2 Anfield


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.



Vampires and Zombies – Ghosts


Ghosts are not for those who believe that the universe consists of random matter.  They exist for a reason.   Ghosts are obliged to stay behind.  The less interesting dead are in heaven or hell.  Ghosts remain on earth because they have been thwarted in their ambitions, sometimes romantic, sometimes a denied inheritance and others mere destiny.  Rumours of ghosts occur everywhere.  Breeze Hill in Liverpool is in the middle of a working class area but the street has 3 haunted homes.  One of the ghosts has a dreadful disposition and a reputation for violence and terror.  Ghost hunters have run in fright from the rough Scouser.  But in movies the tendency is to make the ghost an aristocrat.  It is easier to develop a story that way, and ghosts somehow suit the décor of our finer homes.  Ghosts may walk down the stairs of terraced houses in Liverpool but that is real life.  Dramatic cinema it is not, although Liverpool horror writer, Ramsey Campbell, has always been keen to drag British horror down the social scale.  Interestingly, only the Spanish have made a film of one of his novels.

Ghosts, vampires and zombies are all creatures of unrefined taste.  The horror is rooted in their appalling indiscretions and judgement.  Lacking etiquette, they invade space, dress badly and persist in demanding attention.  Writers assume such behaviour occurs frequently amongst ordinary people.  If a ghost is to be interesting, he requires manners that offend his social class.  Sometimes ghosts have a sense of humour but it is dark rather than gentle.  Dracula is sarcastic and thinks the suffering of his victims amusing.   Ghosts also mock although they can become supportive friends.  The best of ghosts are kind to children.  Some writers, usually women, insist that ghosts are the only males that do understand children.  The average ghost is limited but he is often an improvement on the boring husband in the living room.

Inevitably, the vampire has the edge and the zombie misses the fun.  Such is the afterlife.  Vampires have a double existence, which is presumably why so many people would like to be one.  They exist as a member of society and, as a creature of the night, their immortality continues.   Living forever takes time and in the best it inspires patience but vampires and ghosts have not become what they are because their characters are exemplary.  They struggle to be self-critical but they can brood.  Ghosts have no responsibility, no work ethic for them, and the vampires get the women and have clothes that last as long as they do but both creatures are blighted by self-pity.

Maybe this is why zombies are now so popular.   A zombie is obliged to support the herd and maintain effective working relationships.  And the zombie that has sex or any kind of pleasure is definitely exceptional.  They may march relentlessly but nobody has ever mistaken this for enthusiasm.  Limited they are but once the zombies arrive the vampires and ghosts become awfully quiet.


Howard Jackson will have 2 zombie stories featured in the forthcoming Red Rattle Book, ZOMBIE BITES.  His collection of horror stories, NIGHTMARES AHEAD, will be published by Red Rattle Books next year. 


For more information about Red Rattle Books and other books by Howard Jackson click here.