Life imitates Gruts

Remember this from December 2009?

I see Manchester City F.C. has a new manager, Roberto Mancini.

This is blatant Gunners envy. The Citizens simply couldn't stomach the fact that Arsenal were the only Premiership side whose manager, Arsène Wenger, had a name which was practically identical to the club's. So Man. City had to have Mancini. It was as simple as that.

What nonsense can we expect next? Chelsea Clinton to manage The Pensioners? Trevor Nunn to take over at Goodison? The late Oliver Poole to replace Benítez at Anfield?

Well, not quite. But I couldn't help noticing that the team synonymous with the Kop has just appointed a new manager with the made-up name of Jurgen Klopp.

The world has gone mad.

Only second?

BBC (Evan Davis): The case for making Hebden Bridge the UK's second city
Birmingham and Manchester are usually mentioned when the subject of Britain's second city comes up. But is Hebden Bridge—population 4,200—the rightful owner of the title?

I'm tempted to say it should be first, but I have divided loyalties. As we all know, Liverpool is currently the UK's first city.

Turn your bloody lights off!

Manchester

Manchester from the International Space Station last night.

Liverpool and the Wirral

Liverpool and the Wirral (you can see my Dad's house from here).

London

Some place down south.

Is it any bloody wonder we can only see a handful of stars these days?

[All photos by Commander Chris Hadfield]

Postscript, 20:23: I just showed my Dad the middle photo, and, when we zoomed in, we really could see his house!

Evacuee kids

From p.171 of Off the Record, the wartime diary of the author and journalist Charles Graves:

May 30th. [1941]

Took Peggy to H- on the 1.15 a.m. from Paddington. […]

H- has the best beach for about 100 miles in any direction, and is directly opposite Ireland. H-is full of evacuated children from Merseyside, Liverpool University students doing theses, various foreign refugees, and others who have skipped from danger areas, like London. The greens on the [golf] course were in good condition. Local regulations about showing lights are not very strict. This despite the fact that the German Bomber Command aircraft always go up Cardigan Bay to attack Liverpool, and thus get a “fix” on the naked lights visible in various parts of Merioneth, including H-. H- has had no bombs nor sirens. Found four evacuee kids at Erinfa—Leslie the blonde, Norman the brunette, David the red-head, and Edwin just mouse colour. As a test of observation for them I hid eight pennies, three sixpences and a shilling round the terrace of the house. Leslie the blonde found practically all of them. Played penny bridge, and went to bed to the hoot of the owls. Thank goodness there are none of that much over-praised bird the nightingale round here.

To explain:

  • Charles Graves was the younger brother of the poet and novelist Robert ‘I, Claudius’ Graves;
  • ‘H-’ stands for Harlech in North Wales;
  • Erinfa was the Graves' family home, where Charles's mother—a German—Amalie Elizabeth Sophie von Ranke, was doing her bit for the British war effort by taking on the four ‘evacuee kids’;
  • the blond evacuee, Leslie, is my Uncle Les (then aged 7);
  • the brunette evacuee, Norman, is my dad (then aged 6).

I managed to track down a second-hand copy of Off the Record a few months back, and, yesterday, left it as a surprise Christmas present at my dad's. By a strange coincidence, unaware of the present, Dad was reminiscing about his days as an evacuee over whisky on Sunday evening. He is planning to pump his older brother for more reminiscences over Christmas lunch at my sister's place this afternoon.

Norman and Leslie

Norman (L) and Les (R), inspecting the Open Golf Championship claret jug in 2006.

Yes, but is it art?

It pains me to admit it, but I think I might finally have found a use for wind-power:

(I believe the expression the cool kids are using on the internet these days is W.T.F.)

Liverpool!

It's taken me years, but I've finally managed to take a photograph encapsulating in a single frame the greatest city on Earth:

One fat lady: number 8!

One fat lady: number 8!

(Pity I only had my iPhone to hand: worst camera ever!)

Liverpool One (rest of the world, nil)

Liverpool One phase 1 opens

Liverpool yesterday.
(The red carpet was red, of course.)

The Liverpool city centre moved a significant distance further west yesterday. No, not an earthquake: phase one of the new multi-million pound Liverpool One shopping and business centre opened in the middle of the biggest building site in Europe.

I went to have a look. Even though only 20% of the complex is open so far, it's seriously impressive. It's scheduled for completion in September. Can't wait to see the result.