Gone to Wales (see Hay Fever post) for a change of rain. Son is blog-minding for the week, so I will have to drop in the odd expletive and not go on too much about succulent Welsh lamb. But if there's anything you don't like, it's my fault, so don't shoot the deputy. The week's theme will be my natal city, the great northern port of Liverpool: its people, its history, its language, its sport and its culture. I hope you will treat this information with discretion: if everyone knows about it they will all want to come. We've kept it a secret for centuries and don't want the place invaded by barbarian hordes from less privileged southern places such as London and the French Riviera.
Liverpool is a city of about half a million people at the mouth of the River Mersey in north-west England. It has an infectious character and ambience and the natives - Liverpudlians, or Scousers as they are affectionately known (see Language) are a friendly, fun-loving, Celtic mixture, with mainly Irish, Welsh and Scottish backgrounds. Liverpool humour is akin to Irish - fast, abrasive, dry, sarcastic and at times bitter, but with an underlying sadness and sympathy. It can be intimidating to newcomers and is typified by writers like Alan Bleasdale, Willy Russell (Shirley Valentine), Roger McGough and others.
Scouse alumni are heavily represented in show business and sport. In addition to the countless footballers, musicians, singers, actors, DJs and TV presenters, they include many famous comedians. (More comedians come from Liverpool than any other city - one of its Members of Parliament said you had to be a comedian to live there.) Examples: Arthur Askey, Ken Dodd, Kenny Everett, Tommy Handley, Alexei Sayle and Jimmy Tarbuck. Politicians are well represented: the Prime Minister's wife, Cherie Blair, Edwina Currie and William Gladstone, four times Liberal Prime Minister. In literature, scouse writers include Beryl Bainbridge, Alan Bleasdale, Cara Lane, Willy Russell and Ted Jones. Even the foundling Heathcliffe, in Charlotte Bronte's Wuthering Heights, was a scouser.