Things I Wish Were In My Xmas Stocking This Year (but won’t be)

Post O Alls overshirts – either of these please girls!

Heritage Research four pocket jacket would be nice Santa!

Map of a Nation: A Biography of the Ordnance Survey

Map Of A Nation – a biography of the Ordnance Survey by Rachel Hewitt – beats a biography of some hhalf arsed ‘comedian’ or actor any day of the week, mam! 

Funk & Soul Covers by Joaquim Paulo – get on the good foot grandad!

The Great Ice-Breakers - a history of Polar Explorers and Exploration (2011)

Hurtigruten Norwegian ‘The Great Ice Breakers’ theme cruise – make that a double birthday/Crimmo box Great Aunt Agatha!

link :—a-history-of-Polar-Explorers-and-Exploration-2011/

San Sebastian pintxo tasting tour – yum yum Rich ETA supporting Uncle Terry  



The Reclaimers’ Manifesto (from ‘Diary Of An Armchair Stalinist’)

File:Agreement of the People (1647-1649).jpg

He wrote his first draft of the movement’s manifesto. His daughter was watching Eastenders and asked him what he was doing. 
“I’m writing a manifesto for a non-existent movement” he told her and she smiled that smile that reminded him of his futility. He read the manifesto back to himself and thought it needed a few tweaks here and there but over all he was happy with it, this manifesto for The Reclaimers, which went: 

“This land is our land and we have come to reclaim it. Show us deed or covenant and we will reject them as fraudulent, for your authority is false and your power is arbitrary.
We recognise no legal statute nor abstract moral claims to ownership, for we recognise no boundary be they geographic, economic or cultural. All these invisible and divisive parameters are but camouflage, created to disguise the corrupt and criminal theft of our common birthright. No hand can claim overlordship and no seal can confer dominion. Our mission is simple and our methods are sound;

We walk where we walk and we camp where we camp.

No inch of territory is to be denied us, no occupier can contain us. We will not offer physical resistance to any violent response by those who claim ownership. We accept that the cabal of aristocrats and industrialists with their massed ranks of clergy and military, their judiciary and their police, their propagandists and their treacherous yeomanry will do everything in their power to bully and besmirch us.

These  parasites, who feed from the land, will misinform and agitate against us, use their cowed media sycophants to stir up hostility and hatred for our cause but they are mere serfs and whores protecting the land grabbers and the money launderers. Filthy sophists and venal opportunists who bleed the land dry yet promote themselves as protectors, as custodians and safekeepers for an imagined identity.

There is no England, no Britain, no Europe, no nation, no race, no religion; only the abstract laws, codes and customs of a self-elected oligarchy, a self-appointed priesthood, a self-serving elite of wealth dividers inventing a mythical history and preaching a perverted morality to ensnare and disempower the masses. A system that worships death and the sacrifice of children to uphold its artificial structure, that inflates its supposed virtues yet denies these same qualities at the same time.
We uphold the right of each and every person to be the master of their own identity.
The monarch of their own kingdom. The God of their own conscience.


This land is our land and we have come to reclaim it!”

He read it to his daughter and she just shrugged, called him a weirdo and tapped away at her laptop. He read it to his wife who asked him how many people were in this invented movement. He replied ‘none’ as it was entirely fictional. She said the first thing the papers would do is park their reporters in the garden or in the yard or even the home of anyone daft enough to propose such a campaign. If all land was up for grabs then why not the land of those who demand it from others, even if that land was not even theirs but only a tenancy or was reliant upon an unpaid loan? He knew she was right and said that’s why he’d included the bit about the media acting as propagandists. It was all in his head anyway, it wasn’t a real manifesto or a real movement, even if he wished it was. She dried the glasses on the draining board and placed them away in the cupboard. “Corry’s on in ten minutes” she said and walked back into the front room, leaving him re-reading it in the winter half-light.

Magnetic Meades/Refrigiwear

In a tv world that relies on pretty boy/girl presenters to ‘do culture/history’ progamming, Jonathan Meades is refreshingly ugly.  Meades’s shtick is pretty formulaic; stick a posh cunt in front of a camera and allow him/her to pontificate on all manner of things they like/hate. This is tiresome when the posh cunt in question has nothing interesting or original to say but in the case of Meades is always value for money, as he always has an interesting angle. You may not agree with his mix of polemic and historical critique, but you have to admire his skill as an academic and a broadcaster. His last two series, ‘Magnetic North’ and ‘Off Kilter’ both focused mainly on architecture as a symbol of cultural and economic progress or decline. Meades is often insulting in a way only public school radicals can be but atleast he’s funny with it. 

‘Magnetic North’ (where we robbed the title of this blog from) pays homage to the architecture, culture and people of northern Europe whereas ‘Off Kilter’ (get it?) presented a vision of Scotland that jarred with the soft focus romanticism of the Scottish Tourist Board adverts. Is there anything more depressing than the stadiums of lower league Scottish football clubs? If there is, Meades has yet to film them. What also raises a typical Meades series, apart from the quality of the narrative, is the stunning cinematography. Even at its bleakest, the shots of downtrodden Fife council estates and empty terraces have a lyrical beauty that isn’t simply middle class sneering but appears to be a genuine howl of outrage at the state of the nation in the 21st century.

In a TV age filled with two bob controversialists and third rate ‘celebrities’ Meades is a welcome throwback to an age when the likes of Clark and Bronowsky were given free reign to their intellect and allowed to instruct and admonish in equal measure.

