Friday, 25 June 2010

The Liverpool Show and The Shanghai Expo. New, modern, looking to the future, says Bessie Braddock at the Liverpool Pavilion (stand)

There’s a far away pavilion by the river in Shanghai

That they said would make our future rich and bright

A showcase to the world as our wonders we unfurled

And for three million quid we hoped they’d got it right.

We would show the world with pride

the jewel in Merseyside

A forward-looking city standing tall

Not dwelling on the past but moving on at last

Away from just the Beatles and football.

By Jove Missus, it's me, back again.
With one or two thousand words about the Shanghai Expo. I know you have been waiting for an update but when I returned, I got my hand stuck down a grid and when I rang the emergency services, they just put bollards and hazard lights around me. Left me there for months! Eventually I managed to pull the grid up but I can't get it off,  so here I am  back and still a bit drained.

Now Missus, remember the Liverpool Show?

The one in the Mystery (Wavertree Playground if you were posh) Well that’s a bit like the Shanghai Expo that’s been going on. You must remember the Liverpool show, the proper one, the one they used to have years ago, they always had the Army there with big guns, tanks and military vehicles - as displays I mean, not because people got a bit boisterous in the candy floss queue.

The highlight on each day of the show was when they did the raffle to find the person that had actually bought a ticket to get in. That’s right, remember we all used to sneak in climbing over the wooden temporary fences and dodge the coppers. I got caught on them a few times. Half the men walking round with no arse in their kecks and the women who had just climbed in, trying to look inconspicuous with their skirts still tucked in the back of their knickers.

They had all sorts going on, Motor Cycle Display Riders, Show Jumping and the Red Devils? You must remember the Red Devils; they used to parachute into the arena. They were always scared to jump, I heard, and so the co-pilot used to set their shoes on fire. When they bent down to put them out, he’d boot them out the door. You could see the smoke as they were coming down. I mean fancy joining the parachute regiment if you are scared of heights.

Mind you, during the war Mr Clack and I ended up as paratroopers, you see at that time they still used carrier pigeons to send messages and we read the notice wrong and thought they were looking for parrot ropers. I thought that’s better than being shot at.  Take a nice packed lunch a bottle of pale ale each and spend the day walking around a nice forest with a net shouting c’mon Polly.

Well it was an easy mistake, I mean Parrots would be more suited to the campaign in the east than pigeons, and you wouldn’t have to write out the message as they can talk, you just tell them what to say.

Anyway, when we realised our mistake we soon started the training. It turned out being a paratrooper wasn’t too bad after all as you only had to jump off a wooden horse while counting. Well I took a chair to step onto, but I knew the counting bit off by heart.

Then one day, to say well done to everyone, they took us by plane for a weekend break in France. I was just looking for my seatbelt as they said we were about to arrive and this mad bugger opened the door and a few people started jumping out.

We got a shock at first but then Clack and I realised and gave the pilot a round of applause. It must have been the smoothest landing ever. You would swear we were still flying. So we got our flight bags and magazines, made sure we had our holiday money safe 100 Francs each and headed for the exit. It was very windy and so foggy that we couldn’t even see the steps. Next thing we knew, we woke up in a field in need of a change of trousers and surrounded by Germans having their dinner. Luckily I had my accordion on my back, yes I know a parachute would have been better but I had too much to carry and anyway I immediately launched into Lili Marlene and Clack started playing the spoons. Saved us, so it did. They thought we were a concert party. Three months we entertained them until they threatened to shoot us. Me finishing every night singing:

"Fröhlichkeit Fröhlichkeit das größte Geschenk, das ich besitze. Ich danke den Herrn, dass ich habe gesegnet. Mit mehr als meinen Anteil des Fröhlichkeit"

It wasn’t the last time I sang “Happiness” for a German audience, I’ve told you before about my one-man show in Germany, the one in Spandau. A mix up in the booking and the one man was Rudolph Hess. Miserable bugger, he was. To try and raise a smile, I changed the lyric to Happy Hess but they had to restrain him and carry him back to the cell.

