Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Cilla the Biopic - A Rouetmaster Moment

October 2014 the BBC screened the biopic, Cilla. In one of the scenes, they showed Cilla meeting up with Ringo Starr in the el Cabala. They portrayed the El Kabala [sic - their incorrect spelling] coffee bar, as a greasy spoon cafe on the "Dock Road". To put the record straight I sent an email to the Sunday Times  "You Say" column in the Culture Magazine which was published on the 13th October 2014. The comment prompted a number of responses over the next few weeks.
Enjoying Cilla but irritated by a "Routemaster moment". The el Cabala coffee bar, spelled with a "C" not a "K", was not a greasy spoon as depicted but Liverpool's first high-class coffee bar at 96 Bold Street, the poshest shopping street in town. Next door was la Cabala and both were owned and run by 2 Hungarian brothers, the Kushners. The splendid Palladian frontage is still in situ. The place to linger over a Cafe Borgia and a Sobranie Black Russian cigarette in the late 50's early 60's.
I submitted the comment with supporting evidence a paper by Helen Taylor, "Liverpool 8 and 'Liverpool 8': The creation of social space in the Merseybeat movement" (link). She quotes from Rodger McGough's book Said and Done.
McGough’s ‘first cappuccino’, in ‘El Cabala, a glass fronted, airy café on Bold Street’, is considered a significant moment, both because of its novelty and for what it represents of this lifestyle (McGough, Said and Done: the autobiography   (London: Random House, 2005, p. 142)
This reminder of an icon of my formative years got me going particularly as it appeared from initial investigations that many of the recollections from the collective memory were as bad as the BBC's research, confusion seemed to reign. Confusion with locations with similar names and recall of the geography were commonplace, a bit of research was called for.

The first thing you notice is how many different (incorrect) spellings of the name there are on the internet, some by those who should know better - the BBC. The correct spelling is el Cabala, with a small e and a capital C, not a K. The site of the el Cabala the was 96 Bold Street, now the home of "Next to Nowhere" a bookshop. The frontage is quite distinctive with two grand Palladian granite pillars and decor. Interestingly, to confuse memories further, there was also an el Cabala in Southport owned by the same family. The Bold Street place had a mezzanine floor. It was the first place to serve Espresso coffee and Cappuccino dusted with chocolate and cinnamon. My favourite drink was a Cafe Borgia, we would probably call it a Mocha today Milky chocolate, an expresso plus cinnamon and nutmeg sprinkle. Russian tea was also a favourite with many, black tea with lemon. Whatever you drank it was usually accompanied by an exotic fag, Sobranie Black Russian or Passing Cloud were my favourites but Gauloise, Lucky Strike, Camel and even Capstan Full Strength and if you were of a certain persuasion Sobranie Cocktail cigarettes were amongst the pollutants we puffed on our decadent visits to this establishment. I even graduated to a pipe at one point. As with all good academic research, I have corroborated my sources with a paper published by Helen Taylor, "Liverpool 8 and 'Liverpool 8': The creation of social space in the Merseybeat movement." Source: Exegesis (2013) 2, pp. 34-44

96 Bold Street

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Fathers Day Poems by Alice Money Age 6

This year my Granddaughter Alice, age 6,
composed a collection of poems for her
daddy to give him on Father's Day. I have
to confess to have been quite blown away
by what she wrote unassisted. I helped
her compile them into a book from her
written manuscript.

For a limited time you can download a
PDF copy of the book here.

I Can't Write Poetry

Strange things happen. About eighteen
months ago, quite out of the blue I felt the
urge to write a poem. I was driving at the
time and I was thinking about the walk to
shore from my grandfather' s house that
was a familiar part of my summer holidays
as a child. I was on my way to Lancaster
University. When I arrived I went for a
coffee, pulled out my note book and started
writing. The words just came, why I am not
sure. Hitherto I had considered myself
incapable of writing a poem. I enjoy poetry
and I admire those who can write it, but
never me.

