years, and the family had no annuity to keep him, so he died in the Union Workhouse in Prescot.

In 1881 a mystery occurs! - there is no record anywhere for James at that time - though his brother John is still living with Margaret, james's wife, and the children are living with them. It may be an oversight on the note taker collecting information, though it seems odd as his wife is head of the household.

In 1887 my grandfather, James Blackburn was born in Commercial Road, Kirkdale.

In 1891, James is back as head of the household age 49 living at 4 Esson/Essex Street, Walton, Bootle Lancashire. HIs occupation is a carter - presumably from being a teasman years before, he had always worked with horss - i can recall my father telling me that his grandfather was a master carter.

By 1901, James was 59 years old, living at 106 Lambeth Road, Kirkdale. He is now listed as a groom in the stables. HIs grandson a James Eaton is living with the family.

James died age 63 on 15th November 1905 quarter 4 1905 volume 8b page 216 - died of bronchitis.

In the massive slum clearances of the early 20th Century, Kirkdale was one of the most heavily affected districts, for example the area of Pleasant View. Logan Towers was, when it was built, the world's tallest pre-fabricated building, and saw Liverpool overtake London in terms of high-rise residences.


Kirkdale Gaol, near Kirkdale Station, closed in 1897. Other notable buildings were the Liverpool Select Vestry Industrial School, and Stanley Hospital, founded in 1867. In 1837 the formerly provate St. Mary's Cemetery opened as a public park, and was known as Lester Gardens. Bank Hall, located where the stream entered the Mersey, was situated at the present junction of Bank Hall Lane and Bank Hall Street. Built by the Moore family in in 1388-9, it was demolished as part of the expansion of the docks in the 19th Century.

The beach at Kirkdale, before the docks overtook the entire coastline, was popular with bathers in the 18th and 19th Centuries. When Wellington, Huskisson and Sandon Docks were built on the site, Southport became the preferred holiday location.

Turnpike Roads Liverpool

The repair of roads before turnpikes
The Liverpool, Prescot, St. Helens and Warrington road has always been an important route on Merseyside and it was the main road from Liverpool to London. Before the road was turned into a turnpike road in the 18th century it was mostly a lane, which had hedges or ditches on either side. On one side along the whole length of the road was a horse causeway which was paved with cobbles and protected from the main road by posts or stoops. From the mid-16th century onwards it was the responsibility of the parish to repair roads. Each parish had to choose a surveyor who could use money from the parish rates to pay for the roads or who could get the people living in the parish to provide free labour for several days a year to keep the roads repaired.

The horse causeway was adequate for single horses with riders or pulling small loads but it was not good enough for wider and larger carts or coaches. One of the loads which was moved by road at this time was coal and this was one of the main reasons for having turnpikes placed on the Liverpool, Prescot, St. Helens and Warrington road, to speed up the transport of coal to Liverpool.

A series of Acts set up turnpikes on the road
Trusts (groups of people created by law to collect money or carry out other tasks) were set up to run turnpikes. The Liverpool to Prescot Turnpike Trust came about after an Act of Parliament was passed in 1726. This stated that the trust had to repair the eight miles (13 km) of road from Liverpool to Prescot and a mile long (1.6 km) branch road along Twig Lane through Roby to Blacklow Brow in Huyton for twenty-one years. A second Act was passed in 1746 to continue the repair of the road and extend the road eastwards four miles (km) from Prescot to St. Helens. The branch turnpike was altered by being taken from Old Swan along Petticoat Lane (called Broad Green Road today) instead of Twig Lane.

The third Act in 1753 extended the turnpike ten miles (sixteen km) from Prescot to Warrington and five miles (eight km) from St Helens to Ashton. This linked up in two places with the turnpike road from Warrington to Wigan, which was managed by a separate trust. A fourth Act in 1771 allowed for two small extensions. The first was in Limekiln Lane (now Lime Street), Liverpool and in Bluebell lane, Huyton. Another Act in 1802 altered the branch turnpike, switching Huyton Lane for Bluebell Lane.

Liverpool facts

Liverpool is a city and metropolitan borough of Merseyside, England, along the eastern side of the Mersey Estuary. It was founded as a borough in 1207 by King John and was granted city status in 1880.

Liverpool is the fourth largest city in the United Kingdom (third largest in England) and has a population of 435,500, and lies at the centre of the wider Liverpool Urban Area, which has a population of 816,216.

Historically a part of Lancashire, the urbanisation and expansion of Liverpool were both largely brought about by the city's status as a major port. By the 18th century, trade from the West Indies, Ireland and mainland Europe coupled with close links with the Atlantic Slave Trade furthered the economic expansion of Liverpool. By the early 19th century, 40% of the world's trade passed through Liverpool's docks, contributing to Liverpool's rise as a major city.

