Robert Hampton

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August 2014

3rd August 2014

Pride: the Fall
Posted by at 12.58pm | Gay, Liverpool | 4 responses

Back in 2010, Liverpool Pride was born. The powers-that-be decided that Liverpool needed a Pride event, a safe space to celebrate diversity and inclusiveness in a city scarred by homophobic violence. It was a fairly small-scale event and it was fun, with a great atmosphere and community spirit. It wasn’t just LGBT people and their friends who took in the event – ordinary city-dwellers, shoppers who wandered past, and rail passengers heading to Moorfields station all stopped to take in the festivities.

Then, next year, they decided that the safe space wasn’t big enough, and moved it to the Pier Head. It lost a little something from being moved away from the gay quarter, but it was still a fun event, as bemused tourists getting off the Mersey Ferry encountered drag queens.

Then, in 2013, they decided that the safe space wasn’t safe enough, and introduced a new security policy. The Pier Head was fenced off to keep the pridegoers caged in. People would have their picnics searched on entry and any drinks confiscated. There had been too much drunken behaviour in previous years, it was claimed. From now on, the only drunkenness tolerated would be from alcohol purchased at the official stands for £5 a go.

All guests will be searched

Then, they decided that they could no longer afford the safe space, and started charging an entrance fee. To celebrate diversity and inclusiveness now costs £11, for a wristband which allows a lucky few to walk down streets which are open to all the other 364 days of the year. The casual passer-by was, it seemed, no longer welcome in the gay quarter and had to find a route avoiding it.

They decided to abandon community spirit in favour of getting sloshed and watching music acts perform 15 minute sets. It was the Mathew Street Festival, but with drag queens.

The volunteers still rattled their donation buckets. In previous years we were asked to “help keep Pride free”. No word on their purpose this year.

Ah well, it was nice while it lasted. For what it’s worth, here are some pictures from the Pride march.

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8th August 2014

Screen Giant
Posted by at 9.40pm | Liverpool | No responses

The best way to relive the Giant Spectacular is, undoubtedly, via my shaky mobile phone footage. Enjoy!

12th August 2014

Robin Williams
Posted by at 6.49pm | Films, In the News | No responses

Terribly sad news about the death of Robin Williams. Everyone will have their favourite film. He was amazing as the Genie in Aladdin, of course, but my personal favourite is the underrated Jumanji – many happy memories of seeing that in the cinema.

Williams had discussed his depression in the past. A lot of ignorant comment has appeared online already, demonstrating (as Jake Mills discusses in the Liverpool Echo today) the need to talk about depression more.

Some of the funniest appearances were on talk shows. Here are some clips I’ve found online, spanning a 20-year period from Johnny Carson right the way through to Graham Norton.

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14th August 2014

Consultation Station
Posted by at 9.03pm | Trains | 2 responses

Do you travel by train in the north of England? Specifically, the Northern Rail or Transpennine Express franchises?

Both franchises are up for renewal in 2016, and the Department for Transport is seeking views from “stakeholders” on the future of the service. The consultation document (PDF file) sets out the Government’s view.

The good news:

6.12 We are not considering line or station closures within this review of the franchise design.

However, there are lots of other ideas discussed, some of which are slightly worrying. It’s no secret that the Northern franchise attracts a huge subsidy, and “efficiency” is the watchword to try and drive costs down. Fare rises, ticket office closures and reductions in lightly-used services could be on the cards.

On a more positive note, the document also mentions the possibility of changes to TPE’s Scottish services and maybe bringing back a direct Liverpool-Scotland service. This would be a big improvement on the current situation where connections from Liverpool to anywhere north of Preston are quite poor.

We are also asked for views on which services, in particular, are underperforming and could be improved. If you think Teesside Airport deserves a train every 10 minutes, now is the time to speak up!

Of course, the cynical view is that the DfT have already made up their minds, and this is a sham consultation before they rubber-stamp the changes. But the opportunity is there to make your views heard.

You have until 18th August to make your views known. The future of your local railway station could be at stake, so view the consultation document and find out how to respond on the Department for Transport web site.

This whole post is without prejudice to my strongly-held view that the best structure for Britain’s railways is a state-owned not-for-profit organisation running services with the best interests of passengers and taxpayers at heart.

Northern Rail

16th August 2014

The Whole Tooth and Nothing but the Tooth
Posted by at 8.01pm | It's My Life | 3 responses


Yesterday I was admitted to hospital.

Don’t panic, though! This was not the result of some disaster, a faux pas with a chainsaw normally seen in the opening scenes of Casualty. Rather, it was to have two wisdom teeth extracted.

