Saturday, 18 May 2013

'It's like your gran... turned into Beyoncé'

This is a big week for Liverpool and for libraries. After a three years closure, the Liverpool Central Library has reopened following a £55million PFI-funded refurb.

(They probably want their Borrowers back, too. We inherited a few for a while, but as will all things library-related, they have to be returned.)

As the Daily Mail said:

'It's like going to meet your gran and finding she's turned into Beyoncé'.

It is indeed a breathtaking building: like a high-tech Hogwarts it has layers of floating walkways hovering above a central area which spirals upwards to a quirky out-of-kilter dome. The old-world splendour of the Picton Reading Room and Horny Library sit surprisingly comfortably alongside the chrome, glass and on-trend big letters/bright colours.

It's a building that lends itself to being a library (see what I did there?) and a very beautiful place to be and I could quite happily live there.  Ooh, I have library envy.

They even have books.

But while the media response to what the Liverpool Echo calls the city's 'new cathedral of knowledge' has been rapturous, these are times of austerity, and the money to run it has to come from somewhere.

Three Liverpool libraries have been closed, 76 jobs lost and opening hours reduced to help fund the City Council's commitment to the landmark building agreed by the previous LibDem administration.

It's very automated too - a subject I'll be coming back to. There are computers everywhere and free wifi throughout but it'll be interesting to see how many actual staff there are and how the borrowers react to space-age borrowing.

But with so many libraries are closing (give yourself a scare by checking out this map) it's good to see that so much has been invested in a new one - may it shine like a beacon of hope across the land!

Talking of beacons, the reopening last night as part of Light Night, where the city's arty farty smarties compete to lure the public to be dazzled by late-night shenanagins.

I managed to miss most of it, except for this rather groovy kaleidescope of light projected onto the Oratory of the Anglican Cathedral. The patterns were made by shards of stained glass.

(And that's the second time this week I've been forced to use the word 'shard'. I'll have the Poetry Police after me at this rate.)

Thursday, 9 May 2013

A funny week... in a very 'literal' sense

Ian MacMillan welcomes everyone at the door
I don't get out much, but I've had four nights of laughter on the run!

First up was Eddie Izzard: Force Majeure at the Echo Arena. I've followed him since the 90's and he's one of my fave comedians. I love his surreal logic and improvisations. Genius!

Monday was my first time at Liver Bards - a rumbustious cornucopia of performance poetry. The co-hosts are a comedy double-act (but shhh ... don't tell them)- Steve rambles and disorganises while Dave attempts to keep accountant-style order. But you can't herd poets.
Next, as part of Liverpool City Council's poorly-advertised In Other Words literary festival, was an evening with Barnsley bard Ian MacMillan. With his BBC Radio 3 show and poetry aficionado credentials I thought he'd be more serious...and taller. But his gigs are inclusive (he met everyone at the door!), hilarious, fast-paced, anarchic and did I mention inclusive? This meant a lot of audience participation - singing and co-creating a unique epic poem to music. He's coming to Hoylake next year - you have been warned!

Last night was Flash in the Dark - the finals of a short horror competition run by Writing on the Wall . It wasn't supposed to be funny and much of it wasn't (my zombie mood piece 'Homecoming' had been shortlisted) - some truly gruesome offerings and well-deserved winners. But the guests, Les Malheureux, were even better than I expected - quirky short fiction performed by two of my flash heroes: David Gaffney and Sarah-Clare Conlon to a musical and visual landscape. Witty and unsettling.
*Note to self - MUST get them to Wirral!

What tickles your funny bone? Who are your favourite comedians?