Thursday, November 22, 2007

Liverpool's culture vultures

As Liverpool prepares to become the European Capital of Culture 2008, in The Times James Collard, Alexia Skinitis and Alan Jackson talk to writers and performers who come from Merseyside.
Canning Street and the rows of 19th-century merchant’s houses which surround it are familiar territory to poets Roger McGough and Brian Patten and playwright Willy Russell (centre). McGough and Patten both lived near here before the 1967 publication of The Mersey Sound (with the late Adrian Henri) made them celebrated figures. McGough later went on to gain a chart No 1 with The Scaffolds’ Lily the Pink. Russell’s success began later with John, Paul, Ringo... and Bert (for the Everyman), but came thick and fast with Educating Rita and Shirley Valentine (both plays which became films) and the long-running Blood Brothers. But the street housing Russell’s offices has changed “beyond recognition”, from the rundown place of “brothels, squats and bars” which McGough recalls, to the swanky district estate agents now call the Georgian Quarter. “People have mixed feelings about regeneration, but it has saved these buildings,” argues Russell, “and I’m glad about that.”

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