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NEW BLOG SERIES 2015 – AN A-Z JOURNEY AROUND BRITAIN

2 Anfield

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Millionaires visit Anfield. Over twenty of them chase a football around a piece of grass. When there is no football, they ignore the place and its cheap take away hedonism – pubs, Chinese chippies and betting shops.

Anfield is the third poorest community within England and Wales. 1200 incidents of violence and domestic abuse occur every month and over 50 bikes are stolen. The number of weapons found is also consistent, about 40 a month. The Whitney family who were sentenced to a total of 82 years in prison lived in Anfield. Thanks to entrepreneurial innovation reinforced with sophisticated weaponry they were once key players in the supply of drugs in Liverpool. Life without them is quieter but it is hell trying to find decent Army SA80 rifles.

The Anfield and Breckfield Renewal Area Implementation Plan 2014 refers to the expansion of the football stadium as a ‘landmark development’ and the Anfield Plaza as a ‘complementary gateway’. The THIS IS ANFIELD sign was created when famous footballers led modest lives. Shankly saw his team as the best of us and not the best that money can buy.

Walton was an ancient seat of Christianity so the close proximity of the two football stadia of Liverpool and Everton may mean something. After the game, I would wander across Stanley Park to a bus stop. I followed figures muffled in winter clothes and I listened to pocket radios murmur match reports into the dark sky.

The route from town to Anfield offers two other glorious walks. Those returning to the city centre can pass through pleasant parkland to arrive opposite the entrance to the Mersey Tunnel and alongside the fabulous neo-classical St Georges Hall. The route from town begins next to the Philharmonic Hall. The University, Catholic Cathedral and renowned Royal Hospital provide interest. Both routes take advantage of the elevated sweep of Everton Road and the terraced streets that slope down towards the ground.

Anfield began as Hanging Fields. Walk down from Everton Road to the home of the most successful English football team and imagine the early religious settlement and the working class communities that followed. Bill Shankly sparked the imagination of those who lived there. If the walk does not persuade you that Liverpool Football Club is special then nothing will.

The housing in Anfield is still capable of providing the satisfying modest comfort that Shankly thought important.   Joe Fagan, who managed Liverpool football team in the 80s, lived in a terraced house in Anfield all his life.

Welsh workers helped build the houses of Anfield. Liverpool had five large Welsh communities and Anfield was one. When Liverpool was an expanding city, there were more Welsh speakers in Liverpool than in any city in Wales. My grandfather was Welsh as was his brother who was a builder and a fan of Liverpool football team. Uncle Jack is why I admire well-built terraced houses and why I am a Liverpool fan. Like Shankly, Uncle Jack believed in working class strength and independence. Next time you visit Anfield honour the defiant spirits of Bill Shankly and Uncle Jack.

Next week – Barnsley

 

Howard Jackson has had three books published by Red Rattle Books. His 11,000 mile journey around Brazil is described in Innocent Mosquitoes. His next book is a compilation of horror stories and is called Nightmares Ahead. It will be available in Spring 2015

If you want to read more about his travels click here.

 

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Brazil Report – The Big Kiss Off

Dilma Rousseff

It ended with a kiss off from Rousseff. The wise guys on the South Side dreamed they could take over from the know-all mugs that say Brazil needs social inclusion. But what about the poor wise guys, say the South Side bosses, social inclusion only encourages the mugs. But after twelve years in power, the big mugs keep control of the big house. Wise guys in the press say the victory was a whisker. But 72% of the vote in the North and 52% in the home state of wise guy Aécio Neves means the kiss off dame tells her grandchildren she was a special mug. The babe will also mention when she was tortured by the military mob.

But it could still mean sleeping with the fishes for the dame. The deal with those guys from FIFA to bring the World Cup did the mugs no favours. Stash was directed away from the mugs that worked the streets. Soon the Olympics circus comes to town and that hoopla could mean showdown number two. But give credit where credit is due. The babe deserves a T-shirt and a poster. She fought the South Side when the mob was military. Those days the South Side was something.

And Dilma is a dame that South Side wise guys can talk to. Marxism puts wise guys to sleep but pragmatic capitalism shows respect. Aécio Neves is a wise guy but the hood calls himself the candidate of change, an economist, something real fancy. The wise guy might be smart but he cut no ice. Too many of the mugs knew he was not on the level. The dame is right. Sometimes you should give a handshake. A smart wise guy knows it is not all up against the wall and a slug in the belly.

Business has been bad but the football fix helped the wise guys, and so did that Hydro Dam deal. Dilma ain’t such a bad dame. Europe pulled the rug from their South Side, and the poor wise guys in Venezuela you don’t recognise.

The good old days when we could let people starve in the streets, they are over. No wise guy looks at the Bolsa Familia Program without wanting that bread. But the smart wise guys are patient. What goes around comes around. Soon these people with money in their pockets will want what we do best. And it will be different from the education and the vaccinations that the kiss off dame demands. Wise guys put a smile on the faces of the mugs on the streets. A wise guy was told by a judge the other day that the Bolsa Familia Program reduced poverty by 27.7% in the first four years.

See, the idea is everybody has money for food and clothes. Wise guys from the South Side say where is the respect in that? Well, it is different but money is money, and what goes around comes around is what the smart wise guys say.

Howard Jackson has had three books published by Red Rattle Books. His next book, Nightmares Ahead, will be published by Red Rattle Books in Spring 2015. If you want to read more about Brazil click here.