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Wednesday, 15 January 2014

An Echo of Liverpool pubs

An interesting article in yesterday's Liverpool Echo lists the top 24 pubs in Liverpool as chosen by the readers, and I'd have little argument with most of them.

I'd certainly disagree with the Casa, which is by no stretch of the imagination a pub: it is a venue with a bar that doesn't sell real ale, and at best I'd call it a licensed community centre. It was set up in its current form by the Liverpool dockers after their strike in the mid-1990s. I remember it as the Casablanca, a dive of a night club where I used to go almost every weekend more than 30 years ago. I met a beautiful girl called Jeannie there and we went out for a while, but that's another story: it is definitely not a place where I could imagine brief encounters happening now. Close encounters of the militant kind, more like.

Ma Egerton and friends
Ma Egerton's was a keg-only pub the last time I went in there, but that was decades ago. It was once popular with the stars that appeared at the Empire Theatre next door, and many of their pictures still adorn the walls, some with Ma Egerton herself, but those glory days are long gone.

Bier is a new pub just off Bold Street and is the only place on the list I haven't been into yet. Strangely, the Stork in Price Street is listed. Strange because, while it's certainly a good pub, it's not in Liverpool - it's over the water in Birkenhead. Readers made several sensible suggestions about omissions in the comments below the article, and I particularly agree with whoever said the Grapes on Roscoe Street should have been included.

The article is here, and includes a brief description of each pub and a gallery of pictures. If you just want the names, here they are.
  •  The Dispensary - Renshaw Street
  • The Belvedere - Sugnall Street, Liverpool            
  • Ye Cracke - Rice Street, Liverpool
  • The Caledonia - Catharine Street
  • The Pilgrim - Pilgrim Street
  • The Fly In The Loaf - Hardman Street
  • The Ship & Mitre - Dale Street
  • The Swan - Wood Street           
  • Baltic Fleet - 33A Wapping
  • The Grapes -  Mathew Street
  • The Globe - Cases Street
  • The Stork - Price Street, Birkenhead
  • Peter Kavanagh’s - Egerton Street
  • The Casa -  Hope Street
  • Bier - Newington Temple
  • The Roscoe Head - Roscoe St
  • The Excelsior - Dale St
  • Ma Egerton's - Pudsey St
  • Thomas Rigby's - Dale St
  • Liverpool One Bridewell - Campbell Square, Argyle Street
  • The Railway - Tithebarn Street
  • Ye Hole In The Wall - Hackins Hey
  • The Lion - Moorfields
  • The Albert Hotel - Lark Lane

Friday, 10 January 2014

Everyman Folk Club - on the move (again)

The Cross Keys
While I was in the Lion Tavern in Liverpool last night for the monthly singaround, I learnt that the Everyman Folk Club is on the move again. It was originally in the Everyman Bistro, part of the Everyman Theatre, until the building was closed for a major refurbishment. It moved to the Fly In The Loaf, and after that to Osqa's Bar, an entirely unsuitable venue in my opinion.

From next Wednesday evening (15th), it will meet weekly in the upstairs function room in the Cross Keys, 13 Earle Street, Liverpool L3 9NS (tel: 0151 236 5640), about 7 minutes walk from Moorfields Station, slightly longer from James Street Station. The pub serves real ale and was recently taken over by Sean and Michael, the team that has successfully run the Lion in recent years. With any luck the Everyman Folk Club has now found a suitable home, rather than the folk club equivalent of a couch to crash out on, and as it's a real ale pub (unlike Osqa's), I may be tempted to visit.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

More pub closures

Rueters, Hoghton Street
Rueters [sic] on Hoghton Street, Southport has closed because it can no longer afford rising costs. It was more of a wine bar than a pub, although it had served real ale at certain times in its history. It was always particularly popular for work outings, but was never really my cup of tea. As it always seemed to be successful, I'm surprised it has had to close.