Inhabitants of Liverpool are referred to as Liverpudlians but are also colloquially known as "Scousers", in reference to the local dish known as "scouse", a form of stew. The word "Scouse" has also become synonymous with the Liverpool accent and dialect. Liverpool's status as a port city has contributed to its diverse population, which, historically, were drawn from a wide range of peoples, cultures, and religions, particularly those from Ireland. The city is also home to the oldest Black African community in the country and the oldest Chinese community in Europe.

The popularity of The Beatles and the other groups from the Merseybeat era contributes to Liverpool's status as a tourist destination; tourism forms a significant part of the city's modern economy. The city celebrated its 800th anniversary in 2007, and it held the European Capital of Culture title together with Stavanger, Norway, in 2008.

Several areas of the city centre were granted World Heritage Site status by UNESCO in 2004. Referred to as the Liverpool Maritime Mercantile City, the site comprises six separate locations in the city including the Pier Head, Albert Dock and William Brown Street and includes many of the city's most famous landmarks.

Liverpool is also the home of two Premier League football clubs, Liverpool F.C. and Everton F.C.. Matches between the two clubs are known as the Merseyside derby.

King John's letters patent of 1207 announced the foundation of the borough of Liverpool, but by the middle of the 16th century the population was still only around 500. The original street plan of Liverpool is said to have been designed by King John near the same time it was granted a royal charter, making it a borough. The original seven streets were laid out in a H shape:

* Bank Street (now Water Street)
* Castle Street
* Chapel Street
* Dale Street
* Juggler Street (now High Street)
* Moor Street (now Tithebarn Street)
* Whiteacre Street (now Old Hall Street)

In the 17th century there was slow progress in trade and population growth. Battles for the town were waged during the English Civil War, including an eighteen-day siege in 1644. In 1699 Liverpool was made a parish by Act of Parliament, that same year its first slave ship, Liverpool Merchant, set sail for Africa. As trade from the West Indies surpassed that of Ireland and Europe, and as the River Dee silted up, Liverpool began to grow. The first commercial wet dock was built in Liverpool in 1715. Substantial profits from the slave trade helped the town to prosper and rapidly grow. By the close of the century Liverpool controlled over 41% of Europe's and 80% of Britain's slave commerce.

In the early 19th century Liverpool played a major role in the Antarctic sealing industry, in recognition of which Liverpool Beach in the South Shetland Islands is named after the city.

By the start of the 19th century, 40% of the world's trade was passing through Liverpool and the construction of major buildings reflected this wealth. In 1830, Liverpool and Manchester became the first cities to have an intercity rail link, through the Liverpool and Manchester Railway. The population continued to rise rapidly, especially during the 1840s when Irish migrants began arriving by the hundreds of thousands as a result of the Great Famine. By 1851, approximately 25% of the city's population was Irish-born. During the first part of the 20th century, Liverpool was drawing immigrants from across Europe.
Inaugural journey of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway in 1830, the first ever commercial railway line.

20th century
Liverpool was the port of registry of the ill fated ocean liner, the RMS Titanic. The words Titanic, Liverpool could be seen on the stern of the ship that sunk in April 1912 with the loss of 1,517 lives (including numerous Liverpudlians who worked on the ship). A Memorial to the Engine Room Heroes of the Titanic is located on the city's waterfront.

The Housing Act 1919 resulted in mass council housing building across Liverpool during the 1920s and 1930s. Thousands of families were rehoused from the inner-city to new suburban housing estates, based on the pretext that this would improve their standard of living, though this is largely subjective. A large number of private homes were also built during this era. The process continued after the Second World War, with many more new housing estates being built in suburban areas, while some of the older inner city areas were also redeveloped for new homes.

During the Second World War there were 80 air-raids on Merseyside, killing 2,500 people and causing damage to almost half the homes in the metropolitan area. Significant rebuilding followed the war, including massive housing estates and the Seaforth Dock, the largest dock project in Britain. Much of the immediate reconstruction of the city centre has been deeply unpopular, and was as flawed as much town planning renewal in the 1950s and 1960s – the portions of the city's heritage that survived German bombing could not withstand the efforts of urban renewal. Since 1952 Liverpool has been twinned with Cologne, Germany, a city which also experienced aerial bombing during the war.

In the 1960s Liverpool was the centre of the "Merseybeat" sound which became synonymous with The Beatles and fellow Liverpudlian rock bands.

From the mid-1970s onwards Liverpool's docks and traditional manufacturing industries went into sharp decline. The advent of containerisation meant that the city's docks became largely obsolete. In the early 1980s unemployment rates in Liverpool were among the highest in the UK. In recent years, Liverpool's economy has recovered and has experienced growth rates higher than the national average since the mid-nineties.

Previously part of Lancashire, and a county borough from 1889, Liverpool became in 1974 a metropolitan borough within the newly created metropolitan county of Merseyside.

At the end of the 20th century Liverpool was concentrating on regeneration, a process which still continues today.
21st century

To celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II in 2002, the conservation charity Plantlife organised a competition to choose county flowers; the sea-holly was Liverpool's final choice.