Anyway that’s another story. I was talking about the Liverpool Show….wasn’t I…hang on, I’ll check back..

Yes, they had all sorts of stalls and exhibitions, you could have a fight in the evangelist tent, see all sorts of crafts and displays.  And there were  odd-looking ladies or blokes with a funny accent demonstrating food mixers.

There was always some bastard juggling as well. I hate people juggling in front of me, coming right up to your face with their gobs open as if it's astounding. Sod off!  I fixed them one year, I borrowed some grenades off one of the army blokes and said, here juggle these while I try and find the pins.

What’s the point of jugglers? It’s just showing off. But showing off was what the Liverpool Show was all about.

And showing off Liverpool was the aim of the Shanghai Expo.  
A chance, they told us, to display Liverpool to the world.

The Chinese were very pleased to have us and even made a scale model of ex city council leader, Wally Bradlow to use as the official mascot. A blue one as well, because he supports Everton.
The mascot is called "Ego" in Chinese, which means Wally.

An inflated Ego, full of hot air

So there we were, on display to the world. The only thing is that a lot of the world decided they couldn’t be bothered to show up, nor could any of the other cities in England. So it is just us and of course the thousands of bewildered Chinese people passing through…well maybe not thousands and not regularly passing through exactly, the estimates were a bit wrong and, as it turned out, our pavilion was on the other side of the river to the main Expo. Oh and it wasn’t a Pavilion, it was a the corner…basically it was some odd looking woman or a bloke with a funny accent demonstrating a food mixer. Well not far off.

The idea they said was to show the world the new regenerated vibrant Liverpool, as a place to do business. A modern thriving city looking to the future, with great things to offer investors.

 To show once and for all that Liverpool was a great modern premiere European city with far more to offer than the tired old clichés of football and the Beatles.

So, as the giant video screen showing a film of Paul McCartney making rude gestures with his thumbs, welcomed the Chinese people that had got lost and ended up on the wrong side of the river our Expo began.

They crowded around the the wallpaper paste table and deck chairs that was the Liverpool stand and gazed in awe at how much the city had to offer. This was  depicted in the giant murals of John Paul George and Ringo, interspersed with photos of Googie the Liverpool Duck,  Liverpool and Everton football players. There is even a complete wall sized portrait of Liverpool FC with Bill Shankly in the middle!  All of this and the sound of the Kop singing “F*** off back to America” to a tune sounding similar to one from West Side Story.

My word! There's modern forward looking Liverpool. The entire stand almost 30 years out of date. Precious memories to many of us maybe, but a selling point to Chinese investors? 

Where were the Diddymen?  Where was Arthur Askey?

But that’s not all, to get away from the football theme there is a penalty shot game. This is where China’s top businessmen and politicians can try and kick a football into a net. The Daily Post said this was one of the highlights for all of the businessmen visiting the stand, who really enjoyed it. Yes, I am sure they did.

There was something similar at the Wirral Kite festival the other week. Get the ball passed the goalie for 25 pence a go, helping to raise money for kids who need specs. Odd but I didn’t notice the chairman of the CBI or Sir Alan Sugar or the Chief Executive of Peel Holdings jostling to have a go. You would have thought the bloke from Peel holdings would have flown in from his tax exile home to have a go at that. Only 25p which is a hell of a lot cheaper than having to fly all the way to Shanghai.
                                          "On me head son!"

So they tell us it has been a huge success, even though something like only a fifth of the predicted numbers have visited the stand and that it wasn’t actually a business Expo at all.

It hasn’t been without controversy though, as they have now run out of money and the planned finale (Liverpool Day -whatever that means?)  which involved flying out Cilla ,Tarby, Jerry Marsden and the Luciana Bergers as well as my good friend Vassapoint Petrochemco and his Orchestra, may have to be cancelled. They said they were about £400k short, with not even enough to buy the packet of sparklers for the closing ceremony.

