The term is no longer an oxymoron. In fact the city has been selected as the European Capital of Culture for the year 2008. Its many Victorian and Edwardian buildings add historic charm while from the sea its dramatic skyline is dominated by the majestic Liver Building and the Anglican and Roman Catholic Cathedrals. There is a plethora of theatres, concert halls, museums and art galleries, the largest of which is the Walker Art Gallery, among whose treasures is the Annunciation (1333) by the Sienese artist Simone Martini. There's a swinging night scene with a fascinating array of pubs, clubs and restaurants catering to all tastes. The old Albert Dock has been transformed into a tourist venue, with trendy bars and restaurants, an exhibition called The Beatles Story, and shops selling Liverpool memorabilia.
Although now the standard of cuisine is as good and varied as anywhere else in the world – and often better - some dishes are traditionally Liverpudlian: scouse is the most famous – see 'Language' – another is the ubiquitous butty or sandwich. Being highly portable, butties are popular with kids and are usually filled with further calories such as sugar, conny-onny or lemon curd. Those seeking the ultimate in carbo-hydrate concentration prefer the chip butty.
The story of the great international pop music phenomenon that was John, Paul, George and Ringo is too well-known to need repetition here. Ever since the 60s, when four young lads emerged from a Liverpool cellar to take over the world of popular music and occupy five of the American top ten, the city has had a reputation for pushing the frontiers of new music. It is less well-known as the birthplace of Sir Simon Rattle, one of the world's leading orchestral music conductors, and George Melly, a jazz singer whose fame predates even the Beatles.
That's about it. Next week - Windsor.