Off Kilter episode 1

Magnetic North – Episode 1

Refrigiwear – Big Chillers

In the early naughties our mate from a well known scouse ‘baggy band’ came back from a holiday in Italy and was raving about the Refrigiwear coats the locals were all sporting. We contacted the UK supplier who coincidentally only lived 20 miles away down the road near Macclesfield and sounded him out about getting some of the parkas in a few outlets we had contacts with. He seemed a bit reticent at first as he mainly sold to industrial companys – frozen pizza warehouses not trendy Manc boutiques but we convinced him that in the era of Canada Goose, there was a market for 600 quid quilted parkas. However, by the time we’d pursuaded him to put a few of the original US jackets in a few stores, the crafty Italian supplier had moved in and soon you could get cut price ‘Fridgey’ in fucking TKs!! Another boss business plan down the pan!  Anyway, the Italians still relish their Fridgey parkas as anyone who’s visited the cold north of Italy or spent a day at the San Siro will testify. I’ve got this model below but that’s not me rocking it, it’s a beefcake yanky catalogue model down on his luck.  

It’s good to see that the original brand has lost none of its cheesey blue collar charm as these recent catalogue photos prove. Yes, they may look better on beefcake Yanky catalogue models or Juve/Inter fans as they sip espresso in the shadow of the alps than a bunch of scals climbing Moel Famau on cheap wizz but then again, beefcake yanky catalogue models still dig Bon Jovi and those Inter and Juve fans still can’t wear decent trabs can they?

boss hoody lid!

The View From Frog’s Gob

Frogs Gob

New Ineos Chlor chimney

Stanlow smokeys

Overlooking Hale/Speke

The campfires of the Persian army at Stanlow

It was one of those mornings; I took my camera up to Runcorn Hills yesterday (Sunday 12th December) where I walk my dog, Monty thinking I might catch some decent shots over the Mersey estuary. Putting on my bestest Brugi ski jacket I set forth in the chilly December air. 

Weirdo alert!

The mist hung in a thick band across the river as the new Ineos Chlor chimney is erected to pollute us even more. The massive chlorine plants of Castner Kelner and Rocksavage are mostly hidden from this vantage point but the carcinogenic smoke they produce rises into the air and can be seen for miles in these conditions. The only place with a worse track record for pollution in western Europe can be seen across the water, the Ince B and Stanlow oil refineries near Ellesmere Port.  

Liverpool cathedral just visible through the mist

More fucking mist over the Mersey

 The hills themselves are what remain of old ICI dumping grounds and a disused sandstone quarry. One of the rocky outcrops is known locally as ‘Frog’s Gob’  and remains a place where teenagers go to bevvy, chong and show off, sometimes with tragic consequences, as there have been a few deaths over the years. One young lad, Wayne O’Donnell is memorialised with graffiti celebrating his love of Man United.  

We’d leave our names scratched into the rock in the tradition of our forefathers. Even the old quarrymen themselves left their marks – GF Ormsby 1903 – for example is carved in the rocks at the foot of ‘Happy Valley’ along with mine from the late 70s ( I think! I can’t actually remember doing this and only came across accidentally last year when showing my young nieces some of the carvings) 

The sandstone quarried from here in the 19th century was used to build everything from Liverpool’s Anglican cathedral to New York docks. The wagons they used to ferry the stone to the docks at Weston Point have been recreated as sculptures, with those kindly folks at Ineos Chlor stumping up some of the dough in a pathetic show of cultural philanthropy.


In the valley itself (don’t know when they named it ‘Happy’) the layers of compressed sand dunes form strange patterns and shapes, a geological manifestation of  billions of years of evolution that somehow left Widnes untouched.

The hills are a great place for looking out over to the pennines in one direction and the Welsh hills in the other. On a clear day even with the smoke and shite of ICI and Fiddlers Ferry and Stanlow and Granox stinking the town out, it is still a boss dog walking area as Monty will testify.

Monty says "Call the RSPCA!"

The Name’s Bond, Brooke Bond!

Back when I was a young un, me grandad had a collection of Wills ciggie cards – Flags of The Empire, Kings & Queens of England, 100 Favourite Trade Union Leaders that kind of thing. I was fascinated by them and then got into collecting my own cards, not from packs of ciggies ofcourse but from packs of tea. The series that stick in my head the most are ‘The Sea, Our Other World’ and this one, ‘Adventurers & Explorers.’ The imperialist propaganda of the 40s and 50s had been replaced by the 70s zeal for underwater diving and blasting off into space. Jacques Cousteau and Neil Armstrong were the people we wanted to be and these cards inspired us to become lowly factory hands and pen pushers.

I deffo had the album for adventurers, which admittedly only focused upon western European adventurers and explorers, but nevertheless provided an entertaining way of educating us budding Billy Caspers.     


North Canada/English Electric

Por Convencion Ferrer Banner

Dave Jacques is that rare beast, a contemporary artist with something to say and even rarer, something worth listening to. OK, so he’s a mate of mine but Dave’s recent work has been gaining him widespread acclaim across Europe and his latest work, ‘North Canada/English Electric’ is currently showing at Leeds Art Gallery along with last year’s piece, ‘Por Convencion Ferrer’ where they’ve been nominated for the Northern Art Prize.

Both of these works are political without being hectoring and deal with the physical and cultural landscape of Liverpool (as well as Manchester,Wales and Dublin in ‘Por Convencion Ferrer’) as it adapts to economic and political forces largely beyond its control. The way the people are polluted and patronised by politicans and industrialists eager to sell the lie of ‘the big society’. Commercial interests win out over the health of local residents and ‘depopulated’ no go zones emerge on both edges of the city, by the old docklands and outer rim industrial estates as the industrial past and post-industrial future is literally scrapped and burned in front of the peoples’ very eyes. 

North Canada/English Electric is a ghostly vision of the past, present and future of cities across the north designed for an industry that now lies in ruins amongst the shiny new ‘cultural’ quarters and desolate estates.  


North Canada/English Electric – film Pt1

Part 2

Dave’s website :