Come on soft lad, you've a council meeting to go to

But not to worry, it has been fantastic. Well worth the £3 million quid. Now I know it sounds a lot but ex council bleeder…er leader, Wally Bradlow and ex Chief Executive, Hilton Stilton, ensured that there were accurate financial forecasts showing the returns on this investment. And by Jove we will thank them for it in the future. You see it has been shown that for our £3 million pounds, which is nothing financially these days, we spent more than that paying off Henshaw, Halsall, Robin Archer and Jason Harbottle. Dr McAllmoney costs us twice that a month £6.5 million for putting people on hold at Liverpool Direct while they take the priority calls from Leicester or somewhere, to come and put a plug on a bath or fumigate a chicken coup. While we pay for their time Ha ha! Mind you he's now temporarily replaced Hilton Stilton. I doubt he'll complain about the £78 million a year he was raking in for LDL.

"Just look at where we were 10 years ago, where are we?"

You see the thing is, that for our three million pounds spent, the financial experts used by the council, confidently predicted a return of up to four and anything up fifty million pounds of investment back over the next ten years.

Now before the cynics start, yes there is a bit of a gap between four million and fifty million, and the phrase “up to four” clearly includes the figure Zero.  Well you have to allow for a margin of error. Or should that be huge, gaping - can't see the other side, pass us your binoculars..better still your crystal ball - chasm of error? So who were the experts giving this predicted return? Russel Grant? Mystic Meg?

But don’t worry, all those who flew off regularly to Shanghai to be wined and dined while setting this up and agreeing to pay for it have either already left, been kicked out of office or will be leaving soon, so they won’t need to explain. They’ll be fine don’t worry about it.

     Almost unbearable excitement during the planning meetings

As we were stuck with it, the new bloke in charge, Joe Handyman, has had to keep the spin going. Once it’s over it’ll be forgotten about. And don’t forget, some people have already done very well out of it, the ones who got the PR contract and of course the Oldham Echo and Daily Post, who haven’t had to come into work for months as all the stories have been written for them.

So as far as I am concerned let us raise our glasses high to the Shanghai Expo, where once again the glorious leadership decisions of the previous Glib Dum administration has been Expo'd.

A special thank you to the kind and good people of Shanghai for smiling politely and kicking the ball in the net when prevented from leaving the stand by the city council staff until they did it.

     Just kick the f***ing ball will ya mate!!!

Meanwhile back in Grotty Cash, Liverpool, it's all change here now down at the fun palace. The Lib Dums have been binned. I am going to miss Wally Bradlow. I wonder if he is on Bookface? I am sure his new friend is. I’ll have to check as I haven’t been on for a while, not since this group on there started calling for me to be sacked. You see I got into  a bit of trouble after I put an advert on Ebay to try and flog some awful, tatty old garden gnomes that we had in the garage.  But I accidentally uploaded a picture of the former Lib Dem cabinet instead.

       Ebay. No longer wanted. Liverpool Lib Dems, any offers?

The Gnomes society was furious. I got Mrs C to say it wasn’t me and that the matter was now closed but the swines on Ebay said it was me that did it, so now she’s furious with me as well. She says I’ve made her look a complete lying pillock. I am beginning to think she only ever went out with me was because I was head of the Jam Faculty at Grotty Cash University and now that I have lost my faculties she doesn’t want to know.

But thank goodness that after being kicked out in May by the electorate the Lib Dums voted by a huge majority of three votes (two being him and his friend) to keep Wally on as local party leader. Well we need something to cheer us up now that his party has given power to those who almost destroyed the city the last time they were in office.  So with the Conservatives in power and ready to slash the money going to Liverpool, all thanks to the support of Clegg and the Con-Democ-Rats it could well be back to Geoffrey Howe's managed decline. It's a good job Wally has a hotline to Clegg to protect us from the savage cuts...oh, but then again it's Clegg helping to make them. 
The Great Nana!

Now, where’s me Beatles tape, I am going to listen to that on my Walkman on the way to Mr Clack’s to watch the football.

Tatty Bye Everybody Tatty Bye

Be nice to each other.