Also closed is the George on the corner of Duke Street and Cemetery Road. It was not a real ale pub, but again I'm surprised at this closure as it had recently been refurbished. They sometimes put on live music acts; I've played there quite a few times in the past. I'm not sure why it has closed; I have heard some speculation, but won't repeat it because I've no idea how accurate it is.

Finally, Ernesto, who has written a number of comments on this blog, has informed me that the Martin Inn, a long-standing real ale pub near Ormskirk, Lancashire, has also closed. He wrote: "I've only recently discovered on a canal pub walk that The Martin Inn has closed. Not good ... Always found it an interesting 'outlier' to visit from time to time". I have no more information than that.

I don't know whether or not these closures are temporary, but even if they are short term, they are still a unwelcome symptom of the current fragility of the pub industry.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Local music nights this week

Yesterday evening's singaround in the Guest House was surprisingly well attended, seeing that the weather was unpleasant and it was so soon after New Year. Nine performers turned up, plus several people who had come along just to listen. Nice to have an audience!

For this month only, the Mason's singarounds have been put back a week to the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays of the month, owing to the fact that the 1st Wednesday was 1 January. The first one this year is this Wednesday 8 January. The Mason's is in Anchor Street, Southport, behind the main post office. Robinson's real ale.

This Thursday 9 January has two singarounds in Liverpool: the singaround in the Belvedere, 5 Sugnall Street, Liverpool, L7 7EB takes place between 2pm to 4pm. 4 real ales. Later at 8.15pm, it's my monthly acoustic song session in the Lion Tavern, Moorfields, Liverpool from around 8.15pm. 8 real ales.
I received a text last night from Sue Raymond that her weekly open mike nights in the Upsteps, Upper Aughton Road, Southport will begin again next Tuesday 14 January. One real ale sometimes on.

All these events are free, and performing is optional. This is just a selection - for more, see my events page.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Alcohol ration card proposals

A special report in Cumbria has recommended the issue of "Personal alcohol ID: everyone has one when they turn 18 they are used for every alcohol purchase regardless of age. This would mean a data trail of all alcohol purchased is kept (what alcohol, when, where etc). Could be given limitations by police for criminal behaviour" - direct quote from the report. This report, Our Life to Deliver: Talking Drink, Taking Action – The Barrow Alcohol Inquiry, was commissioned by NHS Cumbria and Cumbria County Council. It was based on a survey between May and July last year of 31 selected residents of Ormsgill ward in Barrow who, at 0.055% of a population of 57,000, no doubt represent a statistically valid cross section of the town.

Barrow Borough Council deputy leader and chairman of Furness Health and Wellbeing Board, Councillor Brendan Sweeney said: “It’s really important that people realise that Barrow has a vibrant lively night- time economy. I was surprised to see when I went out a few months ago how empty it was." Well, make up your mind, Cllr Sweeney: it's either vibrant or empty, but then what can you expect when he bases his pronouncements on going out once a few months ago. He expressed that hope that the Health and Wellbeing Board, working with police, licensees and bar staff - all that cross-agency stuff that they adore - could ensure "a better evening experience in Barrow".

Local MP John Woodcock regurgitated this utterly predictable gobbledygook: “It is clear from the recommendations that we need a real cross-cutting effort in Barrow, bringing together communities, the health service, schools, colleges, police and employers to improve awareness, education and treatment.”

The report does not say what the purpose of the ID cards would be or how the information gathered should be used; neither does it suggest how such a measure could be implemented, how they could force all retailers to take part, or what is to be done with visitors to Barrow. In fact, it is a typical muddled product of a focus group assembled to provide a pretence of credibility while being steered by facilitators towards predetermined conclusions. If that sounds too cynical, consider whether they'd be happily publishing the report if the participants had come up with the "wrong" conclusions.

This suggestion is probably going nowhere, but the fact that such proposals have been published may lead the Nanny State Tendency to take them up at some point in the future to lobby for alcohol rationing, perhaps beginning with young drinkers and people with criminal records and then broadening its scope. It's wise not to let the sheer stupidity of an idea lull you in to thinking it could never happen.