Capitalising on the popularity of 1960s rock groups, such as The Beatles, as well as the city's world-class art galleries, museums and landmarks, tourism has also become a significant factor in Liverpool's economy.

In 2004, property developer Grosvenor started the Paradise Project, a £920 m development centred on Paradise Street, which involved the most significant changes to Liverpool's city centre since the post-war reconstruction. Renamed 'Liverpool 1', the centre opened in May 2008.

In 2007 the city celebrated the 800th anniversary of the foundation of the borough of Liverpool, for which a number of events were planned. Liverpool is a joint European Capital of Culture for 2008. The main celebrations, in September 2008, included La Princesse, a large mechanical spider which is 20 metres high and weighs 37 tonnes, and represents the "eight legs" of Liverpool: honour, history, music, the Mersey, the ports, governance, sunshine and culture. La Princesse roamed the streets of the city during the festivities, and concluded by entering the Queensway Tunnel.

For periods during the 19th century the wealth of Liverpool exceeded that of London itself, and Liverpool's Custom House was the single largest contributor to the British Exchequer. Liverpool's status can be judged from the fact that it was the only British city ever to have its own Whitehall office.

The first United States consul anywhere in the world, James Maury, was appointed to Liverpool in 1790, and remained in office for 39 years.

As early as 1851 the city was described as "the New York of Europe" and its buildings, constructed on a heroic, even megalomaniacal scale stand witness to the supreme confidence and ambition of the city at the turn of the 20th century.

Liverpool was also the site of the UK's first provincial airport, operating from 1930.

Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance March No.1, often seen as Britain's Imperial anthem, was dedicated by the composer to the Liverpool Orchestral Society and had its premiere in the city in October 1901.

During the Second World War, the critical strategic importance of Liverpool was recognised by both Hitler and Churchill, with the city suffering a blitz second only to London's, and the pivotal Battle of the Atlantic being planned, fought and won from Liverpool.

Inventions and innovations
School of Tropical Medicine, the first in the world

Ferries, railways, transatlantic steamships, municipal trams, electric trains and the helicopter were all pioneered in Liverpool as modes of mass transit.

The first School for the Blind, High School for Girls,council house and Juvenile Court were all founded in Liverpool. The RSPCA, NSPCC, Age Concern, Relate, Citizen's Advice Bureau and Legal Aid all evolved from work in the city of Liverpool - we are all so compassionate!

In the field of public health, the first lifeboat station, public baths and wash-houses, sanitary act, medical officer for health, district nurse, slum clearance, purpose-built ambulance, X-ray medical diagnosis, school of tropical medicine, motorised municipal fire-engine, free school milk and school meals, cancer research centre,free family planning (which my mother pioneered and brought to Liverpool in the 1960's and zoonosis research centre all originated in Liverpool. The first British Nobel Prize was awarded in 1902 to Ronald Ross, professor at the School of Tropical Medicine, the first school of its kind in the world. Orthopaedic surgery was pioneered in Liverpool by Hugh Owen Thomas, and modern medical anaesthetics by Thomas Cecil Gray.
Oriel Chambers, the first 'modern' building in the world

In finance, Liverpool founded the UK's first Underwriters' Association and the first Institute of Accountants. The Western world's first financial derivatives (cotton futures) were traded on the Liverpool Cotton Exchange in the late 1700s.

In the arts, Liverpool was home to the first lending library, athenaeum society, arts centre and public art conservation centre.

Liverpool is also home to the UK's oldest surviving classical orchestra, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra.

In 1864, Peter Ellis built the world's first iron-framed, curtain-walled office building, Oriel Chambers, the prototype of the skyscraper.

Between 1862 and 1867, Liverpool held an annual Grand Olympic Festival. Devised by John Hulley and Charles Melly, these games were the first to be wholly amateur in nature and international in outlook. The programme of the first modern Olympiad in Athens in 1896 was almost identical to that of the Liverpool Olympics. In 1865 Hulley co-founded the National Olympian Association in Liverpool, a forerunner of the British Olympic Association. Its articles of foundation provided the framework for the International Olympic Charter.

Shipowner Sir Alfred Lewis Jones introduced the banana to Great Britain in 1884.

In 1897, the Lumière brothers filmed Liverpool, including what is believed to be the world's first tracking shot, taken from the Liverpool Overhead Railway – the world's first elevated electrified railway.

Liverpool inventor Frank Hornby was a visionary in toy development and manufacture and produced three of the most popular lines of toys in the 20th century: Meccano, Hornby Model Railways and Dinky Toys.

In 1999, Liverpool was the first city outside the capital to be awarded blue plaques by English Heritage in recognition of the "significant contribution made by its sons and daughters in all walks of life."


Liverpool has three tiers of government; the Local Council, the National Government and the European Parliament. Liverpool is officially governed by a Unitary Authority, as when Merseyside County Council was disbanded civic functions were returned to a district borough level. However several services such as the Police and Fire and Rescue Service, continue to be run at a county-wide level.