I’d been referred by my dentist, who had spotted that the position they’d grown into was causing food to get trapped between them and the healthy teeth next door. This was handy if I got hungry later in the evening, as I could usually extract a bit of gristle that had got stuck there, but not so good for oral hygiene, as I was starting to develop cavities in the adjacent tooth.

(Incidentally, if God really does exist and created all of us in his image, surely he would have got the whole teeth thing down correctly by now? I know so many people who have had to have wisdom teeth removed because they are growing sideways, or pushing other teeth out of the way, or some other problem)

Like a massive coward, I had opted to have it done under general anaesthetic. I didn’t have to, but as soon as the consultant at the pre-op mentioned that they would be cutting bits of bone out of my face, I decided that I wanted to be asleep for the whole thing.

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22nd August 2014

Bite Back
Posted by at 3.32pm | It's My Life | 1 response

CAUTION: This blog does contain some yucky details of bodily fluids and such.

When last we left the intrepid hero of this blog, he’d just had some dramatic oral surgery – namely, two wisdom teeth pulled out.

I thought that would be the end of the matter, and I was back in work on Monday morning, against the advice of several people who advised me to take an extra day or two to recover.

I should have paid attention to them. Also, I should have paid attention to what my own body was telling me. 48 hours after my op, I peered into my mouth, looking in a mirror using my iPhone as a makeshift torch. I could see there was a bit of yellow gunk leaking out of the wound – pus, in other words. That should have set alarm bells ringing, as that is a sure sign of an infection.

I’m sure it’ll be fine, I thought. It will clear up by itself in a day or two.

You see, I don’t get sick. My body has the Berlin Wall of immune systems: absolutely nothing gets in. That’s been the case for as long as I remember; when I was in primary school, a flu epidemic hit the area. At one point my class of 25 was reduced to ten at one point, but I was still there every day (with an apple for the teacher).

So I soldiered on. Monday passed without too much incident, as did most of Tuesday. By late Tuesday evening, though, I was feeling run down, and I climbed into bed at 10.15pm (sacrificing my nightly viewing of Conan – that’s how bad it was).

Wednesday morning I woke up feeling OK, and went to work as usual. By the afternoon, however, I felt rotten. I alternated between sweating profusely and shivering – I must have made quite the sight on the train home. When I got home, and went straight to bed, my mum and sister twigged that perhaps something was wrong.

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25th August 2014

Bridal Train
Posted by at 8.29pm | Liverpool, Trains | No responses

Merseyrail pulled out all the stops on Sunday to get bride Leanne Cole to her big day.

Leanne said: “We didn’t want to pay for a flashy car when we’ve got a perfectly good service on our doorstep and we’re on a budget.

“There is an Italian tradition where they walk to the church. I really liked it and thought I would walk to catch the train.”

After her family spoke to station staff at Fazakerley station, Merseyrail provided a special train to Liverpool Central on Sunday morning and decorated it for the occasion. For pictures and video of the big day, see the Liverpool Echo web site.

This train is also available for birthdays, office parties and bar-mitzvahs, folks (NB this probably isn’t true).

30th August 2014

Jaw! What is it good for? Absolutely nothing.
Posted by at 10.23pm | It's My Life | 2 responses

“Yeah, you need to go back to the hospital.”

I didn’t like the casual way the dentist said this. I also didn’t like that I had barely taken my coat off and plonked myself in his chair before he said it.

The story so far: I had a wisdom tooth removed a couple of weeks ago. Then it became infected. A week on from a feverish emergency dentist appointment, I had been lulled into thinking all was well and had even gone back to work on Wednesday. The next day, I was scheduled to see the same dentist, and assumed that he was going to give me the all clear.

Oh sure, I was still all swollen up, and there was still a certain stiffness in the jaw which left it unable to open wider than a centimetre. This meant a continued diet of soup and porridge. Well, it was either that or post slices of Tesco Value wafer-thin ham through the narrow gap.

I had hoped that this was all just a side effect of the surgery and it would clear up on its own, even if it was a little slower than usual. But when the dentist gave the bad news, deep down it didn’t come as much of a surprise.

I went straight home and phoned up the clinic where I originally had the operation done. After a great deal of to-ing and fro-ing on the phone (not helped by my not being able to remember my surgeon’s name) they said that they could maybe offer me an appointment next week sometime, and they would call me back.

Screw that.

So on Thursday afternoon I marched into the A&E department of Fazakerley Hospital. A super-duper new A&E is being built there at the moment, but I had to contend with the older, slightly run-down building. It felt slightly cramped (probably because of the amount of people waiting) and there was a Coca-Cola vending machine with a partially peeled off sticker by the coin slot, proudly declaring that it was “New 5p and 10p ready!”

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