Robert Hampton

Another visitor! Stay a while… stay forever!

10th March 2013

Tonight, Mathew, I’m going to be…
Posted by at 1.15pm | Liverpool | No responses

Last August I criticised the Mathew Street Festival, saying that the increasingly vomit-stained event needed an urgent overhaul:-

This really is a case where smaller is better. Take the event back to its roots – a celebration of Merseybeat music that the whole family can enjoy, rather than an excuse to emulate the decadence of ancient Rome. Hell, if they do that I might even go next year.

I’m pleased to report that Liverpool City Council have listened to my counsel and have axed the event, replacing it with a smaller and, I hope, less chaotic shindig.

The Liverpool Echo’s reporting tried to put the worst possible spin on the news, but elsewhere the consensus was that this is a good move. As Sevenstreets’ “Autopsy” put it: “How can it be right for a festival to spend £900,000 to set up, with 80% of that cost going to policing and stewardship, sick-cleaning and staging, and only 20% going on the music? How can it be right for us to constantly be looking back fifty years, or wallowing in the parallel universe of tribute acts, when we’re a city that’s known for its creativity?”

The scrapping of the festival (or “Fezzie” as my mum insisted on calling it, even when no-one else did) is only bad news for yobs and alcoholics. Some bar and pub owners in the city centre are upset, but frankly if they were so interested in the Mathew Street Festival, they should have put their hands in their pockets to support it, rather than relying on the Council to subsidise the binge-drinking.

For the first time in quite a while, I will not be looking to flee the city this August Bank Holiday, and I look forward to seeing music other than naff tribute bands on the streets of Liverpool.

19th September 2011

Goo Goo G’ Joob
Posted by at 8.18pm | Liverpool, Trains | 1 response

Merseytravel Walrus CardIt’s hard not to be a fan of the Oyster Card. As I wandered around London during my recent visit, it was great not to have to worry about fishing for cash or accidentally travelling out of an arbitrarily-defined zone. Simply tap your card on the yellow pad and let the computers do the rest.

I think it’s safe to say that the introduction of Oyster was nothing less than a revolution in ticketing. With online and automatic topup options available, the days of queueing at ticket offices to pay public transport fares are a distant memory for most Londoners.

I have, therefore, been eagerly awaiting the long-threatened launch of Merseytravel’s equivalent technology. I was excited this summer by the sight of smartcard readers appearing on the ticket barriers at Merseyrail’s major stations for the use of bewildered pensioners travelling on free passes.

Until now though, it was not known when non-coffin dodgers would be able to get their hands on one. Well, the wait is over and the next phase of the rollout has begun. From today, commuters renewing their all-zone Trio ticket will not get the date-stamp-on-a-sticker which has been the standard issue for years. Instead, they will be issued with their ticket on a new Merseytravel-branded smartcard: Walrus.

Yes, Walrus.

I’m not quite sure what the thinking is: I think it’s an attempt to continue the sea-based theme (after Hong Kong’s Octopus and Oyster), as well as enabling a slew of “I am the Walrus” puns. Yes, it’s Liverpool, so it has to be the fucking Beatles again. At least the marketing people came up with something slightly more imaginative than Ticket to Ride.

Merseytravel have a nice little web site about the card complete with a video which tries really hard to sell the branding. It nearly won me over with “Walrus in your wallet”, but by that point I was already annoyed by the narrator talking about topping up the card, “or feeding the Walrus as I like to call it.” (aargh!)

I have plenty of time to get used to the name: if the rollout plan is adhered to, I (as a monthly season ticket holder) won’t get my hands on a Walrus until Autumn 2012. The final phase – Oyster-style pay-as-you-go – will not be completed until 2013.

I will grudgingly admit to liking the design of the card, with the Walrus “tusks” which also bring to mind the livery design on the outer ends of Merseyrail trains.

It’s surely going to be a great boon to the travelling public. But oh, the name!

3rd January 2011

Starr Trek: Regeneration

The house where Ringo Starr was born is scheduled to be demolished as part of a regeneration scheme for the “Welsh Streets” area of Toxteth, against the wishes of campaigners who are battling to save it.

There has been a new development about the redevelopment:-

THE campaign to save Ringo Starr’s birthplace was today given a glimmer of hope by Housing Minister Grant Shapps who has called on Liverpool City Council to allow the property a reprieve while the public have their say.

The question I have to ask is: WHY?! This is a different situation to Lennon and McCartney’s childhood homes, where the pair actually wrote and rehearsed some of their early songs together. Starr only lived in this house until he was three years old, so there is no Beatles history of any significance here.

All this is doing is delaying a hugely important regeneration scheme. I hope Liverpool City Council stand firm under the pressure and press ahead with the scheme, so the people who actually live in the area don’t have to put up with the the grot any longer.