WHAT the Dickens?

As the gold dust blows away from Tinseltown for another year, nostalgia fans still remind us that "fings ain't what they used to be."

When it comes to timeless, inspirational musicals they, wistfully, say it's been 50 years since Oliver! swept the boards where it deservedly picked up six statuettes.

There are rumours of another re-make.

Well, cor blimey, if Mary Poppins can do it then why not a re-boot of Oliver! based on the Charles Dickens' literary work of social injustice written in 1837.

And I know a "novel" place to stage it.

Forget dear old urchin-filled London Town - set it right here in the borough of Wirral.

It's currently having a Dickens fest of its own making.

Fagin would be proud of the council's "Pick a pocket or two" of fixed penalty notices.

When I dug out my prized CD of the original Lionel Bart masterpiece soundtrack, I discovered more relevant songs that can apply to today.

There's the stirring, wonderfully ironic It's A Fine Life.

This would be an ideal anthem for the environmental litter enforcement squad.

Now, thanks to a public and media backlash to widespread unfair practices, we are hearing more tales of daylight robbery featuring many vulnerable folk some of whom would rather "go before the beak" than pay a fine for an alleged offence.

The black-clad "borough street runners" are now the subject of social media type Neighbourhood Watch- style campaigns - members of the public alerting others where the anti-litter officers are out and about dealing with ciggie dog ends.

There's also the song Consider Yourself (well and truly done).

Hopefully, common sense will continue and like the film we all get a happy ending.

The business waste fines have rightly been rescinded.

But, as Oliver would say, "can we have more ... action please?"

I look forward to a finale singalong version of the rousing Reviewing The Situation led by the environmental overview and scrutiny committee on March 13.

A chance to show we can all sing from the same song-sheet.


HEY hey, he loved monkeying around.

When I interviewed '60s musician Peter Tork he was under no illusion that The Monkees were not America's answer to The Beatles.

Peter was dubbed the Ringo of the transatlantic pre-Fab Four.

So, I was happily surprised when he rang me on my mobile phone ahead of a gig at the Cavern with his opening line: "It's Tork talk time."

I told him how much I loved the song Daydream Believer and he said "thank you, I'm pretty proud of it myself because I play the opening bars on the keyboards."

Then he asked me to "hold on" while he found a piano.

A few moments later he played it. Now I am transported back to that time every time I hear it on the radio.

Peter later revealed there was no rivalry between The Monkees and The Beatles pointing out that John, Paul, George and Ringo did make an appearance in one episode.

He laughed: "That's when we made our own Beatle dart board."


IMAGINE a world where The Beatles didn't exist.

That is the premise of the new Richard Curtis fantasy film called Yesterday.

Already, Danny Boyle has been filming in Liverpool.

The tantalising trailers are currently being shown in our cinemas.

But I felt a sense of déjà Vu because, more than twenty five years ago, I wrote a whimsical article about what life would have been like without The Beatles inspired by the film It's A Wonderful Life.

Out of the blue I received a letter from Derek Taylor - the Beatles' Liverpool-born press officer - who wrote on Apple headed note paper that "the boys liked it."

Yesterday, I returned from a magical day at the Making of Harry Potter Studios in Watford.

I thought wouldn't it be fab to have a Beatle theme park on such a scale.

Imagine the tourist potential, boost to the economy and - most importantly - the pure escapism it would offer the world.


TALKING of escapism ...

I so hope "rage rooms" don't become the norm in these multi-stressed out times.

It seems one innovator in Norwich has come up with a home-made haven where people can destroy old telly sets and smash up plates to get angst off their chests.

Customers can pay from £20 for 20 minutes to vent anger.

Maybe they should open a branch in the House of Commons.


WHILE Richard Branson continues to aim for space travel with Virgin Galactic, there are calls for "docking stations" here on earth.

Sleep consultant Mike Farquhar says he supports the work of one school in Blackpool who are giving lessons in sleep awareness.

Lack of sleep causes anxiety, depression and obesity.

A campaign is being launched to get people to leave their mobile phones in a 'docking station' in the hallway overnight.

I'm starting now ... over and out.


AND finally, as Inferno reaches its 250th column next week I’d like to leave this memory of Radio 2's Rev Ruth Scott who passed away last week.

Days before her death Ruth - the voice of Pause For the Day - was in a restaurant with her husband.

Asked what she was celebrating Ruth, frail but forever inspirational, simply smiled and said "being alive."

Peter Grant