Robert Hampton

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30th December 2010

Twenty Ten – again

What a year 2010 was! It had twelve months, each consisting of at least 28 days. On some of those days I made blog entries. Here are the highlights.

I began the year in January fretting about an alleged Crystal Maze remake starring Amanda Holden. This story fortunately turned out to be utter bollocks. Ginger people again proved that (yours truly excepted) they have no sense of humour or perspective. Britain experienced a deluge of snow, and Merseyrail impressed everyone by soldiering on throughout, a feat which they would surely repeat next time we experienced awful weather… right?

I finally joined the Wii owners’ club, just as the console stopped being cool. My rekindled love for video games did not result in me getting rickets. I also celebrated my first Twitterversary and cautiously welcomed the iPad.

I also took time to blog at length about a US comedian no-one has heard of over here, illustrating my post with YouTube clips which have now been removed for copyright infringement.

In more serious matters, the Haiti earthquake occupied people’s thoughts as a humanitarian catastrophe unfolded in the devastated country.

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7th February 2010

Iris-ked everything for you
Posted by at 7.19pm | Liverpool | No responses

Various web sites have been buzzing with the news that the former Mersey Ferry, Royal Iris, has ended up half-sunken and derelict in a London dock.

Royal Iris tied up in London, 2006

Some people may struggle to understand the emotions here: on the face of it, it’s just a boat that took people from Liverpool to Wallasey. And let’s face facts, its design was never going to win a beauty contest. But for many Merseysiders, the Royal Iris is not just a ferry, it’s an icon of Scouse culture. This is mainly thanks to the regular cruises it operated during the Merseybeat era, where passengers would receive dinner and an afternoon’s entertainment from one of the leading Liverpool bands. Even the Beatles performed on board on a few occasions. It’s a very sad state of affairs to see it ending its days like this.

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1st January 2010

2009? More like Two Thousand and Fine!

July saw Merseyrail’s run of bad luck continue, as a train rolled out of the depot and derailed. To atone for their sins, they introduced a new day ranger ticket, but I wasn’t convinced. This was something of a train-y month for me, as I did my bit to help out the previous generation of Merseyrail trains. Trains were also on the Government’s mind, as they announced that the Liverpool to Manchester line would be electrified.

In London, the Police proved once again what a wonderful organisation they are. In Rome, a swimmer suffered an embarrassing wardrobe malfunction.

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5th August 2009

Quays Please Me
Posted by at 6.51pm | Out and About | 1 response

Every summer, Mersey Ferries operate special cruises along the Manchester Ship Canal. Every year I’ve looked at the leaflet and thought, “I must go on one of those,” only to find the leaflet again several months later and think: “I should have gone on one of those.”

I finally fulfilled my ambition yesterday, after my friend Andrew suggested we go. So at 10.10am we were one of several hundred people boarding the Snowdrop for the six-hour trip to Manchester, via Ellesmere Port, Runcorn, Warrington and Trafford.

I was slightly dubious that a six-hour trip on a ferry would be too much, but it turned out to be really interesting. There was a brilliant guide providing live commentary, which not only pointed out every landmark, but also explained the purpose of every ship and barge we passed. He didn’t even lose his cool when, as we passed under Runcorn bridge, an almighty blast from the ship’s whistle made everyone jump. There were lots of pensioners on board; I’m sure there was much changing of incontinence pads afterwards.

Tying up at Salford Quays, we had two and a half hours to kill before our “coach” (actually an Arriva double decker) turned up to take us home. We wandered round the Imperial War Museum for an hour. I was expecting a slightly unpleasant glorification of war, but there was none of that and it was a sober affair, focusing on the experiences and suffering of the soldiers on the front line. At the moment they are holding a special exhibition on prisoners of war which I highly recommend if, like me, your knowledge of PoW camps is limited to watching The Great Escape on a wet bank holiday weekend.

Then there was just time to check out the Lowry Outlet Mall, which depressingly had almost Clayton Square-like levels of shuttered shops. Just across the road, MediaCityUK — the BBC’s new effort to convince people they’re not too London-centric — is taking shape.

Still, a very enjoyable day, not least because I got the bonus experience of sitting on the top deck of a bus doing 70 along the M62 with a severe cross-wind blowing us sideways.

So, in summary, yes, I loved it and would definitely go again. The ship canal cruises can be booked online at the Mersey Ferries web site.

11th May 2009

Desperately Seacombe Cruisin’
Posted by at 7.31pm | Out and About | 1 response

The original plan for today involved going to the gym, then spending the afternoon in the Odeon watching the new Star Trek film (it’s only been out a few days, but I already feel like I’m the only person who hasn’t seen it).

Two events conspired to alter this plan, however. On Saturday afternoon I apparently overexerted myself in the gym, leaving my arms aching in a most uncomfortable way and certainly putting me off setting foot in there again for a few days at least. Secondly, a quick check of the weather forecast this morning revealed that today was likely to be the only sunny day of the week, so spending it indoors was not the best plan.

So, what to do? I had a vague recollection of a previous trip on the Mersey Ferry, where the commentary had plugged the walking opportunities available along the promenade between New Brighton and Seacombe. Having only the vaguest sense of where I was actually going, I boarded a train into town, Saveaway in hand…

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16th December 2007

Liverpool Nativity
Posted by at 11.16pm | Liverpool, Television | No responses

Ooh, that were good. Sound seemed a bit dodgy in places, but when you’re performing live on a Mersey Ferry, these things can be forgiven I think. Less forgivable were Onslow‘s attempts at singing, but never mind; it was great to see Liverpool as a backdrop to a highly-publicised show like this.

Best of all, the plot revolved around the perfect red-rag-to-a-bull phrase — “asylum seeker” — meaning that the letters pages of the Liverpool Echo and the phone lines of the Roger Phillips phone in will be red hot for weeks with moaning pensioners. It’s political correctness gone mad!

Anyway, after four and a half-years of crap, BBC Three has finally produced something worthwhile. If you missed it, try to catch the repeat on BBC One on December 23rd and again on BBC Three on Christmas Day.