So why did I start writing poetry? I am not
sure, it may be an age thing. But they keep
on coming, often in the most unlikely
places, what I call my "bog seat moments, 
because that is where and when I seem to
 find inspirationdon't think Wordsworth 
has much to worry about but eighteen 
months on I find myself with a collection 
of poems. So here is my first book of poems 
and the nostalgic thoughts that are often 
associated with them. 

My first book created in Blurb for my own
amusement and as a gift for friends and
family I called Remembering, because as I
said earlier the first poem I wrote was about
remembering the place I spent so many of
my childhood holidays and many oth the
other poems are also inspired by nostalgic

For a limited time you can download the
PDF version of the book here.
The file will open on most computers but
if you have a problem download a copy
of Adobe Reader to view it.

PS I am about to publish my second book of poems!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Wyre Artist in Residence - People Places & Conversation

Skippool Creek
Wyre Borough Council in partnership with LeftCoast are offering the opportunity of 5 artists in residence commissions for Wyre based contemporary artists.

The residencies will be an opportunity for artists to work in non-familiar locations and use the opportunity to engage with communities, staff and/or the general public to inform the project that is produced.

The residencies will be based within specifically chosen, non-art spaces for the artist to engage with those different audiences.  The commissions are about people and place; finding the stories of the everyday and revealing something about the lives of Wyre.

The artist commissions can be from any art form from digital art, photography, film, to more traditional art forms of drawing, painting or 3D work. The selection panel will be most interested in how this opportunity can be interpreted through ideas and the approach to working with people and location.

Finally the commissioned artists in residence will be invited to bring their projects together into an exhibition or publication to be shown somewhere in Wyre. It will be the role of the exhibiting artists to co-ordinate and curate the exhibition, find a suitable location or touring opportunities. Marketing and organisational support will be provided by Wyre Council and LeftCoast.

It will be the responsibility of the 5 successful artists to co-ordinate when their projects have been completed and when they would like the exhibition to happen. The end of the whole project will need to be no later than the 31 March 2016. 

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Monday, June 1, 2015

Exhibition of Work at the Grand Theatre Blackpool

Click to enlarge
I have been invited to exhibit nine pieces of my Blackpool themed work at the iconic Grand Theatre in the centre of Blackpool.  Built in 1894 The Grand Theatre is the work of the proclaimed Victorian Theatre architect, Frank Matcham. My work is on display in the Stalls Bar. The work is based on familiar and iconic scenes that capture the history and unique aspects of Blackpool as a holiday destination. The work will be on show until the end of the 2015 season. Prints of the work in A2 and A1 sizes are available from the Grand Theatre box office or by Post. The original art work is also for sale.

The work starts life as digital photographs, the final impressionistic images are influenced by my interest in the French art form of affiches lacérées or torn posters. The finished artwork is the product of a combination of computer manipulation and a mixed media polymer transfer printing process that results in the final image being uniquely, randomly distressed.

The exhibition runs from June to September 2015. For access times please check with The Grand Theatre website.

To see further examples of my artwork visit my website

The Grand Theatre - Blackpool

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Women in the City - Liverpool Photography Festival

Women in the City

As part of the Liverpool Photography Festival 15 - 31st May 2015 to celebrate the visit of three famous Queens: Mary II, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria,  There was a call for photographers to submit their images celebrating Women in the City, to showcase in our online gallery. From female photographers, to images of the women we admire;shots of majestic liners and Grandmothers entertaining the young, let your imagination run wild, capture and share your moments in Liverpool.

I submitted two photographs from my maternal Grandfathers photograph archive. William Turner had a Tattooing and Photographic studio on Lime Street in the early 1900's. He was well connected with the circus and music hall folk...

The photographs are on an outdoor display in Thomas Steers Way in the Liverpool One shopping mall. The upper one is of my great grandmother preparing Sunday dinner in the backyard. The other is of Annie Jones the bearded woman. A famous member of the Barnum and Bailey Circus. 

Photographs by Johnny Parker