I HAVE been to so many panto launch parties that I feel I have lived through Christmas already.

The phrase "look behind you" sends me on a panic attack – oh, yes it does.

I spend many weeks of the year reviewing pantos.

I love to see the kids and parents enjoy themselves as a family unit as they get showered by water pistols.

But pantos have changed since I first went to see this flan-flinging genre.

I miss the big names such as Henry 'the Fonz' Winkler and Pamela Baywatch Anderson. Now I would be hard-pushed to recognise any of the ‘stars’.

They are culled from reality shows such as The Only Way is Essex, Big Brother, X Factor and Coach Trip.

I have great respect for our local amateur and semi-professional companies who put on their own pantos – that is where we find real, unsung stars of tomorrow.

Maybe our council could put on an annual panto.

There's plenty of material. We could have Aladdin of Wallasey featuring the genie of the recycle bin.

Or Baron Hardup closing down care homes – boos and hisses galore.

There could be a Wirral town crier who goes around reading out stories from the council's newspaper.


MAKING wavelengths.

I refer to the sad tale of the Merseybar lightship – The Planet – that has now sailed out of Liverpool with a sea of debts.

This could have been a nautical tragedy for the Marine Radio Museum Society which was based on board.

Formerly housed at Fort Perch Rock, this dedicated group of mainly Wirral-based maritime historians were responsible for the hugely popular recreated Titantic Radio Room.

Now after sending out an SOS they have a new base.

The tugboat France-Hayhurst at the Albert Dock picked up their radar and invited the crew to be based there.

The crew, led by Stan McNnally, are now on board operating two days a week.

Cathy Roberts, owner of the national historic ship, a much-loved attraction, told the Inferno: "We are proud to help our shipmates. Welcome aboard." 


MIDGE URE, the musician who never really got the credit for writing the Live Aid hit Do They Know It’s Christmas? is on a European tour.

The former Ultravox front man – despite suffering from tinnitus – can't wait to play the Epstein theatre next month.

The last time we spoke, 62 year- old Midge told me how much he loved the old iconic Birkenhead Pacific Road Theatre venue.

"I wish they had saved it," he said in his Scottish accent.

"I genuinely loved playing there for the atmosphere."

He recalled one moment when a heckler greeted him as he walked on stage.

"Where's Mary and Mungo?" asked the Wirral wag referring to the children's telly series Mary, Mungo and Midge.

"I cracked up laughing – everyone is a comedian on Merseyside," said Ure friend and mine.


HEAR HEAR! for the lovely ladies of the Monday Circle who meet at the Old Manor Club in Wallasey.

This week they invited me to give my talk Hold the Front Page about my career in journalism and as columnist for the Globe.

The ladies braved the cold autumnal night and many gave up the chance to watch a goal-less Liverpool and Manchester United draw on the telly to be there. I know who had the most fun.

I always enjoy meeting readers at such warm and friendly groups where tea and biscuits provide a great after-show party.

Ladies, I thank you for your positive feedback about your favourite paper – a true sign of a democratic society.

I look forward to going round again to this circle of wonderful Wirral women.


AND finally ... last week I said how the bus replacement service is no laughing matter.

But this week I had to chuckle when I heard one caller to the Roger Phillips phone-in bemoaning the Mersey Ferry service being out of action.

On hearing there was a bus replacement service, he quipped: "But won't they sink?"

Peter Grant