I HATE clichés and avoid them like the plague.

And I hope that the old adage 'mud sticks' is no longer relevant.

Dr Samuel Mudd was the infamous medic who treated fugitive John Wilkes Booth who assassinated Abraham Lincoln.

He was jailed, then freed, but his name was never cleared. Thus: 'mud sticks'.

When Liverpool was going through an image problem in the 1980s it didn’t help that stoking the stereotype fires were some of very our own comedians – many living down south.

I was furious at disparaging comments such as: "What do you call a Scouser in a suit? The accused."

Harry Enfield's Scousers with their curly hair, tracksuits and 'calm down' catchphrase was not a slur, but an affectionate look at loyal brotherly love and that we could all take a joke, Harry told me.

Brookside and Bread on TV didn't help paint the city in a good light either.

But after European Capital of Culture status it seems Liverpool now has the last laugh. The mud is gradually coming off.

The city cleaned up its act when writer Bill Bryson commented that when he first arrived in Liverpool it seemed to be having a 'litter fest'.

The Liverpool City Region of which Wirral is a major player, must accentuate the positive.

Parts of the borough have suffered bad press over the years, especially Birkenhead.

Granted, we don't want photographers with rose-tinted lenses but we want fair play.

So what can we expect this summer in what the council calls a 'must see exhibition' called Northern Narratives ... New Brighton Revisited.

It features iconic, unseen and unpublished work from a trio of top notch photographers.

One is Martin Parr.

Martin, no stranger to these shores, produced the controversial book The Last Resort in 1986 (and 1998) and an exhibition at the Williamson Gallery featuring photos that upset many people.

It even caused some councillors to forbid the use of the word 'resort'.

Back in 2003 Graham Fisher, in a little magazine called Reflections, reflected on the legacy of the unflattering pics.

He recalled how many felt Parr had patronised his subjects.

And that some saw the imagery as 'an almost apocalyptic vision of Thatcher-induced, post industrial hell'.

The Surrey-born Magnum photographer had said that people there knew it was 'run down' and 'grotty'.

New Brighton in 2018 has had a massive make-over. Will this be reflected now?

I, and many others, look forward to seeing Mr Parr in July.

Let's hope the photographs don't accentuate the negatives and are a balanced look back and forward ... a case of that was then and this is now.

Puzzling indeed.

A sobering thought was revealed recently that job losses in the UK will escalate by 2020 due to robots taking over.

For those who like a quick quiz - here's one poser to chew over.

What occupation will be gradually phased out in the future to be done by robots?

Currently there are about 50 of them in the country.

Here's a clue. Two words: Nine letters and nine letters both beginning with C.

And now a cryptic offering ... they deal with letters and are often up and down.

Give in? Crossword compilers.

They will soon be lost for words.


ON average, I see at least a theatre play a week and yet I still get first night nerves.

I worry what the audiences are going to be like.

So a big 'hear hear' to veteran stage and screen star Martin Shaw who agrees with me.

Martin, former star of The Professionals with Wirral's Lewis Collins, doesn't suffer fools gladly.

He told a tabloid magazine: "I get way beyond stressed by phones ringing in the theatre." 

He was so annoyed recently that in character during a performance of Hobson's Choice he told a consistent phone twiddler: "Turn that off – or get out."

Shaw's ultimatum.

Martin says the concentration span of audiences is diminishing and getting worse.

Maybe there could be an Olivier Award for 'Best Behaved Audience'.


WELL, I never ... a new study says men gossip more than women.

Having worked on opinion columns for more than 30 years I can only speak for myself.

The Inferno prides itself on having no time for fake news and tittle-tattle.

It seems the report from a university in Israel finds that women support colleagues whereas males tend to run rivals down in the workplace.

It said women were ultimately nicer than men and less bitchy. I am not so sure about that.

Mind you, did you see that awful outfit Theresa May wore last week during her Brexit speech?

Oh dear, those shoes didn't match.


MY favourite TV Channel is Yesterday on Freeview.

They have come up trumps with a long-overdue tribute to Bob Monkhouse.

Paul O'Grady, who worked with him, is joined by the Merseyside mirth mafia – Les Dennis and Jimmy Tarbuck.

Access to Bob's archives was given to Paul, who admitted he should have had kid gloves on to dip into the 19 volume joke books.

Tarby said with a cheeky gap-toothed grin that if they go missing you know who will have taken them ... HIM.

It is also uplifting to hear Bob's greatest quips such as: "My wife has me eating out of her hands – she hates washing the dishes." 

Bob had a million of 'em ...



AND finally ...

A new report from a Harvard academic is called ‘how to be an optimist in 21 days’.

Surely it would take much longer than that...

Peter Grant