THE Inferno will be four years old in a few weeks' time and I recall my very first article.

In the debut diary I was looking forward to reading Wirral Council's arts policy. Alas, I was art broken.

There wasn't one.

Since then I have consistently supported those individuals and organisations who fly the creative flag for Wirral.

The Globe created the Wirral Arts Ambassadors Awards, recognising ongoing achievements in those helping put the borough on the map.

The recipients are still going strong including local talents such as Robbie Southworth's Past Productions, working across the UK, to Billy Hui's inspirational Sing Me Merseyside Choir.

Established artists such as Susan Hedges and Charlie Landsborough have stamped their mark on the international music scene.

The Williamson Art Gallery and our theatres, such as the Gladstone continue to gain growing audiences – beacons in their own communities.

Over the water they are now marking 10 years since the European Capital of Culture boosted Liverpool's confidence and economy.

Yet I recall many grass roots organisations felt excluded as have many in Hull – the UK city of culture in 2017.

Organisers should learn from that – be all inclusive.

Wirral, now a big piece in the Liverpool City Region jigsaw, will be part of the 2018 celebrations.

This really is a welcome Wirral wake-up call.

Called 'Imagine Wirral' the council will celebrate its own diverse culture and creativity.

Capital indeed.

Imagine Wirral says it is about 'opportunities for everyone – residents and visitors alike – to experience fantastic and unique culture in our special peninsula'.

Let's make it happen and hold the council to account if it doesn't.

There's already a lot to look forward to.

There's Wirral's musical pedigree.

One aspect will be the May Weekender at Tranmere Rovers' ground.

The International Guitar Festival – now celebrating 30 years – has concerts planned in different unusual venues.

Northern Narratives, a must-see exhibition in New Brighton, features unseen photographs from major photographers such as Martin Parr, Ken Grant and Tom Wood.

In November, we commemorate the First World War poet Wilfred Owen.

To be truly inclusive the team wants you, dear readers, to get involved.

If you have an idea you want to develop or a partnership you want to talk about check out their website.

Highlights include the return of the tall ships to the Mersey at the end of May.

A festival for both sides of the river.

Let's hope people from Liverpool visit the Wirral Mermaid Trail in New Brighton – after all plenty of Wirral folk went to see their Superlambananas.

Imagine Wirral is a real chance for the council to prove once and for all that it really does have its arts in the right place.


"OMG" cried one excited on-line comment in response to my story about two special 40th anniversary concerts in October.

As a music critic I have been fortunate to be invited to some sound checks to the biggest names in pop.

I saw Paul McCartney play in Dublin. He did a sound check, playing an entire set of songs that he didn't even play that night.

At Wembley Stadium I had my lunch sitting near the royal box listening to Elton John alone at the piano going through his set.

Pure perfectionists at work.

One other memory remains with me to this day of sitting in an empty Empire Theatre while OMD sound-checked in 1981.

Electricity, indeed.

In October they will show – at the acoustically perfect Philharmonic Hall – why we should be proud of their global status.

Now that's what I call culture.


ACTION ... clapperboard.

Sunset Boulevard is currently wowing audiences at the Liverpool Empire with a Globe five-star rating production.

In the audience on opening night were local luminaries Michael Starke, Pauline Daniels and Pete Price – all on their feet for the rapturous ovation.

Sunset Boulevard is another success for Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, whose autobiography Unmasked is released next month.

This shy composer is living proof that the best cultural ideas start out small – some in schools.

Like Willy Russell's Blood Brothers which started out its infancy in Merseyside schools his works have become universal classics.

The man keeping it on the road is producer Bill Kenwright.

He has a cartoon of his beloved Everton FC in a Technicolor dream kit.

I know, because I presented it to him after my 30th review of it. Here's to the next time.


AND now for something completely indifferent ...

What has happened to mould-breaking comedian John Cleese?

It seems he inadvertently appears in a sequel to Last of the summer wine.

I grew up with Python, Fawlty Towers and interviewed him at the launch of his film A fish called Wanda.

With his contribution in the Sunday night stodgy sit-com Hold the Sunset, he has run out of inspiration with this BBC comedy caught in a time warp. His dead parrot had more life and laughs.


AND finally ...

I once placed Leicester in my top 10 of uninspiring places.

Now it's having the last laugh with a headline-making international pun festival.

The winning pun is quite clever from Ron Thomas: "I find the idea that the captain of the Titanic had a lisp ... unthinkable." 

I prefer my puns topical.

I call them current puns.

Peter Grant